It's been two years since I revisited my brand list and I've been thinking about an update ever since Angie's post. I found the post I made two years ago SUPER useful to have around and have actually referred back to it pretty regularly as a shopping starting point! Putting the new version here in hopes that it might be a resource for others as well.
My qualifications for a brand to make my list are:
- The company must be prioritizing environmental and/or social sustainablity in a real, non-greenwashing way. Better if it's a core value. (And yeah, this is murky and subjective. Personally, I tend to look at choice of material, B corp status, labor practices, and scale of production. I'm more likely to give very small/local operations a pass than very large/multi-national ones.)
- The brand has to carry my size. In US sizes, that's a size 10 shoes and size 16-18 clothing. Accessories have no sizing, of course, but I'd still rather not support companies that don't carry my clothing size.
Allbirds - Sneakers and slip-ons, and now moving into activewear. I've owned multiple pairs of AllBirds runners. My husband has a pair of the loafers. We both love them.
Athleta - I know Athleta is part of Gap, Inc, but Athleta, itself, is a certified B Corp, which is not an easy certification to achieve/retain. They've also made a concerted effort in recent years to expand their size range across their lines. Plus, their clothes last FOREVER. My Athleta leggings are easily some of the oldest pieces in my wardrobe and they get worn a lot. My go-to for gear/sleepwear.
Bed Stu - Responsibly-sourced leather shoes. I've bought both boots and sandals from this company and both became instant favorites.
Brass Clothing - Mix and match essentials. I bought a pair of ponte pants from here and they're still going after three years--a bit of pilling on the inner thigh, but no bagging out or sagging, which is fantastic for ponte.
Cariuma - Like if Vans were made sustainably. I LOVE my Cariuma sneakers.
Eileen Fisher - Natural and sustainable fiber clothing from a certified B corp. Widely available. I've had the best luck using Eileen Fisher for foundational pieces like a linen shell or a tank dress. Lot of other forum members wear their shoes, but they haven't worked for my feet. My experience has been that fabric quality can vary widely. The good pieces are great.You can return your worn-out EF pieces to the store of by mail for a $5 gift card, which I've done multiple times. I've also started using EF Renew to buy secondhand/refurbished items. The two pieces I've bought that way have been great.
Elizabeth Suzann - I put off ordering from here for years because I was afraid of the store-credit-only return policy. When I finally did order, I emailed customer support my measurements and they were quick to respond with the best size for the piece I was considering. Since then, I've added three more ES pieces to my collection and I love them all. This is a much smaller operation now than it was pre-2020, and I admire a company/founder who was willing to subvert the narrative of "growth at all costs" and pull back when she discovered her trajectory wasn't sustainable.
Gudrun Sjoden - If Eileen Fisher were Swedish and loved color and pattern, she'd be Gudrun Sjoden. I've purchased both essentials and statements from here, and been really happy with my pieces.
Hackwith Design House - Natural fiber clothing...and swimwear! I bought a reversible wrap top from here towards the end of last summer and the quality is impeccable.
Jamie and the Jones - Really beautiful woven clothing in very limited editions. A treat for textile-lovers
Naadam - Sustainable cashmere. Love my Naadam sweater! I don't have a big need for wool in my life right now, but if I ever do again, I wouldn't hesitate.
Universal Standard - Essentials with a twist. I've only bought jeans from here, but I've been quite happy with them.
Vetta - Versatile wardrobe essentials, arranged into capsules representing various styles. I just adore my Vetta sweatshirt (wearing it right now) and I'd love to try more.
Warp and Weft - Sustainable denim. I've had two pairs of their jeans now and the fit is fab. It's sometimes hard to find the right size in stock, but I suspect this is just the nature of the beast when a company isn't overproducing.
Tried, but not true (these are "maybes" for me right now):
It's worth noting that a "maybe" for me might be a solid "yes" for you. Some of the reasons for brands landing in this section are totally personal points of sizing and fit, or subjective judgements about transparency/sustainability. I own or have tried items from all these brands.
Amour Vert - Still on the fence on Amour Vert. They use a lot of tencel and modal, which aren't my favorites, but the modal top I have from them has held up well for multiple summers. I ordered and returned one of their "nouveau silk" blouses--the largest size didn't work for me and the fabric was kind of awful. AV now has a circularity program, reselling their used pieces, much like Eileen Fisher.
