Starting Simply: A Guide to Sustainable Basics

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!).

Make It Good GoY-Ratings_4

Glow-in-the-Dark Solar System Bikini Women's UnderwearMen’s + Women’s | Ships internationally

This brand is 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. They make their super funky underwear 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 GoY-Ratings_4pt9

Etiko UnderwearMen’s + Women’s | Ships internationally

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.

Love sustainably chic fashion? Then you’ll love the Good On You app!

Mighty Good Undies GoY-Ratings_5

Men’s + Women’s | Ships internationally

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 GoY-Ratings_5

PACT Organic UnderwearMen’s + Women’s | Ships within the US only

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.

Thunderpants USA GoY-Ratings_4pt9

Women’s | Ships internationally

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 GoY-Ratings_4

Naja UnderwearWomen’s | Ships internationally

Naja employs single mothers and female heads of households in their garment factory. Workers 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 GoY-Ratings_4

Men’s + Women’s | Ships internationally

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!

Luva Huva  good on you great rating

Ships internationally

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.

Clare Bare GoY-Ratings_4

Hawthorne Bralette in RubyShips internationally

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 GoY-Ratings_4

Hazel_Olive_Set_webShips internationally

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 GoY-Ratings_4

Ships internationally

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 GoY-Ratings_4

Madonna Bain Triangle Soft CupShips internationally

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.

Discover more ethical clothing brands with the Good On You app.

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 GoY-Ratings_4

RS 1-swedish-stockingsShips internationally

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 do not use excess water in production. Their factories are zero-waste and all water in the dying process is purified and treated.

Conscious Step GoY-Ratings_5

Conscious StepShips internationally

Conscious Step believes that an ordinary purchase can have an extraordinary purpose. They make their socks from organic cotton and guarantee their farmers minimum wage compliance, overtime compensation and freedom of association. They don’t use any harmful chemicals in their production process. They also offset their environmental impact by tree planting initiatives. Conscious Step really is a front-runner when it comes to ethical brands.

Kate Sylvester good on you great rating

Kate Sylvester SocksShips internationally (FREE)

The brainchild of New Zealand designer Kate Sylvester, this brand uses organic cotton and organic merino wool to create style and comfort. They reduce their carbon emissions by using a carbon-neutral energy provider. As well as this, they amke nearly all of their pieces in New Zealand.

Trenery good on you great rating

TreneryShips internationally

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.

Moonbird GoY-Ratings_4pt9

Men’s and Women’s | Ships internationally

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!

ALAS GoY-Ratings_4pt9

Men’s and Women’s | Ships internationally

We’ve awarded this gorgeous sleepwear range our highest rating. Not just for its funky style, but for its outstanding commitment to the environment. ALAS make their products from certified organic cotton and low-impact, solid dyes. They also create them through energy efficient and low waste processes. Furthermore, their factories provide fair labour conditions for their workers.

Noctu GoY-Ratings_4pt9

NOCTUMen’s, Children’s and Women’s | Ships internationally

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 including sage, quartz and dusky grey. So they’re perfect for sleepy eyes!

Sorella Organics GoY-Ratings_4pt9

Sorella_sleepshirt_wrapMen’s and Women’s | Ships internationally

Sorella’s certified organic sleepwear range includes tops, pants, wraps, nighties, as well as maternity wear. The label’s founder Anna McGregor has a background in international human rights work. This is obvious with her use of Fairtrade certified cotton, and it 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.

Bon Label GoY-Ratings_5

Bon Label Crew TeeWomen’s | Ships internationally

Born from brand owner Linda Smyth’s search for the perfect white tee, Bon Label’s products emulate that timeless French simplicity and elegance. They make their t-shirts from 100% organic cotton to perfectly match 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.

A New York Affair GoY-Ratings_4pt9

A New York Affair TeeMen’s and Women’s | Ships internationally

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. They screen-print each t-shirt by hand and make them from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton. A New York Affair has also been certified by Fairtrade International.

Citizen Wolf GoY-Ratings_5

Citizen Wolf T-ShirtsMen’s and Women’s | Ships internationally

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.

Dorsu GoY-Ratings_5

Men’s and Women’s | Ships internationally

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.

Kendall Benton-Collins

Author Kendall Benton-Collins

Kendall has over a decade’s experience working in environmental conservation and communication. She’s the creator of Kindness by Design and a member of the Australia/New Zealand Working Group for Fashion Revolution.

More posts by Kendall Benton-Collins

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Steve says:

    I’m baffled! Trying to find sustainable socks for Father’s Day and every retailer stocks “eco friendly bamboo socks” yet I stumbled across this article:

    What are your thoughts?

    • says:


      The short answer is that you might want to consider GOTS certified organic cotton socks. Conscious Step socks is one brand to look at. The 2017 Biome article you note correctly raises concerns that organic cotton does not necessarily address water use concerns. The good news is that a sizeable more recent study suggests that most organic cotton grown in India is not from water stressed areas

      The longer answer:
      It is absolutely correct that the soft rayon-like bamboo fabrics used for underwear, socks and other fabrics (as opposed to a less common rougher fabric sometimes called ‘bamboo hemp’) require chemical processing and that the regular way to do this has extremely bad environmental impacts. The ‘closed loop’ process for processing natural fibres (wood, bamboo) into fabric is less harmful. Lenzing’s Tencel is generally recognised as a relatively good option (on a par with organic cotton according to Made-By’s Benchmark for Fibres); but this technique is not widely used for viscose/rayon made from bamboo as opposed to wood fibre. Fibres also need to be sourced from sustainable forests/plantations, meaning either Forest Stewardship Certified or approved by CanopyStyle. See more in our review of bamboo which comes to largely similar conclusions to Biome.

      The bottom line? As we say in that article “Bamboo has advantages over cotton when it comes to it’s sustainable farming potential. But there’s a lot of work done to develop and make widely available cost-effective and environmentally sustainable ways of creating the soft and silky bamboo fabrics that we’re dreaming of.” “In most cases organic cotton will be a better choice from the point of view of the environment, all other things being equal (especially the fabric dying process).”

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