Great style starts with a great shirt. Initially born as an undergarment worn only by men, the shirt has become a staple that has transformed into many variations adorned by just about everyone! We’ve researched the best sustainable and organic men’s shirts for this ultimate guide, but first, let’s learn about this universally popular wardrobe staple.
Fun fact: the world’s oldest preserved shirt was found in an Egyptian tomb dating back to 3000BC and was made out of linen!
These days, the modern shirt is made out of a variety of fabrics and increasingly we’re seeing them made out of synthetic fibres. This is not only bad for the environment, but is harmful to the consumer and those working to create them through production techniques and chemical treatments.
It’s time to take a lesson from the past and come full circle by embracing quality over quantity with the classic shirt, and investing in organic natural fabrics or recycled materials to make the best purchase we can as conscious consumers.
The fabric breakdown
Shirts are now made from both natural fibres and man-made fibres (or a combination) that are either synthetic or petroleum based. Some synthetic fibres that shirts are made from include polyester, rayon, and viscose. Polyester mixed with cotton (poly-cotton) is often used, as well. These fabrics are bad news for people and the planet, so what’s the alternative?
A more sustainable option is to purchase shirts made from organic cotton or materials like hemp and linen, which require little to no pesticides in the growing process. These materials are also better for your body because they allow your skin to breathe naturally, unlike clothing made from synthetic fabrics like polyester, which can lead to skin irritation. They are also far gentler on the environment when it comes to the end of their life!
Companies are also embracing the circular economy more and more, and are looking at ways to recycle existing fabrics to create their pieces. You can look for recycled garments with the Global Recycle Standard certification to make an informed decision.
So if you’re in need of a new shirt, where do you start? Well, your local charity shop should be your first stop, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for among the racks of preloved goodies, we’ve made it easy for you. We have listed our top picks from our favourite menswear lines with a variety of shirts for every occasion that will always have your back (literally!).
The Oxford shirt
The Oxford is an essential piece in any wardrobe bridging the gap between smart and casual. It’s mostly made from cotton and has an oxford weave, giving it a more durable texture that can be worn on those cooler days. It’s softer than a stiff dress shirt, and more formal than a flannel, so works as a great addition to dress down an occasion look or to dress up those weekend casual vibes.
Try looking for a shirt that is 100% organic GOTS certified, or better yet, made from recycled or upcycled cotton. We’ve listed some of our favourite brands below that not only do good by the environment but also don’t sacrifice on style!