Did you know fashion is the second-most-polluting industry in the world? Growing cotton requires large quantities of water and dying can involve dangerous chemicals that produce toxic waste runoff. When it comes to clothes, we want to support the environment, but who has time to research where everything we buy comes from? Well, we’ve done the work for you. These apparel brands are both gorgeous and green, making the world more beautiful through their clothes and actions.
Wear In Good Health is all about providing stylish clothing that is free of any harmful toxins and chemicals. Grace Steer, the founder of Wear In Good Health, ensures that her clothing brand makes quality a number one priority. “I want to educate the customer about what we produce and the difference between us and them,” Steer says. “We purchase the same fabric as Chanel but we don’t have Chanel prices. We’re within reach for normal women.” Available at Wear in Good Health (1819 Saint Johns Ave., Highland Park).
What’s more eco-friendly than buying clothes made right here in the Windy City? West Loop boutique Mod + Ethico sells only American-made, eco-friendly clothes, including some Chicago designers, thereby minimizing transportation waste. “We seek out brands who work to offset their carbon footprint by using recycled materials, vegetable-tanned leathers, organic textiles, less water waste and carbon dioxide as by-products,” says founder and owner Candice Stewart Collison. Check out their selection of Chicago designer Suki + Solaine. Available at Mod + Ethico (27 N. Morgan St., Chicago, 312-854-9787) or online.
The Greenheart Shop in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood has been a perennial favorite with nature lovers seeking ethically sourced jewelry, clothing and home goods. Chicago’s only nonprofit fair trade store offers the comfy yet chic Synergy Organic Clothing brand. Synergy has an entire collection made of recycled polyester fabric, made mostly from used plastic bottles and old polyester clothing. Somehow they’ve transformed old plastic into some of the softest material you’ll ever wear. Available at Greenheart Shop (1714 N. Wells St., Chicago, 312-264-1625) or online.
This minimalist Canadian brand stands out because its clothing is made of sustainable materials that are not only gorgeous but also versatile. Their Revolve dress can be worn eight different ways — as a shirt, dress, tunic, backward or forward — for different looks. They also make reversible skirts that give you two different color options, and save almost all fabric cuttings and turn them into accessories like headbands. The company uses low impact/azo-free dyes and are Oeko-Tex 100 certified, meaning every chemical in the fabric has been examined to make sure it’s free of any toxic substances. Finally, they ship only via recycled packaging materials. Available online.
This line makes it super easy to be green. Sustainable clothes made of organic cotton are highlighted with a green symbol on their website. Organic cotton uses no chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Not only does that mean lower environmental impact, but it’s also safer for those with sensitive skin and other health concerns. Aventura’s fun athleisure dresses are ready for adventure and perfect for summer, whether you’re at the park, headed to yoga or off to the grocery store. Available at Erehwon Mountain Outfitter (2585 Waukegan Road, Bannockburn, 847-948-7250) or online.
This Colorado line of expressive, colorful clothes is owned by women and works with women-owned manufacturing facilities. “Sustainability is a big priority for us,” says founder Rhonda Swenson. “We get our wool from free-ranging sheep raised on low-intensity farms. And our manufacturing facilities use recycled water and eco-friendly dyes.” Available at Title Nine (1024 W. Armitage, Chicago, 773-935-5116) or online.
Twenty-one billion. That’s how much textile waste is produced each year by the United States. Although this may seem like a difficult problem to triumph and rise above, Skatie Noyes has not only found a way but is helping others to do so too. Noyes’ swimwear brand, Skatie, is affordable and, most importantly, eco-friendly. Skatie swimwear has a gorgeous and classic look all the while sticking to surplus and recyclable fabrics. You can look great and help this beautiful planet stay green at the same time. How many brands allow you to say that? Available online.
Additional reporting by Rebeca Ballesteros.
More from Make It Better:
- How to Conserve Water in Your Home
- 5 Easy Steps for Sustainable Landscaping
- Luxury Cars Go Green as Consumers Become More Eco-Conscious
Andrea Guthmann is an award-winning broadcast, print and digital journalist based in Chicago. She writes lifestyle and travel stories for a variety of outlets including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Parent magazine and Midwest Living. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.