Known Supply - I only have one lounge tank from this brand, so I don't have the broad experience with them to make them a go-to, but they're definitely on my list to keep in mind.
Miz Mooz - Not my first stop because I had a few issues with quality/longevity on the shoes I bought from here, but solid enough that I'd be willing to purchase again, especially given the unique styling.
Nisolo - Shoes and leather goods. Iffy on this for me. I like my sandals from here, but they never became workhorses. Nisolo's sizing can run small and narrow, so not all their shoes have worked for my average-width, size 10 feet. Some styles say (accurately) to size up, and that wasn't possible for me.
Only Child Clothing - Natural fiber clothing. Similar look to Elizabeth Suzann, but made in California. Another micro operation. This is in the "maybe" category only because they're temporarily shut down, and I'm not sure if they'll return.
Pendleton - Pendleton lands in the "maybes" mostly because of sizing for me. They do carry my size, but I've been lucky enough to shop in one of their retail stores and find the fits to be just a bit awkward. Basically, I'd try their pieces in a heartbeat, but am wary of a low success rate.
Peruvian Connection - My explorations of the Peruvian Connection site seem to show a company with strong values, but that possibly doesn't have full knowledge on what's going in their supply chain. I have purchased from them, but the lack of transparency makes them a "sometimes food," to quote Sesame Street.
Poetry/Wrap London - Two different faces of the same company. I put these in "maybe" because, though they prioritize natural fiber clothing and do address sustainability on their site, I can't quite get a feel for where their core values lie. That being said, I've been quite happy with my pieces from here, which include a pair of trousers from Poetry and a dress from Wrap London.
Reformation - Trendy clothing. Reformation is sold at Nordstrom in limited styles and sizes. They have a larger plus-sized range on their own site. It's great to have a sustainable option that's not the more common avant-garde, artsy look. Quality and turnover-wise, Reformation is a bit closer to the fast fashion model than I'm comfortable with, so I don't know if I'd order from them again.
Sevilla Smith - Handmade shoes. My Sevilla Smith shoes were lovely, but never quite molded to my feet the way I'd hoped. You have to be good with hard (non-flexible) soles and no arch support. I wore them over thirty times and then sold them while they still looked great. They kept a significant resale value, which made the purchase worth it to me.
Two Fold Clothing - I'm mostly happy with my dress from here, but it took a looooooong time to arrive with very little communication, even when I reached out to customer service. I also didn't find the design/construction of this dress to be quite as elegant as pieces from my go-to brands.
On my radar:
Ace and Jig - Super-special pieces from the most gorgeous textiles. Quite expensive...I am waiting for the one that sings to me.
Aday - Another capsule wardrobe purveyor. I think I'm probably borderline on their size range, but would give it a try.
Curator SF - California company producing small-batch designs
Faherty - Really great partnerships with Native/indigenous designers.
FARM Rio - Riotously colorful patterns out of Brazil, with an emphasis on social and environmental sustainability
Jenni Kayne - Natural fiber clothing, best known for sweaters and shoes. Slowly becoming more size inclusive.
Lora Gene - British designer who partners with sustainability advocate Aja Barber for size inclusive heirloom pieces.
Pact - Organic cotton essentials at an affordable price.
Paskho - Sustainably-made athleisure and travel clothing.
Patagonia - Fully expect my next puffer to be Patagonia.
Power of my People - Canadian capsule wardrobe pieces
The Root Collective - Shoes. I really like the look of their booties and ballet flats.
Sene - Custom-sized denim. Probably my next purchase.
Sotela - LA-based natural fiber essentials. Made-to-order and radically size inclusive.
Tradlands - Best known for their button-downs, but now also selling knitwear, dresses, and jumpsuits. And pants!
Two Days Off - LA-based natural-fiber essentials
Veja - Sneakers. The pair I ordered didn't quite work for my feet, but I might try a different style. They were so close, and looked great!
Finally, I have a few brands on my go-to list that don't really have any major sustainability cred, but that I keep in rotation because they work for me. Those include Johnny Was for statements, Duluth Trading for hard-working essentials, Third Love for bras, and Julianna Rae for silk lingerie.