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11 Sustainable Clothing Brands Reviving the Lost Know-How

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In an age of fast fashion and conspicuous consumption, “sustainable clothing brands” are hot-button topics. But while buzzwords like “repurposing” and “fair-trade certifications” are on everyone’s lips, the true nature of sustainability goes deeper. In envisioning a sustainable world, we need also to consider the sustainability of its people and cultures, and nurture a connection with our roots in order to grow into the future.

Searching the world, we found 11 sustainable brands that build on a cultural past and collective wisdom to craft fabric that respects the planet and the traditions of its people. From yak wool high up on the Tibetan plateau to lotus fibres in the gardens of Cambodia, Ukrainian embroidery to Irish cashmere, these fashion creators carry on the craftsmanship of generations, elevating it into beautiful, wearable designs for the world of today and tomorrow.

Norlha_Clothing brands

Norlha

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A remote village in the Himalayan mountains may not sound like the birthplace of the next luxury fabric, but this is exactly where Norlha’s warm and lightweight yak wool got its start. Combining traditional weaving and felting techniques, Yeshi, founder of Norlha, employs skilled Tibetan weavers to produce the fibre—which can be difficult to work with—under the region’s challenging conditions. Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Balmain are among Norlha’s clients, transforming the fine fabric into exquisite scarves, blankets, and more.
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Thread Tales

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So precious that it was once only used to weave robes for royals and Buddhist monks, the luxuriously soft fibre from the stalk of the lotus flower is a traditional alternative to other natural fabrics. One of the very few sustainable clothing brands to produce this unique textile, Thread Tales begins its process among the floating lotus gardens of Inle Lake in Myanmar. Families of weavers, spinners, and dyers use ancestral practices to manufacture the fibre every step of the way. The sustainable clothing brand ethically harvests the delicate lotus during its natural seasonal cycle and weave the fabric entirely by hand using traditional wooden tools.
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Angel Chang

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After growing increasingly disappointed with the hi-tech fashion industry’s promises for a sustainable future, American designer Angel Chang instead turned to studying the ancient past, moving to a mountain village in rural China to learn ancestral textile techniques going back 14 generations. Working closely with indigenous mountain tribes, Angel Chang drew on her roots to develop her eponymous zero carbon womenswear line: clothing handmade by local fabric masters using ancient practices and plant dyes used in traditional Chinese medicine.
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Yangdol

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The region of Ladakh, set in the Indian Himalayas, is the birthplace of Yangdol’s uniquely sustainable cashmere yarn. Over 100 women from this region’s remote villages are employed to hand-spin the local cashmere fiber into a light, soft and robust yarn, an operation requiring a high level of technical knowledge guided by generations of ancestral experience. The fine fibers are then hand-dyed using organic colour pigments derived from locally grown plants. Finally, the finished yarn is woven into scarves, shawls, and other garments using traditional looms.
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My Sleeping Gypsy

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The stunning embroidery motifs of Ukrainian vyshyvanka dresses bring new life to this ancestral design technique at My Sleeping Gypsy. Each dress, crafted from linen, passes through the hands of up to six skilled artisans in a meticulous and labour intensive process. Reconnecting women to their roots and cultural heritage is at the heart of this sustainable clothing brand, while looking toward the future with locally based production and sustainable materials.
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Sophie Hong

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Designer Sophie Hong was in a Hong Kong department store when a unique cloth caught her eye: gambiered Guangzhou gauze. Traditionally made by repeatedly soaking the fabric in wild yam juice and river mud, the fabric is thin yet durable, with a rich reddish-brown hue derived from the yam’s tannins. Reviving the ancient production methods, the sustainable clothing brands work to develop their own new take on the textile. The creation, Hong Silk, retains the fabric’s roots while expanding its spectrum with a new palette of vibrant colours and textures such as brocade and faux leather.
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Mieko Mintz

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The art of Indian Kantha and the motifs of Japanese kimonos come together in the sustainable clothing brand of Japan-born designer Mieko Mintz. Made in a small Bengali community and translated as “quilt of recycled cotton rags”, Kantha throws are created from layers of old saris, joined by a running stitch to produce a rippled effect. The sustainable clothing brands selects vintage saris from India, stitching them into unique designs.
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Lainey Keogh

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Ireland’s knitwear legacy gains a vibrantly modern presence at the studio of Lainey Keogh. Dubbed the undisputed queen of cashmere, Keogh has been creating her bespoke handcrafted cashmere for almost twenty years. Most pieces from the sustainable clothing brands are made to order using a zero-waste manufacturing platform, eliminating the waste and pollution associated with mass production.
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VOZ

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VOZ, an ethical fashion company specializing in the ancient weaving techniques of Southern Chile, has a mission to empower indigenous women in economically disadvantaged communities. Providing education and jobs, VOZ works with the master weavers of the Mapuche artisans, an indigenous group that instils its collective traditions and knowledge into the designs. VOZ uses premium materials for its textiles, such as baby alpaca and pima cotton, local to the Andean region.
10-Jaline_ Sustainable Clothing brands

Jaline

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Founder Jacqueline Lopez got the idea for Jaline while living in Mexico, where she came upon gorgeous textiles from Oaxaca, which are hand-woven using handmade wooden mills. The sustainable clothing brand sought to collaborate with Oaxaca’s talented female artisans to create a beachwear collection that revives these traditional techniques. Handwoven from locally sourced cotton, Jaline shows off bright colours and original prints inspired by travel and vintage fashions.
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Lemlem

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Supermodel Liya Kebede started lemlem in 2007, after a trip to her native Ethiopia led her to discover the beautiful work of local artisan weavers. Africa’s first international-presence brand, lemlem preserves an ancient art form and creates job opportunities for local communities. The sustainable clothing brands are hand-spun and woven from traditional cotton using time-honored techniques, embellished with the bright colors and iconic patterns synonymous with Africa’s bustling streets.

 

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