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!
1. People Tree
Based In | UK
Ethics | Fair Trade Certified collections, organic cotton collections, biodegradable materials
Best For | Work dresses and patterned dresses
Our Pick | Keiko Dress
Price | Dresses start at $69
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 workwear-appropriate tunics. Paired with our favorite low block heel, these dresses have us all ready for summertime!
2. Raven + Lily
Based In | Austin, TX
Ethics | Economic empowerment, eco-friendly
Best For | Formal dresses
Our Pick | Maya Tie Back Caftan
Price | Dresses start at $116
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.”
Based In | Grapevine, TX
Ethics | Long-term Artisan Partnerships
Best For | Wrap dresses and caftans
Our Pick | Cherry Blossom Maxi Wrap
Price | Dresses start at $110
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.
4. Mata Traders
Based In | Nepal, India
Ethics | Fair Trade Federation member, economic empowerment
Best For | Fair trade everyday dresses
Our Pick | Serenade Dress in Cream Ikat
Price | Dresses start at $68
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.
Based In | Los Angeles, CA
Ethics | Sustainable and deadstock fabrics, eco-friendly manufacturing, economic empowerment
Best For | Sustainable special occasion dresses
Our Pick | Serena Dress
Price | Dresses start at $98
Using a combination of deadstock fabrics, repurposed vintage clothing, and textiles made from renewable plant material, Reformation is making a significant impact in the fashion industry. Pieces in this US-clothing line are designed to celebrate the feminine figure, and inclusive sizing options, such as the collection designed for women with a full C-DD cup and the Petite line, make it possible for women of all shapes and sizes to wear the brand. Reformation dresses range in length and style; paired with the right accessories, they are suitable for almost anything, whether it be a day at the farmers market or a summer wedding.
Based In | Toronto, Canada
Ethics | Small batch production, eco fabrics, recyclable packaging, transparent pricing"
Best For | Convertible travel dresses
Our Pick | The Sleeveless Revolve Dress
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 loungewear. These pieces are perfect for the traveling business person, as they are designed to help you pack light. Their website 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.
7. Indigenous Clothing
Based In | Sebastopol, CA
Ethics | Long-term artisan partnerships, organic cotton fibers
Best For | Organic cotton dresses
Our Pick | Blush Ruched Dress
Price | Dresses start at $65
Artisans in 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. We love their easy-to-wear garments and timeless styles that transition easily between seasons.
Based In | New York
Ethics | 100% natural, sustainably grown, partner with American Forests
Best For | Minimalist dresses
Our Pick | The Zip Up Dress
Price | Dresses start at $85
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.
9. Krochet Kids
Based In | Costa Mesa, CA
Ethics | Long-term artisan partnerships, economic empowerment
Best For | Organic cotton dresses
Our Pick | Alaina Dress
Price | Dresses start at $52
We are longtime fans of Krochet Kids and their artisan-made beanies and bags, but this California apparel brand is also the perfect place to shop for an affordable, organic, and ethically-made summer dress. Empowering women artisans in Lima, Peru and Gulu, Uganda, every dress is hand signed so that you can know who made your garment. Partnering with Capable, Krochet Kids also provides education, mentorship, and financial services to their employees.
Based In | Bali
Ethics | Long-term artisan partnerships, small batch production, economic empowerment
Best For | Floral maxi dresses
Our Pick | Isabella Wrap Maxi
Price | Dresses start at $72
Yireh, meaning will provide in Hebrew, is a brand passionate about creating small batch, slow-fashion home goods and apparel, including gorgeous summer dresses. Based in Bali, Indonesia, the company is committed to transparency and ethical production—all employees are paid fair wages, receive medical care and sick leave, and have one-month paid vacation, as well as time off for religious holidays. Dresses at Yireh are unique, feminine, and perfect for summer travels. Additionally, ten percent of all profits benefit the International Justice Mission, a human rights organization working to eradicate human trafficking.
Based In | Irvine, CA
Ethics | GOTS certified fabric, low-impact dyes
Best For | Modern, unexpected dresses
Our Pick | The Baker Dress
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, yet still offer a touch of the unexpected for the modern, stylish woman. Their neutral color palette and timeless silhouettes make each piece perfect for a capsule or minimalist wardrobe.
Based In | Santa Cruz, CA
Ethics | Economic empowerment, organic materials
Best For | Everyday organic dresses
Our Pick | Shimmer Dress
Price | Dresses start at $57
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!
13. The Summer House
Based In | Bangalore, India
Ethics | Small batch production, fair wages, eco-friendly & organic materials
Best For | Undyed natural dresses
Our Pick | Habhu Dress
Price | Dresses start at $47
The Summer House's goal is to question every step of the production process—and to make it better. Their direct-to-consumer model allows them to skip the markups and put more thought into sourcing eco-friendly and ethically-produced fabrics, like organic cotton and Tencel. All of their dollhouse-worthy dresses are responsibly made in small batches in their in-house production studio, where their employees are fairly paid and trained to further their careers.
14. Amour Vert
Based In | San Francisco, CA
Ethics | American manufacturing, non-toxic dyes, sustainable fabrics, zero-waste philosophy
Best For | Casual everyday dresses
Our Pick | Haley Long Sleeve Shift
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.
Based In | Boulder, CO
Ethics | Organic cotton, protection of workers’ rights
Best For | Affordable organic dresses
Our Pick | Sleeveless Drawstring Dress
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. We love their affordable prices and their amazingly comfortable fabrics make PACT pieces a long-lasting wardrobe staple. PACT's mission is to “change the apparel industry for good.”