The ultimate guide to sustainable basics

Basics are the backbone of any wardrobe. If you stick to basic designs you can combine them with anything, and they never go out of style. But be wary, there is a huge difference in how these basics are made.

Lars Dinjens28 December 2020

Sure, pricing can be a bit higher for more sustainable basics, but that’s not always the case. For us, that’s all good since we know that the fair brands produce without causing unnecessary harm to people, the planet, and animals. They’re also of higher quality, last longer and better for your skin since most of these brands produce organic fashion!

Finding a favorite brand to buy your basics from can be a challenge. That's why we put together this list that features the biggest brands that offer basics and more sustainable options to choose from. Choose for yourself if you want to keep supporting your current basics brand or simply switch to a more ethical option from this list!

1) Armed Angels
B

Timeless design, sustainable production, vegan approved, organic, the list goes on. Armed Angels ticks all the boxes. The German fashion brand is on a fair fashion journey since 2007. They have now become one of the biggest sustainable fashion brands in Europe. Awesome brand!

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2) Reformation
B

What goes for Armed Angels in Europe, goes for Reformation in the United States. The California brand is raising the bar for the entire fashion industry. Reformation goes the extra mile everywhere it can go to ensure its garments are of the highest and fairest quality. Only for women though! 

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3) Jan n June
B

Minimalistic, stylish, sustainable. Jan n June is born out of frustration with the supply in the fashion industry. To fix it they started their own brand. Jan n June is very transparent about what materials it uses and where they come from. Production is strictly in Europe and animal materials are banned. 

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4) Alchemist
B

The Dutch team behind Alchemist are sustainable fashion pioneers that combine luxury fashion with an ethical lifestyle. Designs are timeless and high-quality. For those who are looking for a brand that’s ethical, fair, and in the luxury fashion segment, Alchemist is the way to go. 

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5) Filippa K
B

Minimalist Scandinavian designs from Sweden. Filippa K has a global presence but does not really advertise as a sustainable brand. Admirable, because they have been around since 1993 and have been able to combine quantity with sustainable production. Prices can be steep, but its products are of very high quality and the designs are timeless. 

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6) Studio Jux
B

Studio Jux is a sustainable fashion brand that strives to improve the economic situation in Nepal. That’s why all of its suppliers are located in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Materials are great and the company excels in great working conditions for its employees. Long story short: Studio Jux is an awesome choice for basics!

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7) Organic Basics
B

Organic Basics is a frontrunner in sustainable production. With a few exceptions, almost all of their products are completely organic and qualify as just basics. So if you’re looking for a brand that does basics really well, Organic Basics is the way to go! 

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8) People Tree
B

People Tree is a Japanese-British sustainable brand for women. The brand has been going at it since 1991 and makes every product with high ethical and quality standards. Especially noteworthy that People Tree works with small producers and farmers that are certified by Fair Trade (WFTO). Truly an awesome brand and a force for good!

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9) Thinking Mu
B

Designs are classy and timeless and materials are mostly organic. This Barcelona based brand takes a spin on transparency by showcasing each material and it’s impact per product. There’s a bit more transparency general needed from Thinking Mu on some topics but overall though this is a good option for basics. 

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10) Komodo
B

Komodo is one of the original sustainable fashion brands. Since 1988 the British brand is committed to creating eco-friendly products that do not harm people, animals and the environment. Material usage is great and transparent and most products are vegan. 

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11) Kuyichi
B

Kuyichi is best known for its denim. But the brand makes great basics from organic and recycled materials. For timeless, vegan wardrobe basics that are produced ethically and made to last, Kuyichi is an awesome choice. 

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11) ASOS Design
C

ASOS is a British online fashion warehouse. It sells clothing from all kinds of brands, but also produces its own, known as ASOS Design. The brand does state that it wants to help combat climate change but only a very small percentage of materials are more sustainable. There are simply too many questions left unanswered for them to qualify as a sustainable option. 

