Human-driven climate change has been irrefutably picking up steam in recent years, and for good reason. With sea levels rising dangerously, never-before-seen weather events, and the extinction or endangerment of many species, combating climate change has never been more important.
The mounting evidence is hard to ignore, and more and more companies are starting to hop on the sustainability train to ensure their customers can feel good about the carbon footprint they’re leaving on the planet.
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainability, which is the act of ecological balance via the elimination of natural resource depletion, has been put into practice by many companies across the globe. Sustainable fashion is designed to create all the looks you know and love with both ‘ecological integrity and social justice’ as the cornerstones of a company’s values. This means they are challenging everything from which fabrics are used, to how the clothes are made, to the process required to get garments from conception to the customer’s closet.
Some companies are using sustainability to prove to the world that products don’t have to be wasteful to be worthwhile. Sustainable fashion, for example, is one of the industries that is leading the charge in both sustainability and ethicality. Ethical fashion and sustainable fashion often work together towards a common goal: protect the planet and all the living things that call it home without sacrificing quality.
The leading faces of women in sustainable fashion
It might be hard to determine whether your favourite brands are good for the environment, so you might find yourself asking the question, “What clothing brands are sustainable?” Below, we’ve rounded up five women leading sustainable fashion who have answered that question in a big and beautiful way.
1. Rebecca McElligott, Protected Species
As a part owner of high-end women’s athleticwear brand Protected Species, Rebecca McElligott wanted to take her keen eye and love of performance wear and create the perfect fit for women everywhere. She started her career at the London College of Fashion in the hopes of turning a love of fashion into a promising career in sportswear. Rebecca wanted to change the game in a big way, so she took her expertise from her former position as a product collections manager and turned it into one of the leading companies for sustainable activewear.
To become a truly sustainable fashion brand, Rebecca and business partner Anne created Protected Species in 2014. The minimalist design coupled with the development of performance-driven fabrics make PS raincoats a leading contender in the activewear fashion industry. Rebecca also wanted to lower the carbon footprint of her fashion contributions, and she and the Protected Species team adhere to their core values of ‘versatile longevity, ethical manufacturing, and sleek style’.
2. Yana Barankin, TAMGA Designs
Yana Barankin is the Co-founder and Creative Director at TAMGA Designs, a high-fashion clothing boutique. While working for the UN in Bangladesh, Yana and her fiancé witnessed the aftermath of a garment factory collapse. This reality of the fashion industry broke their hearts – and that’s when they decided to create TAMGA in an effort to bring fashion to the world while also making it a better place.
As a fashion lover, seeing what went into her favourite brands was a wake-up call for Yana, and following extensive research into the industry, she felt compelled to make the change the industry so desperately needed. In 2014, TAMGA Designs was born and Yana has never looked back. The brand promises high-quality fabrics and textiles using only sustainable materials and ethical industry practices. TAMGA Designs has also partnered with the Sumatran Orangutan Society and Canopy Style to protect Indonesia’s rainforests, which have been destroyed continuously for the creation of rayon fabric.
3. Nicky Adamo, The Natural Edition
Nicky Adamo loves fashion and ethical creation, and out of her passion for both, she created the Natural Edition. This clothing line gets back to the basics with simple pieces made from organic cotton, a high-quality fabric that uses ‘45 percent fewer greenhouse gases and 91 percent less water’.
Nicky’s love for organic cotton comes from its sustainable, durable and comfortable design. In an effort to give women the choice to stock their closets with the basics they need to be fashionable, comfortable and ethical, she designed a quality product that is both fashion-forward and made for sustainability and ethicality.
4. and 5. Alexandra Bruce and Caroline Akselson, Selkie Patterns
Back in 2018, Alexandra Bruce and Caroline Akselson started their sustainable fashion brand Selkie Patterns. With a combined background in luxury brands, costume design and sewing, Alexandra and Caroline decided that their passion for both fashion and the environment wasn’t being utilised as well as it should be. When they created Selkie Patterns, they did so for the women who love to create while keeping their carbon footprint down.
Selkie Patterns is essentially an online fabric shop. All their fabrics and textiles are derived from the need to create without hurting the planet in the process. They offer a wide variety of textiles, bold patterns and fabrics to choose from. They also offer private sewing classes and workshops for women who want to bring their own designs to life while practising an ethical fashion approach. This is a new step for the fashion industry; in the past, fabrics were only available for purchase through big box chains or other online retailers that don’t offer such an ecological and ethical promise.
These five women are leading the new wave of sustainable fashion in a big way, so your whole closet – from activewear to high-fashion to your own handmade pieces – can hang in both style and ethicality.