Sustainable Fashion

Wool vs Polyester Fabric: Guide & Comparison Table

Learn about the differences between wool and polyester

Fabric Comparison Featured

Wool or polyester – which should you choose? Let’s check out the differences between these two popular fabrics.

Polyester fabric is a synthetic fabric that offers high durability and good breathability and moisture-wicking. Wool, such as merino wool, is warmer and more breathable, making wool clothing a superior choice in cold weather. Wool fabric is also softer and more comfortable than clothing made with polyester fibers, as well as being more sustainable – although it is also more expensive.

Need more info? Check out the full comparison table below, then read on for more information, including polyester vs wool for coats, suits, and carpets, as well as how the two materials compare on sustainability, cost, and other factors:

Wool vs Polyester Comparison Table

Other NamesMerino, Cashmere, Tweed
PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
Made FromWool is a natural fiber obtained from sheep, goats, rabbits, and other animals.Polyester is a synthetic fabric made using petroleum products, although it is increasingly made from recycled plastic bottles.
AdvantagesComfortable and durable with good breathability and moisture wicking. An all-rounder.Very high durability, with good breathability and moisture wicking makes polyester a very practical fabric. Can be mass produced at low cost.
DisadvantagesCan shrink when made too hot or wet.Significant environmental concern.
UsesFashion, furnishings, and upholstery.As a fabric, polyester is used widely in apparel and furnishings. Other uses include bottles and LCD displays.
Natural or SyntheticNaturalSynthetic
Woven or KnittedEitherEither
Thread CountUp to 200200-1,000
WashingTypically machine washable if you use the Delicates or Wool settings on your machine. Some may be hand wash only (always check the label first). Use gentle detergent.Typically fine in the washing machine, but watch out for blends that need to be hand washed or washed in cooler water (always check the label first)
DryingSome wool garments are safe for tumble drying. Check the label first. Often best to lay flat and air dry.Normally fine in a tumble dryer with a low heat setting (check the label first)
IroningYou can iron wool if you are very careful and use a cloth. Do not use too high a heat: overheating the wool will cause it to become shiny, extreme overheating will cause it to scorch.Can be ironed, typically on warm settings. Turn it inside out and use a covering cloth and steam to reduce direct heat. Too much heat can melt the garment.
Wrinkle ResistanceDon’t tend to wrinkleDon’t tend to wrinkle
Heat RetentionGoodMedium
Moisture WickingGoodGood
Flammability (untreated)LowHigh (tends to melt rather than burn)
Water-Resistance (untreated)GoodMedium
StrengthMediumVery Good
Environmental Impact Score (A is best, E is worst)Conventional Wool = D, Recycled Wool = AVirgin Polyester = D, Chemically Recylced Polyester = B, Mechanically Recycled Polyester = A
Sustainability Issues
Wool is biodegradable, however significant land and resources is required to raise the sheep. There are also humane issues, and we recommend you look for brands that only use wool from humanely reared sheep.
Polyester is a plastic. It does not degrade and requires significant energy, chemicals, and waste to create. We recommend only using recycled polyester products.

Wool vs Polyester: Production Methods

Wool, such as merino wool, is made from the fiber that sheep (and other animals, including alpacas) naturally produce to keep them warm and dry. The process begins by shearing the woolen coat of the animal to remove the raw fibers. Next, the raw wool fibers go through a series of processes that include scouring (cleaning), sorting, combing, dyeing, and spinning before it becomes yarn. After this step is complete, the yarn can be knitted into wool fabric for use in items such as sweaters, socks, and blankets.

Polyester, or PET, is a man-made fiber that is created using materials derived from petroleum. The petroleum is heated and the gas produced is then broken down into ethylene, which is further reacted with chlorine to form polyethelyne terephthalate (PET). The PET is drawn through small holes to form very thin polyester fibers. These fibers are then spun into yarns for creating polyester clothing or chopped up for use in applications like carpeting.

Polyester vs Wool: Uses

Polyester is used in a wide range of applications including, clothing such as pants, shirts, dresses, and skirts. Other uses include food containers, medicine bottles, carpets & rugs (often as a nylon blend), and even shoes. It is chosen for many of these applications for its combination of high durability, ease of cleaning, and low cost.

Wool fabric has been used in clothing for thousands of years. Its durability, good heat retention, and decent breathability have made it a popular choice for making socks, sweaters, pants, hats, and many other items. It is also used extensively in carpets, blankets, upholstery, and rugs.

Merino Wool Clothing vs Polyester Clothing

Both merino wool and polyester are popular choices for clothing:

Merino wool is a popular fabric because its natural fibers make comfortable garments. It’s also more breathable than polyester and has antimicrobial properties to provide better odor control. Merino wool fabric has better heat retention than polyester, but it’s close – the overall warmth of any garment will be affected more by its thickness than which material it is made from.

The advantage of choosing polyester is that it is significantly more durable than wool. Not only are polyester clothes likely to last longer, but the durability means they can be made thinner, which means you may find it more comfortable to wear polyester clothing in the summer. Polyester fabric is, of course, also cheaper than wool – although this comes at a cost as producing the raw material is significantly less sustainable (see below).

Wool vs Polyester Suits

Wool is generally considered to be the superior material for suits. High-quality wool suits are beautiful, durable, brilliant in color, and resistant to creasing. A wool suit will have a better drape than a polyester suit, which means it will be more flattering, and it will breathe better, which means you’ll stay cooler for longer.

Polyester, in comparison, is associated with cheaper suits. Polyester fabrics offer some advantages over wool fabrics: they don’t wrinkle easily, do not shed fibers as wool does, are machine-washable, and offer a more comprehensive selection of colors. Polyester garments are also much cheaper than wool clothing. However, polyester does not breathe as well as wool, tends to look shiny, and can feel cold and uncomfortable against the skin.

There are also suits available that are made from a wool polyester blend. These add durability compared to a 100% wool suit, but at the cost of looking more like a polyester suit. We recommend 100% wool – it’s a better suit, and it’s better for the environment.

Polyester vs Wool Coat

Wool is a great material for winter coats because it retains heat very well. Wool coats tend to be thick, heavy, and warm and are best suited for cold but dry conditions. A 100% polyester coat will be water-resistant but will not retain heat well, making it less suitable for a winter coat. The lack of breathability can also make polyester coats uncomfortable, leaving you feeling sweaty if you exert yourself.

Wool vs Polyester Carpets & Rugs

Both wool and polyester are popular choices for carpets and rugs.

Wool looks and feels great, has incredible durability, can be made without harsh chemicals, and acts as a natural dehumidifier by soaking up moisture without feeling damp. However, it’s more expensive, more susceptible to permanent stains, and may need treating to protect it from moths.

On the other hand, polyester doesn’t feel or look quite as nice, but it is more stain-resistant and resists fading better. Polyester, despite being one of the most durable fabrics, is less durable for carpets and rugs than wool and may wear and become matted in areas you use a lot.

Wool vs Polyester: Sustainability & Environmental Impact

Wool is a natural fabric, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely environmentally friendly. The environmental impact of the wool industry is considerable; not only is significant amounts of land used up for grazing, but sheep (like cows) contribute a surprisingly high volume of methane gas into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

Additionally, the public is increasingly becoming aware that wool farming can be an animal welfare issue. Campaigns by organizations such as PETA have revealed that sheep are often mistreated while being sheared. High competition means farmers who produce wool must keep costs down, which can see a reduction in the sheep’s quality of life.

Polyester, on the other hand, is made from fossil fuels, making it terrible for the environment. Additionally, its lower absorption rates for water mean it requires more water and energy to wash during its lifetime than wool.

Our recommendation for both wool and polyester is that you stick to fabrics that have been recycled. Polyester, in particular, is now often recycled, and consumers can find clothing made from recycled bottles and other items on the market. If you do buy wool new, we recommend purchasing ethically sourced wool.

Wool vs Polyester: Cost

The land and effort required to raise sheep mean that wool costs significantly more to produce than many other fibers, including polyester. Expect to pay a premium for merino clothing and other types of wool. Items such as polyester fleece, in contrast, tend to be relatively inexpensive.

Wool Polyester Blends

Like other natural fabrics, merino wool fibers are often blended with other fibers to combine the properties. The main advantages of polyester wool blends are that they are cheaper; the addition of the less expensive fabric – in this case, polyester – lowers the overall cost of the garment while retaining properties of the more expensive fabric. Wool polyester blends are also more durable, will hold color better, and be easier to care for. However, they don’t look quite as good as clothing made from 100% merino wool.

Conclusion – Is Wool or Polyester Best?

Wool beats polyester in most areas. Wool has better heat retention, moisture-wicking, and breathability than polyester, making it a better and more comfortable fabric. Where polyester does excel is in ease of care and cost of production, and it is also a more durable fabric. Both wool and polyester score poorly on sustainability, and we recommend looking for recycled options for both.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if a fabric is wool fiber or polyester fiber?

Wool has a distinct smell that makes it easy to distinguish from polyester fibers and other synthetics. If you can’t tell by the smell, a burn test on a few strands may be helpful. Wool is hard to burn (it shouldn’t properly light on fire) and will give off a distinctive smell. Polyester and other synthetics will melt into a black ball.

Is polyester or wool warmer?

Wool is typically warmer than polyester fleece and is considered one of the best fabrics for keeping you warm. Polyester can also keep you warm effectively, but because it isn’t as breathable, there’s a risk you’ll feel warm and sweaty rather than warm and comfortable, as you would with merino wool clothing.

Does polyester or wool dry faster?

Polyester will dry faster than wool. This is because natural fabrics, like wool, absorb more water which then takes longer to evaporate; polyester absorbs very little water. Thinner wool pieces will dry a little slower than polyester equivalents, but some wool garments are very thick, and these can take a long time to dry.

Is polyester or wool lighter?

Polyester is a lighter fabric than wool. Polyester fabrics are considered lightweight, at about 60 grams per square meter (GSM), while wool fabrics are considered heavyweight, with weights exceeding 350 GSM. Some some wool varieties weigh as high as 600 GSM.

Sustainable Fashion

Linen vs Polyester Fabric: Guide & Comparison Table

Learn about the differences between linen and polyester

Fabric Comparison Featured

Polyester, a synthetic fiber, and linen, a natural fabric, are both used in fashion and furnishings, but which is better out of these two fabrics? Let’s take a closer look.

Both linen and polyester fabrics are highly durable and offer excellent breathability and good moisture wicking. Polyester, a synthetic, is a warmer fabric, is more stretchy, and holds colors better. However, linen, made from the natural fibers of the flax plant, is significantly more environmentally friendly, especially when grown organically, making linen a better choice for long-term sustainability.

Need to know more? Check out our full comparison table below, then read on for more information about the uses, production, and sustainability of linen and polyester:

Linen vs Polyester Comparison Table

Other Names
PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
Made FromLinen is made from the fibers of the flax plant.Polyester is a synthetic fabric made using petroleum products, although it is increasingly made from recycled plastic bottles.
AdvantagesRelatively environmentally friendly, breathable, with excellent durability.Very high durability, with good breathability and moisture wicking makes polyester a very practical fabric. Can be mass produced at low cost.
DisadvantagesWrinkles very easily. Costs more than comparable products made of cotton.Significant environmental concern.
UsesClothing and furnishings, including tableclothes, napkins, curtains.As a fabric, polyester is used widely in apparel and furnishings. Other uses include bottles and LCD displays.
Natural or SyntheticNaturalSynthetic
Woven or KnittedWovenEither
Thread Count200-2,000200-1,000
WashingTypically fine in the washing machine with cold water, but some garments may be dry-clean only (always check the label first)Typically fine in the washing machine, but watch out for blends that need to be hand washed or washed in cooler water (always check the label first)
DryingSome linen is tumble dry safe (check the label). When air drying, lay linen out flat rather than hanging to avoid losing the shape.Normally fine in a tumble dryer with a low heat setting (check the label first)
IroningTurn inside out and iron on a hot setting using the steam settingCan be ironed, typically on warm settings. Turn it inside out and use a covering cloth and steam to reduce direct heat. Too much heat can melt the garment.
Wrinkle ResistanceWrinkles extremely easilyDon’t tend to wrinkle
Heat RetentionPoorMedium
Moisture WickingGoodGood
BreathabilityVery GoodGood
Flammability (untreated)Very highHigh (tends to melt rather than burn)
Water-Resistance (untreated)LowMedium
StrengthGoodVery Good
Medium (but becomes softer over time)
Environmental Impact Score (A is best, E is worst)Conventional Linen = C, Organic Linen = AVirgin Polyester = D, Chemically Recylced Polyester = B, Mechanically Recycled Polyester = A
Sustainability IssuesNo chemicals are required to turn create linen from flax, and the flax plant does not require pesticides or fertilizers. Compared to most other fabrics, linen production is highly sustainable.Polyester is a plastic. It does not degrade and requires significant energy, chemicals, and waste to create. We recommend only using recycled polyester products.

