When it comes to creating a more just, sustainable fashion industry, small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) are leading the way. As our 2021 Fashion Accountability Report has shown, SMEs scored 37 points on average compared to a 9 point average for larger companies, outperforming their larger big-box and fast fashion competitors by a landslide — making smaller and medium-sized companies the most sustainable brands this year. Smaller brands “were more likely to provide detailed information on their sustainability efforts, to have resilient business models focused on durable products, to be working to phase out virgin fossil fuel fabrics, and to be transparent about their supply chain.”
Our 2021 investigative report scores 60 brands based on the following practices: traceability; wages and wellbeing; commercial; raw materials; environmental justice and climate change; and governance, diversity and inclusion. Here are the results for our report’s10 top-performing brands.
Nisolo (83 points)
Nisolo’s leather goods and shoes are built to last, thanks to their ageless style and durability. Nisolo was the highest scoring brand on our 2021 Accountability Report, scoring a whopping 83 points — far above even the SME average of 37 points. The beloved shoe brand is a top-rated Certified B Corporation, as well as has its own personal commitments to transparency, accountability, and sustainability. Nisolo is the one brand in our report that could provide evidence that its garment makers and direct employees earn a living wage. Furthermore, the shoe brand also shares how many products it produces, along with its carbon footprint.
Eileen Fisher (56 points)
Eileen Fisher embodies timeless sustainability with its luxury sweaters and basics. Founded in 1984 by namesake Eileen Fisher, the brand “[remains] a leader in sustainable fashion,” having endorsed the Garment Worker Protection Act in 2021 and invested in regenerative agriculture. Committed to using sustainable fibers and to “closing the loop” on their manufacturing, Eileen Fisher’s clothing and accessories are “designed with the future in mind” through the brand’s classic aesthetic, environmentally-minded practices around raw materials, and labor rights initiatives, including profit-sharing with its employees.
MUD Jeans (55 points)
MUD Jeans is one of the most sustainable denim options on the market. The brand offers a wide variety of denim washes for both men and women and offers all the favored cuts from decades past, from skinny to straight-leg. MUD Jeans prides itself on “doing jeans differently,” and by differently, it means through fair and circular production methods that promote minimizing waste. According to the brand’s website, compared to the industry standard of 7,000 liters of water used per jean produced, MUD Jeans only use 477 liters of water, made possible through water recycling and washing techniques employed at their factories.
Veja (52 points)
Sneaker brand Veja puts its best foot forward when it comes to sustainability and transparency. The brand’s sneakers are perfect for sustainable streetwear enthusiasts of all genders, constructed with high-quality organic cotton and Amazonian rubber in Brazil. Veja is built on fundamental values of transparency and environmental sustainability that inform its design process from start to finish, including paying its raw material suppliers above-market prices in hopes that these same suppliers can reinvest in their farms. Additionally, the brand released a detailed report on its supply chain carbon emissions, demonstrating what it means to be a truly transparency company.
Reformation (47 points)
Cute and low impact, Reformation is a cult-favorite brand for a reason, known for its range of denim, dresses, and swoon-worthy pieces made with a variety of sustainable fabrics. Reformation is a Los Angeles-based women’s clothing company that has achieved total carbon neutrality and anticipates being Climate Positive by 2025. Popular in the sustainable shopping world, the brand currently pays a living wage to 53% of its team members, including garment makers and is hopeful to reach 100% one day soon. Furthermore, Reformation has committed to creating a “safe, healthy, and fair work environment” for the individuals that create its clothing, as well as reducing its emissions, water usage, and waste created in manufacturing.
Girlfriend Collective (46 points)
Girlfriend Collective is a leader in inclusivity with its colorful, high-quality leggings and activewear. The brand has made strides with its recycled polyester, or RPET, activewear, as well as been a champion for transparency in fashion manufacturing, boasting both SA8000 certification, which promotes welfare and ethics in manufacturing, and Standard 100 certification by Oeko-Tex, which ensures that fabrics do not contain substances that are harmful to human health. Girlfriend Collective also takes inclusion seriously, offering many of its collections in sizes XXS – 6XL and consistently showing diverse bodies in its marketing campaigns.
Organic Basics (46 points)
Organic Basics is incredible at its namesake: undergarments, loungewear, and other basic garments that can be worn again and again. Headquartered in Copenhagen, Organic Basics is produced ethically in factories that are free of forced labor and child labor. The brand’s collection of basics are produced exclusively with sustainable fabrics, such as TENCEL™ Lyocell and recycled fabrics, such as cashmere and wool. Organic Basics also leads the way with its pilot projects in regenerative cotton farming and support of grassroots campaigns that address environmental justice.
Christy Dawn (44 points)
California-based Christy Dawn epitomizes Earth-conscious style with a flair for the romantic. Known for its vintage-inspired prairie dresses made from deadstock fabrics, Christy Dawn “is committed to practices that honor Mother Earth and all her people” through sustainable and ethical methods of manufacturing. The brand’s emphasis on interconnectivity with nature aligns perfectly with its regenerative agriculture projects and use of traditional artistry, as well as the fact that it pays its Farm-to-Closet workers in India a living wage. As no surprise, Christy Dawn was one of California’s Garment Worker Protection Act’s biggest and most vocal business supporters, endorsing the now-passed bill that ensures garment workers in the state are paid a minimum wage.
Nudie Jeans (41 points)
Nudie Jeans champions innovation in the sustainable denim space with its policy of “free repairs forever” with every pair of jeans purchased from the brand. Made from GOTS certified organic cotton, Nudie Jeans has made considerable advancements in sustainability and transparency within its supply chain. In December 2020, the brand introduced product-level transparency, providing customers with information about raw material use, production processes, CO2 emissions, and water use for the manufacturing of each item. For this reason, Nudie Jeans is Remake’s-highest scoring brand in the Traceability section of our 2021 Accountability Report.
Boyish Jeans (40 points)
Boyish Jeans‘ aesthetic is effortlessly cool. Located in downtown Los Angeles, Boyish is one of the most stylish, sustainable women’s denim brands on the market, with vintage-inspired silhouettes and washes. The brand shares its supply chain traceability through Retraced, a program that assists with supply chain mapping, and GreenStory, a platform that measures the environmental impact of its products. Boyish also takes an innovative approach in its pursuit of plant-based materials to implement in the creation of stretch fabrics, as opposed to petroleum-based materials. As an LA-based brand, Boyish publicly endorsed the Garment Worker Protection Act and stood as a supporter for garment maker rights.