Dress Thoughtfully For The New Season

Today, nearly ⅙ of our planet’s population works in the global fashion industry, which is the world’s second-largest polluter. The majority of garment workers are women earning less than $3 per day. In pursuit of healing and progress within the fashion industry, designers are pioneering clothing lines that contribute to economic empowerment, eco-friendly methods, and sustainability-centric business models. We’ve compiled a guide featuring some of our most dearly-loved, fair trade brands and their stunning dresses, just in time for spring and summer! 

People Tree

Based In | UK
Ethics | Fair Trade Certified collections, organic cotton collections, biodegradable materials
Best For | Work dresses, patterned dresses
Price | Dresses start at £55

People Tree is recognized by customers and the fashion industry alike as a pioneer in Fair Trade and environmentally sustainable fashion and has long been one of our favorite go-to shops for responsibly made fashion. For over twenty years, People Tree has partnered with Fair Trade artisans and farmers in the developing world to produce a collection of ethical and eco fashion. Their dress collection ranges from the perfect lightweight organic cotton sundresses to work wear appropriate tunics. Paired with our favorite low block heel these dresses have us all ready for summertime!

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Raven & Lily

Based In | Austin, Texas
Ethics | Economic empowerment, eco-friendly
Best For | Formal dresses
Price | Dresses start at $98

Over the years, Raven & Lily has employed more than 1,500 marginalized women in a pursuit of alleviating poverty. They provide at-risk women with a sustainable income, education, health care, safe jobs, and long term artisan partnerships. Raven & Lily’s lovely designs are made by hand in Pakistan, India, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Kenya, and Peru. The brand is a member of the Fair Trade Federation and Ethical Fashion Forum, also named Best for the World in Community Impact in 2014 and 2015. Raven & Lily is “proving that it is possible to scale a fair trade, fashion forward brand while making an impact for good on people and the planet.”

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Based In | Grapevine, Texas
Ethics | Long-term Artisan Partnerships
Best For | Casual dresses, cocktail dresses, wrap dresses, sheer dresses
Price | Dresses start at $75

Based in Texas, Symbology dresses preserve beautiful cultural art forms from India and the West Bank. Textile designs are created with Indian block printing, Palestinian weaving, and Native American embroidery. Owner Marissa Heyl’s mission with Symbology is to make fair trade sexy by challenging the fashion industry so that “ethical fashion would no longer be the exception, but the norm.” These beautiful dresses have been seen in Elle, Bazaar, and Lauren Loves.

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Mata Traders

Based In | Nepal, India
Ethics | Economic empowerment, handmade processes
Best For | Casual everyday dresses, feminine dresses
Price | Dresses start at $40

Mata Traders came to be after 3 best friends spent 4 months in India and returned completely enamored with the culture, textiles, colors, and stories they encountered. The brand is now design-driven with a goal of helping end global poverty and inspire ethical business practices within the fashion world. The stunning dresses are handmade in Nepal and India, where the artisans are given a stable income. In addition to an online store, Mata Traders’ website shares artisan stories and information about their handmade processes such as embroidering and screen printing. “Mata” is a tribute to the Shatki, or the female creative power in all of us.

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Ode to Sunday

Based In | Lithuania
Ethics | Low-impact production, fair wages, locally sourced fibers
Best For | Casual or work dresses, linen dresses, capsule wardrobe pieces
Price | Dresses start at £162

Ode to Sunday is a Lithuania-based independent clothing line that blends effortless style with socially conscious business practices. The quality, ethics, and wearability of Ode to Sunday’s dresses results in pieces perfect for an investment wardrobe. Lithuanian linen showcases stunning imperfections, character, and organic silhouettes. They also emphasize historical processes, fair wages, and stories from individuals.

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Based In | Toronto, Canada
Ethics | Small batch production, eco-fabrics, recyclable packaging, transparent pricing"
Best For | Versatile dresses, travel dresses
Price | Dresses start at $128

Kristi Soomer’s Encircled specializes in versatile pieces which seamlessly blend function with style. Made from Modal, Tencel, and Bamboo fabrics, Encircled clothing articles can be transformed for business, vacation, dressy, or lounge wear. These pieces are perfect for the travelling business person, as they are designed to help you pack light. Their online site shares how-to-wear tutorials, transparent pricing, a weekly newsletter, and a free Minimalist Wardrobe Workbook. We love Encircled’s dedication to creativity, premium fabrics, and ethical business practices.

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Indigenous Clothing

Based In | Sebastopol, California
Ethics | Long-term artisan partnerships, organic cotton fibers
Best For | Versatile dresses, professional dresses, everyday dresses
Price | Dresses start at $80

Culturally diverse artisans from the poorest regions of South America are responsible for the stunning collection of pieces that makes up Indigenous Clothing. Through fair trade partnerships, Indigenous is able to use all natural fibers, organic alpaca, organic cotton, merino wool, and silk to create casual, versatile clothing. Safe dyes are paired with knitting and hand looming techniques, and all employees are given safe working conditions and fair living wages.