Linen vs Polyester: Production Methods

Linen is a natural fabric made from fibers of the flax plant. The plant is harvested and dried, and then the seeds are removed using a process called rippling. The plant is then retted, which is a process where the linen is submerged in water. The water causes the woody bits of the plant to rot, enabling the natural fibers to be separated out. These fibers are then turned into yarn and used to make linen fabric. The process of growing the plant and creating

Polyester, or PET, is a man-made fabric that is created using materials derived from petroleum. The petroleum is heated and the gas produced is then broken down into ethylene, which is further reacted with chlorine to form polyethelyne terephthalate (PET). The PET is drawn through small holes to form very thin polyester fibers. These fibers are then spun into yarns for creating polyester clothing or chopped up for use in applications like carpeting.

Linen vs Polyester: Uses

Both linen and polyester are used in clothing and furnishings. Polyester is a more popular choice for fashion, mainly due to its low cost, but both fabrics are used to make pants, shirts, dresses, and more. Items such as tablecloths, napkins, curtains and sheets can be made from either, although linen has the advantage of being a more luxurious fabric.

Linen vs Polyester Clothes

Aside from the look of the fabric, the differences between linen and polyester clothes mainly come down to three factors: cost, sustainability, and use. The first two are easy: if your deciding factor is cost, polyester will win every time; if you prefer a more sustainable fabric, it’ll be linen. Otherwise, it depends on how you’re going to use the fabric.

Linen clothes have the advantage in warm weather because linen is a more breathable fabric. Linen fibers also have similar moisture-wicking to the synthetic fibers of polyester. In warmer weather, polyester fabrics offer better heat retention, although it’s still not as good as a natural fiber like wool.

Linen vs Polyester Sheets

Linen sheets and pillowcases are highly durable and comfortable. Although they start out feeling a little rough, they’ll become a soft fabric over time – just give them a few washes. Linen’s hypoallergenic properties may also be a factor if you suffer from allergies. One downside is that linen wrinkles very easily, which can make it harder to achieve a smarter look on your bed.

Polyester sheets and pillowcases are just as durable as linen ones, although the look and feel of them is not as luxurious as linen or other natural fabrics. However, polyester bed sheets are cheaper and, like most synthetic fibers, considerably easier to care for.

Polyester vs Linen Curtains

Both polyester and linen make for relatively lightweight curtains. Of the two, linen is the more luxurious and breathable fabric, although it will need a lining to prevent the sun from fading it. Synthetic fabrics like polyester don’t fade in the same way and will be cheaper and easier to care for.

Polyester vs Linen Tablecloths

Both linen and polyester tablecloths are highly durable, and both should last for years with correct care. Linen offers a more luxurious finish, while polyester is more affordable and easier to keep clean.

Linen vs Polyester: Sustainability & Environmental Impact

Flax does not require a lot of pesticides or fertilizers to grow, and there are no chemical treatments needed during processing to create the linen fibers. The flax plant also needs less water than cotton plants to grow, meaning linen can be grown in more diverse locations without heavy watering. Untreated linen is biodegradable, and it’s a highly durable fabric, so it should last a long time. Typical linen has a low environmental impact, and this can be reduced considerably by buying organic linen, which is one of the most sustainable fabrics around.

Polyester, on the other hand, is made from fossil fuels, making it terrible for the environment. Additionally, its lower absorption rates for water mean it requires more water and energy to wash during its lifetime than linen and other natural fibers.

Our recommendation is that if you are interested sustainability, you should purchase linen over polyester (with the exception of products made from recycled polyester).

Linen vs Polyester: Cost

Linen is a little more expensive than the average fabric, and if you go organic, you can expect to pay a premium. Polyester is less expensive than linen and is normally the low-cost option.

Conclusion – Is Linen or Polyester Best?

We recommend organic linen. Not only is it more sustainable, but it’s very durable and breathable. Although it starts off stiff, it soon develops a soft feel. It does wrinkle easily, but other than that, it’s quite easy to care for. If you’re on a tight budget, polyester may suit you better, but we do recommend you stick to products made from recycled polyester.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Polyester Linen?

Polyester linen refers to polyester that has been produced to mimic the look of natural linen. It is completely synthetic and is often confused with blended fabrics that include a mix of natural and synthetic fibers.

What does a linen polyester mix feel like?

Blended fabrics made from linen and polyester combine the properties of the two fabrics. The linen polyester mix will be softer and less likely to wrinkle than 100% linen and have a feel that is more natural than 100% polyester.

Does Polyester or Linen dry faster?

Polyester will dry much faster than linen. This is because linen, as a natural fabric, absorbs a lot more water than polyester. Polyester absorbs very little water and so less drying time is needed.

Sustainable Fashion

Rayon vs Cotton: Ultimate Material Comparison Guide

Learn about the differences between rayon and cotton.

Fabric Comparison Featured

Rayon, a semi-synthetic fabric, and cotton, a natural fabric, have many differences, but which is best? Let’s find out:

Both rayon and cotton are soft fabrics with very good breathability and good moisture-wicking wicking. Rayon fabric is cheaper, weaker, and less durable than cotton, while cotton is a better insulator and can also be made more sustainably. Cotton can often be tumble-dried, while rayon cannot, and cotton also has better color-fastness. Cotton is considered a more premium fabric than rayon.

Check out the comparison table, then read on to find out more, including which fabric is best for shirts and sheets, how they compare on uses and sustainability, and more:

Rayon vs Cotton Comparison Table

Other NamesViscose, Modal, Lyocell
Made FromChemically-treated wood and bamboo celluloseFibers from cotton plant seeds
AdvantagesRayon is cheap to produce and provides a substantially higher yield per acre than most other fabricsCotton fiber has superior wet strength and is a natural insulator. Cotton also has natural anti-microbial properties
Rayon shrinks in hot water, and the more environmentally-friendly methods of creating it increase costs. Some forms of rayon require dry cleaning. Rayon may absorb body oils leading to staining.
Higher production costs than many other fabrics, particularly for organic cotton.
UsesRayon is used for clothing, bed sheets, curtains, and carpets.Cotton is widely used in clothing, including to produce popular woven fabrics such as denim, flannel, and canvas. Also used for bedsheets, towels, and upholstery.
Natural or SyntheticSemi-SyntheticNatura
Woven or KnittedEitherWoven
Thread Count300-600100-1000+
WashingDry clean or gentle hand wash in cold water (always check the label first)Typically fine in washing machine (always check the label first)
DryingAir dry only, do not tumble dry as shrinkage is likelyOften fine in tumble dryer, although shrinkage can occur especially if 100% cotton (check the label first). If unsure, air dry.
IroningIron inside-out while damp with low heatIron while damp (use a spray) on high heat
Wrinkle ResistanceWrinkles easily, especially when damp.Wrinkles easily
Heat RetentionMediumMedium
Moisture WickingGoodGood
BreathabilityVery GoodVery Good
Flammability (untreated)Very HighVery High
Water-Resistance (untreated)PoorPoor
StrengthMedium when dry, but weaker when wetGood, especially when wet (cotton gets stronger when wet)
Environmental Impact Score (A is best, E is worst)Generic Viscose Rayon = E, Modal = D, TENCEL = BConventional Cotton = E, Organic Cotton = B, Recycled Cotton = A
Sustainability IssuesThe Rayon industry contributes to deforestation and pollution. Rayon production is chemically-intensive.Cotton growing can be pesticide and water intensive, leading to pollution. Less impact when grown organically.

Rayon vs Cotton: The Basics

Rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric that uses cellulose fiber harvested from the wood pulp of fast-growing trees and plants (including bamboo). It is very popular, especially in fast fashion, because the fabric exhibits similar properties to cotton but can be created at a lower cost. It is breathable, wicks moisture effective, and retains heat quite well. It does, however, have a tendency to shrink in hot water and can get stained from body oils. It comes in several types, each named after its production process, including viscose, modal, and Lyocell, and is sometimes referred to as artificial silk.

Cotton is an organic fabric created from fibers harvested from around cotton plant seeds. The use of cotton dates back thousands of years, and it is still one of the most popular fabrics in the world, thanks to its high tensile strength, moisture-wicking, and relative ease of production. Unlike rayon and many other fabrics, cotton has a higher wet strength than dry; rayon fibers weaken when wet.

Cotton vs Rayon: Uses

Both cotton and rayon are used in the textile industry, primarily for making clothes but also for sheets and bedding. Cotton is highly versatile and can be used to make many types of natural fabrics, including denim, corduroy, chambray, chino, plaid, and more.

Bamboo vs Cotton Sheets

Rayon, or ‘bamboo’ sheets, as they are often referred to, come in a number of weaves, including percale, sateen, and twill. They’re soft and breathable but will need to be washed in cold water to prevent shrinking from occurring. At lower thread counts compared against a similar cotton sheet, rayon fabric will feel softer. Many sites, unfortunately, position rayon sheets as the sustainable option when compared with cotton, which is not true due to the number of chemicals used.

Cotton sheets also come in a range of weaves. At lower thread countsm they’re not as soft as a rayon equivalent, but higher quality versions such as Egyptian cotton will feel as soft, particularly after a bit of use. Cared for well, cotton sheets are durable, and they have slightly superior breathability and heat retention.

We recommend high-quality 100% organic cotton sheets. In terms of properties, it’s a close call, and both the fabrics have positives, but this is the better option for the environment. Watch out for lower-cost Egyptian cotton, as they may be blends and not 100% cotton.

Cotton vs Rayon Shirts

High-quality cotton shirts are considered superior to rayon for most clothing applications, but especially format shirts. A cotton shirt will be stronger, will retain its shape better, and is less likely to fade in color. Egyptian cotton is best, but Pima and Swiss are also well-regarded. Look for a cotton shirt made of 100% natural fibers (no blends) and a thread count of 160 or higher to get a quality shirt. While rayon (or bamboo) clothes are cheap, they tend to absorb body oils which leads to staining – not something you want on your shirt when you’re entering an important meeting!

Bamboo vs Cotton Socks – Which is Best?

Cotton socks are soft, strong, and breathable. They’re strong in warm weather and good for both formal and casual wear, although they are not recommended for sporting wear. Cotton socks are normally a polyester or nylon blend, as these add elasticity and make them more comfortable.

Bamboo socks are also cheap, light, and breathable. However, they are not as durable as cotton, so they may wear out quicker. Rayon socks are also created using chemicals, which is bad for the environment.

Bamboo vs Cotton Underwear

Cotton underwear is soft, strong, and absorbs and wicks away moisture well. In comparison, bamboo (rayon) has similar absorption (it can absorb more but absorbs a little slower), but it dries slower and will not be as strong. Although comparable in most aspects, bamboo underwear will wear out faster, so you’ll need to replace it more often, so we’d go with cotton.

Bamboo vs Cotton Towels

High-quality cotton towels will be thick, soft, absorbent, and durable, particularly if you buy a premium type like 100% Egyptian or Supima. Bamboo towels (made from bamboo rayon) are also soft and absorbent but will take longer to dry and will wear out quicker.

Rayon Drapes or Cotton Drapes?

Natural materials, like cotton, are popular choices for drapes and curtains because they breathe well, are durable, and aren’t too heavy. Their durability can be enhanced by adding a lining and increase their opacity. Rayon is not typically preferred for curtains, which tend to be made from natural materials like linen, cotton, or silk, or synthetic ones such as polyester. Rayon is, however, often blended with fabrics like linen when making curtains.

Rayon vs Cotton: Production Methods

Rayon can be made using several different processes, each of which gives its name to a different rayon fabric. Viscose, modal, and Lyocell are all different types of rayon, each of which is made using the process they are named after. Essentially, the processes involve treating the cellulose natural fibers (wood pulp, basically) from bamboo plants with a range of chemicals (including sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide) in order to create fabric.

The end fabric is similar for each, but the exact chemical process and production steps define how cheap and how sustainable the process is – the cheaper the process, the less sustainable it is. Although rayon uses natural fibers, it is considered a semi-synthetic fiber because of the volume of chemicals it requires. Rayon is a fabric made using an intensive process, and some consider it closer to man-made than natural, despite the underlying material being pure cellulose from plants.

Cotton comes from the fibrous casing that protects the seeds of the cotton plant. The fiber is separated from the cotton seed and cleaned, and then ‘carded.’ This process turns the small cotton fibers into long strands, which are then spun into yarn. This yarn can then be dyed any color and woven into clothing. Cotton fabric is considered natural because it does not require intensive chemicals when produced.

