The Lists

The 12 Top Sustainable Luxury Fashion Brands You Need to Know

Sustainable luxury fashion brands to know, including Stella McCartney, Gabriella Hearst, Brother Vellies, and Reformation.

Do you have to sacrifice style for sustainability? Not anymore. Our correspondent Julie Chang Murphy has investigated the world of sustainable luxury fashion, and she’s sharing the latest. Here’s our list of some of the top sustainable luxury fashion brands you need to know about (and consider buying) right now, including Stella McCartney, Gabriella Hearst, Brother Vellies, and Reformation.

how can you be sure that a luxury fashion brand is actually sustainable?

When talking about fashion and sustainability, it’s best to break the bad news first. There is no way (yet) to be 100% certain that the fashion brands you shop are creating goods that  meet the definition of sustainable.

Meaning: eco-friendly and minimizes pesticides, chemicals and water consumption. Promotes living wages for workers. Supports humane working conditions. Utilizes energy efficient packaging and delivery. Reduces waste. And protects animal rights.

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It’s a lofty goal. But the good news is that shoppers are wearing their hearts on their sleeves. They’re aligning their spending habits with companies that share their ethical values in an authentic and transparent way. And the fashion industry is listening.

Sustainable luxury fashion brands to know, including Stella McCartney, Gabriella Hearst, Brother Vellies, and Reformation.

Sustainable luxury fashion brands to know, including Stella McCartney, Gabriella Hearst, Brother Vellies, and Reformation.

continued consumer demand for sustainable luxury fashion

Google trends shows that searches for “sustainable fashion” are rising faster and more steadily than searches for “organic food”. And based on over 100 million searches on the global fashion search engine Lyst, shoppers looking for fashion with a sustainable bent increased 47%.

The pandemic only heightened demand for eco-friendly and ethical fashion. Sandra Capponi, co-founder of Good On You, a brand directory that rates clothing companies based on their environmental impact, noted: “The Covid crisis shed more light on the problems with fast fashion and consumers became even more motivated to support brands doing good.” 

the fashion industry’s response

designers and merchants are engaged

Having worked as a fashion designer, I can also report that most designers on the ground level are intrinsically passionate and thoughtful about sustainability. It’s part of the DNA of good design. Our desire is to use materials that are beautiful but not destructive. To communicate effectively with factories abroad, knowing that last minute changes from buyer meetings have consequences for their workers. We want our designs to bring the wearer joy and confidence not just for one season, but for years. The inter-connectedness of the entire process is exhilarating AND overwhelming.

Sustainable luxury fashion brands to know, including Stella McCartney, Gabriella Hearst, Brother Vellies, and Reformation.

Sustainable luxury fashion brands to know, including Stella McCartney, Gabriella Hearst, Brother Vellies, and Reformation.

collaboration is on the rise

What makes sustainable fashion exciting now is that perhaps for the first time, as the CFDA reports in its 2019 sustainability report, “there is an unprecedented level of collaboration across the entire industry and its stakeholders.” It’s not just the artsy, progressive designers bemoaning the waste. It’s also high-level business executives, governments, textile scientists, and non-profit community organizations. More and more, they’re all sharing a common agenda.

Sustainable fashion is more than a trendy buzzword. It’s good design. Good business. And good shopping. Ultimately, we will purchase clothing and accessories based on style and aesthetics, not altruism. But as our roundup of sustainable brands indicate, fashion and ethical practices are increasingly going hand in hand. Acting as a force for change in the environment, global business practices, and local communities.

As if we needed another reason to shop!

there’s no need to sacrifice style for sustainability

Featured in our edit are 12 luxury designers. Some have been at the forefront of the sustainability movement for some time now. Others are popular indie designers that you might not have even known were ethically produced. Finally, some are up-and-comers who are changing the way we view eco-fashion.

There is no shortage of designer labels from which to choose, proving you don’t have to sacrifice your personal style for sustainability. Say goodbye to the proverbial burlap sack!

Sustainable luxury fashion

12 top sustainable luxury fashion brands you need to know now

1. Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has remained the industry’s gold standard- not only eschewing fur, leather, and PVC in her designs for the past 18 years, but also using organic cotton and continuously researching and using new eco-friendly textiles. Furthermore, all of Stella McCartney offices and studios in the UK are powered by wind energy. Abroad, 45% of their operations are running on 100% renewable, green energy.

As much as we love her prescient vision, we admire her signature cool-girl and cool-guy clothing and accessories even more. They’re the perfect combination of being modern, laid back, tailored, and playful without trying too hard.

BUY NOW: $1,795.

2. Brunello Cucinelli

Brunello Cucinelli, the Italian designer known for elegant suits and sumptuous knitwear, is a big proponent of “humanistic capital” and fair labor practices. A virgin wool suit can cost $3,985 and a cashmere cardigan $1,995. But the brand’s operating margins, according to Bloomberg, are actually lower than the average of similar brands.

In fact, they are reflective of the brand’s hyper-local production, craftsmanship, and sustainable sourcing from Mongolia, northern India and Solomeo, Italy. A self-proclaimed philosopher-entrepreneur, Cucinelli also pays his employees – who he reminds us are “thinking souls” – 20% more than the average Italian manufacturing wage.

3. Reve en Vert

Reve en Vert is “the Net-a-Porter” of the sustainable fashion world. This online boutique stocks over 30 luxury brands (including its own house label REV) who all adhere to the motto: organic, remade, local and fair. Designers like Mara Hoffman, Filippa K, Christopher Raeburn, and Dagny have made the cut.

