Ethical brands we love

Ethical brands we love

Hi sewists! We are right smack-dab in the middle of Fashion Revolution Week, which got the Workroom Social team thinking about the fashion supply chain and our role in it as consumers (and as makers).

It’s overwhelming to consider how much is at stake when you shop for fashion: labor practices, environmental costs, and even copyright issues. And for those of us who sew a lot, we still have to wonder about the origin of our fabric and other supplies.

So I thought this might be a good time to highlight some of my favorite companies who are already having a positive influence in fashion and fashion sewing.

Knitwear brand: Kordal

Kordal - Ethically responsible sustainable knitwear brand

KORDAL is a fashion knitwear company whose mission is to create garments in an ethical manner by paying their workers a fair wage, designing garments that are not trend-focused, and using natural fibers when possible. Designer Mandy Kordal creates classic pieces that can blend well into any wardrobe. Visit the company’s Social Impact web page for information on their textiles and manufacturing. I also love that Mandy is an active participant in New York City’s making community, and Workroom Social neighbor at 893 Bergen Street!

Bags and accessories: Sylvan Park

Sylvan Park - leather goods and accessories manufactured in New York City

Leather lovers, I’d love to introduce you to friend and past Workroom Social studiomate Sylvan Park. Designer and maker Betsy Baird has created a line of bags that will last you from now until the end of time! Rugged and beautiful, the genuine full-grain leather used in their entire collection is created using an age-old process of vegetable tanning, which utilizes plant-based materials and is free from the harsh substances used to tan most leather today. Sylvan Park’s leather is certified by the Pelle Conciata al Vegetale and is sourced from a family-owned tannery in Tuscany, where all hides are a by-product of the food industry.

Shoe brand: Nisolo

Nisolo - Ethically made shoes designed with intention at a fair price

Nisolo shoes are an Instagram darling, with styles that will make even the most casual outfit look sharp. Not only are clothes made by people’s hands, but shoes are too and all Nisolo producers receive, at a minimum, beyond fair trade wages, healthcare, and a healthy working environment. You can read more about their production on their Impact Report web page.

Sewing classes: Sewn Sustainably

Sewn Sustainably - sewing classes for those who care about sustainability

For our readers in the United Kingdom, Sewn Sustainably runs beginner and advanced sewing lessons that focus on making, repairing, and upcycling clothes. Founder Clare Szabo has designed sewing classes to help students think about the clothes we need and the clothes we’ll wear again and again. With a focus on pieces than will blend into your existing wardrobe, it’s Sewn Sustainably’s goal to help sewists create less waste. They are always updating their class calendar, so check out their Sewing Classes page for current listings.

Fashion fabrics: Hell Gate Fabrics

Hell Gate Fabrics - fabrics sourced from countries with fair labor practices

Friend and sewing buddy Sonja Gingerich launched Hell Gate Fabrics in 2015 because she wanted to help bring responsibly made fabrics to sewists just like you. Hell Gate Fabrics specializes in selling textiles that are healthier for people and the environment. The company’s focus is on finding beautiful fabrics made with natural fibers in countries with fair labor practices. Sonja has done an awesome job at curating a nice collection of different fibers, prints, and weaves, all of which I find super wearable. As we move into summer, I’m eyeing her Japanese cottons!

For more information about Fashion Revolution, visit their website. They’ve also got a bunch of resources if you want to help spread the world or read more about the issues at hand.

  • That’s a great post! I enjoyed reading about local brands you know firsthand, and of course our awesome Sewcialist friends taking action!

  • Interesting post. Trying to buy as much local as possible isn’t that easy. Production of lots of materials is been done in low wages countries. Small footprint wise I travel as much as possible with public transport and bike as possible.