I believe that there is no one more aware of their impact on the planet than those who are well travelled. We see the negative impacts of humanity wherever we roam, and all good globetrotters know how important it is to “take only photos and leave only footprints.” We also know this process begins long before we leave home. It starts in the planning stages, from our mode of transport we choose, to the accommodation we book and even what we choose to pack in our suitcase.
I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you, dear traveller, about the failings of the fast fashion industry. From being the 5th most polluting industry to the extreme inequity and dangerous conditions experienced by garment workers. So where do we source sustainable travel clothing for our next getaway while remaining stylish and on budget? Well, I’ve been working on trialling a number of options and here are my top picks for women’s travel clothing with a focus on people and the planet, that won’t eat too much into your travel stash.
Full Disclosure: I may earn compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps to support Duende at no extra cost to you.
9 Sources for sustainable travel clothing
Pact offers comfortable, high-quality underwear and activewear for men, women and kids. Their garments are made in Fair Trade Certified factories, with sustainably sourced fabrics and selective use of dyes. Pact cotton leggings are my new favourite clothing item for long haul flights – so soft and breathable – and my husband loves the travel pants for the same purpose. They are also diverse pieces to have on hand in your destination to wear as sleepwear, layer under other items on cold days, and wear them to work out.
For more adventurous travellers who need more specialised gear, Patagonia has been a leader in sustainable apparel for quite some time. Their activewear covers trail running, climbing, surfing, skiing and snowboarding with ranges for men, women and children. Patagonia offers repair, trade-in and recycling services for their products, and donate 1% of sales to grassroots environmental groups.
Everlane create quality, classics for men and women, that will take you from season to season ensuring you get that 30-wear minimum. Everlane produces its clothing in ethical factories (listed on their site) and practices what they call “radical transparency”. Just click on a product in their online store, and scroll down to find information about exactly what it cost them to make that piece down to the materials, labour, transport and duties. Everlane ship to the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong and Australia. My favourite Everlane pieces are their wool pants and cashmere crew which I have on high rotation throughout winter whether I’m home or away.
Similar to Everlane, Grana provides modern classics in high-quality fabrics for men and women. However, Grana ship to a much broader market. The Hong Kong-based company focuses on fabric sourcing and keeping prices down by minimizing their distribution model and retailing online only. My favourites are Grana’s matching silk tops and bottoms which are great as separates or creating a faux jumpsuit/playsuit look, giving you more outfit options out of fewer items.
Pop some tags Macklemore-style and grab a bargain thrifting your sustainable travel wardrobe. I recently thrifted several items to fulfil my summer packing list for Australia. Treasure hunting in your local Vinnies or Goodwill is good fun, but through the magic of the interwebs, you can also thrift from home. Organisations such as Thredup, Tradesy, The Attic, eBay and Etsy sell secondhand online. Not to mention lightly used luxury clothing and accessories from the likes of Vestiare Collective and The Real Real (where I got my Rebecca Minkoff backpack for a steal).
Thrifting is more time-consuming than regular shopping, as you need to keep checking back for garments in the right sizes etc, however, secondhand shopping online is made easier using saved searches and alert emails for the products you are hunting. If you need adventure gear, check out Patagonia’s Worn Wear store for second hand Patagonia clothing.
6. Smitten Merino
If like me, Merino wool is one of your go-to fabrics for travel clothing, you are going to love Smitten. This small, family-owned label produces high-quality garments in timeless designs. Their Merino wool is super-fine, sustainably grown and non-mulesed, sourced locally in Tasmania and broader Australia. The garments are also sewn within in Australia. Merino wool is an investment and these garments don’t come cheap, but their quality and classic designs ensure you’ll get enormous value in the long term.
7. Soulful Souvenirs
A little while ago, I wrote 5 reasons to wear traditional dress pieces. Pick up statement pieces along your travel route and you will not only have gorgeous, original pieces to wear, but you will attach beautiful memories to these pieces as you go, making them ultimate Soulful Souvenirs! My favourite – you can probably guess already – is my Nyonya Kebaya from Singapore.
8. Friends & family
Sometimes you may need a particular item for one specific trip, and it would make more sense to borrow than to buy. Ask around your family and friends or post on social media to help find someone who would be willing to lend or even give your theirs.
9. Strand Australia
Going on a tropical vacay? Strand are another boutique, Aussie brand that make resort wear. They produce their clothing in natural fabrics, mostly certified organic cotton, which is sewn in a small ethically-certified production facility in India. Their cover-ups and summer dresses are super soft and comfortable while still being flattering and timeless in design.
Bon voyage conscious wanderer! I hope you love and wear-to-bits (literally) your sustainable travel clothing
Peace, love & inspiring travel,