Everything from the clothing to the packaging is ethically sourced. Addressing the carbon footprint associated with shipping, Reve en Vert invests in the UPS carbon neutral program: for every ton of CO2 a package produces in transportation, an equivalent amount of CO2 is saved by a verified emission reduction project somewhere else in the world.

4. Gabriela Hearst

Gabriela Hearst, a New York-based designer who describes her designs as honest luxury is committing to slow fashion. She made her name in the industry with sophisticated, fluid apparel. And the Nina bag, which developed a cult following after being seen on the arm of Meghan Markle.

Hearst now has a store on Madison Avenue, right next to the legendary Carlyle Hotel. There, you’ll find timeless fashion and accessories made using sustainable fabrications, produced in small quantities.

Sustainable luxury fashion

Designer Gabriela Hearst at her studio in NY

5. AMUR

AMUR stands for A Mindful Use of Resources and was founded by Sofia Shannon, who believes “a product that has a negative impact on the environment is not a quality or luxury product.” The collection is full of vivid, saturated colors, feminine cuts and gorgeous florals. Their designs utilize natural textiles such as organic cotton, silk, hemp and linen but also regenerated textiles. Collaborating with artisans in India and Vietnam to develop hardware, AMUR also commits to empowering local communities.

6. Mara Hoffman

Established in 2000, Mara Hoffman’s colorful collections have been a favorite of ours for their understated elegance with just the right balance of whimsy. The company is committed to using a high proportion of eco-friendly materials including recycled material. Their e-commerce site wins high marks for making it all transparent to the consumer.

Beyond textiles, they use compostable packaging. and help reduces its water use by using digital printing technology. In production, there is always some waste – but Mara Hoffman partners with Fabscrap, a NYC-based non-profit that diverts discarded textiles from landfills by repurposing them for artists, crafters, and other creatives as well as shredding them to create insulation, carpet padding, furniture lining, etc.

BUY NOW: $525.

7. Reformation

LA-based Reformation is the go-to sustainable brand for the it-girl: Emma Watson, Leandra Medine, and Rihanna have all been photographed in their on-trend pieces. 75% of their feminine and effortless apparel is sourced from fibers that are rapidly renewable, plant-based or recycled. The label values the customer’s right to know and each item comes with a description of its environmental footprint.

Reformation

8. Kowtow

Founded in 2007 by Gosia Piatek, a Polish political refugee, Kowtow is a New Zealand-based brand whose aesthetic exemplifies minimalist and understated luxury. All of the brand’s garments are certified by non-profit internationally-recognized organizations. Furthermore, workers at their production facilities receive fair wages, social security funds, pension funds, paid holiday leave, sick pay, medical insurance, subsidized lunches, overtime pay, workplace unions, and free transport to their workplace.

KowTow

9. Brother Vellies

Brother Vellies, founded by Toronto native, Aurora James, produces sustainable and stunning shoes for men, women, and children, as well as handbags. The shoes create and sustain artisanal jobs in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco. Most of their classic designs are made of Kudu leather, an animal byproduct resulting from a government mandated culling due to overpopulation. Other sources of material come from Nile perch, springbok and rabbit, using only byproducts from the food industry. Looking at the shoes, you’d never guess!

Brother Vellies

10. Kevin Germanier

Kevin Germanier, a Swiss designer who started off as a junior designer at Louis Vuitton, is an up and comer in the luxury fashion world and innovative leader when it comes to sustainability. His eponymous line of glamorous and sexy (not words often associated with sustainable fashion) rainbow kaleidoscopic dresses and body suits are crafted from recycled plastic beads and silicone. Each exuberant, structural garment is one-of-a-kind, based on whatever materials he is able to salvage and up-cycle. They’re sold exclusively on the site of online luxury retailer matchesfashion.com.

Kevin Germanier

11. Roopa Pemmaraju

Looking at Roopa Pemmaraju’s wondrous and vibrant creations, it’s clear that her intricate garments are the result of slow fashion created by artisans. Using recycled or natural textiles such as cotton, maize fibers, eucalyptus, and silk, each piece also uses time-honored techniques that celebrate the exceptional craftsmanship of India. Skilled artisans are paid fairly at their private Indian atelier where the garments are sewn and embroidered by hand. Considering how colorful her garments are, we were pleased to see that only low-impact non-toxic dyes are used. Since each product is made to order, textile waste is minimized.

12. Christy Dawn

The dresses from Christy Dawn come by their vintage look authentically. Each one or two of a kind style in their Deadstock Collection is made from fabric that would otherwise be cast aside, finding its way eventually into a landfill. Aside from deadstock, Christy Dawn introduced a Farm-to-Closet Collection. Working directly with the farmers and artisans of Oshadi Collective in India, the once depleted land has been replenished through ancient practices of regeneration to produce a bounty of healthy cotton crops. The timeless aesthetic and classic silhouettes are a purposeful choice, made by talented dressmakers in LA with high-end construction methods built to last. 

Those are some of the top sustainable luxury fashion brands you need to know.

Fashion can sometimes get a bad rap. But these brands are applying creative solutions and unveiling enormous potential for change both environmentally and through social justice. Guilt-free shopping? We’ll buy it!

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier Newsletter hereAnd see luxury in a new light.

This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links. 

Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, and fitness. Julie lives in New York where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing. And spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.

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