In honour of Independence Day, we look at US ethical fashion brands you can proudly wear to Fourth of July parties and sing The Star Spangled Banner in.
Today, 97% of garments sold in the US are made elsewhere, mainly in China, India and Mexico. But even clothing that displays the ‘Made in USA’ label is not guaranteed to be ethical. According to official estimates, 26% of textile and garment workers in the US are undocumented, while more than half of the 22,000 sewing shops across the country violate minimum wage and overtime laws.
But perhaps American consumers, fed up with throwaway fast fashion made in perilous factories overseas and sweatshops back home, can turn the tide by taking a closer look at brands that support decent jobs and care about the environment — both in the USA and beyond. Here are some American dream fashion brands to choose from.
Founded by Ali Hewson and Bono in 2005, Edun is a global ethical fashion brand based in New York. In line with its mission to source production and encourage trade in Africa, EDUN supports manufacturers, community-based initiatives and partners with the continent’s artists and artisans. Since 2009, LVMH has invested in the company.
A long-term champion of sustainability, Eileen Fisher makes her timeless designs using organic and sustainable fabrics and paying fair wages. One-fifth of her garments are made in the USA. Through Green Eileen, the brand’s recycling scheme, gently worn old clothes find new owners, with proceeds going to support charities.
Raven + Lily
Kirsten Dickerson, CEO and Founder of Raven + Lily, has always been a globetrotter and a do-gooder, volunteering alongside Mother Theresa in India and pursuing her studies in Africa. Today she runs her Austin, Texas based company and is passionate about promoting social business models as a means of providing a dignified way to alleviate poverty, especially among at-risk women. Hurry to Raven + Lily’s website for a special Fourth of July promotion!
This San Francisco-based start-up is the brainchild of former venture capitalist Michael Preysman who was frustrated with the lack of innovation in the industry. Since 2010, Everlane has been premised on radical transparency – knowing where clothes come from, down to each factory. In an industry where a simple shirt is marked up eight times on average before reaching the consumer, Everlane chose a 100% online retail model to cut out the middlemen and keep costs to a minimum.
Avid mountain climber Yvon Chouinard founded “active sportswear” label Patagonia back in the 1970s and soon established the brand as both innovation- and sustainability-driven. Environment has been a huge part of Patagonia’s identity from the early days: the company has been supporting grassroots conservation initiatives since 1973. It was among the first clothing brands to switch to organic cotton and to use recycled polyester fleece (the latter has recently come under fire for causing water pollution, discovered through Patagonia-funded research). Patagonia’s famous ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ ad made us question our mindless consumerism.
And that’s it for now. Happy Fourth of July to all American readers!