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Best sustainable men’s clothing: The fashion labels to know

There's never been a more important time to use our consumer buying power

Lizzie Rivera
Tuesday 03 August 2021 14:15
<p>Update your wardrobe consciously with these buys</p>

Update your wardrobe consciously with these buys

Fashion is a form of self-expression. Of course, the look and feel is important but these days, even more so, is what the brand you are wearing stands for.

The Fashion Transparency Index, released in July by Fashion Revolution, reveals that the majority of major fashion brands – a staggering 99 per cent – do not disclose the number of workers in their supply chain that are being paid a living wage.

This is especially important considering a reported 74 per cent of garment workers in Asia – many already existing on poverty wages – were pushed below the World Bank Poverty Line because of “wage theft” during the Covid-19 crisis, according to the Money Heist report, also released this month.

Together, both of these reports demonstrate that many menswear brands that talk-the-talk when it comes to ethics and sustainability and are not walking-the-walk. But, there are some really great ethical clothing brands for men, who strive to put sustainability and ethical production practices at their core.

Here’s our selection of brands that prove that on-trend, stylish design doesn’t need to come at the cost of people, the earth – or your wallet. All the brands featured here have completed a comprehensive questionnaire about the ethical standards from workers in the supply chain to sustainable materials.

Read more:

The best sustainable men’s clothing brands for 2021 are:

Raeburn air brake pkt tee black

Best: Overall

Rating: 9.5/10

A black T-shirt is an everyday essential. This organic cotton T-shirt with a pocket created from offcuts of air brake parachutes, which are designed to decrease speed of rapidly-moving objects, is a subtly elevated everyday essential. “Luxury with integrity” is the strapline of this award-winning British fashion label.

Designed in East London, and made across the globe, Raeburn partners with factories who source certified recycled and organic raw materials and have a good understanding of responsible fashion. Its in-house micro factory, the Raeburn Lab in Hackney, allows the brand to offer alterations and repairs, and make to order. As well as donating to various charities, its work with local schools and youth charities works to inspire and celebrate creativity, diversity and individuality.

The White T-Shirt Co fitted short sleeved v-neck T-shirt

Best: ForT-shirts

Rating: 9.5/10

Although it’s the classic wardrobe staple, that “perfect white T-shirt” felt rather elusive until we happened across The White T-Shirt Co. The brand pays attention to the small and often unseen details such as the weave of its (organic) cotton or the stitching of its seams – and this means the T-shirts look great, feel great and hold their shape after countless washes.

A focus on product, plus a short supply chain, means The White T-Shirt Co is also able to offer transparency to its customers. The brand is a regular contributor to sustainability lectures and workshops as part of Northumbria University’s fashion course, has been helping make scrubs and since March has donated five per cent of each T-shirt sale to its local Coronavirus Support and Recovery Fund, which is working directly with the older and more vulnerable people in the community.

Rapanui stripey long sleeve tee

Best: For outdoor wear

Rating: 9/10

This nautical-inspired long sleeve tee is perfect for those cool summer nights by the British seaside. It’s made from breathable organic cotton and printed on the Isle of Wight in a factory powered by renewable energy.

Rapunai is an all-round very cool brand. Adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes wore one of its hoodies en route to the Antarctic and it has also received the seal approval from Sir David Attenborough. But, that’s not the coolest thing about it – the best part is that all Rapanui products are printed to order and designed to be sent back when they’re worn out so they can be turned back into new products. And it does loads of other really great work, too.

Absolutely Bear sky blue organic cotton polo shirt

Best: Polo shirts

Rating: 8.5/10

Polo shirts are a summer wardrobe must-have for urbanites and these ones are at the top of our list because they’re made from organic cotton, which uses up to 91 per cent less water than conventional cotton.

Absolutely Bear is a relatively new brand and its polo shirts are made in a Fair Wear Foundation-certified factory, meaning the garment workers are paid a living wage. It is also part of the one per cent for the planet movement, meaning they have committed to giving one per cent of gross annual sales to certified non-profit organisations.

Unhidden silk shirt

Best: For accessibility

Rating: 9/10

This silk shirt was designed to allow access to arm ports and has a choice of fastenings –  magnetic, Velcro or poppers. As such, it is a particularly useful design for chemo or radiotherapy patients, PICC line users, Hickman line users, people with cerebral palsy and people with dexterity issues. Adaptive fashion can mean comprising style for function, but Unhidden’s designs prove this doesn’t have to be the case.

