elderly woman of colour wearing sustainable silk dress in pint by Seek Collective
08 Mar
elderly woman of colour wearing sustainable silk dress in pint by Seek Collective

16 Ethical Brands That Empower Women

When it comes to women’s rights and the clothing industry—we like our fashion slow and our gender equality fast. It’s hard not to feel discouraged when you’re faced with disparity, but you can make a difference by supporting fashion brands that empower women at every stage, from the supply chain to the shelves.

On March 8 we celebrate International Women’s Day—a global day dedicated to recognising the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It’s also a rallying point to bring attention to the many threats facing women around the world, and fashion is one of the worst offenders. Women form an overwhelming majority in the global garment industry and work in terrible conditions. According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, “80% of these workers are female.”

So when it comes to choosing what to put in our closets, we should keep the women making our clothing and the conditions they’re working in front of mind.

Here are 16 ethical brands that empower women and create beautiful fashion at the same time.

The Social Outfit

Rated: Great

Accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, the Social Outfit has a social mission to employ and train workers from refugee and new migrant communities. You can be confident your purchase is directly contributing to a better life for minorities who need it most. Each piece tells an amazing human story, as the team taps into the creativity and diversity of these amazing people and collaborates with them to create new designs each season. Find styles in 2XS-3XL.

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Shop the Social Outfit.

Seek Collective

Rated: Good

Seek Collective is a US brand of thoughtfully made items with a dedication to transparency, authenticity, craft, and sustainability. Seek is focused on establishing connections between art, product, consumers, process, and makers. Its items are made in India through partnerships with like-minded communities and people.

Seek is a woman owned business and while its artisans include both women and men, it is proud that the final stitching is done with a women-owned studio in Bangalore. Read some inspiring stories from women on the brand’s blog.

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Shop Seek Collective.

Jyoti – Fair Works

Rated: Good

For those living in Europe, you’re lucky enough to be able to get your hands on the beautiful 100% GOTS cotton products created by Jyoti. Truly embodying ethical fashion practices, this German company provides employment for people from marginalised or disadvantaged groups in India. Sizes available are S-XL.

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Shop Jyoti.

NEOCOCO

Rated: Good
person laughing in t-shirt and close up of artwork by Neococo

NEOCOCO is a mission-based apparel company founded for the sole purpose of creating jobs for women refugees through the art of hand embroidery. Faced with challenges such as adjusting to a new culture and securing a job, Neococo provides refugees with community and support to make them feel safe and achieve financial independence. Crafting pieces representing women’s empowerment, find the range in sizes XS to 3XL.

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Shop NEOCOCO.

The R Collective

Rated: Great

The R Collective’s womenswear collections are made by reusing rescued excess materials from leading luxury brands and reputable manufacturers. It is a standout brand for labour rights even amongst ethical brands, as it ensures payment of a living wage across its entire supply chain.

Scoring ‘Great’ for workers, you can be assured that supporting this brand prioritises the health, safety, and happiness of the overwhelmingly female garment workers behind the scenes.

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Shop The R Collective.

Raven + Lily

Rated: Good
woman lying on bed wearing Raven + Lily jewellery and homewares

Raven + Lily, a Texas-based brand, is on a mission to alleviate poverty amongst women by giving them access to a sustainable income. To do this, it works closely with local artisan groups of at-risk women based in countries such as the US, Pakistan, Haiti, Malaysia, and Guatemala.

Raven + Lily is a certified B Corporation, focused on alleviating poverty among women by providing fair trade wages, a safe job, a sustainable income, healthcare and education. Shopping ethically with Raven + Lily means you’re helping to empower over 1,500 female artisans.

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Shop Raven + Lily.

Shop Raven + Lily @ Cerqular.

Mayamiko

Rated: Great
woman wearing mayamiko colourful top

Mayamiko produces clothing, homewares, and accessories that are made ethically by women in Malawi. Its aesthetic fuses contemporary design with traditional African techniques. All of the prints are sourced by a local cooperative of women traders.

This brand is a leading advocate for better labour rights and has created the Mayamiko Trust, a charity which works in the community to train and empower disadvantaged women. One of the charity’s projects, the Mayamiko Lab, was designed to provide skills training, education, nutrition, sanitation, and promote fairer trade practices.

