The fashion game is changing. What used to be a seasonally based business has become something very different—the industry now pumps out about 52 fashion micro seasons a year. That’s basically a new line every week. Because of this shift, production speed has increased, and prices have dropped, but with this rapid turnover comes detrimental environmental impacts—think excessive water use (2,700 liters to make one cotton shirt), and rampant greenhouse gases. In Seattle, fast fashion still dominates but some stores are working to counteract these harmful processes.
Down in Georgetown, this local outfitter from Nebraska-born duo Camilla Eckersly and Davora Lindner has styles that easily check the Uniquely Seattle Cool box, like made-to-order vintage bomber jackets and gingham joggers. But unapologetically stylish clothes are only half of the fashion equation. The company uses hemp and organic cotton, recycled plastic, wood pulp, and reactive dye to help lower the environmental impacts of their work.
In true California fashion, conscious shopping brand Marine Layer manages to bring the mountain man and beach babe together in environmentally sustainable ways. With stores in the University District and Capitol Hill, the brand follows eco-friendly production methods from graphic tees made from recycled t-shirts to sustainable puffer coats. Founder Mike Natenshon wanted to do more in the textile industry when brainstorming his new store and decided to look into tee recycling, except, well, it didn’t exist. So, he made it so and, in 2019, almost 300 Marine Layer styles sold were made using upcycled materials. (Bonus: You won’t find any paper receipts or single use bags in the store.)
In Ballard, Baleen works to bridge the gap between sustainable handmade jewelry and affordable prices. Crafting their essentials—rose gold stack rings, wide cuffs, BFF necklaces—in a zero waste manufacturing facility is no cheap task. But from the very beginning, owners Leah Lawrence and Billy Bartel have done their best to do just that. Using recycled scraps of metal for products and biodegradable “natural” plastic for packaging, reducing their environmental impact has been a guiding factor since Baleen’s inception. “We sometimes struggle with the simple fact that we are contributing to the production of more stuff—stuff the planet doesn’t truly need,” says Lawrence. “But we are always looking for more ways to be as sustainable and low-impact on the planet as possible.”
The ultra cool “green” brand opened its University Village store this year and has since turned the tables on fast fashion. The company makes almost 97 percent of its goods in the U.S.—LA and the Bay Area to be exact—and nails your fashion sense like a perfectly calibrated best friend. Using sustainable fabrics like a beechwood blend, organic cotton, mulberry silk, and merino wool for their cable knit sweaters or silk charmeuse skirts, the San Francisco–based brand crafts clothing meant to last for years to come. Drawn to the city because of our reputation for being earth-loving consumers, Amour Vert has found a conscious fashion hub in the Seattle market. Plus, for every purchase of a tee made, the company pledges to plant a tree in the U.S.
We all wish we could live in leggings forever, except, oops, they are way harsh on our planet (also, societal dress standards). Enter the Girlfriend Collective. The online-only, Seattle-born brand crafts bras and leggings from recycled water bottles and ocean waste. And this is just the beginning for this environmentally friendly lounge-wear brand. On top of that, the Girlfriend Collective is quite inclusive, showcasing models of different race, size, and age. Plus, they take old clothes and make them new again, giving shoppers a low-guilt way to get rid of their old threads. The company also sells a filter for your own personal washing machine that catches microfibers from clothes that end up in the ocean and are harmful to sea-life.
These brands bring their own eco-sensitive fashion to the forefront even if they don’t have their own brick-and-mortar shops in Seattle.