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Based In | New York
Ethics | 100% natural, sustainably grown, partner with American Forests
Best For | Casual dresses, work dresses
Price | Dresses start at $68

We love SiiZu’s goal to “design and deliver beautiful, high-quality apparel made with sustainable manufacturing practices… at an affordable price point.” Their soft, eco-friendly fabrics are made without any polyester or toxins, with wool and cashmere sourced from Mongolia and Suzhou. Their talented team is devoted to quality and craftsmanship, and their lean business model means they offer clothes solely online. With recyclable shipping materials and no physical storefront, they are dedicated to minimizing their carbon footprint.

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Based In | New York
Ethics | USA-made, small batch production, upcycled fabrics
Best For | Transitional pieces
Price | Dresses from $110 - $128

IMBY is known for classic, lasting designs which are ideal for the diversity of daily life. Their simple pieces are perfect for transitioning from the workday to a fancy outing to a comfortable evening at home. With American-crafted, ethically sourced, and deadstock/surplus fabric, IMBY helps eliminate unnecessary waste. They work by the mantra, “Less is more,” using small batch production strategies while encouraging a lean, minimalist lifestyle.

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Same Thread

Based In | Seattle, WA
Ethics | Economic empowerment, eco-friendly fabrics
Best For | Cocktail dresses, work dresses
Price | Dresses start at $55

Same Thread, founded by Katie Metzger and Danielle Neufeld, assists women in the Northeast region of Thailand through economic empowerment. Its purpose is to create “a world where ethically made clothing is not a luxury, and being paid a living wage is not a privilege.” Same Thread seeks to show consumers how fashion can be a means of expressing empathy, as each purchase supports a woman in her pursuit of freedom, love, safety, shelter, sustenance and self-actualization. Their trendy designs utilize incredible textile work and celebrate progress.

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Based In | Irvine, CA
Ethics | GOTS certified fabric, low-impact dyes
Best For | Casual dresses, work dresses
Price | Dresses start at $120

The roots of Kestan come from a wholehearted concern for people and the planet. By using organic cotton, they are able to create wonderful garments without toxins, persistent pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers. Their soft, sophisticated designs are perfect for the versatility required by our everyday routines. Their neutral color palette and timeless silhouettes make each piece perfect for a capsule or minimalist wardrobe.

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Based In | Southern California
Ethics | No waste, locally obtained materials
Best For | Cocktail dresses, work dresses
Price | Dresses start at $30

Modernation avoids fast fashion by hand selecting local, vintage, deadstock, and sustainable materials to create unique pieces for women and men. Their eco-conscious designs are “curated for a responsible lifestyle” and bring new life to old fabrics and garments. One of the most exciting aspects of owning Modernation wear is that each piece is unique. Their designs last only until they run out, keeping each garment special, limited, and the brand frequently updated.

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Based In | Santa Cruz, CA
Ethics | Economic empowerment, organic materials
Best For | Versatile, everyday dresses
Price | Dresses start at $62

Synergy organic clothing was first inspired by colorful, high quality textiles in Kathmandu, Nepal, and India. Founder Kate Fisher started the clothing line out of a desire to transform her travel inspiration into a tangible way of helping women obtain freedom, opportunities, and empowerment. She now partners with her husband to run the family business which seeks to “fuse their passion for clothing design and the care of our planet.” High quality organic materials are paired with fun patterns and a wide variety of styles. Synergy has something for everyone!

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Based In | New York
Ethics | Supported by NEST, creates open source supply chains, eco-friendly
Best For | Cocktail dresses, professional dresses, versatile dresses
Price | Dresses start at $525

Maiyet’s high-end clothing line showcases exquisite detail and unexpected fabric techniques. Their pieces utilize applique, leathercraft, block printing, fair cashmere, fil coupe, hand-beaded embroidery, hand knitting and weaving, handloom silk weaving, horn and bone carving, and metal casting. Each piece is made by an artisan in India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mongolia, Peru, Bolivia, or Thailand. Maiyet’s long-term artisan partnerships help with self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship in developing countries.

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Amour Vert

Armour Vert

Based In | San Francisco, CA
Ethics | American manufacturing, non-toxic dyes, sustainable fabrics, zero-waste philosophy
Best For | Casual everyday dresses
Price | Dresses start at $68

The soft, flattering, long-lasting designs of Amour Vert reveal how great fashion and social responsibility can exist in harmony. As founder Linda Balti states, “A woman should never have to sacrifice style for sustainability. Our choices matter - smart fashion is our future.” Amour Vert is dedicated to both the ever-changing fashion industry and a fair trade, eco-friendly business model. Their low-impact dyes are used with a variety of natural and recycled fabrics. They also partner with American Forests, encouraging consumers to support the planting of new trees.

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Based In | Boulder, CO
Ethics | Organic cotton, protection of workers’ rights
Best For | Casual everyday dresses
Price | Dresses start at $30

PACT uses organic cotton certified by The Global Organic Textile Standard to produce some of the softest clothing we’ve been able to find. Their organic cotton is grown without damaging the soil or air, and farmed with a collective vision for responsible manufacturing, sustainability, and conscious consumerism. PACT's mission is to “change the apparel industry for good.”

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