If you’re looking to make a difference with your wardrobe, why not start from the bottom up? Opting for sustainable basics is the perfect way to dip your toes into the world of ethically-made clothing.
An easy way to begin your journey as a conscious consumer is to choose your basics from brands that do right by people, planet and animals. The great news is you can do this without sacrificing your sense of style! Each brand below has been rated for its impact on the ethical and environmental issues you care about – check the Good On You app for more detail.
Switching out your undies for their ethical counterparts is the easiest place to begin. You can start small by purchasing eco-friendly or fair-trade underwear whenever items in your current collection need replacing. Since underwear is something we’ll continually need to repurchase, opting for brands that produce sustainably makes a huge impact over time – and we promise they’re just as fun to dance in on those nights out (or in!).
This is a brand dedicated to creating high-quality, long-lasting basics. Make It Good uses sustainable materials such as organic cotton and recycled polyester. They also use water based inks which help to reduce wastewater. Their super funky underwear is all made in-house at their own micro-factory in Portland, Oregon. Fun fact: the hand-drawn solar system print featured above glows in the dark!
Etiko was the first non-food brand to receive Fair Trade certification in the Australia/New Zealand region and has been on an impressive trajectory ever since. Feel extra comfortable in these cotton undies knowing that they are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. This means that their underwear adheres to strict organic and low impact standards.
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Mighty Good Undies are made from fair trade and organic certified cotton, and their dyes are ecofriendly. Not only do they use renewable energy in part of their supply chain – for each pair of undies you buy they will donate to the South Pole Group, helping offset carbon emissions from their production process.
PACT brings you underwear made from GOTS certified cotton, which imposes strict environmental criteria and labour regulations across the supply chain. A high proportion of their cotton is also certified Fair Trade. PACT carry a wide range of cuts and colours from basic black hipsters to lilac lace thongs depending on your taste.
On a quest to create the ultimate undie, Thunderpants promise their wearers no wedgies and no visible panty lines. Born in New Zealand, Thunderpants was launched in Portland, Oregon by former customer and shop owner Celeste in 2016. Their cute designs are made using Global Organic Textile Standard certified cotton, inks and dyes – with patterns like cowgirls, lucky fish and zoo animals!
Naja employs single mothers and female heads of households in their garment factory where they are paid above market wages with healthcare benefits. They’re also provided with child education stipends including school supplies, uniforms and all school meals. Naja also has an eco-friendly collection that uses synthetic fibres made from recycled plastic bottles.
Boody basics are made from 80% organic bamboo yarn, which is stretchy and soft. Boody creates their garments with very little waste. They’re also Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production certified, which is an independent non-profit team of global social compliance experts dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing around the world.
Support the planet and its people while, you know, supporting yourself! Whether you’re looking for simple designs or flirty fabrics, bras that suit your tastes and values definitely exist. So go on, lift your game with these gorgeous ethically sound choices!
Natural beauty has never been so sexy. Luva Huva (pronounced Lover Huva) offers comfortable lingerie in an elegant feminine style. They use environmentally friendly fabrics like organic cotton, bamboo, soy, remnant material and vintage lace. Luva Huva’s pieces are handmade in the United Kingdom.
Handmade to order by a small team in Los Angeles, Clare Bare make beautiful lingerie that is not only sustainable but unique, modern and sexy. They use a variety of ecofriendly materials such as organic cotton and vintage fabric, which are hand-dyed using organic pigments.
Larkspur is a line of sustainable lingerie handmade in Los Angeles. They use materials such as GOTS certified organic cotton and repurposed surplus designer fabric. The majority of Larkspur’s pieces are made to order, which reduces waste and overproduction. It also means you can request tailored options such as attaching smaller or larger cup sizes to a design.
NICO produce high-quality underpants and bras in monochrome colours and minimalist design that will make you feel luxurious every day. NICO is ethical and sustainable and transparent with their practice. They were the first underwear brand to achieve Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation.
Madonna Bain uses fabrics that are kinder to the planet such as 100% organic GOTS certified cotton and hemp-silk. The founder of the brand works closely with her tailors. Their lingerie, intimates and sleepwear are delicate, well-made, and designed to make women feel good in their own skin.
