I love all my sustainable and ethical brands equally.
Just kidding. I love some more equally than others. Oh, there are so many good designers, stores, and labels out there. It’s incredibly hard to choose. Especially since everyone is pursuing the lofty goal of changing the world for the better, and I want to support everyone who is doing that. But after much thought and two years of obsessive cataloguing, I do believe these are the brightest, most passionate, high-quality, beautiful and fun things in our fair city and beyond. This year, anyway.
I considered these qualities when picking my favorites:
- Transparency about standards: What do they tell us about their processes? Is it documented on their website?
- Application of those standards to all facets of the business: Do they think about packaging, or all the materials used, not just some?
- Crossover appeal to mainstream consumers: Would conventional customers like it too, because it’s so awesome?
So take a look, click through to learn more about them, and tell me if you agree in the comments!
Best Eco-Friendly Label: Reformation
This super-sexy and modern label makes eco-friendly fashion look good. They’ve got floaty dresses from deadstock fabric, alpaca sweaters, organic tops, and repurposed vintage jeans. All the cool girls shop there now, for good reason. They just win for spreading the sustainable love from coast to coast.
Runner up: Amour Vert
Best Ethical Label: Everlane
Everlane offers classic pieces like leather satchels, sweaters, tees, button downs, gloves, hats, and scarves. It’s all very ladylike, and made with an emphasis on radical transparency. They have a show and tell about all of their factories on the website. They even tell you about the distribution center. And if you email them with questions about their production, they’ll respond quickly and honestly.
Runner up: BeGood
Best Eco-Friendly Jewelry: Melissa Joy Manning
MJM is a pioneer in the world of sustainable jewelry, and really fashion overall, having started the CFDA’s Sustainability Committee. Her jewelry is made from recycled and ethically sourced materials, ranging from gold and diamonds, to fossils and vintage pieces. She takes a hard look at every part of the process, from the sourcing to the packaging. I really can’t say enough nice things about her.
Runner up: Bario Neal
Best Shoe Brand: Sydney Brown
Sydney Brown designs on-point footwear that is handmade by artisans in her Los Angeles atelier. The consciously constructed shoes are free of animal products and use eco-friendly materials such as coconut insoles, recycled and sustainable uppers, and reclaimed wooden soles. She aims to create every pair of shoes with a ‘cradle to cradle’ life cycle. The best point is that all the shoes don’t look “vegan” at all. They just look hot.
Runner up: Cri de Coeur
Best NYC Designer: Titania Inglis
Titania has a keen eye for forms that are both cutting edge, yet wearable. Perusing her site always inspires a deep covetousness in me. Everything is fantastically beautiful, from the artisan reindeer hoodie, to the simply sexy cupro jumper, to the arm piece strung with plumes crafted by local ceramic artist Studio Joo. Each item is made in a family-owned factory in New York from high-quality, low-impact fabrics including Japanese organic cotton, Italian vegetable-tanned leather, ethically sourced fur, and dead stock wool. Each design is constructed with many years of wear in mind.
Runner up: H. Fredriksson
Best Ethical Designer: Elizabeth Suzann
Elizabeth’s Suzann’s designs possess a deceptive simplicity that belies their fresh sensibility. Her classy crop tops and cocoon-like sweaters are cut and sewn locally in Suzann’s Nashville design studio using only the highest quality, natural fiber cloth. You could build a whole wardrobe from her collection, and be considered the best dressed woman in the room.
Best Eco-Friendly Fashion Site: Ethica
This NYC-based store run by two sisters is a favorite among conscious fashion lovers, featuring sophisticated and sustainable clothing, accessories, jewelry, and shoes. It’s an excellent sampling of the good eco-friendly fashion out there today, making it a one-stop shop for anyone looking to fill out her wardrobe conscientiously.
Best Ethical Fashion Site: Zady
Besides the fact that the two women behind this store are #ladybosses, Zady wins for thinking big about changing the clothing industry. Everything on the site–paperclips, purses, button downs–comes with a big and beautiful backstory on the maker, and items are carefully chosen to be lifetime pieces. They even debuted an in-house collection of sweaters, whose provenance from the wool farm to the finishing factory they obsessively documented.
Runner up: Accompany
Best NYC Store: ABC Home
Excuse me if I sound like a fan girl, but this store really does have it all. Sure, you can spend a month’s paycheck on a beautiful piece of furniture that is sustainable and/or hand made. Or you could pick up something tiny and sweet from the gift section, some non-toxic beauty products in the beauty section, a pretty skirt in the fashion section, or some organic, local honey downstairs in the kitchen section. It runs on the pricier side, but I know many people who just like to wander around in there and dream as a de-stressing activity.
Best NYC Fashion Store: Kaight
This petite boutique on Atlantic Avenue holds only the best in sustainable fashion, from H. Fredrikkson, to Only Hearts lingerie, to Amour Vert. I like to drop in regularly just to see what new items have come in, and never leave empty handed. The owner, Kate, is a huge sustainable fashion advocate.
Runner up: Bhoomki
Best Green NYC Restaurant: ABC Kitchen
This restaurant takes a holistic approach to the dining experience. It meticulously sources its ingredients, listing the farms down the back of the menu. All the furniture, decor, and place setting are made sustainable and/or locally. You can even sign up for a CSA in the summer, complete with recipes from ABC chef Jean-George himself.
Best Salon: PH7 Nail Couture
I’m a bit biased, because at this point, I drop in this Williamsburg nail salon so often I get to see baby pictures from one of the owners. No matter, I stand by my assessment that this is the best place to get pampered in a non-toxic environment in NYC, stocked with an array of five-free polishes, organic lotions, and not a UV dryer in sight.
Runner up: Sweet Lily
Best Non-Toxic Makeup: RMS Beauty
I’m a devotee of the highlighter–well, everyone is–as well as the un-coverup. I stuffed that along with the bronzer in my bag when I travelled for a couple weeks, and that was all I needed to feel beautiful and dewy. It’s not for nothing that the professionals use this non-toxic brand for photoshoots and runway shows alike.
Runner up: Jane Iredale
Best Non-Toxic Skincare Brand: Juice Beauty
For effective, non-toxic, yummy skincare, I turn to this brand, which provides everything: toners, moisturizers, cleansers, serums, and blemish treatments. It scores super well on being free of toxins, while still including ingredients that are scientifically proven to do their job, whether it’s prevent aging, or clear up acne.
Runner up: Mychelle
Best Beauty Site: Abe’s Market
It may not be the sexiest, but it is the most comprehensive. You can find a huge array of non-toxic and organic products on here, including Sibu, Thesis, Pretty Organic Cosmetics, Blissoma, and SW Basics, among many others. I like to go here when I need a product, but I’m not sure which brand to get. I trust that everything is safe, and the ratings from other consumers and company background help me with my decision.
Runner Up: Spirit Beauty Lounge
Best Gift Site: Rodale’s
You could go to this site to find useful and beautiful things for yourself, like flatware, athletic wear, or a yogurt maker. But the real fun is in perusing the site for pretty and unique items for your bestie or family member. There’s all manner of pampering beauty products, artisanal food, jewelry, and baby items. Best of all, everything is in the best of taste, making the work of choosing the perfect gift easy for you.
Runner up: Far and Wide Collective
Do you agree? What others would you like to see here?