California Clothing: Finding Ethical Brands in the Sea of Fashion

California Clothing: Finding Ethical Brands in the Sea of Fashion

By Rachael Medina
September 15, 2020

With seasonal trends coming and going, it’s easy to get caught up in the world of fast fashion without even knowing it. While ethical brands attempt to break the cycle, startling statistics regarding the fashion industry remain. The average American throws away approximately 81 pounds of clothing each year, and with the slow rate of decomposition in landfills, some of these materials—particularly items made of plastics such as nylon, spandex, acrylic, and polyester—stick around for decades. But it’s not too late to make a difference and steer your purchasing power towards ethical clothing companies, and luckily for us, many of the top eco-fashion brands are based in California. 

What Is Sustainable Clothing?

Sustainable and ethical fashion takes the process of making clothing into account. While this might sound like it should be the norm, in reality, many brands overlook their environmental, social, and economic impact on the world, prioritizing profits alone.

Brands that value people and the planet along with their profits are often referred to as slow-fashion brands because they stand in opposition to fast fashion and encourage a slower lifecycle for the clothing they produce. This means asking customers to consume less, to care for their pieces more, and to contribute less to the landfills—but these brands as a whole also stand for the proper treatment of garment workers. While this way of producing clothing does take longer and generally comes with a higher price tag up-front, brands that employ these practices offer higher-quality items along with the priceless feeling of knowing you’re making a positive impact in the world. 

Stay on-trend while making a difference by purchasing ethical clothing from stylish, eco-fashion brands.

Sustainable clothing brands encourage consumers to think about how their clothes are made. What natural resources does it take to create the fabric? What conditions are the garment workers faced with? Is everyone in the supply chain paid a living wage? What happens at the end of the garment’s life?

All of these questions will help you determine whether or not a company offers ethical clothing. Though it’s easy to cast off brands that don’t have every one of those questions answered in a sustainable and ethical way, any effort is better than none. Much like consumers attempting to reduce their carbon footprints, many brands imperfectly working towards solutions to these problems is more impactful than one brand doing it perfectly, so we applaud all of the California brands that are showing up and attempting to be better.

The Golden State’s Best Sustainable Clothing Brands

California is home to dozens of sustainable fashion brands, some of which have become household names. Though many of the high-quality pieces from ethical clothing brands come at a higher price, some companies have found a way to offer sustainable garments at affordable prices, so you can assemble the capsule wardrobe of your dreams on any budget. While there are numerous ethical fashion brands to choose from in California, these are a few of our favorites.

Recomended businesses

Show me California.com
Recommended Businesses near

Discover the best of California. Our recommended businesses are top-quality and are committed to their communities.

Real Estate

Shopping

Dining

Professional Services

more

Dôen

Don beautiful, accessible pieces from Dôen, which works with manufacturers that support and empower women. Photo courtesy of Dôen.

Based in: Los Angeles

Motivated by the idea that we should all focus on fewer things that are made better, Dôen crafts high-quality pieces you can own for a lifetime. This women-owned and -operated company offers a dreamy, almost nostalgic aesthetic as well as items that can easily transition from a work Zoom call, to coffee out with a friend, to a weekend picnic. Offering everything from maxi dresses and blouses to pants and footwear, this brand enables you to elevate your wardrobe with everything you need.

Whimsy + Row

Rock an elegant, ethically sourced outfit crafted by Whimsy + Row. Photo courtesy of Whimsy + Row.

Based in: Los Angeles

Whimsy + Row is one of California’s must-know brands for eco-friendly clothing and is committed to providing modern women with elegant, sustainable wardrobe options. Every item is versatile, ethical, and made in Los Angeles. Additionally, each fabric is intentionally sourced, and many of the items are made using organic cotton, upcycled rayon, and linen. This brand is extra special because it offers a mixture of casual, elevated, and upscale styles that can easily accommodate any event or activity.

Reformation

Shop for sleek and sustainably made evening dresses, loungewear, office attire, and more at Reformation. Photo courtesy of Reformation.

