Cover image: Askov Finlayson
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If you live in a location where winter exists, you know that a good coat is an investment you just have to make. Unless you want to end up freezing and seriously regretting your decision every time you go outside, it’s not something you can or should buy cheap. It might cost you a bit more up front, but if you choose wisely, purchasing a sustainable, high-quality winter coat can last you a really long time. I would even say it’s a key to happiness in cold weather!
Here’s what to look for:
The Outer Layer
In order to make them waterproof, many coats are made out of synthetic materials like polyester or nylon, which are essentially plastic, and harmful for our environment. Of course, water resistance is really great—even a necessity—when it’s snowy outside, so look for recycled synthetics instead.
When water resistance isn’t needed, though, wool is usually the warmest of all of the natural fabrics. All of the brands below either use natural, biodegradable fibers or recycled synthetic fabrics.
What’s inside puffy winter coats is actually what keeps you the warmest. Whenever possible, you want to look for either recycled and/or ethically-sourced down filling. The down that geese and ducks produce is made to keep them super warm while they’re outside during the winter, and there isn’t a synthetic available that beats it when it comes to warmth.
The brands below are our favorite when it comes to ethical, sustainable winter coats for both men and women. They all prioritize transparency in their production and they all use mostly eco-friendly recycled and/or natural materials. You’ll find a wide variety of coats, from ultra-warm puffy coats that you can take skiing or camping, to sleek and classy wool coats that you can wear to the office or out on the town (whenever we’re allowed to do that again).
Related: eco-friendly winter accessories, cozy socks & slippers, and sustainable sweaters.
Frank and Oak didn’t start out as a sustainable company, but it has gradually been implementing more eco-conscious practices and materials into its processes over the last several years. Now, at least 50% of the materials used are lower impact (so make sure to double-check materials before you buy!), such as recycled polyester, wool, hemp, natural cotton, cruelty-free insulation, and non-toxic dyes. It’s a certified B Corp and uses recycled and recyclable packaging.
Prices: $129 – $499
Thought’s coats are made primarily out of natural wool, viscose, and organic cotton. The brand carefully sources its fabrics, uses only slow shipping for the lowest carbon footprint, and adheres to a strict ethical code of conduct for employment.
Prices: $99 – $180
Marfa Stance creates timeless and versatile outerwear made from either recycled, stock or dead-stock fabrics or certified sustainable materials from Italy and Japan. All Marfa Stance’s padding for the Quilts is recycled. The brand’s minimal packaging is recycled and it also offsets the carbon footprint of its deliveries. For every Marfa Stance item sold, it plants a tree to reduce its carbon footprint.
Filippa K operates under a circular framework that includes reducing, repairing, reusing, and recycling whenever possible. It’s published a sustainability report every year since 2012 and is on track to hit its 2030 sustainability goals, which include only sustainable and recyclable materials, 100% transparency, and fair working conditions for everyone involved in making their products. Filippa K’s coats are made out of materials like merino wool and soft cashmere.
Prices: $510 – $2,500
Askov Finlayson is one of the few climate positive companies—it offsets 110% of the emissions used to create its products and operate its business. Its coats are ethically made in Bac Giang, Vietnam out of recycled material for both the outer shell and inner lining. Plus, it has an awesome One Winter Guarantee, so if you don’t love your coat after your first winter with it, you can return it, no questions asked. After that, it’s warrantied for life, because to be as sustainable as possible, they believe gear should last for many winters to come.
prAna mostly carries activewear, but also has a great variety of jackets and coats. It is a Textile Exchange member and bluesign® systems partner and uses materials like organic cotton, hemp, recycled wool, responsible down, and recycled polyester. The brand’s traceability has been meticulously documented.
Prices: $99 – $449
Committed to sustainability, innovation, transparency, and timeless design, ECOALF uses mostly recycled materials like plastic bottles, fishing nets, tires, cotton, and wool in all its products. When using virgin materials, it uses natural cotton, Tencel, hemp, and linen. All of ECOALF’s suppliers have at least one of the Bluesign and/or OEKO-TEX certifications, meaning they meet strict third party standards when it comes to materials and manufacturing processes used. ECOALF is also a certified B Corp and is committed to the social rights and protections of its workers and suppliers’ workers as well.
Prices: $150 – $375
A leader in sustainability for the past four decades, Patagonia carries a wide variety of winter coats for men and women, whether you’re looking to go on a winter mountain climbing expedition or walk to work in the city. Many of Patagonia’s coats are made with fully or partially recycled and fair trade inner and outer materials. All of the virgin insulation used in the natural down coats is fully traceable and certified to the Advanced Traceable Down Standard by NSF International, meaning there was no live-plucking and that broader humane animal welfare standards were observed throughout the supply chain.
Prices: $200 – $900
Stella McCartney’s coats are all made with either recycled materials or natural, eco-friendly materials like cotton, wool, or sustainably-sourced viscose. In everything, the brand is committed to continual environmental and social responsibility as well as circular solutions.
Prices: $800 – $2,500
As a brand, nau set out to make clothing that was both high-tech and eco-friendly. For their winter coats, it uses recycled 700-fill power down, recycled polyester for the outer shell, and PFC-free DWR for water repellence. Plus, 2% of every dollar you spend goes directly to grassroots environmentalist causes.
Prices: $280 – 395
The majority of Eileen Fisher’s coats and jackets are made from natural and biodegradable materials like organic cotton or wool, as well as recycled synthetics like polyester. The brand is committed to increasing responsibility throughout every step of the process of making its clothing, from how the raw materials are grown and processed, to using only safe and nontoxic dyes, to ensuring that no humans or animals were harmed in the making of its products.
Prices: $370 – $500
Pangaia’s sleek winter coats are filled with FLWRDWN, a vegan, biodegradable down material created using natural wildflowers and a biopolymer, then infused with aerogel for performance and durability. The wildflowers are sourced from areas that contribute to habitat restoration, reduce greenhouse gas production, and preserve groundwater. The outer shells of these sustainable coats are made from recycled nylon. Plus, a tree is planted with each purchase.
Prices: $750 – $1000sik
Since it requires almost no resources to produce and saves material from the landfill, purchasing secondhand is one of the most sustainable ways to shop—and can provide some more affordable options too. Shopping secondhand online can save you a ton of time and effort in the searching process versus going to your local thrift stores and consignment shops.
thredUP is the largest online consignment store and they check their clothing for quality and functionality before shipping them to you. You can expect to find a wide variety of jackets and coats, but they have a lot of filter options to make shopping easier.
Prices: $20 – $3,700
You will find more vintage luxury piece on Vestaire Collection, which is more heavily curated based on brand. You can shop designer coats for both men and women.
Prices: $25 – $33,000