DO GOOD; LOOK GOOD.
There are a plethora of women’s fashion brands that are sustainable or utilize ethical practices, but why are there far less brands doing this for men? Google search the term “sustainable fashion”. Swing over to the images section and you’ll notice something interesting. The lack of ethical and sustainable clothing options for men is pretty bleak. In fact, you’ll have to scroll for a minute or two before you even see a picture of a man in the search results at all. Slow fashion seems to be even a bit slower in the men’s department. Between the fashion industry’s ethical and environmentally harmful processes the need for responsible fashion options is more imperative than ever. There are more and more statistics, studies, and sustainable brands coming out that we can all learn from. Sustainable living should transcend all genders, age groups, political parties, and borders because the effects of living unsustainably will affect us all. Luckily, there are a few but great brands out there that approach sustainable fashion in a way that reaches a wide spectrum of customers.
Slow fashion seems to be even a bit slower in the men’s department.
Evolution of gentlemen
As men continue to shop more and more online, one of the easiest ways to begin to lead a more sustainable and conscious existence, is to start with your clothes. From your shoes, your socks, to your boxers or briefs. By one statistic, men’s online shopping alone from 2010 to 2015 grew an average annual of 17.5%! The time to be more aware of who, of where, of what, and how our clothes are made, and how our purchases affect the world around us is yesterday. For the planet to be able to combat the ever increasing exploitation of workers, of animals, of the environment; its imperative more than ever to consume more consciously and be aware of the effects of our actions. We spend a lot of time on social media, researching and discovering new brands in sustainable fashion, but we often notice a lack of f options out there for men. A study by Hiller Connell showed, “a lack of knowledge and/or miscomprehension about the environmental effects of production and different fibres; and negative perceptions of sustainable clothing as less stylish, less well-fitting and less comfortable” can cause internal barriers in men (and women) when it comes to purchasing ethical fashion. Despite the shortage of menswear designers; uncertainty about knowledge and lack of choice are huge contributors to ethical compromises when shopping.
If you think of classic menswear brands, names like Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, and Calvin Klein probably come to mind. Younger generations look to H&M, Zara, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21 for trendy men’s fashion at bargain prices. As Nike continues to grow annually by the millions garnering public attention over popular socially charged issues like race relations in the United States i.e. their latest Colin Kaepernick ad, workers in their Taiwan and Indonesian factories are still making less a month than the cost of a pair of Nike Fly Knits. American icons like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger present an image of the all-American dream through their branding and advertising. Almost enough to make us all think that the clothing is made in the U.S. or at least that they care about “the American dream” concept. Well, not to squash that dream but those iconic red, white, and blue polos are made in sweatshops in third world Asian countries. Forever 21 and Zara’s men’s lines don’t even bother to put on a conscious facade. With $5 price tags you just know the person who made it was paid in cents. Pop culture brands like Yeezy Supply from Kanye West boasting hundreds on a price tag are manufactured in Asia with little to no information shared about sustainability or social commitment.
So, what’s a guy to do?
We have to increase the demand for current sustainable brands so that the supply has to increase too i.e. include more variety, expand availability, and decrease costs. Here are a few brands that we’ve found that have a variety of offerings in their product line and are pretty available at relative costs.
Part eco, part ethos. This sustainable brand lives and breaths it’s name. Their mission: Helping the earth, one garment at a time. Since it’s inception in 2014 has donated almost 350,000 meals to those in need through their 3 Program. They donate 3 meals for each style they sell! ECOTHS is a founding member of the Organic Exchange, a non-profit business organization focused on creating environmental and social benefits through the expansion of organic agriculture. On top of all that, they are also a fair-trade organization.
Over 75% of their styles use lower impact or sustainable materials. In their products they utilize organic cotton, rayon that’s made from bamboo (strong and naturally wrinkle-resistant), and modal (a bio-based fabric made from wood pulp!). Also, they will be introducing recycled polyester and hemp into our line in Spring ’19 as a way to grow their sustainable fiber options, and for Fall ’19, they have many items that will be made with merino wool and organic cotton.
