By Austin Woman, Compiled by Sandi Schwartz, Photo by Anna Sullivan
The words “sustainability” and “fashion” usually don’t share space in the mind of the general public. However, fashion’s impact on the environment cannot be understated, particularly “fast fashion,” a term for clothes that are cheaply made near-replicas of runway styles priced at rates that encourage consumers to buy large quantities quickly. Earth.org compiled a list of the most harrowing fast-fashion facts. Nearly 10% of global emissions come from the fast fashion industry, and even more disconcerting, by 2030, the industry’s global emissions will increase by 50%. What’s more, 90% of garments produced end up in landfills. But the tide is slowly shifting. At the local level, cities like Austin are intentionally introducing strategic plans to actively create a more environmentally responsible community. Local fashion brands and stores have taken the charge for sustainability head-on.
Cat & Dogma
This adorable organic clothing brand for both mom and baby was founded by mompreneur Adrian Layne, who is passionate about doing something to help people and the planet thrive. The name Cat & Dogma is inspired by her love for animals, nature and the magical universe that surrounds us. While the organic cotton is grown overseas, the company is headquartered in Austin. From the planting of the seed through cultivation, ginning, spinning, weaving and sewing, the focus is on the well-being of factory workers and farmers who grow the organic cotton. The company’s entire supply chain is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, and it provides jobs and living wages to women. In addition, no chemical bleaches, dyes or finishes are used on the soft, comfy products. Layne also believes strongly in paying it forward and donates proceeds from sales to the Children’s Home Orphanage in India, just minutes away from the company’s factory.
Derived from the Sanskrit word “loka,” which defines the various planes of reality that define the universe, LOKA.HAUS is a local sustainable fashion brand. CEO Lisa Hausberg founded LOKA.HAUS in 2020 to provide affordable high fashion options that are ethically sourced, sustainable and address the glaring lack of inclusion in the fashion world. The 100% woman and LGBTQIA+ owned company was accepted into the 2021-2022 ACC Fashion Incubator. Per their mission, LOKA.HAUS was created to “build a lifestyle brand that empowers customers by simplifying their lives through unique, sustainable goods; produce apparel, skincare, jewelry and art that inspire customers in their daily life, comparable to existing ‘luxury’ products at more accessible prices; educate consumers on the negative environmental and economic impacts of ‘fast fashion’ and current major fashion brands/trends; and build community around sustainability and diversity and promote change and inclusion through [their]blog and community impact.”
Miranda Bennett Studio (MBS)
Founded by women in 2013 and independently operated, this Austin-based clothing store and brand believes in putting people and planet first. The flagship store is both a boutique and community gathering center, featuring ethically and sustainably made women’s clothing and accessories, gifts, children’s products and home goods. They design versatile apparel made from biodegradable fabrics and organic cotton. They also dye, cut and sew the collection right in town, which helps minimize carbon emissions and ensures a fair and safe working condition for their team. All dyes they use are non-toxic and derived from plants. Avoiding plastics and microplastics is also a top priority. By working only with naturally derived, biodegradable fiber, MBS is making a difference in the community. In addition, their unique zero waste design process keeps 100% of the fabric remnants out of landfills. They even have a garment take-back program in which customers can send back their MBS apparel in any condition to be repurposed or recycled.
Raven + Lily
Led by CEO Kinda Lincoln, who was recently named an inaugural Sustainability Star by Adweek, this eco-friendly company is led by women. Their handcrafted designs are inspired by nature, including the hills, lakes, vegetation and vistas surrounding the Austin area. As a Certified B Corporation and a member of the Fair Trade Federation, Raven + Lily is committed to responsible production by using locally sourced, natural and sustainable materials. Remake, a global advocacy organization fighting for fair pay and climate justice in the clothing industry, recently honored Raven + Lily as one of the top 10 fashion brands leading the way with sustainability. They are making huge strides by choosing biodegradable materials derived from plant and animal fibers, upcycling remnant pieces to create new handbags and upcycling brass and glass in their jewelry and homeware collections.
Headquartered in Austin, SUAVS was founded in 2015 by Monxi Garza to create comfortable, versatile, stylish shoes that are soft on feet and kind to the environment. The sneakers are lightweight and made with 100% post-consumer recycled water bottles and vegan materials. In fact, SUAVS has saved over 1.2 million plastic bottles from ending up in landfills. The company is committed to becoming a low carbon impact brand. They do this by using digital knitting to reduce material waste during manufacturing, sending dual purpose shoe boxes for both initial shipping and returns, and offering removable insoles that can be washed and replaced. Finally, SUAVS gives back to the community by donating all unsold footwear to organizations such as Soles4Souls and LifeWorks.
Named for her grandmother, this forward-thinking, independently owned brand was founded by Katie Caplener in 2013. The fine jewelry line is produced in small batches in a local studio in East Austin and features handmade and vintage collections. Drawing on a range of design concepts including ancient art, modern dance, neoclassicism and new wave, Caplener tries to use recycled materials and post-consumer diamonds as much as possible. Sustainability is a priority for Vada. Every order is mindfully packaged using eco-friendly materials from U.S. facilities that operate exclusively on wind and solar energy. Their shipping box is printed with all-natural vegetable inks on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper. All packaging items are also fully recyclable, naturally biodegradable and compostable. They even print their warranty card on seed paper that can be planted to produce USDA approved non-GMO wildflowers.