Cotton Rayon Blend

A cotton-rayon fabric blend is not uncommon and can be used to reduce costs (by reducing the cotton percentage) or to increase stretchiness (rayon is more stretchy than cotton). You may also see the two as part of a larger mix: a rayon-cotton-polyester-spandex mix, for example, helps combine the feel of cotton, the stretchiness of rayon, the strength of polyester, and the shape control of spandex. This mix is common for objects such as stretch pants.

Cotton vs Rayon: Sustainability & Environmental Impact

Viscose rayon and modal rayon fiber are both unsustainable products. These processes are not a closed loop, which means that harmful chemicals, such as carbon disulfide, are lost in wastewater and not recovered, instead entering the environment where they cause damage to plants, animals, and humans. Fabric made in this way is safe to wear but has been linked with health problems for those manufacturing it, including skin conditions, heart disease, nerve damage, and strokes. Viscose rayon is not produced in the US or many other Western countries for this reason – the process of creating rayon fibers is too toxic. 

There is one bit of good news – a type of rayon called Lyocell is better, and, in particular, Tencel, which is a branded form of Lyocell created by Lenzing. This is made using an environmentally sustainable closed-loop process that recovers almost every chemical used and is far better for both the environment and workers than viscose rayon.

The production of non-organic cotton fiber can also be devastating for the environment. This method uses significant amounts of both pesticides and water to grow the cotton plants, causing huge damage and pollution to the surrounding area. Despite being a natural fiber, non-organic production methods are as damaging as those for man-made fibers.

Organically grown cotton fiber is better: it is grown without pesticides, relies on rain for watering, and uses natural methods to improve the soil. However, this comes at a cost: the fiber yields are lower, and costs are higher. This is reflected in the cost to the consumer, which is considerably higher for organically-grown cotton than the same fabric grown non-organically or rayon, particularly viscose rayon. 

Rayon vs Cotton: Cost

Rayon is almost always going to be cheaper than cotton, especially if it is organic. The cotton price reflects its production process: it requires more land to produce, and the conditions that produce a good yield are harder to come by. Viscose rayon, in particular, is cheap, and because of this, it is used substantially in fast fashion products.

Conclusion – is Rayon or Cotton Best?

So, rayon or cotton? Both these fabrics have similar properties, and both have sustainable and unsustainable versions. Rayon can be a good purchase but is only sustainable if you stick to Tencel products, which tend to be more expensive. Clothes made using the viscose or modal production process are cheaper but highly likely to have been created in an unsustainable fashion.

Overall, cotton is the superior of the two fabrics. It washes better, will likely last for longer, and is a better insulator. However, unless you purchase clothes labeled organic cotton or recycled cotton, it is no better for the environment than viscose and modal, the two forms of rayon that cause the most pollution, so we recommend you stick to organic cotton fabric.

Frequently Asked Questions

Rayon or cotton for sheets – which is best?

High-thread organic cotton is better for sheets than rayon (and better for the planet). However, both cotton and rayon are breathable, wick moisture well, and soft.

How can I tell if a fabric is rayon or cotton?

The clothing label should say if a fabric is rayon or cotton. Failing that, you could do a fabric burn test. According to this guide, cotton will stop burning when you remove a flame, but rayon will continue burning. Of course, if this is a piece of clothing you like, don’t burn part of it!

Is rayon cotton?

No, rayon is not cotton. Rayon is made by chemically processing the wood pulp of bamboo plants.

Is rayon breathable?

Yes, rayon is a very breathable fabric and is considered equal to cotton in breathability.

Is rayon a natural fiber?

Rayon is not considered a natural fiber and is normally classified as semi-synthetic. This is because rayon is made from chemically processed bamboo cellulose fibers. The high level of chemicals used warrant the semi-synthetic label.

Is rayon recyclable?

Yes, rayon can be recycled (depending on what services are offered in your area). It will also biodegrade if it ends up in landfill.

Is rayon warmer than cotton?

We rank rayon and cotton as similar in terms of warmth, with high-quality cotton as more effective than rayon.

Does rayon shrink?

Yes, rayon can (and will) shrink, especially if washed in hot water. To minimize shrinking, wash in cold water only, although even then some shrinkage may occur. You’ll also want to air dry only, as a tumble dryer may also cause shrinkage.

Which is more absorbent, cotton or bamboo?

Bamboo, or rayon, can absorb more moisture than cotton, but absorbs at a slower rate and is slower to dry. Bamboo also absorbs body oils more than cotton, which can lead to staining. This means that although bamboo can absorb more, it is not as practical as cotton.

Which is softer, bamboo or cotton?

Both bamboo and cotton are very soft. At lower thread counts, a bamboo garment will feel softer than a similar cotton one. However, a premium high thread count cotton such as 100% Egyptian will feel softer than bamboo (rayon).

Is bamboo or cotton cooler?

Both bamboo and cotton have very good breathability, but overall bamboo is probably slightly cooler.

Sustainable Fashion

Nylon vs Silk Fabric: Guide & Comparison Table

Discover the key differences between nylon and silk.

Fabric Comparison Featured

Nylon and silk are two popular fabrics, but how do they differ? And which should you choose for items such as stockings and other luxury items? Let’s take a look.

Nylon, a synthetic fabric, is strong, lightweight, and easy to care for. It is more durable and stretchy than silk and also retains heat better, making nylon stockings a better choice in cold months. In contrast, silk breathes better, making it the choice for hot weather. Natural silk thread is also more expensive, but has a more luxurious look and feel, which many prefer.

Need more information? Check out the comparison table below, then read on for our full guide:

Other names
Made fromNylon is a synthetic polymer made from materials derived from petroleum.Silk is a soft and shiny fiber harvested from silkworm cocoons.
AdvantagesStrong, lightweight, and easy to care for.Smooth, soft and luxurious. Looks and feels fantastic.
DisadvantagesSignificant environmental concern.Less practical than many other fabrics. Heat retention, water-resistance and color-fastness are all poor, and overall less durable than many other fabrics.
UsesUsed extensively in fashion to make a wide range of items.Fashion, particularly luxury items, as well as lining for men’s suits, ties, and pocket squares. Other uses include curtains, sheets, pillows, and upholstery.
Natural or SyntheticSyntheticNatural
Woven or KnittedEitherEither, typically woven
Thread CountUp to 600
WashingMachine washable in hot or cold water (check label for which one is best for your garment). May last longer if hand washed.Safest to dry clean only. Hand washing may leave to fading. Do not put in the washing machine.
DryingMay wrinkle if dried in a dryer at hot settings. Opt for cooler settings or air dry.Air dry only
IroningIron only on the lowest heat section without steam. Use a pressing cloth. Be careful because nylon can burn easily.Do not iron. Silk should be steamed.
Wrinkle ResistanceDon’t tend to wrinkleDon’t tend to wrinkle
Heat RetentionMediumPoor
Moisture WickingMediumGood
Flammability (untreated)
Medium (tends to melt rather than burn)
Very High
Water-Resistance (untreated)MediumPoor
StrengthExcellentGood, but weaker when wet
SoftnessGoodVery Good
Environmental Impact Score (A is best, E is worst)Virgin Nylon = E, Chemically Recycled Nylon = B, Mechanically Recycled Nylon = ANormal Silk = C, Organic Silk = B
Sustainability IssuesNylon is a plastic. It does not degrade and requires significant energy, chemicals, and waste to create. We recommend only using recycled nylon products.
Silk production is relatively low impact, and does not require too many fertilizers or pesticides. Organic silk is best, and readers may also want to look for humane silk which harvests after the moths have left (instead of with the pupae inside).

Silk vs Nylon: Production Methods

Silk is a soft cloth woven from fibers harvested from the cocoon of the silkworm caterpillar. These cocoons are made from the fine fiber excreted by the caterpillars themselves. The cocoons are harvested with the silkworm still inside, and these cocoons are then put into boiling water to help unstick the thread from itself. Each cocoon is made of one thread and can be up to 900m long!

These silk fibers are then dyed, spun into thread, and woven using one of several different weaves (such as the plain weave). Although silk is a natural fabric, it is not vegan because the silkworm is killed during the production process (although ethical silk, or peace silk, is available that is vegan-friendly).

Nylon is a generic name for synthetic polymers made of polyamides using derivates of crude oil. This means producing nylon is an entirely synthetic process. Diamine acid (from oil) reacts with adipic acid to create nylon salt, a polymer. This is heated and then turned into a thread using a machine called a spinneret. These fibers are then stretched before being ready to spin into clothes. The resulting nylon thread resembles silk thread and is sometimes referred to as artificial silk.

Silk vs Nylon: Uses

Both nylon and silk are used extensively in the fashion industry, with silk, in particular, associated with luxury items such as gowns.

Nylon or Silk Stockings

Both silk and nylon are very popular for stockings (tights). Of the two, silk is considered the luxury choice. Silk stockings are more breathable and comfortable but are more expensive and less durable. Nylon stockings have better heat retention, making them better in cold weather, and they are more durable. Some nylon stockings have a seam up the back (silk stockings do not).

Silk or Nylon Socks

Silk socks are breathable and comfortable, but not durable enough for the heavy wear that socks get and require special care. Nylon, on the other hand, is more durable but not very breathable and is typically used as part of a blend rather than by itself. Because of this, most people wouldn’t consider either of these suitable for daily wear.

Silk and Nylon: Sustainability & Environmental Impact

Nylon is a plastic and so does not degrade. Its production requires significant energy, chemicals, and waste to create, and new nylon is not considered at all sustainable or environmentally friendly. We recommend only using nylon products when the nylon used has been recycled.

Compared to nylon, silk production is relatively low impact and does not require too many fertilizers or pesticides. Organic silk is best, and readers may also want to look for humane silk which harvests after the moths have left (instead of with the pupae inside).

Silk vs Nylon: Cost

Silk has a very high production cost compared to nylon, which is available at much lower prices.

Conclusion – Is Nylon or Silk Best?

We believe that silk is better in most circumstances, with a strong preference for humane silk. Silk is more environmentally friendly, looks better, and is more breathable. However, it is also more expensive.

Sustainable Fashion

14 Best Ethical & Sustainable Shoe Brands 2023

Our roundup of our top ethical shoe brands - find your next favourite inside!

Sustainable Shoe Brands Featured

Are you shopping for shoes that are fashionable, affordable, and gentle on the environment?

Sustainable shoe brands are an alternative to traditional shoe brands that participate in fast fashion — a production strategy that uses low-quality materials and unethical practices. Instead, sustainable brands use renewable materials that enhance the quality of footwear. Other shoe brands remove toxic materials from the environment by using recycled plastic bottles and textiles.

In this article, we will discuss the 15 best sustainable shoe brands that combine fashion, comfort, and Earth-focused values. To be featured in this list, companies must design high-quality footwear, source eco friendly materials, and use ethical practices that benefit customer satisfaction and environmental conservation.

Quick Links

  • Best for the office: Rothy’s – uses renewable materials and recycled ocean plastic
  • Best for casual shoes: SAOLA – bio-based shoes that support wildlife conservation programs
  • Best for luxury fashion: VEERAH – vegan designer shoes with interchangeable accessories
  • Best for sports & exercise: Allbirds – high-performance, sustainable sports shoes
  • Best for orthopedic therapy: SOLE – carbon-negative shoes recommended by physical therapy patients

1. Rothy’s – Recycled Ocean Plastic Dress Shoes

Budget: $165 – $275

Features: Zero-Waste Certified Factories, Fair Wages, Recycled Water Bottles, Renewable Materials, Machine Washable, Versatile

Sizes: Full & Half sizes, Men’s, Women’s, Kids’

Rothy’s is a Zero-Waste Certified company fueled by a passion for combating our world’s plastic pollution crisis. Plastic is a non-biodegradable material and a danger to our ocean. Rothy’s reduces marine plastic by recycling plastic bottles into their signature thread. Wearing their shoes keeps plastic out of the ocean. Read Rothy’s blog to learn more about their sustainable achievements and dedication.

Woman wearing 'The Driver' slip-on loafer by Rothy's
‘The Driver’ by Rothy’s (image by

What is Rothy’s secret for designing soft and comfortable shoes yet so durable? Rothy’s Signature Thread is blended with recycled water bottles, ethically sourced RWS-Certified Merino wool, and hemp fiber, which strikes the perfect balance for long-lasting comfort. Their shoes are also made with bio-based materials, including algae, corn, natural minerals, and castor beans.

Rothy’s receives thousands of highly satisfied reviews from customers who love the all-day comfort, versatile options, and sophisticated style. To find your perfect fitcheck out Rothy’s style guide. When you purchase Rothy’s shoes, you are not only being promised comfort, quality, and style; you are joining conservation efforts to restore our ocean’s health.

