I'm happy to report there are a burgeoning number of apparel brands that marry integrity and style, each with their own unique twist on caring for both people and the planet.
These companies are not "posers" doing something "ecofriendly" because it's trendy or it's cool. All these companies are the REAL DEAL.
Here are 13 of my favorite slow fashion brands:
1. Patagonia. The "father" of the whole movement, created by Yvon Chouinard (who is one of my personal top style and business ICONS!). Patagonia has pioneered quality clothing with organic, recycled, and upcycled fibers. The company makes clothes that pack well, travel even better, last forever, and feel good to wear. My favorite bathing suit, my favorite shorts, my favorite travel dress, and my favorite ginormous suitcase on wheels are all from Patagonia.
2. Eileen Fisher. If Patagonia is the father, Eileen is the "mother" of the slow fashion movement, pioneering high-quality, working clothes for women while quietly but persistently increasing the amount of organic fibers she uses. Her style is elegant, comfortable, and hardworking. I wear her organic jeans almost every day.
3. Kowtow. Kowtow is a new brand from New Zealand that's committed to "certified fair trade organic clothing that is ethically and sustainably made from seed to garment." Since the company is in the Southern hemisphere, its seasons are opposite ours, so you may have to adjust your buying times, but it's worth it because their clothes are super comfortable and cool and the styling is amazing.
4. United By Blue. For every product sold, United By Blue removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways. And just as important, the company sources cotton that's organic and the clothes and backpacks are awesome.
5. Blue Canoe. Another pioneer, Blue Canoe makes everyday-wear organic cotton and bamboo clothing that really, really works for women. From underwear to dresses to shirts, these are terrific basics that hold up for years and feel good against your skin. I love them.
6. Alternative Apparel. A good basic shirt--whether it's a tank or a tee--is so hard to find if you're picky like I am. It has to be super soft, thin but not too thin, shaped well, loose but not too loose, and rich in color and style. This is my new favorite brand--whether I'm wearing it with jeans, shorts, or skirts, on weekends or at work. As they say at Alternative Apparel: "Focused on fabric innovation, we make modern basics for a sustainable future." I'm in!
7. Brook There. There was a time when I thought I would have to give up on my dream of sexy yet comfortable underwear. Not only has my dream come true with Brook There intimates, but there's also a bonus: They're organic! They're made in Maine with the philosophy that "confidence is the underpinning of beauty in every form." Love.
8. Synergy. Synergy creates lovely dresses and yoga wear that are all-organic and benefit women in Nepal--they are paid a living wage and bonuses. The company's business model is built on an authentic foundation of care for people and the planet.
9. Amour Vert. "With every stitch, a purpose." Amour Vert is made-in-America fashion-forward clothing produced with utmost integrity--and it's comfortable, beautiful, and holds up well. Wear the pieces over and over and over again...
10. CP Shades. Handmade in the USA. 100 percent sustainable linen. The company owns its own sewing facility in California, where it produces timeless apparel. "What you see is what you get." What's not to love?
11. Under the Canopy. The brand's mission is to drive "consciousness and responsibility [in the fashion and beauty worlds] by using style as a catalyst for positive social and environmental change." Its fair trade clothing is made with certified-organic cotton, recycled materials, and other sustainable fabrics, and the company offers transparency in its production, from farm to final garments.
12. Nau. Primarily an outdoor apparel company, Nau is committed to the whole process of sustainability and specializes in design that incorporates the environment and performance into every item. From dresses to coats, Nau will dress you well, whatever you do.
13. Toad and Co. While I'm kind of sad that the brand changed its name from Horny Toad ( :-) ) to Toad and Co., the clothing is still just as great and even more organic than ever. It seems like a great place to work, and I know the company creates great clothing, styled for people who get things done, whether for work or for fun.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com