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Shop Mayamiko.

Conscious Step

Rated: Good

Conscious Step creates premium fair trade, organic, vegan socks and clothes which support great charities. The US brand is committed to lasting social and environmental change and every step it take in its production process supports farms and factories with fair wages, safe facilities, and sustainable materials.

From socks that stop violence against women, to socks that promote breast cancer prevention, Conscious Step is one of those ethical brands that empower women every step of the way.

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Shop Conscious Step.

Birdsong

Rated: Good

Birdsong is a boutique label producing gorgeous womenswear. Its clothes are handmade in London by knitters and seamstresses earning above the London living wage. The business is built on a philosophy of fairness and authenticity, promising customers “no sweatshop, no photoshop”. Birdsong’s products are inclusively sized from 2XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Birdsong.

People Tree

Rated: Great

Offers

Someone wearing a red organic shirt by People Tree.

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UK fashion brand People Tree has been an entirely Fair Trade business for over 25 years, working with mostly female producers around the world. The brand empowers women by giving them control over how they work, as well as how proceeds are used to benefit their communities.

It is rated ‘Great’ for people, and ensures payment of a living wage in most of its supply chain.

See the rating.

Shop People Tree UK.

Shop People Tree EU.

Shop People Tree @ Wearwell.

ReCreate

Rated: Great
woman wearing sustainable dress by ReCreate brand

New Zealand based label ReCreate receives the highest rating from Good On You. As well as using Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton and recycled materials to make trendy clothing, the brand provides employment for women in Dey Tmey, a disadvantaged community in Cambodia. Find clothes in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop ReCreate.

Parker Clay

Rated: Good
Someone unfolding a striped cotton towel on a beach, wearing a light leather backpack by Parker Clay.

A bag that saves lives? You got it. Parker Clay is an American based brand looking to create a future without exploitation by bettering lives and communities in Ethiopia. The brand has partnered with Ellilta Women at Risk program, fighting to bring women out of prostitution by providing a more stable income and safe working environment. Parker Clay also helps preserve traditional Ethiopian techniques, materials, and styles, ensuring that this fast growing country is able to remain close to its beautiful roots.

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Shop Parker Clay.

Mata Traders

Rated: Good

Mata Traders create a beautiful range of vintage-inspired, artisan-made clothing and jewellery. All of its products come from artisanal cooperatives in India and Nepal which focus on gender equality and female empowerment. Mata Traders is a member of the Fair Trade Federation.

See the rating.

Shop Mata Traders @ Veneka.

Shop Mata Traders @ Wearwell.

Shop Mata Traders.

Naja

Rated: Good

American lingerie brand Naja is all about empowering women, from the makers to the wearers. It employs single mothers and female heads of households who are paid above market wages, provided with health benefits and child education stipends.

Naja has also implemented flexible work policies to make it easier for women to balance work and childcare. Every child of a Naja garment worker receives books, school supplies, uniforms, and all school meals paid by Naja.

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Shop Naja.

Eileen Fisher

Rated: Good

Eileen Fisher creates ethical, timeless, well-made clothes designed to work together, wear effortlessly, and be part of a responsible life cycle. The brand has also made a public commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and uses eco-friendly materials. The standard range is available in 2XS-XL, with petite and plus ranges also available.

Eileen Fisher signed the Fashion Makes Change pledge, a new coalition dedicated to improving the lives of women around the globe and cultivating a more sustainable future.

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Shop Eileen Fisher.

Shop Eileen Fisher @ Veneka.

Franc

Rated: Good

Franc is a Canadian brand that makes basics so you can enjoy a complete wardrobe built on timeless essentials. The brand ranks ‘Good’ on all fronts: it uses eco-friendly materials, pays a living wage and uses no animal products. Find most products in sizes XS to 3XL.

All of Franc’s seconds, samples and overstock (items that it cannot sell) are donated to Sistering or the YWCA Toronto. The brand tries to keep its samples and overstock items to a minimum, but when that is not possible, it choses to give these new or like-new items to women in need instead of hosting a sample sale.

See the rating.

Shop Franc.

Editor's note

Feature image via Seek Collective, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search thousands of rated brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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