Behind the scenes, founder Victoria Jenkins is determined to ensure sustainability doesn’t have to be compromised either and is currently using surplus fabrics for the brand’s inclusive designs – this shirt, for example, is made from silky soft surplus bamboo. More overtly, the label works with organisations such as Models of Diversity to promote greater diversity in the fashion, beauty and media industries and make them more representative of the 15 per cent of the global population that live with disabilities (1 billion people).

Hiut Denim organic slim fit jeans

Best: For jeans

Rating: 9/10

Hiut Denim jeans come with a lifetime repair guarantee and also the offer of membership to the “No Wash Club”. Hiut insists the longer you leave your jeans before washing them (it recommends six months), the better they will look because the indigo will wear off in places you make natural creases and when it comes to wash day, that will reveal some beautiful contrasts.

Founded 10 years ago, The Hiut Denim Company was set up to ensure the jean-making heritage of Cardigan – once home to Britain’s biggest jean factory – survived and the Welsh town could thrive. It says: “Making jeans is in its soul. It is in the walls. Yup, this factory has blue blood running through it.” Hiut pays a living wage to all staff, its factory uses renewable energy, its processes use less water consumption, and each month it donates one per cent of profit towards a community project or company, which it calls “Town Tax”.

Brothers We Stand Brava Fabrics pleated chinos

Best: For chinos

Rating: 8.5/10

At the height of summer, these chinos will take you from the office to the bar (remember those days?) With a relaxed cut and four pockets, they’re also great for weekends away. Brava Fabrics creates classic pieces in sustainable materials, building long-term relationships with its factories in Portugal.

Asket the cotton sweater

Best: For fit

Rating: 9/10

Stylish in its simplicity, this lightweight crew neck organic cotton sweater is beautifully soft and available in a mix of traditional sizes (XS - L) plus lengths (short to long), meaning it fits impeccably, too.

As a brand, Asket has banned the word “sustainable”, preferring to focus on responsibility and we admire that stance. It refuses to design for fashion seasons, instead, creating timeless items that can be worn again and again.

Asket is one of the biggest brands in this list, with more than 400 processes and facilities involved in the production of its garments. Unlike most big brands it already publishes details of 87 per cent of its supply chain – from raw materials to cut and sew factories, and its also working to be 100 per cent traceable by the end of next year. This showcases what can be done when a fashion brand really wants to achieve transparency.

Wawwa Jonah rugby sweatshirt – papaya camo

Best: For festival wear

Rating: 9/10

Heading straight for summer festivals? Then make this cloud camo Jonah rugby shirt your first stop. Each one is individually hand-dyed in the UK, ensuring it is completely unique and has a loose fit. The square cut pocket is also perfect for keeping your essentials safe and within easy reach.

Based in Manchester, Wawwa is a very cool streetwear/workwear brand with a hippie heart. It set out to make a unisex fashion brand and, upon discovering how messed up the fashion industry was, decided to prove it could be done differently by focusing on using sustainable materials, designing to last, working with good people and paying fair wages. It also has a buy-one-donate-one model,  where it donates socks and hats to homeless shelters and organisations across the UK.

Oyuna earth cashmere sweater in forest

Best: For luxury style

Rating: 9/10

Specialising in Mongolian cashmere, Oyuna is a luxury unisex brand that is as considerate of the wearer as it is the environment. This long-sleeved pullover is soft yet strong, with a beautiful message and attention to detail.

Founder and creative director Oyuna Tserendorj says: “We are here to connect Mongolia with the world and the world with Mongolia, to enable exchange of values and to accelerate positive impact cashmere globally through our designs and commitment to protect our Earth.”

Brothers We Stand Silverstick sweatpants

Best: For sweatpants

Rating: 8.5/10

We’re grateful the world is opening up but this means we need those sweatpants for kicking back and relaxing more than ever.

Made from heavyweight brushed organic cotton, this pair is especially cosy and comfortable. Importantly, they are made to stand the test of time, meaning your favourite pair doesn’t have to look faded or have holes in. Just as importantly, they are made in a factory in Turkey with social as well as environmental certifications.

The verdict: Men’s sustainable fashion brands

For its uncompromising commitment to fashion and function, style and sustainability, Raeburn is our top pick. However, for its wardrobe staples and challenging the fashion industry, Rapanui has to be a winner, while The White T-Shirt Co hands down wins for the structure and longevity of its T-shirts.

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If that’s still not enough sustainability for you then read this round up of the clothing and accessories brands you need to know about

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