Range includes: Flats, loafers, slip ons, sneakers, boots, Mary-Janes, business, casual, formal, kids’ shoes

Our top picksThe Point (Women’s)The RS01 Sneaker (Men’s)The Driver

Browse ROTHY’S

2. SAOLA – Breathable Shoes Supporting Wildlife Conservation

Budget: $40 – $120

Features: Breathable Design, Casual, Sustainable Manufacturing, Biodegradable Materials, Proceeds Benefit Wildlife Conservation

Sizes: Full & half sizes, men’s & women’s

SAOLA was born with a passion for protecting endangered animal species and raising awareness about environmental issues through their famous line of eco friendly shoes. Their company is named after one of the most critically endangered species. With only a few hundred saolas (a relative of cows that resemble antelope, nicknamed the “Asian unicorn”) left, this sustainable shoe brand is fighting for its recovery.

Man wearing Saola Tsavo Sneakers with chinos
Saola Tsavo Sneakers (image by

For every pair of shoes purchased, SAOLA donates 1% of the proceeds to 1 of 6 restoration programs, which protect environmental regulations, coral reefs, and endangered species, including sun bears, sea turtles, bonobo monkeys, and animals native to Kenya. Visit SAOLA’s Wildlife Conservation page to learn more about the conservation programs associated with SAOLA.

SAOLA is highly rated for the lightweight comfort of their everyday sneakers and summer shoes. Their styles are made from recycled plastic bottles, which simulate the comfort and support of animal-based leather. Their shoes are constructed with Bloom algae outsoles, organic cotton laces, and natural cork insoles, which hug the bottom of your foot for custom comfort.

Range includes: Running sneakers, slip ons, casual footwear, sandals

Our top picksTsavo Sneakers (Men’s)Virunga Slip-on Shoes (Women’s)

Browse SAOLA

3. VEERAH – Beautiful Cruelty-Free Designer Shoes

Budget: $220 to $400

Features: Designer, Bridal, Customizable Add-ons, Comfortable Stilettos, 100% Vegan, Organic Cotton Lining, Recycled Plastic Bottles

Sizes: Women’ s full & half sizes

VEERAH is our designer pick! Their vegan heels are gorgeous, cruelty-free, and truly one-of-a-kind. Whether you’re shopping for your wedding day or searching for a unique accessory to complement your signature look, their shoes are perfect for any special occasion. Their shoes feel as luxurious as they look — and each pair is artistically designed to make any outfit unique.

Woman wearing Veerah Venus Strappy Heels with ribbon accessory and a long black dress
Veerah Venus with ribbon accessory (image by

VEERAH combats ocean plastic pollution by recycling plastic water bottles into high-end fashion. They also use renewable materials like algae, apple skins, and organic cotton. Check out VEERAH’s Shoe Accessories, which include clip brooches, straps, ribbons, and tassels, to achieve multiple looks with one pair of shoes.

Range includes: Boots, flats, sandals, mules, heels, pumps, bridal

Our top picksVenus Strappy Heel w/Ribbon add-onHedy Ankle BootMulan Vegan Suede Pump


4. Allbirds – Eco Friendly Shoes Made For All Forms of Exercise

Budget: $40 – $160

Features: ZQ-Certified Wool, Wind Farm Partnerships, Fair Trade Practices, Water-Repellent Sneakers, Allbirds ReRun (Consignment Shop)

Sizes: Men’s, Women’s, Standard & Half sizes

Allbirds manufacture sustainable sneakers using 100% renewable energy and sponsors organizations that do the same. Allbirds Flight Plan outlines the company’s detailed plan to track, analyze, and ultimately eliminate their carbon footprint. They advocate for reducing pollution caused by fast fashion. Visit Allbirds ReRun, where you can also purchase or trade-in gently used Allbirds shoes.

All Birds Tree Dasher 2
Allbirds Tree Dasher (image by

Allbirds uses innovative, natural materials like sugarcane, recycled plastic bottles, ZQ-Certified wool, and Trino® (a combination of Merino wool and tree fibers). They also uses FSC-certified eucalyptus tree fibers grown in South Africa, where the trees can rely on natural rainfall. By eliminating traditional irrigation practices, Allbirds reduces their water usage by 95%.

Allbirds athletic shoes are made with eucalyptus fibers, which make shoes breathable, supportive, and perfect for running and high-intensity exercise. Looking for your next go-to pair of shoes? Check out their Water-Repellent Sneakers, made with cruelty-free wool and designed to wick away moisture to keep your feet dry and warm in cool, drizzly weather.

Range includes: Athletic shoes, vegan sneakers, casual footwear, hiking shoes, slippers, sandals

Our top picksMen’s Tree DashersWomen’s Wool Dasher MizzlesWomen’s Tree Breezers


5. SOLE – Orthopedic-Approved Bio-Based Footwear

Budget: $65 – $150

Features: Carbon-Negative Materials, Partners With ReCork, Quality Arch Support & Orthopedic Treatment

Sizes: Men’s, Women’s, Standard & Half sizes

SOLE insoles and footwear are stylish, sustainably certified, and clinically proven to prevent and rehabilitate foot pain and injury. They design their products by setting strict standards of ethical practices and consulting medical expertise regarding orthopedic health. Their footbeds and footwear are clinically proven to help rehabilitate injuries and reduce strain in conditions like plantar fasciitis by 34%.

Sole Women's District Shoe by ReCORK Lark paired with black trousers
District by Recork Lark by Sole (image by

SOLE uses carbon-negative materials (natural materials that benefit the environment) like Bloom (algae harvested from harmful algal blooms) and cork, harvested from the tree bark without harming or cutting down the tree itself. SOLE also partners with ReCork, a recycling program that sets up stations for the public to drop off their unwanted wine corks to be recycled into high quality products.

Cork is porous and lightweight — ideal for insoles and footbeds. It effectively wicks away moisture and provides outstanding shock absorption so that long days are not tough on your feet. SOLE carries a wide selection of sustainable boots, booties, and attractive, flip-flops which physical therapist patients widely recommend for their outstanding arch support and overall comfort.

Range includes: Flip-flops, supportive running shoes, casual footwear, boots, flats

Our top picksDistrict by Recork Grade (Men’s)District by Recork Lark (Women’s)

Browse SOLE

6. Reformation – Fair Trade Certified Sustainable Shoes

Budget: $50 to $430

Features: Climate Neutral Certified, Innovative & Sustainable Materials, Green Business Certified, Elegant Fashion, thredUP Partnership

Sizes: Women’s full & half sizes

Reformation is a Climate Neutral Certified clothing and footwear company leading the fashion industry in earth-friendly manufacturing practices. They also partner with thredUP, an online consignment shop that encourages shoppers to purchase gently used clothing and apparel to reduce the amount of textile waste contributing to landfills worldwide.

Seated woman wearing Reformation Alessa Lace Up Wedge Espadrilles paired with a white flowing dress.
Reformation Alessa Lace-up Espadrilles (image by

Reformation’s Better Materials page rates sustainable materials based on their environmental impact. Their eco friendly materials include recycled cotton, Deadstock (leftover fabric from the fashion industry), NATIVA (ethically sourced wool), and TENCEL™ from fibers (FSC-Certified wood fibers). Visit their website to read about their transparent goals and ambitious mission to be Climate Positive by 2025.

Shop for summer-themed strappy sandals, vibrant colored pumps, classy black heels, or elegant wedding shoes. Reformation shoes are made with Gold and Silver-standard vegetable tanned leather, which they plan to swap out for sustainable vegan options in the future. Check out their vegan styles like the Alessa Lace-Up Wedge, which is made with flax and significantly reduces water usage.

Range includes: Boots, flats, heels, sandals, wedges, sneakers, mules, loafers, platforms

Our top picksAlessa Lace Up Wedge EspadrillePia Knotted Heeled SandalMillie Lattice Flat Sandal


7. Will’s Vegan Store – High Quality Dress Shoes & Work Boots

Budget: $50 – $200

Features: Carbon Neutral Certified, 100% Vegan, High Quality Shoes, Organic Cotton Lining, Green Packaging, Dress Shoes, Waterproof Boots

Sizes: Full & half sizes, Men’s, Women’s

Searching for vegan leather shoes that look as sophisticated and classy as traditional cow leather? Will’s Vegan Store features high quality, beautifully-made Italian vegan leather dress shoes, heels, and work boots designed to treat nature right. Customers report wearing their Will’s Vegan shoes for years without any breakdown in durability.

Will's Vegan Store High Heeled Vegan Cut-Outs
Will’s Vegan Store High-Heeled Cut-Outs (image by

Vegan leather qualifies as sustainable when it’s constructed with bio-based and recycled materials, manufactured using eco-conscious practices, and when the quality is so exceptional that it reduces the number of shoes ending up in landfills. Will’s Vegan Store uses sustainable materials like organic cotton, plants from cereal crops, and viscose (a natural oil derived from eucalyptus trees).

Will’s Vegan Store does not participate in fast fashion trends like Black Friday and summer sales, resulting in shoppers tossing out unwanted impulse purchases. Instead, Will’s shoes are made to love and last for years. Whether you’re shopping for fashion, function, or both, Will’s eco friendly shoes are worn in the office, rain, workshop, mountains, snow, and everyday setting.

Range includes: Boots, dress shoes, vegan sneakers, running trainers, heels, pumps, flats, sandals, work boots, hiking shoes, dock boots, waterproof & insulated options, high traction

Our top picksWork Boots (Men’s & Women’s)High Heeled Cut Outs (Women’s)Slim Dress Shoes (Men’s)WVSport Waterproof Hiking Boots (Men’s & Women’s)


8. Nothing New – Low & High Tops Made From Recycled Materials

Budget: $95 – $180

Features: Casual, Iconic Design, Recycled Water Bottles, Recycled Rubber, Ethical Production

Sizes: Full & Half sizes, Women’s, Men’s

Nothing New is a sustainable shoe brand that manufactures shoes made from upcycled industrial fishing nets, recycled polyester, and natural rubber. Their iconic low-top and high-top designs are meant to be classic and minimalistic so that one pair will become your go-to pair. Every pair of their sneakers repurposes 5.6 plastic water bottles, which reduces plastic waste.

Nothing New Classic High-Top
Love these Classic High-tops by Nothing New (image by

Nothing New is Global Recycle Standard certified, which guarantees that their fabric is safe for the environment. Above all, Nothing New prioritizes sustainability. They started the Virtuous Cycle Program, which encourages customers to send back their worn-out Northing New shoes for a $20 credit towards a new pair.

Mix & match Nothing New high & low-tops by choosing from various colors, which can quickly change your look from casual fun to edgy chic. Check out their collection of Better Canvas, featuring shoes made with 100% recyclable materials, and the Leather² collection, featuring shoes made from upcycled Italian leather, which reduces water usage and carbon emissions by 80%.

Range includes: Casual shoes, low tops, high tops

Our top picksClassic High Top (Men’s & Women’s)Classic Low Top (Men’s & Women’s)Wave (Men’s & Women’s)


9. Baabuk – B Corp Certified Moisture-Wicking Wool Shoes 

Budget: $90 to $160

Features: B Corp Certified, Ethical Practices, Natural Materials, Customizable Designs, Water-Repellent, Machine Washable

Sizes: Full sizes, men’s & women’s

Baabuk is a B Corp Certified sustainable footwear company that sells high-quality eco friendly shoes. They use ethically-sourced wool, which follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the health and wellbeing of free-range sheep. Wool is a natural, biodegradable material favorable for its moisture-wicking properties, making Baabuk shoes water-repellent, breathable, and cozy.

Woman wearing Baabuk Urban Wooler shoes reclining between two pillars
Baabuk Urban Woolers (image by

Sheep need their coats trimmed regularly to avoid illness and mobility issues. Sustainable shoe brands like Baabuk care for their sheep by maintaining their coats and providing adequate food, water, shelter, and pastures. They also work with endangered sheep through their Miss Baabuka Program, which protects and rehabilitates six different breeds of sheep native to Switzerland.

Baabuk’s website features many minimalist style sneakers, high-tops, ballet flats, and slippers. Their lightweight footwear is built for all seasons and made with soft, itch-free Merino wool lining. The natural latex soles are durable and slip-resistant. Their sustainable shoes are available in various colors, including the option to customize your sneakers to create your perfect look!

Range includes: Everyday shoes, high-top sneakers, ballet flats, slippers

Our top picksUrban WoolerBlacknose Sky WoolerWool BallerinaMel Slip-in Slipper


10. Thousand Fell – 100% Recyclable Bio Leather Shoes

Budget: $100 – $110

Features: Zero-Waste Company, Recycled Shoes Program, Vegan Bio Leather, Minimalist Design, Organic Cotton Tote Packaging

Sizes: Full & Half sizes, Men’s, Women’s

Thousand Fell uses responsibly sourced and recycled materials to design Zero-Waste slip-on and lace-up sneakers. Their closed-loop manufacturing system means that their sneakers can be recycled instead of added to a landfill. Thousand Fell’s RECYCLE NOW program credits their customers $20 to send in their worn-out sneakers, which will get recycled into a new pair!

