8 Retailers Carrying Ethical Brands in 2021

Sustainable fashion is thriving, and eco-conscious retailers carrying ethical brands have skyrocketed in the fashion industry. Consumers are becoming more ecologically sensitive than ever, and the pushback against fast fashion is rapidly increasing.

There's no better start to discussing sustainable fashion than showcasing the ethical pioneers of the movement. Famous retailers like Nordstrom, who have been in the business for 100 years, actively campaigns their investment towards social and environmental stewardship. According to a poll survey, 70% of consumers believe social responsibility is a crucial step for ethical organizations to take on. Another 66% of consumers support brands fighting for social problems. EarthHero embodies a similar philosophy, bringing hundreds of world-changing brands under one network to help the world become more sustainable. Sustainability is also sewn into the narrative and behaviors of Target, Amour Vert, Package Free, and Goop. While the initiatives of these retailers towards ethical fashion are not the same, embracing exceptional product transparency about where, how, and why is the unifying thread that unites them. In that light, here are a few of our favorite sustainable retailers carrying ethical brands and making a difference through their marketplace platforms.

Nordstrom is amongst the most popular fashion retailers in the United States. It offers over 20 in-house brands and carries an array of designer collections. Nordstrom is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), and is committed to minimizing its carbon footprints. The company has also prohibited the use of animal fur and exotic skin or hair in their product lines.

Nordstrom is affiliated with several ethical clothing brands taking effective initiatives in the areas of sustainability, including:

  • Patagonia: Sustainably and ethically manufactured athletic and casual gears. 
  • Eileen Fisher: Ecological and biodegradable fibers manufactured in regulated factories. 
  • Birkenstock Shoes: Sustainable textiles manufactured in ethical factories. 
  • Michael Stars: Sustainable products made with fair labor.
  • Amour Vert Clothing: Plant-based fabrics manufactured in regulated factories. 
  • Stasher: Zero-waste food and sustainable packaging solutions.
  • Burt's Bees: Organic baby clothes and other environmentally friendly products.

Find the complete list of brands associated with Nordstrom here. 

Founded by 11x world champion surfer Kelly Slater, Outerknown is a men's and women's apparel brand rooted in environmental sustainability. Outerknown prioritizes transparency, sustainability, and has an incredible roadmap to showcase their goals as we head towards 2030. Kelly emphasizes that they view sustainability commitment as the ‘North Star’ - they may never actually get there, but it will always guide the way. Their promise to keep learning, exploring, and innovating is a part of choosing the most responsible path in every decision they make. 


Outerknown also features Futureshop, its mission is to transform the way we outfit the world by inspiring an industry to reimagine design and embrace circularity. They champion fair labor and seek to emphasize circular models through innovative business plans. Outerknown carries KeepCup, Guppyfriend, Mizu, Terra Thread and worked with Levi’s to create Wellthread X Outerknown to explore cleaner and timeless denim manufacturing.

 

Amour Vert practices ecologically conscious manufacturing as part of their contribution to a more sustainable tomorrow. The company makes products in small batches using sustainable signature fabrics such as organic cotton and produces domestically in the United States to lessen its carbon emissions. Amour Vert maintains transparency, tracks its supply chain, and bans the use of Angora and exotic animal skin and fur. It collaborated with American Forests on a "tees for trees" program in which a tree is planted in North America for every t-shirt purchased. So far, Amour Vert has planted over 352,544 trees. Amour Vert also carries brands like Veja, Coclico, SOKO, and more!

Target, one of the most globally recognized names, carries environmentally friendly brands in beauty, fashion, personal care, household products, etc. Target scored 100 on the 2018 Corporate Equality Index, and its sustainable brand page lays down the aims and standards the company hopes to implement in the future. 

The eighth-largest retail chain in the US fulfills the goal of sustainability, promoting a green society by implementing sustainable measures into the operations of the company--- recycling programs, circular design, etc. Target recognizes the importance of sustainable brands, extending a range of eco-friendly owned brands and a curated assortment of national brands to the shoppers— 48 Target-exclusive brands, along with sustainable brands like Seventh Generation, Yes To, Hello, and Annie's.

