I believe that there is no one more aware of their impact on the planet than those that are well travelled. We see the negative impacts of humanity wherever we roam, and most travellers 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 to the accommodation we book and even what we choose to pack in our bags.
I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you, sustainable traveller, about the failings of the fast fashion industry. From being the 5th most polluting industry to the extreme inequity and poor conditions experienced by garment workers. So where do we source sustainably produced clothing for our next getaway while remaining in style and on budget? I’ve been working on trialing a number of options, and here are my top seven sources to shop a sustainable travel wardrobe with people and planet in mind, without breaking the bank.
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Pact offer 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 offer 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 their 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 like Macklemore and grab a bargain thrifting your sustainable travel wardrobe. I recently thrifted several items to fulfill 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 second hand online. 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 stores 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. 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 of course.
7. 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.
Above are the key pieces I packed for my recent month in Australia. This is my most sustainable pack yet (though I still have a way to go):
1.Marc by Marc Jacobs cotton dress – thrifted through Thredup
2. Gant navy stripe t-shirt – thrifted through Thredup
4. Tory Burch Nothin But Fun Sunglasses – gifted by friend when she was tired of them
6. GAP cotton and cashmere knit – thrifted through Thredup
7. Women’s Straight Jeans by Patagonia, who are one of the leading brands in ethical fashion
8. Cynthia Steffe Silk Dress – thrifted through Thredup
9. Grana Silk Shell
11. Plunging V-Neck (current style) by Jets, certified by Ethical Clothing Australia at the time of purchase
12. Kate Spade Cobble Hill Andee Tote I’ve had for years.
Not pictured here are the Pact leggings I wore on the plane.
Bon voyage conscious wanderer! I hope you love and wear-to-bits (literally) your sustainable travel wardrobe.
Peace, love & inspiring travel,