Brands That Give a Sh&t

In answering a need for truly transparent, 100% clean skincare (hence the launch of our own organic skincare line), we’ve become significantly more aware of—and incredibly impressed by—brands across other industries who are making big steps toward accountability, both environmentally and socially. Whether it’s by actively embracing the use of sustainable and organic materials, ensuring that workers are fairly compensated, or insisting on responsible sourcing of raw materials, these brands are making a conscious effort to pay attention to what goes on behind the seams.


Other than being 100% sustainable, llama fiber is as durable as it is soft, hypoallergenic, and for the most part, self-cleaning—meaning substantially less need to launder. What Denmark-based Aiayu does (the name means “soul” in native Bolivian) is turn the naturally insulating fiber into beautiful, airy knits, all while creating job security, safe working conditions, and higher living standards for the Bolivian knitters and llama farmers in the process. Taking things a step further, Aiayu has built out a water treatment plant from scratch to ensure that post-production wastewater is free of harmful chemicals.

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Mercado Global

Mercado Global’s founder Ruth DeGolia was working in Guatemala on her thesis when she developed a vision for a more effective, sustainable way to help the women she was working with: enabling them to use their own skills to raise money for their families, simply by giving them access to a global marketplace. The artisans she works with are Mayan weavers that have been honing their craft for more than 2,000 years; each bag is woven by hand. The women she works with often become the breadwinners in their homes, empowering them to send their children to school, prepare balanced meals for their families, and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.

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Everything from this beloved Australian brand is made from organic and sustainable cotton—yet that’s not something you would even notice, as there’s nothing remotely crunchy about any of it. Every piece feels luxurious, modern, and structured—and the t-shirt silhouettes work for a variety of scenarios, not just for off-duty weekends.

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One way to know that your employees are being paid a fair wage and working in reasonable conditions? Employ them in the United States. GROCERIES makes all of their clothing in a Los Angeles factory that employs more than 70 local workers. And the ethics behind their business go beyond fair labor—they use exclusively eco-friendly fabrics, including lyocell and GOTS-certified organic cotton. 

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St. Roche

Founder Sue Stemp holds herself to an incredibly high environmental standard (all of the cotton she uses is GOTS-certified, and even their packaging is made from recycled paper), but you’d never know it from the elevated dresses and separates. Her unique designs and luxurious fabrics hold up against the most fashion forward brands we know and love; there’s nothing crunchy about it.

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The name may sound kind of morbid, but founder Andrea Emmerich’s mission is a decidedly happy one. Fueled by the notion that cashmere is a limited resource and should be treated as such, she scours vintage and secondhand stores for past-their-prime cashmere sweaters and gives them a new lease on life by repurposing them into bikini-style panties and retro-style gym shorts—after a thorough cleaning, of course. As a result, each piece is completely one-of-a-kind and adorable.

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This Australian loungewear line hits the responsibility trifecta: sustainability, transparency, and Fair Trade production—from harvesting to weaving to dying—everything is done in safe, fair-labor factories in Jaipur, resulting in functional, comfortable pieces you can feel good about wearing on many levels.  The cotton used for the elegant pajama sets and nighties is GOTS-certified, impressive, considering that less than one percent of all cotton production is actually organic.

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Amour Vert

Designed in San Francisco and produced almost exclusively in-state, Amour Vert’s easy separates are made using uniquely engineered fabrics (renewable eucalyptus modal, sustainably produced Merino wool, recycled polyester) with the utmost quality in mind, and therefore stand the test of time, wash after wash, wear after wear. To sweeten the deal, they’ve partnered with American Forests to plant a tree somewhere in North America for every T-shirt they sell.

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Carla Colour

Rather than lean on expected plastic, self-taught designer Carla Roberts crafts her retro-tinged, unisex sunglasses out of a wood pulp and cotton fiber acetate, which is a highly durable and, most importantly, renewable resource. The styles, of which there are purposely few, are kept blessedly frill-free with the goal of letting the beautiful shapes and colors shine.

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Cover, the Dallas-designed, LA-made swimwear line, is just as much about skin-health awareness as it is about well-designed, well-fitting long-sleeved maillots, surf suits, and bikinis. Rather than chemical SPF, UPF 50+ sun protection is built right into Cover’s signature Protec Swim Jersey fabric, making any activity—be it laying out, surfing, or swimming—significantly safer. Even better still, there’s no pilling or fading no matter how many times you wash.

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Only Hearts

Only Hearts is one of very few brands in the lingerie space that takes sustainable sourcing so seriously. The entire organic cotton range is GOTS-certified, meaning that no pesticides or harmful chemicals ever make it into any part of the cotton production chain. It also means that the dyes used to color fabric meet and exceed the highest standards of toxicity and biodegradability, so you don’t have to worry about chemicals left over from the dying process seeping into wastewater…or your bra, for that matter.

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Kowtow is actually pronounced “ko-toe” (as opposed to “cow-tow”)—and it comes from the Chinese word for the deeply respectful custom of kneeling and bowing so low that your forehead touches the ground. It’s a reference to the deep respect the company has for everything—and everybody—involved in the production process, which they monitor with great care. Kowtow’s Kolkata factory is fair-trade certified, meaning that there’s a guaranteed minimum price for their raw materials that allows producers to earn a reasonable, and sustainable livelihood. It also means that the employees in their factory are offered the types of benefits that we often take for granted in the United States—each is guaranteed paid holiday leave, sick pay, insurance, paid overtime, and free education for their children.

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Industry of all Nations

Industry of all Nations takes a radical approach to ethical, sustainable sourcing by emphasizing the importance of their wares as products of the country where they originated—not just because they were grown or made there, but because they are inherently born from the country’s culture and past. Case in point: their Bolivian alpaca sweaters, which are made with wool from alpacas that have been humanely raised by the same community for generations. Alpacas come in fourteen natural shades, so the wool never needs to be dyed or bleached. Similarly, the shoes from their “Hand Stitch” project are made by hand in one of Buenos Aires’ last-standing family-operated shoe factories.

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Turkish designers Derin Dündar and Kerem Benli were raised in Istanbul but studied fashion around the world before coming back to their homeland to work on Harshman. They control every piece of the manufacturing process, from the cutting to the designing to the stitching, which they closely oversee in their factory, which is situated in the heart of Istanbul’s garment district. The cotton itself is sourced from venerable Turkish vendors who have been manufacturing fine poplin for generations.

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Photographer: Brandon Jones
Model: Kaitlyn Rightmyer / Elite Models
Hair & Makeup: Nichole Servin / JK Artists
Special thanks for CB2 & Restoration Hardware

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