16 Sustainable Brands the Coolest Stylist in NYC Told Me About

When someone uses the phrase “sustainable fashion,” what comes to mind first? If what initially pops into your head is a far cry from what you’d be teeming with excitement to wear, well, you’re definitely not alone.

Rachael Wang is working on changing people’s minds about sustainable fashion. “It was important to me to demonstrate that wearing un-bleached hemp tunics aren’t the only options for people who want to shop in a way that represents their values,” she tells me. She’s referencing, of course, the persistent stereotype that shrouds the sustainable fashion movement in an image of clothing that’s frumpy and decidedly anti-trend. That’s because for way too long, it was pretty much a given that shopping according to ethical and sustainable standards meant sacrificing a lot of options—and, consequently, a certain level of style.

For the New York–based stylist, there’s no reason those two should be mutually exclusive anymore. Considering the plethora of new sustainable brands flooding the market and the many established names now making it a top priority, Wang has made it her project to bring an elevated approach to ethical fashion and transform the relationship between the two (often disparate) worlds.

Naturally, when we had the opportunity to shoot actress-slash-activist Shailene Woodley as our next monthly cover star, Who What Wear tapped Wang to style the shoot and bring to the table her vast encyclopedia of the coolest sustainable brands in existence. “I wanted to honor Shailene’s advocacy for social and environmental change by making thoughtful, transparent, ethical, and sustainable brands the rule and not the exception at her cover shoot,” she shared.

A minimalist’s dream shoe collection, Rafa’s sandals, ankle boots, and pumps are all made from vegan and recycled textiles with deadstock metal buckles. Plus, each shoe is handmade at the atelier in Los Angeles, California.
Each piece of jewelry from Robin Mollicone is one of a kind and made to order to prevent overproduction. The brand uses semi-precious stones that are hand-selected from small, local, family-owned businesses.
BaYou jewelry is handcrafted in Los Angeles, California, from guaranteed conflict-free, exclusively recycled gold from the tech industry, extracted sustainably and ethically.
Mara Hoffman is a familiar name in conversations around sustainability since the designer has been a leader in the space for years now. The brand shares the sustainable fabrics it uses like 100% Tencel Modal, which it says is “a brand of soft rayon made from Beechwood trees, grown mainly in Austria. As Beechwood trees grow, they naturally breed, eliminating the need for artificial irrigation and planting, thus resulting in a self-sustainable forest. The Tencel Modal production process also recycles 95% of the production materials back into its manufacturing system.”
The silk scarves from Slow Factory are made in Italy from sustainably sourced cotton and silk and pigmented with vegetable-based dye.
100% recycled nylon materials including abandoned fishing nets and other discarded nylon waste and can be recycled endlessly without any loss of quality,” the brand shares. “The use of this fabric helps to clean up the oceans and lessen our environmental impact.”
What sets Brother Vellies apart is the story behind the brand. Each shoe and bag is made in small made-to-order batches from byproduct leather using vegetable dyes by African artisans who receive fair wages and skills training.
According to the brand, de Cosmi is “designed by Catherine Servel and made by hand in her atelier, each sculptural and tactile piece of de Cosmi fine jewelry is a study of form, light, movement, and color.”
Born Native is a Brooklyn-based clothing line that uses 100% deadstock fabrics and handmakes each of the flouncy-sleeved tops and floaty minidresses it stocks. Come summer, you’ll want to get your hands on these breezy pieces.
Ooriott’s mind-blowingly cool basics like the Frill Shorts that Wang styled Woodley in for the shoot are made in limited quantities to prevent over-production and constructed from domestically milled fabric by independently contracted sewers who named their own price.
NYC-based ready-to-wear line Cienne is made in small batches with deadstock fabric to reduce material and inventory waste. The brand shares that it donates unused fabrics to FabScrap, uses compostable packaging, and partners with DHL to evaluate the CO2 emissions footprint of its shipping.
Swedish Stockings are made from recycled nylon and pre-consumer recycled elastane, making them the world’s first fully recycled pantyhose. The tights are made by a production process fueled by renewable energy and thus completely emission-free.
fabric. Even if an item is made incorrectly, PH5 always reverse engineers to turn the knit panels back into yarn to be used all over again.”
Retro, cool-girl denim shapes can be found at Jordache. The denim is produced in mills that use 75% less water in the mill process from fabrics that require less water use to launder.
Rombaut uses cruelty-free, non-animal materials and organic cotton.

Next: Don’t miss our exclusive shoot and interview with Shailene Woodley.

Photographer: Rebekah Campbell
Hair: Keith Carpenter
Makeup: Nina Park
Stylist: Rachael Wang
Manicurist: Elina Ogawa

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