Our Favorite Ethical Luxury Fashion
Don’t let the words designer and luxury scare you. While these brands are much more expensive than traditional fast fashion labels and even our favorite affordable ethical brands, it’s worth noting these designers for when you’re ready to invest in a staple piece. Or for when you’re browsing eBay and online consignment stores.
Not only are these designers creating garments that will last you years (and then some), but they are paving the runway with progressive production methods and innovative textile inventions. Whoever said environmental sustainability and luxury fashion couldn’t mix?
1. Stella McCartney
Sustainability | Cruelty-free—no fur or leather, use reengineered cashmere & ethically-sourced wool, organic cotton & recycled textiles
Best For | Ready-to-wear fashion for men and women, swimwear, sunglasses & bags
Stella McCartney has been reshaping fashion since launching her first collection in the early nineties. Known for creating modern garments that exude natural confidence, the luxury designer from the UK is a pioneer of alternative materials and cutting-edge technologies.
There is no compromise when it comes to sustainability, and pushing boundaries is always at the forefront of the brand’s mission. In 2014, Stella McCartney introduced Clevercare, a simple, five-step labeling system to help consumers care for and prolong the life of their clothing through mindful garment care. “We consider our environmental footprint at every point of our design process,” shares the brand. Continuing to set the bar high for social and environmental sustainability in the fashion industry, Stella McCartney regularly conducts audits and measures impact.
A member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, the brand is also careful with its selection of suppliers, many of whom are small businesses are artisans in Europe. When not designing her own products, Stella McCartney collaborates with numerous NGOs and environmental conservation organizations as well, including Wildlife Works and Parley for the Oceans.
2. EILEEN FISHER
Sustainability | Organic, recycled, & sustainable garments, natural dyes
Best For | Inclusive & petite sizes for women, minimalist staples
EILEEN FISHER is passionate about disrupting the linear production model utilized by most luxury fashion brands. An Illinois-bred designer, she paints in circular brushstrokes, recycling and giving new life to old textiles and discarded garments. The result? Luxurious and sustainable womenswear with a particular focus on inclusive and petite sizing.
Loved for her use of recycled fabrics, organic fibers, and natural dyes in production, it comes as no surprise that Eileen Fisher has also created a signature fabric: Silk Georgette Crepe. A refined and relaxed textile, it is dyed without hazardous chemicals in the world’s only dyehouse to produce bluesign® certified silks.
If that isn’t progressive and forward enough, Eileen Fisher also collaborates with environmental conservation initiatives, supports artisans, and empowers women through the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute.
3. Rag & Bone
Sustainability | Denim recycling program
Best For | Denim, men and women’s urban style
Founded by Marcus Wainwright (now the sole owner) and Nathan Bogle in 2002, Rag & Bone is a luxury label as passionate about redefining urban style as it is about sustainability and local production. Working with manufacturers committed to detail, excellent craftsmanship, and time-honored garment creation techniques, the brand is loved for its blend of edgy, New York aesthetic and humble British streetwear. Despite having an extensive men and women’s collection, the brand initially launched as a denim label; Rag & Bone’s beginnings are rooted in a love for American casual-wear, or jeans and a T-shirt to be exact.
It’s no surprise then, that in 2017, Rag & Bone partnered with Cotton Incorporated's Blue Jeans Go Green to launch a denim recycling program which encourages customers to bring in their old jeans to a brick-and-mortar store for recycling. After the jeans are donated, the denim is then recycled and transformed into insulation for homes.
4. Mara Hoffman
Sustainability | Uses recycled fabrics & fibers, hemp, linen, & organic cotton, sustainable packaging & branding
Best For | Designer swimwear, womenswear
Mara Hoffman’s collections are devoted to color and draw from the inspiration of women. Founding her line after graduating in 2000 from the Parsons School of Design, the luxury designer aims to encourage mindful consumption and continuously “encourages consumers to reevaluate the relationship” they have with their clothing.
Employing alternative approaches to fashion production, the brand uses an array of sustainable fabrics, including ECONYL® and REPREVE® in the favored swimwear line—regenerated nylon fiber made from waste and polyester fiber made from recycled plastic. Mara Hoffman uses hemp in the ready-to-wear collections, as well as organic cotton, linen, ethical alpaca wool, and fibrous plant-based materials sourced through Lenzing Group.
The brand also uses sustainable means for shipping, packaging, and branding, and internationally-accepted environmental and human rights standards are upheld for responsible production.
Sustainability | Natural fabrics
Best For | Timeless dresses and elevated womenswear
An online boutique run by a collective of creative Los Angeles-based women, DÔEN dreams up luxurious garments inspired by vintage California. Each piece comes with a story and pays homage to the women of past decades. The shop, initially founded by two Santa Barbara sisters in 2015, is committed to designing and producing timeless and feminine pieces that elevate the everyday woman’s wardrobe.
As far as ethics and sustainability are concerned, the brand is committed to domestic production whenever possible. For the garments that are stitched overseas, manufacturers are carefully selected to ensure fair wages and working conditions—DÔEN is proud to work with many female-owned or co-owned factories. Many garments are also made by hand and with natural fabrics.
Each year DÔEN also designs a collection for children and one hundred percent of the proceeds are donated to Room to Read, an organization promoting literacy and gender equality.