Ahimsa in Sanskrit mean “non-violence” or “no-harm". Ahimsa is about the intent, rather than the action itself. It is an attitude of universal benevolence. As the only 100% vegan shoe factory in the world, Ahisma is taking men’s shoes from fashion to compassion. Founded in 2013, Ahimsa’s mission is to question habits, inspire change, without harm, and with complete respect for all forms of life. They offer high-quality products, made from alternative materials, that have long lasting durability, we will show the world that you can be in fashion, without cruelty.
Utilizing sustainable materials, practices, and processes, Alternative Apparel is a leader in this fashion revolution. They offer a wide variety of men and women’s clothing made from organic cotton, low impact dyes, and use eco-friendly packaging as well. “Packaging & distribution contribute to waste, so we use oxo-biodegradable mailer bags & have implemented a vendor recycling program. A majority of our factories are WRAP-certified, and all of them adhere to Fair Labor Association guidelines & workplace code of conduct”.
TOMS is not new to the ethical game. From a simple idea came a compassionate shoe company that started by matching each shoe purchase with a new pair for a child in need. Shortly after, their sustainable canvas-fashion expanded into glasses, and even coffee! They also offer prescription glasses and clean water to those in need, all while turning a company into a movement. Their iconic canvas slide ons have been replicated by numerous brands but not with the same social impact. While not all of their product line is vegan, you can find a wide selection of basic footwear that is.
Look for fair trade or ethically traded goods from transparent companies. Are they certified? Or, do they share real time information about their company practices, workers, and work conditions? Utz Threads is a weaving cooperative from Guatemala where women earn a living wage to provide for their families and get to continue hundred year old traditions. You’ll find videos at the weaving cooperative and of the workers updated consistently on their website and social media.
White v-necks, comfy undies, cozy socks, what’s not to love? We all need quality basics. With their promise to “do no harm” and “not be gross”, Pact has perfectly positioned themselves to be a leader in sustainable fashion. Another fair trade company that’s set of using organic cotton that’s harmful and chemical free. Specializing in comfort and boosting self esteem, Pact’s pact to us all is to help us wear our true selves on our sleeves by embracing all natural goodness for our bodies. Here’s to embracing ourselves more. 20% off and free shipping!
Thrift shopping is buying something pre-owned. You can visit in-person stores like Crossroads Trading or Buffalo Exchange to get your fashion fix. Or, use websites like ThredUp and Poshmark to purchase that winter jacket you’ve been wanting. Thrifting has seen an upward spike in Millenials who are 77% more likely to buy from environmentally conscious brands. Thrifting fits the bill! With well organized and curated selections thrift stores are removing stigmas from once deemed hand-me-downs.
We get it. The mall is nearby and sometimes you feel like you have to work with what’s there. H&M is an option. They carry a “Conscious Collection” in stores and online which uses organic cotton, recycled polyester, innovative fabrics like recycled silver, TENCEL and ECONYL. The variety in styles and products included seems to be increasing with each collection. Urban Outfitters is a possibility with some stores and online selling vintage, curated secondhand clothing. You’re forwarded. Those items sell out quick! You’ll also find eco-friendly brands like Patagonia, Alternative Apparel, G-Star, and Knowledge Cotton all at your friendly mall anchor store, Nordstrom. Trendy footwear and accessories mall staple, Aldo, is the first company in it’s industry to be certified climate neutral. They’ve also reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 33% in just five years and carry a wide variety of vegan shoes too.
More compassion in fashion
These of course, are just a few of companies doing some great things with their products. And the wonderful thing about this revolution is that the list of companies looking to be more ethical in everything from their processes, to packaging is growing every day. And over time, as public demand for responsible and conscious brands grows, so will the variety and options for both men and women. Men also ave to be more aware of their purchases as well. As a growing minority in shopping online, being more aware the power we yield when making a purchase, is more important than ever.
Do you know any conscious companies? If there’s any other companies you’d like to recommend, give us some in the comment section below