Thousand Fell Women's Lace Up

Thousand Fell recognizes the unavoidable environmental hazards of using leather (see FAQ section). Instead, they use plant-based and recycled materials like aloe vera, recycled & natural rubber, castor beans, coconut husk, sugar cane, and of course, recycled bottles.

Thousand Fell sneakers have a minimalist aesthetic and durable design. Their signature bio leather mimics the appearance and quality of white leather sneakers. Their shoes feature a stain-proof, water-resistant coating made from natural quartz to enhance longevity. They also include insoles made from recycled yoga mats, which feel as comfortable as they sound!

Range includes: Lace-up sneakers, slip-on shoes, court shoes, white bio leather sneakers

Our top picksLace Up (Men’s & Women’s)Slip On (Men’s & Women’s), Court Shoes (Men’s & Women’s)


11. ABLE – Timeless Styles Made From Repurposed Leather 

Budget: $70 – $125

Features: Versatile, Long-Lasting, Repurposed Materials, Recycled Packaging, Fair Trade Practices

Sizes: Women’s Half & Full sizes

ABLE is an eco-conscious fashion company that prioritizes product quality and longevity. Their sustainable shoes are versatile to fit any occasion and well-made, so you can expect to wear them for years to come. The fewer items we have in our closet, the closer we get to reducing textile waste’s impact on the environment.

Woman wearing ABLE Emmy Sneakers and blue jeans standing on a wooden floor near a potted plant
ABLE Emmy Sneaker (image by

ABLE works with the Leather Working Group to repurpose discarded animal hides and scraps into leather shoes built to withstand a lifetime of love. Instead of using toxic chemicals, ABLE opts for vegetable tanned leather, which is environmentally safe. They also partner with leather companies that use closed-loop watering symptoms, which reduces water consumption.

Range includes: Sandals, sneakers, boots, heels, wedges, flats

Our top picksEmmy SneakerJones HeelElisa Sandal

Browse ABLE

12. VEJA – B-Corp Certified Sustainable Shoes for All Ages 

Budget: $100 – $350

Features: B-Corp Certified, Zero-Waste Practices, Company Transparency, Fair Wages, Renewable Materials, Vegetable Tanned Leather Shoes 

Sizes: Full & Half sizes, Unisex sizing, Men’s, Women’s, Kids’ shoes

VEJA is widely known for their exceptional sustainable shoes and transparent values of environmental & social responsibility. VEJA fairly made shoes cost significantly more to manufacture because they carefully select innovative materials, follow strict fair trade guidelines, and eliminate the use of ads, which allows them to oversee every stage of production firsthand. Learn more about VEJA’s ad-free production here.

VEJA Esplar Se Canvas White Matcha
VEJA Esplar Se Canvas White Matcha (image by

VEJA takes time to strategically design shoes they believe their customers will love today and 10 years from now. They design shoes made with bio-based and recycled materials, including recycled plastic, organic cotton, sugar cane, corn, and chrome free leather sourced from the Leather Working Group and has been repurposed as a by-product of the meat industry.

VEJA sells a combination of Gold-standard leather shoes and bio-based vegan styles, which they plan to expand in the future. Their shoes range from fun & colorful everyday sneakers to comfortable & supportive running shoes that feature shock absorption, lightweight cushioning, and natural rubber soles.

Range includes: Unisex sneakers, everyday footwear, velcro options, kids’ shoes

Our top picksImpala Jacquard Black Cream Sneaker (Unisex)Condor 2 VEJA X Ciele Nautico Orange Fluo (Unisex)Esplar Se Canvas White Matcha (Unisex)

Browse VEJA

13. Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather – Animal-Friendly Shoes Made With Long-Lasting Materials 

Budget: $110 – $270

Features: Cruelty-Free Practices, 100% Vegan Leather, Modern Fashion Designs, AppleSkin Leather

Sizes: Unisex sizes, full sizes

Looking for a sustainable shoe brand that cares as much for animal welfare as they do customer satisfaction? Check out Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather, a company that started their business with one main idea: selling cruelty-free vegan leather shoes and accessories that fit their customers’ comfort, modern fashion trends, and ethical principles.

Good Guys Don't Wear Leather Men's AYITA 2.0 Vegan Desert Boots paired with blue chinos
Men’s AYITA 2.0 Vegan Desert Boots (image by

Good Guys centers their choice of materials around ethical treatment of animals and the environment. Their shoes are 100% vegan, manufactured in local family-owned shops, and packaged using biodegradable materials. They keep their styles classic and durable to cut down on the number of pairs purchased. Customers report wearing the original Good Guys design 10 years later!

Good Guys carries eco friendly shoes for all occasions. The AppleSkin Collection features shoes made from recycled apple skins and cores from the fruit juice industry. They sources materials locally and ensures that they meet the Oekotex Standard 100 Class guidelines guaranteeing that companies use sustainable materials and practices to design their products.

Range includes: Sneakers, sandals, boots, clogs, everyday shoes

Our top picksDAISY High heel vegan cowboy boots (Women’s)AYITA 2.0 Vegan Desert Boots (Men’s)MIMI Vegan Cross Strap Sandal (Women’s)


14. Avesu – Retailer of Vegan Shoes 

Budget: $30 – $280

Features: Vegan Materials, Wide Style Selection & Budget Range, High-End Brands, Carbon-Neutral Shipping

Sizes: Full & half sizes, men’s & women’s

Avesu understands the difficulty in finding vegan shoe brands. Instead of spending hours searching for the perfect pair, their company has researched it for you! Avesu is an inventory of animal-free styles. Their website features popular eco friendly shoe brands, including TOMS, VEJA, AHIMSA, and Bourgeois Boheme.

Avesu The Lot Biker Boot by Perfect Jane
The Lot Biker Boot by Perfect Jane (image by

Avesu conducts first-hand inspections with their suppliers to ensure they meet the requirements of cruelty-free practices, eco friendly manufacturing processes, and fair working conditions. They use carbon-neutral shipping through their partnership with DHL GoGreen Shipping services, which makes local deliveries using electric bikes and cars.

Avesu’s one-stop shop offers limitless options to fit any occasion and budget truly. Shop for sophisticated, high-grade faux leather business shoes for your next formal meeting. Or lace up a pair of waterproof hiking shoes made with GORE-TEX lining and built to last years of outdoor adventures.

Range includes: Heels, boots, business, fashion, elegant, hiking, flats, summer, running shoes, rain boots

Our top picksThe Lot Biker Boot by Perfect JaneDavid Cognac Dress Shoe by AHIMSAThe Alpargata Canvas by TOMS

Browse AVESU


Perhaps one of the most eco friendly steps we can take to encourage sustainable fashion is to take the time to research shoe brands before purchasing a pair. Avoid shoe brands that participate in fast fashion and perpetuate the pollution crisis. Shop sustainable shoe brands that take pride in the quality of their shoes and the Earth-friendly practices within their company.


Is leather sustainable?

This list features a few sustainable footwear brands that repurpose animal hides from the meat industry. In some ways, repurposing cowhides from the meat industry is an ethical way to honor an animal’s life because otherwise, it would just be tossed into a landfill. However, severe environmental hazards are associated with the meat farming industry, including deforestation, excessive water consumption, and overusing land to grow feed crops instead of re-planting forests. 

To restore our planet’s health, we must refine our farming practices and cut down on meat consumption. Ultimately, using leather is not sustainable because it requires the same environmentally damaging techniques used to raise cows for meat. 

Is vegan leather sustainable?

Vegan leather is not considered sustainable when it’s manufactured using toxic synthetic fibers that make it difficult to recycle. However, there are several plant-based sustainable materials like AppleSkin, flax, and cork quickly becoming famous for their impressive quality.

Abby Lucy

Abby Lucy-Tucker

I am a writer, educator, and devoted environmentalist with a lifelong mission to serve our planet. My goal is to inspire a natural love and curiosity for sustainable products, companies, and lifestyle choices through my writing.

Sustainable Fashion

Why Do Shoes Have Heels? These 4 Reasons May Surprise You!

Are we just suffering for the sake of fashion, or do heels on shoes have a purpose? Let's find out!

Why Do Shoes Have Heels Featured

Loved by some, loathed by others – but why do shoes have heels? And are we just suffering for the sake of fashion? It turns out high heels were originally invented for a more practical reason… 

The use of heels on shoes originated with horse riding; heeled shoes helped prevent the rider’s foot from slipping out of the stirrup. Nowadays, high heeled shoes are linked with fashion, though even running shoes have a small heel; the heel helps protect the shoe from wear. 

Woman wearing skinny bright red shoes on a cobbled street
Not a horse in sight!

Been riding recently? Probably not – but I bet your shoe has a heel. When most people think of wearing heeled shoes they think of high heels, but actually almost every shoe and boot has a heel, which can be either attached or molded as part of the shoe. This applies to men’s shoes as well as women’s shoes. Why is this? Let’s dig a little deeper:

4 Reasons Shoes Have Heels – Is It Just a Fashion Thing?

Yes… and no. Let’s see:

Reason 1: Heels Are Fashionable

Yes, wearing high heeled shoes is fashionable for women (and has also been for men, at various times in history). In most cultures, the appearance of longer legs is considered attractive, and high heels are often also associated with higher status and wealth.

Fancy red designer heels featuring a floral pattern
Comfortable? Doubt it – but they sure look good!

Wearing high heeled shoes has other physical affects as well – they lift your butt, make your calf muscles appear more defined, and enable a walking style that is considered more attractive than with a flat foot. And of course, when you look good, you also feel good; many people wear heels because they help increase their self-confidence.

Reason 2: Heels Make Us Taller

Who wouldn’t want to be just that little bit taller? High heel shoes (and even those with just slightly elevated heels) give us a psychological boost by lifting us up just a little bit higher. Research has also shown that taller people may be paid more, are seen as more confident, and are more successful in their careers! Who wouldn’t want all these benefits from wearing shoes?

Woman wearing heels standing next to a tall man with the Eiffel tower in the background
Who doesn’t like the feeling of being just a little taller?

Reason 3: Heels Help Protect Shoes From Wear

You may not be wearing high heels, but unless you’re wearing barefoot shoes, the chances are your shoes have a heel and offer some kind of heel lift. The reason for this is because when we walk (or run), our body’s weight lands first on the heel, and this is the area that experiences the greatest wear. To counter this, the heel on most shoes is made to absorb this energy and to protect the rest of your shoe from wear.

Reason 4: A Low Heel Can Alleviate Some Foot Pain

Although many associate wearing heels with foot pain, there are some circumstances where a moderate heel can actually help relieve pain. A small heel to toe drop (created by a heel) in combination with arch support can help distribute your weight across your foot instead of putting it all in one place. This can relieve pain from plantar fasciitis, flat feet, and even arthritis.

It should be noted that this benefit refers to small heels used as part of a shoe designed to be supportive. A high heel is more likely to cause plantar fasciitis than to relieve it!

What About Running Shoes – Why Do They Have an Elevated Heel?

Conventional running shoes often have an elevated heel to help provide cushioning when you heel strike (land on your heel), which is common when running. This also has the effect of shortening the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles.

Person in running shoes running on sand
Even running shoes have small heels

However, greater heel height has been linked to Achilles tendonitis and other Achilles injuries, and many experts are now recommending a more balanced heel that can absorb shock without increasing injury risk.

Why Do Men’s Shoes Have Heels?

While men are less likely to wear shoes with high heels for fashion purposes (let’s hear it for all the fans of Cuban heels!), they still benefit from the psychological boost of the increased height. And of course, there’s always the protective benefit of the heel for the shoe itself, which ensures are shoes and boots last longer.

Avatar photo

James Evans

James is a copywriter based in the UK. He writes on sustainability, finance, tech, and anything else that interests him. He likes tea.

Sustainable Fashion

How to Make Big Shoes Fit Smaller

Learn how to make big shoes fit better with these easy tips that can prevent the need for returns.

Make Big Shoes Fit Smaller Featured

You’re looking forward to a big event this month, so you open your closet, slip on a fancy pair of shoes, take a few steps, and realize… they’re too big! Whether you’ve ordered a size too big or your favorite pair is overstretched from the countless times you’ve worn them, you are now left wondering how to make shoes smaller…

The best ways to make big shoes fit smaller is to purchase a pair of socks or inserts, utilize a service to resize them, or buy shoes that are more likely to be form-fitting due to their style and fabric.

In this article, we will discuss 7 different methods you can use to make big shoes fit smaller so that your feet will feel comfy and secure!

1. Seek professional shoe repair

Shoe repair shops aren’t just for replacing worn-out treads or patching up tears. Bringing your beloved shoes to a professional cobbler could lead to your favorite shoes getting a new life!