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12) H&M Group: H&M, Monki, Weekday, COS, Arket, &Other Stories
C

H&M Group reports and produces for all of its brands in similar fashion. It’s mainly the branding that’s different. The Swedish brand is one of the most polluting fashion companies in the world and is the canonical example of fast fashion. Good worker rights are far from guaranteed and animal welfare is a risk as well. 

Read more about H&M

13) Gap Inc: GAP, Old Navy, Banana Republic
D

GAP is not transparent about how it makes its products. Buying from Gap Inc brands carries a considerable risk of buying products for which people, planet and environment are harmed. 

Read more about GAP

14) Primark
D

Primark is even faster fast fashion. Producing fashion at this rate combined with the extremely low prices is the embodiment of what is wrong with the current fashion industry. The costs for this business model are being paid elsewhere in the world. 

Read more about Primark

15) Uniqlo
D

How this Japanese fast fashion brand makes its clothing is not great. The company did announce change in 2018, but this is a fast fashion company at heart. There are too many questions and malpractices which is why Uniqlo is definitely not a brand we recommend buying from. 

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16) Inditex Group: Zara, Bershka, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Uterqüe, Massimo Dutti, Oysho
D

Inditex is one biggest fashion retailers in the world. With the amount of collections and speed to market the company is as unsustainable as fashion can be. Products are designed to generate as much profit as quickly as possible. This results in bad quality, huge environmental costs and bad conditions for people and animals. Zara is best known for this, but this is the case for all Inditex brands. 

Read more about Zara

17) Bestseller: Jack and Jones, Vero Moda, Pieces, Only & Sons, Selected, Object, Name It, Mamalicious, Vila Clothes, Noisy May
D

Bestseller is a Danish fast fashion giant with fourteen different brands under its umbrella. While branding is different, production processes for all these brands are probably roughly the same. We can’t really tell for sure because the group is not transparent about these processes. This almost surely indicates that there is a large risk that people, planet and animals are harmed for these products. 

Read more about Bestseller

18) Mango
D

Mango is not nearly transparent enough on how its millions of garments are produced each year. The Spanish company does publish a sustainability report, but fails to share the data that really matters. Exact material origins are largely unknown or unsustainable and there are considerable risks for animals and workers in its supply chain. 

Read more about Mango

19) WE Fashion
D

WE Fashion is a Dutch fashion brand that falls under the umbrella of Logo International. The brand is showing signs of improvement, but as it stands there are too many questions that remain unanswered. More transparency, and more improvement, is needed from this company. 

Read more about WE Fashion 

20) Esprit
D

Esprit has embarked on a mission to change for the better. The company is showing willingness to actually change the business model from one with fast fashion traits to a more sustainable one. The company has only recently begun though. There is a large amount of steps to take before they can qualify as a more sustainable option. 

Read more about Esprit 

21) New Look
D

New Look is a popular British fast fashion brand. The company is known for its rapidly changing collections and low prices, both of which are red flags. Because New Look is not transparent about its footprint, material sourcing and labor conditions, these concerns are valid. 

Read more about New Look

22) Arcadia Group: Topshop, Burton, Evans, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Outfit, Wallis, Miss Selfridge
E

The multinational British high-street retailer Arcadia Group is not transparent about how it makes its products. The little information that the company does provide can be very difficult to interprete and sometimes even feels misleading. This goes for all brands that fall under the umbrella of Arcadia Group. Too many risks. 

Read more about Topshop 

23) Forever 21
E

Forever 21 is an American fast fashion brand. It’s also a company that seems to do everything it can to produce at the lowest price for the biggest profit. This has resulted in a long list of controversies, lawsuits and employees speaking out on topics like unfair pay and a toxic work environment. Currently, the company does not offer any relevant information about its operations. For a company with a bad reputation like Forever 21, that even sparks uproar in the United States, this is very worrisome.

Read more about Forever 21 

24) Circular

Do keep in mind that the most sustainable option is to keep wearing your own basics or buying secondhand! If you really need to make a purchase, have a look at what's available secondhand.

Shop ThredUp

Shop Vinted

We will continue to update this list with brands that offer basics. Let us know if you feel brands are missing from this list at hello@fairify.io

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