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If you’re looking to streamline your closet and make more conscious choices, choosing high-quality, sustainable basics is a great place to start.
That’s why we’ve highlighted the best sustainable basics brands using sustainable materials and ethical production.
What are Sustainable Basics?
When we think about sustainable basics, we consider them the core items you can wear daily. For example, a classic t-shirt you can pair with anything, a pair of go-to jeans, long-lasting underwear, and a classic sweater or hoodie are all closet staples that make up a streamlined wardrobe.
What makes a sustainable essential “sustainable” is the material it’s made from and the production practices behind the garment.
What materials are Sustainable Basics Made From?
When choosing eco-friendly essentials, make sure they’re made from sustainable materials and ethical production. For example, sustainable materials for clothing include natural fibers such as organic cotton, linen, hemp, recycled fibers, and wool. These materials are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. They are also durable and long-lasting.
Production practices are just as important as the materials used. Make sure your sustainable basics are ethically made. This means that the workers who made your clothes were paid a fair wage, worked in safe conditions, and had access to fundamental human rights.
Why Choose Sustainable Basics?
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, creating more emissions than air travel and maritime shipping combined.
The rise of fast fashion brands has also led to an increase in clothing consumption and the production of millions of pieces of low-quality garments which fuels overconsumption and the textile waste crisis we’re currently facing.
As eco-conscious consumers, it’s therefore essential we shift our buying habits to choose more responsible materials that don’t harm people or the planet.
If you’re wondering what the worst fast fashion brands are – you can read our full list here.
Sustainable Basics – Clothing Brands
Sustainability: GOTS-certified organic cotton basics made in Fair Trade-certified factories
Materials: GOTS organic cotton
Best for: Family-friendly essentials including t-shirts, dresses
Ecothes rating: 4.2/5
Pact is our go-to brand for affordable sustainable basics for all the family. The sustainable brand creates its pieces from GOTS-certified organic cotton, which means it’s grown with less water and no harmful pesticides.
Plus, Pact offsets its carbon emissions and is transparent about the CO2 impact of each product, allowing us, as consumers, to make smarter choices about the clothes we purchase.
Pact clothes get great reviews, and the brand’s timeless and versatile styles will last season after season.
|Pact Pros||Pact Cons|
|✔ Affordable||✗ Lack of size-inclusivity|
|✔ Organic cotton & Fair Trade production|
2. Mate The Label
Sustainability: Nontoxic clothing made in Los Angeles from organic cotton and Tencel
Materials: Organic cotton, nontoxic dyes, Tencel
Best for: Women’s sustainable basics, sweatshirts, t-shirts, dresses, size-inclusivity
Mate The Label creates clean essentials in the heart of Los Angeles. The brand is climate-neutral and committed to developing long-lasting, plastic-free sustainable basics from nontoxic materials like organic cotton and Tencel.
The brand’s approach to sustainable production is unrivalled, producing most of its clothing less than 15 miles from its headquarters to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a close working relationship with its suppliers.
Mate has also set up a recycling program and is working toward a circular production model that helps reduce textile waste.
|Mate The Label Pros||Mate The Label Cons|
|✔ Sustainable materials||✗ No men’s clothing|
|✔ Size-inclusive styles|
3. Colorful Standard
Sustainability: Ethical production, GOTS-certified organic cotton clothing
Materials: Organic cotton & recycled merino wool, eco-friendly Oeko-Tex® certified dyes
Best for: Ethical basic clothing, colorful eco-friendly essentials, Men’s sustainable basics, women’s sustainable basics including shirts, t-shirts, sweaters, sweatpants, boxers
Add a splash of color to your closet with Colorful Standard’s ethical basics. With over twenty colors to choose from in every style, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Colorful Standard creates its versatile styles ethically in its Portugal-based factory, using sustainable materials like GOTS organic cotton and recycled wool. Plus, the brand ensures no chemical nasties are in its clothing by only using Oeko-Tex® certified dyes.
Having tried Colorful Standard’s clothing, we’re obsessed with the brand’s quality, use of sustainable materials, and choice of colors.
|Colorful Standard Pros||Colorful Standard Cons|
|✔ Eco-friendly materials||✗ Some popular styles are ofter sold out|
|✔ Ethical production|
4. For Days
Sustainability: Zero-waste clothing brand using recycled materials
Materials: Recycled materials, including recycled cotton and organic cotton
Best for: Women and men sustainable basics, ethical casual wear, Sweats, t-shirts, sweaters, socks
Ecothes rating: 4/5
Shockingly, By 2030, it’s expected that there will be 148 million tons of fashion waste, both from factory offcuts and old clothing – but luckily, there’s hope with brands like For Days.
For Days is a female-founded brand working towards a zero-waste circular fashion business model. Circular fashion means turning old clothes into new ones to try and reduce the fashion industry’s dependency on virgin materials.
The brand allows you to recycle your old For Days clothing for store credit and will turn your pre-loved items into new stylish clothing – neat, right?
|For Days Pros||For Days Cons|
|✔ Zero-waste||✗ You can only recycle your old For Days clothing (not any brand)|
|✔ Using recycled materials|
5. Girlfriend Collective
Sustainability: Ethical essentials created from plastic waste
Materials: Recycled polyester from recycled plastic bottles
Best for: Sustainable activewear, recycled leggings, size-inclusivity
Ecothes Rating: 4.5/5
Girlfriend Collective is a staple on the sustainable clothing scene, having built up a loyal following.