Repairing shoes instead of purchasing new ones reduces textile waste and limits energy consumption during the manufacturing process. Visiting your local cobbler is an eco-friendly way to reconstruct your shoes to fit your feet perfectly!

2. Buy no-show footies or cushioned socks

This may sound like an oversimplified method of making big shoes fit smaller — but you’d be surprised how effective this quick hack is! Look for a pair of thicker socks or no-show footies to line your shoes just right. The best part about using socks and footies to make your shoes tighter is that you can slip them on, throw them in the wash, and reuse them repeatedly.

Check out these companies:

MenoMieux No-Show Socks

No-show footies are a must-have for dressy closed toe shoes. MenoMieux is a sustainable fashion company that never produces any of its own fabric. Instead, they upCycle unwanted clothing, shoes, and other textiles.

meno mieux
MenoMieux no-shows (image by

Check out their zero-waste no-show socks, designed to discretely hug your feet and act as heel liners in your favorite pair of ballet flats or stilettos.

Smartwool Cushioned Socks

Smartwool is a leading company in manufacturing ethically-sourced wool socks and apparel. They are ZQ Certified, meaning they use ethical practices to source their wool and ensure the health and wellbeing of their sheep by providing adequate food, water, medical attention, and free-range pasture.

You don’t have to wear thick socks that leave your feet hot and sweaty. Lightly cushioned socks will fill out loose shoes just fine! Check out Smartwool’s line of athletic socks, which are made from natural wool and recycled nylon. The lightweight padding is breathable and the perfect choice for your sports shoes when you’re out for your morning jog!

3. Swap out your shoes using online consignment shops

Textile waste is a major environmental issue in the fashion industry. Thrifting is an eco-friendly alternative to purchasing new shoes and can also help you save money when you decide to freshen up your wardrobe! If you own a pair of shoes that you just don’t love, consider swapping them for another gently-used pair through an online consignment store.

Check out these companies:

Reformation + thredUP

Reformation partners with thredUP, an online consignment shop where you can exchange your unwanted shoes for a pair that you will absolutely love! Search by size, style, condition, color, and price range to find the pair that will complement your outfit and save you money!

4. Purchase shoe insoles

Insoles! It’s a classic method of making shoes fit like they were personally constructed for your feet. Insoles act as shoe fillers that make your feet feel more snug. Insoles are commonly made of foam, which is hazardous to our environment. Fortunately, some companies opt to design insoles using eco-friendly materials that are biodegradable and safer for our planet.

You might want to check out these two sustainable insole manufacturers:

SOLE Insoles

SOLE is outstanding when it comes to designing high-quality, environment-safe insoles and footwear. Their website allows you to select your insole based on arch height, desired level of support, or even type of foot injury.

Their products are made with carbon-negative materials (materials that, when used, actually benefit the environment), such as cork and Bloom. Bloom is algae that is harvested from harmful algal blooms (HABs), which occur in water and pose dangerous risks to animals, people, and the environment. By using Bloom algae, SOLE actively reduces the damaging impact HABs have on our planet.

Fulton Insoles

Fulton insoles are made with cork, a carbon-negative material that actually improves the health of our planet! If your sneakers are feeling a little loose, insert a pair of Fulton insoles, and you will notice a difference in your comfort and overall posture. The insole padding is ergonomically designed to prevent orthopedic ailments and reduce chronic pain.

Man using a fulton insole to make his shoe fit smaller
These Fulton insoles are a great way to make your shoes fit better and comfier (image by

Fulton was founded based on medical research explaining why proper arch support is critical to our overall wellbeing. Not only do these multi-layered insoles feel like comfortable foot cushions, they also promote healthy alignment. To learn more about how Fulton insoles can improve your overall health, check out their information on arch support.

5. Customize your shoes

What’s the best way to guarantee your shoes will fit from the moment you slide them on your feet? Purchase a pair that has been pre-tailored to fit your feet perfectly! If you find yourself “in between sizes” when shopping for shoes, customizing your size is a sustainable way to get the look and feel you want!

Check out this company:

Solely Original Custom Shoes

Instead of visiting a shoe store, check out Solely Original to design a pair of custom shoes! Solely Original has the right idea when it comes to sustainable footwear! Instead of worrying about how to make shoes smaller, customize them to your exact foot dimensions from the start! You can design your shoes’ style, fit, fabric, color, and pattern. Your shoes will fit your unique footstep and show off your individual style!

6. Wear shoes that have flexible fabric

Another way to guarantee a good fit if you’re wondering how to make shoes smaller is to look for shoe material and sales that don’t require a perfect fit to feel comfy! Some shoes are strategically designed with suitable materials and structure to fit any foot like a glove! Flexible materials may include algae, faux suede, and cork, which are eco-friendly and tend to hug your foot just right!

Check out these companies:

Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather

Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather has received excellent reviews from their customers regarding quality craftsmanship, comfort, and attractive design. Everything from the shoe tongue pads to the outsoles is 100% vegan and thoughtfully designed to meet modern fashion trends.

woman wearing good guys don't wear leather ankle boots
Now these are some comfy boots! (image by

If you enjoy wearing shoes that make a statement, you won’t go wrong with Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather! This well-known company supports animal welfare efforts by providing a vegan alternative to suede and leather shoes. Search for shoe styles that are made of vegan suede or AppleSkin™ (natural wastes from the apple juice industry).


Rothy’s flats can be worn in both formal and casual settings! Their styles are versatile and classic — making them the ideal dress shoes to head to the office — or a colorful accessory to wear on a fun outing with friends. Choose from a wide selection of colors and patterns to match your unique look.

Model wearing Rothys red flat shoes
Form-fitting flats are a great choice (image by

The upper portion is soft and form-fitting, while the insoles and outsoles are durable and comfortable. Rothy’s flats are made from Rothy’s Signature Thread (100% plastic water bottles). Also, there is no need to worry about getting these shoes wet because Rothy’s flats are completely machine-washable!


TOMS is your classic everyday shoe! While the TOMS original design remains wildly popular, the company has since expanded its selection to include fashionable boots, sneakers, and wedges.

Blue Toms Shoes
Classic comfy canvas shoes by TOMS (image by

Their canvas shoes are mainly made of jute, which is an eco-friendly material due to low water and chemical usage. Learn more about TOMS’s earth-friendly missions!

7. Use heel liners to prevent shoes from rubbing and digging

Sometimes, all you need is a slight adjustment to make those high heels fit a little better without adding a bulky insert or ordering the next size up. Heel liners are small and compact, making them a convenient must-have item to carry when traveling. While heel liners can be used to prevent digging in tight shoes, they can also be used when your shoes are just a little too loose. Check out this company:

Vegetarian Shoes

You may find that many heel grips are made from animal-based leather and sheepskin. Fortunately, earth-friendly companies like Vegetarian Shoes manufacture their products using microfiber Fake Suede instead of animal-based leather. Vegetarian Shoes has an abundant selection of vegan shoe brands and accessories, such as shoelaces, shoe wax, and felt shoe inserts. Check out the Vegetarian Shoes Heel Liners, which may be the minor adjustment you need to prevent your shoes from rubbing against your heels and causing discomfort and painful blisters!


Depending on how much time you have to make big shoes fit smaller, you may consider trying a combination of these methods. Once your shoes are the right size, you may still consider purchasing an insole for an extra layer of comfort. Companies like SOLE and Reformation truly go above and beyond when caring for their customers, employees, and our planet. They are genuinely committed to satisfying their customers and making a positive impact in the world.

Abby Lucy

Abby Lucy-Tucker

I am a writer, educator, and devoted environmentalist with a lifelong mission to serve our planet. My goal is to inspire a natural love and curiosity for sustainable products, companies, and lifestyle choices through my writing.

Sustainable Fashion

Are Shoes Clothing, Apparel, or Fashion Accessories?

Those shoes you wear on your feet - what are they? Clothing? Accessories? Apparel? Garments? It depends on who you ask! Read on to find out what we think!

Are Shoes Clothing Or Accessories Featured

Those shoes you wear on your feet – what are they? Clothing? Accessories? Apparel? Garments? If you’ve ever wondered, it should come as no surprise that many people disagree on the exact definitions. Read on to find out answer!

Shoes are normally considered clothing, since people wear shoes for the purposes of protection and insulation. They are also apparel and footwear. However, in fashion and retail, they are often considered accessories, since they can be used to complete a particular look or outfit.

Confused yet? Us too. Read on for a more complete breakdown of each of these definitions and how they apply to shoes, as well as some counterarguments we’ve found:

Are Shoes Considered Clothing?

Yes, shoes are considered clothing. The broad definition of clothing is items that are worn to cover parts of the body, and shoes are often essential for protecting your feet. However, shoes are often separated from clothing in retail and fashion, where they are considered accessories since they are used to complement the main outfit.

Hiking shoes in deep snow
Shoes not optional – does this make them clothing?

The definition becomes less clear when considering items that provide less coverage. Are, for example, flip flops clothes? Although they lack coverage on top, they do protect the soles of the feet from getting hurt. They do however, feel less essential.

What about when shoes are no longer required? Some suggest that shoes are clothing when outdoors, but accessories indoors, where they are not essential. You might, for example, remove your shoes when entering someone’s house or a place of worship, but you wouldn’t normally stop wearing clothes!

Are Shoes Apparel?

Yes, shoes are considered apparel, which is another word for personal attire or clothing. Apparel broadly covers any item used to cover the body, and this includes shoes as well as clothes.

Are Shoes Garments?

Yes, shoes are commonly considered garments, which is typically used interchangeably with attire or clothing. Some sources indicate that garments are specific to the body, and that shoes are a separate category called footwear, although this is not universal – others consider footwear a subcategory of garments.

Are Shoes Accessories?

Accessories typically cover both accessories that can be worn, such as hats, belts, and jewelry, and carried accessories, such as handbags, purses, or even ceremonial swords.

Model wearing bright yellow ankle boots
These boots are definitely acting as accessories – but does that mean they’re not clothes?

Shoes are considered accessories in fashion and retail industry, where items are considered relative to the main outfit. In this case, shoes are accessories because they are used to accessorize or complement the main clothes. However, in general usage, some people prefer to call them clothes, since they are essential, rather than optional.

The definition then, depends upon your viewpoint, are you defining shoes as part of your outfit (in which case they are likely accessories) or through their utility (in which case they are clothes).


So there you have it. Shoes are commonly considered both clothing and accessories, although some people insist they sit squarely within one category only! In many cases, the answer will depend upon the context.

Avatar photo

James Evans

James is a copywriter based in the UK. He writes on sustainability, finance, tech, and anything else that interests him. He likes tea.

Sustainable Fashion

How to Dry Jeans Fast (5 Quick and Easy Methods)

Learn 5 quick and easy methods to dry your jeans quickly, efficiently, and sustainably.

How To Dry Jeans Fast Featured

There’s nothing worse than realizing your favorite pair of jeans you’re planning on wearing are still wet from the wash.

To dry jeans fast, use rolled towels inside to soak up moisture and make use of sunlight and outdoor air flow. You could also use other heat sources like hair dryers, heat vents, and irons. Do not machine dry denim, as this will cause them to shrink and lose elasticity.

By avoiding the tumble dryer will help keep your energy use, clothes budget, and unnecessary waste down. Let’s take a look at these methods in more detail:

1. Use Sunlight

The heat of sunlight helps evaporate water, so your jeans will dry very quickly. It also sanitizes clothing by reducing fungal contamination, so it’s a great boost to your laundry routine.

If you have access to an outdoor space, hang your jeans somewhere with a lot of sun exposure. Be mindful of how shade might change as the Earth rotates during the day. Hang them on a clothesline or on top of a towel.

The natural way of drying clothes is still best!

If you’re confined to drying your jeans indoors, simply hang or place them in front of your sunniest window. The best window might change throughout the day, so pay attention to where you’re getting the most sun and move them accordingly.

Both indoors and outdoors, it’s important to turn them around and inside out every 30-60 minutes throughout the drying process.

2. Use Towels to Help Jeans Dry

Towels are second only to the Sun as the most helpful tool for drying jeans quickly. You’ll want to use a large, absorbent towel for the most effective drying.

There are three main ways to use towels to dry jeans quickly:

Use a towel to squeeze out excess water. 

Lie your jeans flatly on top of the towel, then, roll the jeans and towel together starting at your waistband until completely rolled up. No denim should be visible, so tuck any hanging pieces inside of the towel.

Finally, you’ll wring as much water as you can from the pants. You’ve removed all of the excess moisture, so you can air-dry jeans quickly. 

Use a towel as an absorbent drying pad.

If your jeans aren’t soaking wet, but just damp, using a towel as an absorbent pad is a great way to quickly dry jeans.

All you have to do is lay a towel on the ground and place your jeans on top. Try to place them in a sunny area, even if it’s just in front of a window, for the quickest drying. Flip and turn inside every 30-60 minutes for even drying.