EarthHero simplifies the process of purchasing green solutions by offering a vast collection of sustainable products— be it organic, gluten-free, recyclable, vegan, or just about anything. The company is a Certified B Corp. It contributes to minimizing waste through their handpicked zero waste collection. Undertaking the legwork for customers, EarthHero validates over 150+ sustainable brands like Conscious Step, Terra Thread, Girlfriend Collective, SOL Organics, and SAOLAshoes, Knickey, among others.

 

EarthHero filters through the clutter to make sure the brands and goods they sell are ethically justifiable, generating thousands of varied sustainable products utilizing their 5-Step Sourcing Methodology. As a 1% for the Planet member, it donates 1% of their sales annually to various sustainability initiatives, non-profits, and organizations working hard to make the world a more sustainable place to live in. The company is also a carbonfund.org partner— negating their overall carbon emissions including carbon released during transportation and distribution.

Goop is the meeting point of luxury and sustainability— launched and led by well-known celebrity and wellness icon, Gwyneth Paltrow, the company promotes sustainable lifestyle through in-house brands and other sustainable brands like BlissHaus, Birkenstock, Laura Lombardi. Goop offers a bespoke assortment of lifestyle collections, expanding to podcasts, food recipes, and wellness and travel guide. Collaborating with sustainable brands and designers to create an eco-friendly line of clothing, Goop promotes clean consumerism in the fashion and beauty industry. 

Goop In-house Brands: 

Know the Origin is an exemplary leader in the ethical garment industry, principally engaged in offering environmentally friendly products that laud benevolence. It offers sustainable, plastic-free solutions and exercises supply chain transparency, evaluating all commodities back to their source. The London-based retailer collaborates with ethical Indian suppliers to manufacture items that are 100% sustainably sourced with the majority of them Fairtrade Certified. Know the Origin practices fair wage, upholds workers' rights, and all of their products are vegan and cruelty-free. The exceptional transparency and regard for individuals and the planet by Know the Origin truly justifies their tagline Style with Nothing to Hide.

Package Free is a full-service retailer that specializes in low-waste and zero-waste solutions. The company acquires its goods in bulk and has high standards and criteria for the brands it works with— including mandatory no-plastic rules. Sustainable brands such as Terra ThreadEcoPiggy, Gallant International Inc, Life Without Plastic (along with their exclusive in-house products) employ plastic-free natural materials, which are also shipped to the Package Free distribution center without use of plastic. Package Free utilizes shipping labels and boxes made of 100% recycled materials with an "I'm not trash” tagline and waste statistics emblazoned on them.

Founder and CEO, Lauren Singer, has a blog titled Trash is for Tossers where she educates the readers with information about decreasing consumption and living in harmony with ecological ideals. Package Free shifts the paradigm of what it implies to retail ethically and responsibly, keeping humanity and the planet in mind. 


Final Thoughts 

When we think of ‘shopping sustainably’ and ‘ethical fashion’ - it is all too easy to dismiss anything that isn’t a small business. It’s true that there are many small businesses that are doing their part to be intentional with their business practices, but we should not dismiss these larger companies because of their size. It's all too easy to discredit something that isn't a small business when we think of "sustainable shopping" and "ethical fashion." Many small firms are taking initiatives to be more purposeful in their business operations. That said, we mustn't overlook these larger companies based on their size. The involvement of big-box retailers significantly contributes to the evolution of environmentally friendly shopping— sustainable options are becoming increasingly prevalent, allowing shoppers to discover conscious brands that are working hard to benefit the environment. Their involvement, along with the efforts of the smaller sustainable businesses, is vital to accomplishing a more environmentally friendly future. As we work towards a greener future that utilizes resources - thoughtful production and consumption - and gives back to the planet, we cannot afford to dismiss efforts being made by transitioning industries. The fast fashion industry, though we may try, will not suddenly become sustainable in the blink of an eye. There is a transition period and we must continue to support efforts being made as they head in the right direction while divesting from industries and corporations that lack an understanding in the importance of such an initiative.

Terra Thread’s collection of sustainable toiletry and makeup bags, canvas tote bags, and multipurpose backpacks are ethically & responsibly. They are GOTS and Fairtrade Certified— we are committed to making a difference by offering the best sustainable products.