The brand creates must-have leggings and recycled activewear that get rave fan reviews. Girlfriend is committed to accessibility and inclusion, creating its styles in sizes XXS – 6XL.
|Girlfriend Collective Pros||Girlfriend Collective Cons|
|✔ Size-inclusive brand||✗ Limited use of natural fibers compared to other brands listed here|
|✔ Recycled materials||✗ Popular styles sell out fast|
Sustainability: Planting trees, use of sustainable and recycled materials, ethical labor
Materials: Recycled cotton, organic cotton
Best for: Men’s and women’s knitwear, hoodies, pants, and outerwear
Pangaia is a no-nonsense fashion brand creating minimalist styles in a rainbow of colors. The forward-thinking brand uses technology, science, and sustainability to create its timeless collections.
Plus, Pangaia uses recycled and organic cotton, diverting textile waste from landfills and saving water and energy.
The brand also helps save water even after its clothing is produced by infusing it with PPRMNT™. This natural odor-neutralizing antibacterial material means your clothes will stay fresher and require less washing.
|Pangaia Pros||Pangaia Cons|
|✔ Use of recycled cotton and organic cotton||✗ Some clothing is on the expensive side|
|✔ Genderless clothing|
Sustainability: Certified B Corp with a transparent supply chain and sustainable materials
Materials: Organic cotton, Tencel, ZQ merino wool
Best for: T-shirts, socks, sneakers
You may be familiar with Allbirds, as their popular sustainable sneakers have taken the sustainable footwear world by storm. But, did you also know that the brand has extended its range to include a whole range of high-quality eco friendly essentials?
We’ve personally tried the brand’s t-shirts and love how buttery soft the Sea Tee fabric fits and feels.
Allbirds basics range is smaller than some of the brands mentioned here, but the brand produces high-quality basics that will last year after year.
|Allbirds Pros||Allbirds Cons|
|✔ Sustainable materials and ethical production practices||✗ Not a vegan brand as they use wool|
|✔ Long lasting basics||✗ Smaller choice than other brands listed|
Sustainability: Climate-neutral certified brand planting ten trees for every item purchased
Materials: Hemp, Recycled polyester, organic cotton, Tencel
Best for: Eco-friendly essentials, outdoor wear, casual wear
Ecothes rating: 4/5
Tentree is a sustainable fashion brand creating go-to eco essentials for all the family. The brand is climate neutral and plants ten trees for every product sold. So far, the brand has planted over 80 million trees globally.
All materials used by Tentree are sustainable, recycled, or organic, making this brand a great choice for eco-conscious consumers. While their focus is on sustainable production methods, they also have a range of stylish and contemporary designs, including a great range of core essentials.
|Tentree Pros||Tentree Cons|
|✔ Transparent supply chain||✗ The brand doesn’t yet have a recycling scheme|
|✔ Long lasting clothing|
Sustainability: Certified B Corp, ethical production, responsible natural fibers, building schools in Egypt
Materials: Responsibly grown Egyptian cotton
Best for: Minimalist basics for unisex, men, and women, eco friendly denim
Ecothes rating: 4/5
If you prefer a minilamilst street style approach we reccomend the ethical basics brand Kotn.
Canadian ethical clothing brand Kotn creates minimalist clothing and homeware from responsibly sourced cotton and OEKO-TEX® certified nontoxic dyes to ensure their clothing is safe for you, their employees, and the earth.
The brand is a certified B Corporation, meaning it meets high social and environmental production standards.
|Kotn Pros||Kotn Cons|
|✔ Gives back to the community||✗ Not using 100% organic cotton|
|✔ Transparent and ethical production|
9. Honest Basics
Sustainability: Fair Trade & Transparent clothing made from GOTS-certified organic cotton
Materials: GOTS-certified organic cotton, recycled polyester, vegan materials
Best for: Affordable ethical basics
Honest Basics is an affordable new brand creating no-fuss essentials ethically from sustainable fabrics. The brand keeps its pricing lower than other sustainable brands by providing a transparent pricing model – one way it does this is by not providing free returns.
Honest Basics is an excellent option if you’re looking for sustainable basics in Europe, as the German brand has a store in Berlin and retails its clothing online.
|Honest Basics Pros||Honest Basics Cons|
|✔ Ethical labour and sustainable fabrics||✗ No free returns|
Sustainable Basics – Underwear
Finding a long lasting pair of underwear you love is equally as important as finding the perfect sustainable t-shirt. That’s why we’ve included our favorite underwear brands for men and women.
For the full list check out our full guides on ethical underwear or sustainable boxers.
Sustainability: Transparent ethical supply chain, sustainable materials, recycling programme
Materials: Organic cotton
Best for: Organic cotton underwear
We couldn’t write a list of the best sustainable basics brands without including a trustworthy underwear brand. Knickey is one of our favorite brands because they produce high-quality sustainable underwear from organic cotton.
The brand gets hundreds of five star reviews on its underwear and customers love how comfortable and well fitting its styles are.
Plus, the brand offers the first pair guarantee, so if you’re not completely happy with the fit or style, you can return the underwear – no questions asked.
|Knickey Pros||Knickey Cons|
|✔ Super comfortable underwear||✗ Shipping outside the US may be expensive|
Wrapping Up – Sustainable Basics
We hope you’ve enjoyed the article and discovered a range of new sustainable and ethical basics brands that create eco-friendly essentials for everyday wear.
If you’d like to keep browsing sustainable brands, make sure you take a look at our favorite affordable, sustainable clothing brands, and UK clothing brands.