Stuff your wet clothes with towels to absorb moisture

Another method for quickly drying jeans is stuffing the pair with rolled-up towels. This helps dry the inside as the outside is dried by the sun or breeze.

Simply roll towels into roughly the width of the jean legs. Then stuff the legs with the towels until the entire inside is filled. Make sure to have towels for the crotch and waistband as they tend to be the slowest drying areas.

Do not stuff your jeans too tightly. Because denim is more elastic when wet, you risk stretching them out. Stuff just enough to fill the jeans about 75% full.

3. Air Dry Outside

Even on a cloudy day, jeans will dry a lot quicker outside than inside. Pay attention to the weather to avoid rain or high humidity as that will increase drying time.

Hanging them on a clothesline will help bring air flow to all parts of the pants, which helps them dry quickly. Make sure to turn them inside out about halfway through.

If it’s too rainy to set them out, you can always hang them in a room with a fan or open windows (temperature permitting) to recreate the outdoor breeze.

4. Use Other Heat Sources

If you need your jeans to dry in minutes rather than hours, turn to sources of heat other than your dryer. All of the following heat sources use less energy than a full-size dryer.

However, you should limit using them to only when you need your dry jeans quickly in an emergency. Applying intense heat to denim can shrink it or make it lose its elasticity. Do not use these methods on raw denim jeans, it could permanently ruin them.

Use a Radiator or Vent

If you have the heat going in your house, make the most of it by placing your jeans near your radiator or vent. Avoid placing directly on the heat source. Hanging them above a vent or next to a radiator will dry your jeans quickly and easily.

This is an awesome method for sustainable quick jeans drying because you’re using your heating system for two different things at once.

Air drying with a hair dryer

Most hair dryers use about 1800 watts of energy, while a tumble dryer can use up to 6000 watts. Plus, dryers take a lot longer to dry jeans compared to the direct airflow of a hair dryer. You can lower your energy consumption and drying time by using a hair dryer.

If using a high heat setting, don’t place the hair dryer directly onto your jeans. Otherwise, it can warp or burn the denim.

Instead, hang your jeans and then take your hair dryer and in long, steady up-and-down motions, blow hot hair along the entire length of your jeans. Once you’ve gone completely around them, flip your jeans inside-out and repeat.

This works best with damp rather than fully wet pants.

Use an Iron

Using an iron to quickly dry jeans might leave you feeling like a mad scientist from all of the steam that will surround you. It’s a great method to use in a pinch, but only for damp, rather than soaking wet jeans.

You can simply lay the jeans flat on your ironing board and get to work, but if you combine it with the towel stuffing method, you’ll be able to dry your jeans even more quickly.

Use the highest heat your jeans allow – usually 150-200˚F (65-90˚C). Move the iron around slowly while pressing down with moderate pressure. Keep ironing until your jeans are completely dry.

5. Use a Tumble Dryer Sparingly

While you should avoid drying your jeans in a tumble dryer, sometimes it’s necessary to avoid having to wear wet jeans. Instead of throwing your jeans in the dryer, throw some cotton towels in. Then, use those heated towels in any of the methods above. Stuffing your jeans with heated towels will quicken the drying process even more.

If you absolutely have to put your jeans in the dryer, use a low or no-heat setting. Instead of using heat, dry them on a high spin cycle for maximum air flow. This will help dry them without having your jeans shrink.

Use eco-friendly dryer balls to keep your jeans from tumbling around and stretching. They’re made of organic wool, are hypoallergenic, and are reusable for up to four years. Plus, they cut drying time by 25%, saving time and electricity.

Conclusion: How To Dry Jeans Fast

So, how do you dry jeans quickly? Using towels, sunlight, and outdoor air are the best sustainable ways to reduce jean drying time. In a pinch, you can use other heat sources like your house heating system, hairdryers, and irons to quickly dry jeans. If you absolutely have to, you can pop your jeans into the dryer with eco-friendly dryer balls to reduce drying time.

If you’ve already lost your favorite pair to too many sessions in the dryer, grab a new pair from one of the best sustainable denim brands to keep your closet eco-friendly and fresh.

Megan Lemon

Megan Lemon

Megan is a sustainability writer based in Fiji, where she lives with her partner in the house they built themselves. In her free time, she free dives, spear fishes, and takes long walks on the dirt roads.

Sustainable Fashion

20 Best Sustainable Denim Brands for Ethical Living (2023)

Discover the top sustainable jeans brands around the globe. Rock your jeans and protect the planet!

Sustainable Denim Brands Featured

Did you know that your favorite pair of blue jeans, on average, uses about 3,000 liters of water during production? Denim also contributes to extreme pollution of rivers, high CO2 emissions, and poisoning of factory workers. But don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your go-to pants…

Sustainable denim brands allow you to rock your jeans and protect the planet. These brands use a variety of eco friendly processes to make their denim sustainable including natural dyes, organic cotton, industry organization accreditations, ethical labor practices, and in-house denim recycling.

In this article, we cover the best sustainable denim brands of 2022. It covers a wide range of styles, prices, and brands, so there’s a jean for everyone here. The best part is not only will you look good in your new jeans, you’ll be doing good for the planet.

Our Quick Picks For Your Next Sustainable Denim Brand

With every year, more and more brands are adopting more sustainable practices. This means you now have a lot of choices for sustainable denim, but here are some of our favorites. Read on for the full list:

  • Best for Men: Outland Denim – timeless and classic denim pieces produced ethically by survivors of sex trafficking with all organic cotton and no harmful dyes.
  • Best for Women: Everlane – a wide range of jean styles designed for every body type produced with renewable energy, recycled water, and organic cotton.
  • Best for Fashion: Reformation – a fashion denim brand with a cult following, Reformation uses high-quality sustainable fabrics for pieces that are forever in style.
  • Best for Work: Levi’s – the most iconic denim brand’s new sustainable collection uses organic and recycled cotton and is built to last no matter what type of work you need to do.

1. ABLE – Fashionable, Size-Inclusive Sustainable Denim

Budget: $$$
Features: Recycled Water, Reduced Carbon Footprint, No Harsh Dyes, Size Inclusive, Women-Owned

ABLE, based in Nashville, creates fashionable jeans for every woman using sustainable practices, sourcing their denim as locally as possible to avoid carbon emissions from transportation. All water is recycled and they prioritize eco-friendly dyes to avoid water pollution.

Model wearing Whitney boyfriend jeans with brown boots
The Whitney Boyfriend Jean (image by

Beyond environmental sustainability, they also focus on their social impact by donating all denim scraps for use in affordable housing insulation, including women in leadership and decision making at all stages of production, and are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Their denim pieces come in a variety of styles, from a classic skinny jean to a denim shirt dress and everything in between. They carry sizes XXS-3X, making them one for the most size inclusive denim brands on the market.

Range includes: skinny jeans, straight leg jeans, wide leg jeans, overalls

Our top pickThe Whitney Boyfriend Jean for a super soft, relaxed-fit pair of jeans. Bonus points because they’re handcrafted in Mexico!

Click below to see prices at ABLE:

Browse ABLE

2. Outerknown – High-Quality, Classic Jeans Produced With Sustainability First

Budget: $$$
Features: Organic Cotton, Made in the USA, Lifetime Guarantee, Recycled Denim, Fair Labor Practices

Outerknown is a sustainable fashion powerhouse, known for their durable and stylish jeans. 90% of the textiles they use are organic, recycled, or regenerated, so whether you’re buying their jeans or the other apparel they offer, you can be certain it’s sustainable sourced.

woman wearing outerknown liberty straight jeans with white sneakers and a grey t-shirt
We love the look of these Liberty jeans by Outerknown (image by

Their jeans are made with organic cotton, sourced from the cleanest denim factory in the world, and made in Los Angeles. They come in styles for both men and women and are designed to last.

They also have a lifetime guarantee on their jeans, which keeps jeans in your closet and out of landfills and they’ll even repair your jeans from wear and tear. If they can’t repair them, you’ll get a brand new pair and your old pair will be recycled.

Range includes: boyfriend jeans, slim jeans, straight jeans, skinny jeans, flare jeans, relaxed jeans, women’s jeans, men’s jeans

Our top picks: for men, their Selvedge slim fit is a classic jean made from organic cotton small batch selvedge from Italy. It’s some of the most premium sustainable denim on the market. For women, their straight jeans are mid-rise for a timeless, relaxed look.

Click below to see prices at Outerknown:


3. Katherine Hamnett – Global Organic Textile Standard Certified Denim Jeans

Budget: $$$
Features: GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, Low Water Use, Non-Toxic Chemicals, Recyclable Packaging, Fair Labor Practices

Katharine Hamnett is a fashion-forward, sustainability-first brand. All of their denim is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, which means it passes rigorous standards for organic textiles, ethical production practices, and lower carbon emissions and water usage.

woman wearing katherine hamnett anita flared jeans with white top
Anita light wash jeans (image by

They make clothes ethically and sustainably, preserve traditional skills, source sustainable raw materials, cut carbon emissions by producing clothes in the EU, and practice good labor standards set by the Fair Wear Foundation.

Range includes: flare jeans, straight jeans, men’s jeans, women’s jeans

Our top picks: for men, the Mick Medium Wash Jeans are an everyday jean great for every occasion. For women, the Anita light wash jeans are high-waisted and wide-flared for a stylish, but comfortable jean.

Click below to see prices at Katherine Hamnett:


4. Nudie Jeans – 100% Organic Cotton Jeans in Modern Fits

Budget: $$
Features: 100% Organic Cotton, Recycling Program, Fair Wear Foundation Leaders, GOTS Certified Organic Cotton

Nudie Jeans are a cult favorite thanks to their ultra-soft, 100% organic cotton jeans made in timeless styles with modern fits and denim technology. Their organic cotton is certified by GOTS, so you can be sure of what you’re purchasing, and they use recycled polyester in their linings.

woman wearing breezy britt jeans by nudie jeans
Breezy Britt Jeans by Nudie (image by

Sustainability is a main pillar of Nudie Jeans, so they make their manufacturing process very transparent with a full view of carbon emissions, water usage, and carbon offsetting for their entire supply chain.

They also created the Ture Recycled Blanket initiative, recycling post-consumer Nudie Jeans and used wool to create the perfect picnic blanket.

Nudie Jeans have won a lot of industry awards, including the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Award, Fairtrade awards, and have also been nominated by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency for their Courage and Pace award.

Range includes: men’s jeans, women’s jeans, skinny jeans, straight leg jeans, slim fit jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top picks: for men, the Lean Dean Well Worn jean is the ultimate cool jean– a slim fit with a grayish-blue wash and just the right amount of rip at the knees. For women, the Breezy Britt in Friendly Blue is the ultimate 90s jeans with a high-waisted fit, tapered leg, and marbling wash effects.

Click below to see prices at Nudie Jeans:


5. Amour Vert – Women’s Luxury Ethical Denim in Classic Styles

Budget: $$
Features: Resale Available, Recyclable Packaging, Made in the USA, TENCEL™ Fiber, Eco-Friendly Raw Textiles

Amour Vert is a US-based clothing brand that focuses on designing classic, timeless jean fits. They develop their own fabrics with mills to ensure all of their clothing is made with the most sustainable and comfortable materials. They use compostable packaging to ship your items to you, replacing 137,206 plastic poly bags since 2018.

woman wearing amour vert agolde criss-cross jeans
Amour Vert’s Criss-Cross jean puts a twist on the classic straight jean (image by

Unique to Amour Vert is their resale marketplace, ReAmour, where you can find pre-loved Amour Vert clothing for discounted prices. This allows more customers to access their clothing and prevents clothing from ending up in a landfill if the original owner no longer wants it.

Amour Vert is known for their well-fitting and classically styled denim. Instead of super trendy pieces that get thrown out after a season, Amour Vert’s pieces are made to last and stay in style forever.

Range includes: high rise jeans, mid rise jeans, straight leg jeans, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top pickAGOLDE Criss Cross Straight Jean for a fun twist on a classic style

Click below to see prices at Amour Vert:


6. Etica – Ethically Made Denim That Plants One Tree With Every Purchase

Budget: $$
Features: Fair Labor Practices, Local and Global Community Investment, Reduced Water and Energy Usage in Production, Non-Toxic Chemicals, 100% Vegan

Etica is a denim brand that puts sustainability first in every step of their process. Their denim is made with the most sustainable fabrics they can source – from organic cotton grown in the US, to cellulose fibers like TENCEL™ and Refriba that do not use pesticides, irrigation, or genetic modifications to grow. All materials are plant based, meaning vegans can shop here without worry.