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Socks & Stockings
Interested in combining comfort, style and ethics as you walk through life? Put your best foot forward with these excellent options.
Swedish Stockings is a brand aiming to mend the way we wear and discard our stockings. They recycle by-products from other nylon products and use solar power for a large part of their manufacturing process. They minimise their footprint by ensuring no extra water is used during production, their factories are zero-waste and all water in the dyeing process is purified and treated.
Conscious Step believes that an ordinary purchase can have an extraordinary purpose. Their socks are made from organic cotton by farmers who are guaranteed minimum wage compliance, overtime compensation and freedom of association. No chemicals are used in its production processes and trees are planted to offset its environmental impact. Conscious Step really is a front-runner when it comes to ethical brands.
The brainchild of New Zealand designer Kate Sylvester, this brand uses organic cotton and organic merino wool to create style and comfort. They’re reducing their carbon emissions by using a carbon neutral energy provider and nearly all of their pieces are made in New Zealand.
These beautiful socks are created without the use of hazardous dyes – that’s good news for your feet and for the hands of the people who made them. Trenery has strong policies that support workers’ rights and is making an effort to pay a living wage to some of its suppliers.
We spend a huge amount of our time in bed – make the most of it with these cute and conscious sleepwear brands.
The team at Moonbird are big dreamers – they’ve created plush pyjamas from certified organic cotton at production facilities in India that are Fair Trade Federation members. Their range includes dressing gowns, matching sets and separates for both him and her. That deserves a double thumbs up from us!
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This gorgeous sleepwear range has also been awarded our highest rating – not just for its funky style, but for its outstanding commitment to the environment. ALAS products are made from certified organic cotton and low-impact, solid dyes through energy efficient and low waste processes. Their factories provide fair labour conditions for their workers.
Every piece of lovely Notcu sleepwear is made from environmentally friendly certified organic and Fairtrade cotton. They’ve also made a public commitment to pay a living wage at the cut, make and trim level of production. Noctu’s nighties and separates come in muted shades of sage, quartz and dusky grey. Perfect for sleepy eyes!
Sorella’s certified organic sleepwear range includes tops, pants, wraps, nighties and even maternity wear. The label’s founder Anna McGregor has a background in international human rights work. This is reflected in her use of Fairtrade certified cotton, which ensures strict social standards are met in production and trading. Best of all, purchasing their clothing won’t make you cry over your bank balance.
There’s nothing quite as versatile as that chic but simple tee that you can pair with almost everything in your wardrobe.
Born from brand owner Linda Smyth’s search for the perfect white tee, Bon Label’s products emulate that timeless French simplicity and elegance. Their 100% organic cotton t-shirts are perfectly matched with your favourite denim on the weekend or a classic pin skirt in the office. Bon Label uses no animal products in their manufacturing and has a strong focus on ethical labour practice, everything we like to hear.
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A New York Affair collaborates with local artists to bring you a great mix of NY-inspired graphic tees along with basic white v-neck and crew-neck tops. The production team screen-print each t-shirt by hand – all of which are made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton. A New York Affair has also been certified by Fairtrade International.
Citizen Wolf is using revolutionary technology to give you high-quality custom fit t-shirts. They’re so confident in their t-shirts that they guarantee they’ll be the best you’ve ever worn! After capturing your customizations, they handmake each tee in Sydney from certified 100% organic cotton milled in Melbourne.
Long sleeve, short sleeve, crew neck, v-neck, scoop neck – whatever it is you’re looking for in a t-shirt Make An Impact Clothing has got it! Let your skin breathe with sustainable fibres like certified organic cotton and Tencel made from wood pulp. Make An Impact is also certified by the Fair Wear Foundation which works with brands to improve and verify working conditions.
Dorsu makes their simple but smart t-shirts from fabric remnants discarded by other manufacturers in Cambodia. They also use recycled packaging and run a completely plastic free workshop. The brand prides itself on its fair labour practices – paying their workers a living wage. You’ll even find the name of the employee who made each item printed on the swing tags! Whether you’re lounging, brunching or lunching, you’ll look effortlessly classy in one of their tees.
This article was originally published by Julia McAlpine on 12 January 2016 and was updated on 3 April 2017 by Kendall Benton-Collins.
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Editor’s note: Ratings correct at time of publication.
Images via brands.