With fall officially in full effect, the search for comfortable outerwear is on. But for socially conscious shoppers, finding ethical options presents a challenging obstacle: Simply put, the lack of sustainable options is real. Whether you're straight size or plus, finding outerwear brands that also incorporate sustainability into their production and design process can be tough.
But after years of pressure and demand, a handful of designers are expanding into sustainable outerwear options. While this can be a costly move, as some of the brands shared with Fashionista, it is a vital step in working toward a future that prioritizes ethical fashion. These four brands — each with a different aesthetic, price range and point of view — are rising to the challenge.
Save the Duck
When Nicolas Bargi took over Forest Clothing Company — his family's brand — in 2010, he did so with the idea to expand into clothing that was respectful of animals, the environment and humans alike. In 2012, he launched Save the Duck, an outerwear label focused on sustainability. The core mission of the brand is broken into four parts: preserving animal welfare; guaranteeing the respect of human rights of all workers; reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, water and energy consumption and increasing the use of renewable energy; and guaranteeing the highest quality through team checks and chemical tests.
"Our goal is to keep introducing more and more recycled and low-impact raw materials, using the flourishing offer of sustainable products offered by a technologically advanced market," Bargi says. "To do this, we need to change the system by rethinking our way of making products from a circular perspective, by finding innovative solutions to meet our challenges; pushing our boundaries to make our products fit the world we live in today."
He adds, "Sustainability is not a point of arrival, but a path where we must challenge to improve continuously...Luxury should be perceived as a matter of quality of life and I trust consumer demand towards a more ethical product will grow as it is the only answer to the needs of a new generation."
Save the Duck — with options available in an XXS to XXXL in women's and XS to XXXL in men's — is largely focused on various puffer jacket designs with plans to expand into more colorful options in the future.
For those looking for more fashion-leaning outerwear options, Caalo's offerings are worth considering. The brand, which designer Chelsea Claridge launched in May of this year, offers sizes XXS to L and is produced out of New York City.
"For our Fall 2019 collection, we used an Italian sustainable down that is both RDS certified and OEKO-TEX Class 1 certified. This responsible down is held to strict guidelines, where the geese are treated humanely since hatchery," says Claridge. "We also used a recycled fabrication that is made from upcycling plastic bottles from the Mediterranean sea. We are constantly looking at new fabric technologies and trying to include as many sustainable fabrics as possible. For our SS20 collection...we chose Bemberg as our main lining for the collection, which is regenerated fiber made from cotton linter, a raw material that is pre-consumer waste."
Though originally launched in 2010, Amour Vert has gained quite a bit of traction since new CEO Aaron Hoey recently took over. The retailer, which stocks both its own in-house label and a variety of other consciously-made brands, has long placed an emphasis on sustainability.
"We have operated as a sustainable brand since day one and will never stray from these values so important to us and challenge our industry to be better when it comes to environmental footprint," Hoey tells Fashionista. "With that said, there are always ways to improve and our team works every day to find new and innovative ways to be better and spread awareness to the harms of fast fashion."
Based in San Francisco, Amour Vert "organically" or "sustainably" produces its fiber while using non-toxic dyes. The brand's outerwear options range from leather jackets to trench coats to blazers and wool. "The most sustainable materials available are cellulose-based fibers, which are manufactured in a renewable, closed-loop process and are biodegradable at the end of their lifecycle. We utilize cellulose-based fibers in our signature, beechwood blend modal, which is made from fibers that are manufactured by Lenzing," Hoey explains.
The brand has also partnered with American Forest, planting over 200,000 trees and supporting 21 reforestation projects so far.
Choiss, a label founded by Fabiana Herbert earlier this year, has its sights set on prioritizing both sustainability and size inclusivity. Its many outerwear options are made-to-order and made-to-measure using traceable materials.
"Choiss proves that by producing in small quantities and being more thoughtful about the production process, brands can reduce their carbon footprints and ensure a longer lifespan of the products," Herbert says.
With the use of 3D technology, Choiss efficiently, cost-effectively, and quickly constructs garments. When placing an order, shoppers fill out a seven-question survey to determine their size, asking about their waist shape, hip shape, bra size, height, weight, hip circumference and waist circumference.
"We yield less returns, less waste, and ultimately, a timeless, custom product that will ensure more wear."