Based in: Vernon

Reformation is another one of those unique brands that knows how to do it all—and does it sustainably. Aiming to be the most sustainable clothing option out there, this company designs everything from loungewear and eveningwear to work-appropriate clothing and stylish face masks. Reformation is one of the Golden State’s go-to shops for ethical upscale dresses and wedding garments (for both guests and brides), but you can’t go wrong with a laid-back jacket, jumpsuit, or pair of sustainable jeans, either.

American Giant

Find casual clothing for both men and women at the environmentally-minded American Giant. Photo courtesy of American GIant.

Based in: San Francisco

When it comes to ethical clothing companies, it’s often easier to find women’s clothing options than it is men’s, but American Giant flips the script by offering pieces for all genders. Whether you’re searching for the perfect hoodie, T-shirts, or outerwear, you can find it all here—and it’s all made to last. For casual, simple clothing that supports the same values as you do, it doesn’t get better than American Giant.

LA Relaxed

Stay comfy, chic, and eco-friendly by shopping at LA Relaxed. Photo courtesy of LA Relaxed.

Based in: Los Angeles

Since every LA Relaxed item is made in Los Angeles, you can feel good about each purchase you make here. Specializing in women’s casualwear, this brand’s ethically made clothing is created using organic cotton, sustainable eucalyptus or beechwood, and flax-based linen, so you’ll never need to worry about having plastics woven into your garments. With so much to choose from—including bandanas, shorts, jumpsuits, and pajama sets—you’re sure to find something amazing.

For Days

Get organic, zero-waste basics from For Days, a closed-loop company revolutionizing the fashion world. Photo courtesy of For Days.

Based in: Los Angeles

If you’ve been looking for organic clothing brands selling affordable ethical clothing, your search is over. For Days takes sustainability up a notch with a closed-loop system that allows you to love your basics without worrying about waste. Every item is designed with the end of its life in mind. After you purchase a piece of clothing, you can wear it as long as you’d like, then trade it in for another item when you’re done.

You’ll never have to be concerned about spaghetti stains again, but the best part is that For Days’ recycling partners chop up the items you send back, make them into pulp, and create new yarn from the old fibers—all without using water, relying on chemicals, or producing hardly any greenhouse gasses. For Days then crafts new items and ships them to you (via carbon-neutral transportation) in recyclable and recycled containers. If you want to live a more sustainable life, For Days is an excellent way to start.

Amour Vert

Based in: San Francisco

Every item from Amour Vert is crafted with the entire lifecycle in mind. Since this company manufactures in small batches—with the vast majority of clothing fashioned down the street from its San Francisco offices—you can feel good knowing that loads of the company's pieces aren’t winding up in landfills. The sustainability efforts don’t stop there. Each item is packaged in compostable bags and shipped in recycled materials that are printed with soy-based ink, resulting in an eco-friendly delivery. Complete with a huge selection of elevated classics, Amour Vert will have you looking and feeling good.

If you’re still on the hunt for sustainable fashion companies that fit your style, check out San Francisco’s Cuyana, Santa Monica’s Jenni Kayne, and Costa Mesa’s Krochet Kids International.


Rachael Medina

Rachael Medina

Rachael Medina is the staff writer and content manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests of Humboldt C…

See full bio

0 comments


author photo
Please enter text

You may also like

Lifestyle

The Golden State's Best Mineral-Based Physical Sunscreens

Protect your skin—and the planet—by using the top mineral sunscreens made by California-based companies....Read more

Lifestyle

Remote Camping Essentials: Everything You Need to Add to Your Primitive Camping Checklist

In need of remote camping essentials for your next adventure? Here's everything you should add to your primitive camping checklist....Read more

Lifestyle

A Newcomer's Guide to Los Angeles Slang

Whether you're a first-time visitor or new resident, our list of Los Angeles slang words will have you talking like …...Read more

Lifestyle

Check Off Your Back-to-School List: The Remote Learning Supplies to Get Now

Whether your first grader or middle schooler needs back-to-school supplies for remote learning, these California companies have you covered...Read more