Woman wearing Iris relaxed taper jeans by Etica
Comfortable AND Dressy – Iris jeans by Etica (image by

With new technologies and a energy efficient production proceeds, they have been able to reduce energy consumption by 64%, water usage by 90%, and chemical usage by 70%. They also give back to local communities by recycling their water for local farmers and donating old wash stones to build low-income housing.

Etica has accreditations from OEKO-TEX Standard 100, WRAP, Cradle to Cradle™, and GOTS. They’re also a Better Cotton Initiative™ member and follower of the Fair Labor Association and Bluesign™ codes of conduct.

Range includes: straight leg jeans, high rise jeans, mid rise jeans, wide leg jeans, crop jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top pick: the Iris Relaxed Taper jean for a comfortable, dressy white jeans option

Click below to see prices at Etica:

Browse ETICA

7. Everlane – Environmentally-Friendly Everyday Jeans for Men and Women

Budget: $$
Features: Reduced Carbon Footprint, Recyclable Packaging, Recycled Fabrics, GOTS Certified Cotton, Recycled Water

Everlane makes sustainable jeans for both men and women. They have specific environmental initiatives for their denim with the goal of producing 100% clean denim and having zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Woman wearing Everlane-Way-High Skinny jeans with black flats
The Way-High Skinny (image by

They use certified organic cotton with Roica® V550 yarn–the only stretch yarn in the world made without harmful chemicals–for a comfy fitting jean that isn’t bad for the environment. Their jeans are also produced in clean factories that recycle water, use renewable energy, and recycled denim waste.

Range includes: women’s jeans, men’s jeans, high-rise jeans, mid-rise jeans, skinny jeans, straight jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top picks: for men, the slim fit is a great everyday jean that you can easily dress up for a nice dinner. For women, the Way-High skinny is comfortable, flattering, and sleek enough to style any way you want.

Click below to see prices at Everlane:


8. Filippa K – Luxury Sustainable Jeans Made To Last For Years

Budget: $$$
Features: Recycled Fibers, Resale Platform, Reduced Carbon Footprint, Low-Waste Facilities, Scrap Recycling

Filippa K has been in the sustainable denim business since 1994, so they are well-practiced in producing environmentally friendly jeans.

Model wearing Filippa-k Briony Jeans with a black top and sandals
The Briony Jean is subtle and stylish (image by

Their main philosophy of sustainable denim production is a model of circularity. They follow the four Rs: reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle. By creating high-quality, durable denim, they reduce customer’s consumption and over production of clothing. They also only buy what they are going to sell, reducing the amount of waste they produce.

Filippa K offers DIY repairs guides, so you can wear your favorite jeans over and over again. They also reuse past season’s materials and created an online shop for preowned Filippa K clothing.

Range includes: women’s jeans, men’s jeans, straight leg jeans, flare jeans, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top picks: for men, the Bruno Textured jean is a tailored, straight leg jean made of artisanal hand-spun cotton for a luxurious feel. For women, the Briony jean is cropped and  slightly flared in a dark blue denim, making it a subtle stylish choice.

Click below to see prices at Filippa K:


9. G-Star – Raw Denim Produced in Ethical Facilities

Budget: $$
Features: Raw Denim, Fair Labor Practices, Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Fabrics, Reduced Supply Chain Carbon Footprint, Greenpeace DETOX Committed, Better Cotton Initiative

G-Star makes reasonably priced raw denim jeans for men, women, kids, and in unisex fits.

Man wearing G-Star regular tapered jeans
These tapered jeans are a great choice for men (image by

They only use sustainable materials to create durable raw denim that will last use after use. By 2025, 20% of their apparel will be made with Cradle to Cradle Certified™ fabrics, the most rigorous certification for sustainable clothing production. By 2030, 100% of their apparel will be made from organic, recycled, or compostable fabrics.

They have also signed the DETOX Commitment with Greenpeace, so they are phasing out all unsustainable chemicals in production, making their denim raw and clean. Beyond production, they are committed to reducing their supply chain’s carbon footprint.

Range includes: men’s jeans, women’s jeans, kids’ jeans, unisex jeans

Our top picks: for men, the 3301 Regular Tapered Jean is a classic, slightly cropped jean available in a variety of colors. For women, the Kate Boyfriend Jean is a relaxed fitting, low waist jean with usable pockets (!).

Click below to see prices at G-Star:

Browse G-STAR

10. Madewell – Quality, Staple Denim Pieces Made Increasingly More Sustainable

Budget: $
Features: Fair Trade Certified™, Better Cotton Initiative, Resale Shop, Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ Recycling Program, Recyclable Packaging 

Madewell has made huge strides in sustainability over the last few years, especially with the introduction of their Do Well collection. Like many denim brands, they have adopted a circularity model to elongate a product’s lifetime, increase recycling, and use sustainable materials.

Woman wearing madewell perfect vintage jeans with white blouse
These Perfect Vintage jeans will go with almost anything (image by

In their denim, Madewell uses 44% organic or recycled cotton, with the goal of using 100% organic cotton by 2025. They also use cellulosic fibers like TENCEL™, a sustainable fiber which allows for a stretchy, comfy jean.

They are also actively decreasing and offsetting their carbon footprint by using energy-efficient light bulbs and recyclable packing. They also partner with programs like the UPS’s Carbon Neutral Shipping program, Botton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ program, and Trees for the Future.

Range includes: high-rise jeans, mid-rise jeans, vintage denim, skinny jeans, wide leg jeans, flare jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top pick: the Perfect Vintage Jean is a straight leg, mid-rise pair you can wear anywhere and will last for years

Click below to see prices at Madewell:


11. M.i.h Jeans – Fashionable Jeans Made With Transparency

Budget: $$$
Features: Certified Organic Cotton, Low Impact Dye, Low-Wash Jeans, Recycled Materials, GOTS Certified, Better Cotton Initiative™

M.i.h Jeans are a staple in many stylish closets and for good reason. They produce high-quality, vintage inspired jeans with a sustainability manifesto that aims to reduce the environmental impact of their jeans throughout the entire production process.

Model wearing M.i.h. daily jeans with brown ankle boots and a striped blouse
The Daily Jean, also available in black (image by

They started on their sustainability journey with the Paradise Capsule, a collection of denim that used 100% certified cotton, low impact dyes and finishes, low water washes, and recycled packaging and displays.

Since then, they have been transitioning all of their clothing to the same standards as their Paradise Capsule with a heavy focus on transparency. Beyond the production environmental concerns, they have also moved to be more transparent about the working conditions in their production facilities and the environmental impact across their supply chain from transport to packaging.

Range includes: straight leg jeans, flare jeans, slim fit jeans, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top pick: the Daily Jean is just that, an everyday pair of black jeans ready to take you wherever you need to go.

Click below to see prices at M.i.h:

Browse M.I.H.

12. Outland Denim – Sustainable Denim That’s Good For The Earth And Its Humans

Budget: $$$
Features: Organic Cotton, Local and Global Community Investment, Fair Labor Practices, Reduced Carbon Footprint of Production Facilities, B Corporation

Outland Denim doesn’t just talk the talk of sustainability–they walk the walk. They were created out of frustration for the garment industry’s excessive impact on the environment and history of using exploitative labor.

Woman wearing Outland Athina JKeans with white sneakers and a grey tee

Their sustainable denim is produced with their state-of-the-art technology, including E-Flow, which uses 95% less water, 40% less energy, and 90% less chemicals than the traditional denim technology. They use zero harmful chemicals in their jeans and recycle 100% of their textile waste for use by recycling researchers, non-profit groups, and NGOs.

Outland Denim doesn’t just work on their environmental impact, they have strict regulations in place to minimize human impact as well. In their garment making facilities, they hire people who have come out of human trafficking situations, pay a living wage, and provide cross-training and community education to workers and their families.

Range includes: men’s jeans, women’s jeans, straight leg jeans, slim fit jeans, wide leg jeans, boyfriend jeans

Our top picks: for men, the Dusty-Black jean is a comfortable slim fit jeans with just the right amount of stretch. For women, the Athina jean is a relaxed, modern boyfriend jean perfect for a walk in the woods or a lunch with the girls.

Click below to see prices at Outland Denim:


13. Levi’s – The Most Iconic Denim Brand Just Got a Lot More Sustainable

Budget: $$
Features: Sustainable Materials, Reduced Water Use, Repair Shop, Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ Recycling Program, No Harmful Chemicals, Resale Program 

Levi’s Sustainability collection brings the iconic denim brand into the 21st century with a new focus on reducing their environmental impact.

Woman wearing Levis low-pitch straight-fit jeans paired with a red top
Levi’s Low Pitch Straight Fit Jeans (image by

Their main method of making their classic jeans more eco-friendly is using sustainable materials. They have begun using cottonized hemp, an innovative hemp yarn woven to act and feel like cotton, but which uses way less water and chemicals to grow. They also started using their Levi’s® Water<Less® finishing process that uses less water and recycles the water they do use, saving about 4.2 billion liters of water and recycling 9 billion more.

While Levi’s have always been durable, they’re now taking product longevity to a new level with a repair shop, resale shop, and recycling program.

Range includes: women’s jeans, men’s jeans, kids’ jeans, skinny jeans, vintage jeans, work jeans

Our top picks: for men, the 505™ Regular Fit jeans are a classic–they’re perfect for jobs around the house, running errands, or heading out on a date. For women, jump head first back into the low-rise denim trend with the Low Pitch Straight Fit jeans, a light wash, distressed pair.

Click below to see prices at Levi’s:

Browse LEVI’S

14. People Tree – Pioneering Sustainable Fashion Brand Combined With Traditional Artisan Skills

Budget: $$
Features: PETA Certified Vegan Materials, Fair Labor Practices, GOTS Certified, World Fair Trade Organization Certified, No Harmful Chemicals, Organic Cotton

People Tree has been making sustainability a main pillar of their business since they started in 1991. They combine sustainable materials, traditional artisan skills, and fair labor practices to make high-quality, stylish denim pieces.

People Tree Cecile Straight Leg Jeans
Cecile Straight Leg Jeans (image by

They use 100% organic cotton, TENCEL™ Lyocell, and other natural materials in their denim, making it soft and stretchy without the need for polyesters. It’s also dyed using low impact dyes and no harmful chemicals, lessening local water pollution.

They are GOTS certified by the Soil Association and were awarded the World Fair Trade Organization product label, the first fashion company to receive one.

Range includes: slim leg jeans, straight leg jeans, overalls, skinny jeans

Our top pick: the Cecile Straight Leg Jeans are a modern and cropped play on the 90s’s straight leg jean silhouette.

Click below to see prices at People Tree:


15. prAna – An Outdoor Brand With Sustainable Denim Ready For Any Adventure

Budget: $$
Features: 100% Organic Cotton and Hemp, Fair Trade Certified™, Recyclable Packaging, Recycled Materials, Reduced Supply Chain Carbon Footprint, Bluesign® Systems Partner

prAna is an outdoor, active lifestyle clothing brand that has roots in sustainable fashion. Between using sustainable materials like organic cotton and hemp to packaging and shipping their products as carbon neutral as possible, they strive to make denim and other apparel as environmentally friendly as they can.

Man wearing a prAna Bridger Jean
The Buxton is one of our favourites (image by

They only use GOTS and Organic Content Standard (OCS) certified organic cotton, organic hemp, and low-impact dyes for their denim. By 2030, 80% of their materials will be bluesign® approved, a designation given only to the cleanest and harmful chemical-free fabrics and materials.

They’ve also partnered with The Renewal Workshop as part of their circularity model to repair torn clothing, recycle manufacturing scraps, and upcycle textiles.

Range includes: men’s jeans, women’s jeans, workwear, bootcut jeans

Our top picks: for men, the Bridger Jean can be just as easily worn to the office or on a walk with the dog. For women, the Buxton jean is a boyfriend fit jean perfect for sitting around a campfire or heading out on a hike.

Click below to see prices at prAna:

Browse PRANA

16. Reformation – Anti-Fast-Fashion Brand Making Fashionable Pieces Sustainable

Budget: $$
Features: Recycled Materials, Green Building Certified, 100% Carbon Neutral, Manufactured in the USA, Low-Impact Dyes, Bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 Certified

Reformation is reforming the fashion industry one pair of jeans at a time. They have a long list of sustainable practices focused on eco-friendly materials, green manufacturing, and a positive social impact on their workers and local communities.

Woman wearing Cynthia High rise jeans by Reformation
Love the Chamomile flowers on these Cynthia jeans (image by

They are a 100% carbon neutral company, using electricity offsets from wind power, energy efficient appliances, and sustainable shipping and packaging processes. Their fabrics and fibers are all bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified using low-impact, non-toxic dyes, and are made with recycled or organic cotton.

Unique to Reformation is the RefScale, which tracks the co-footprint of every product and is displayed on each product’s page, so their customers are always aware of the environmental impact their new purchase has made.

Range includes: skinny jeans, straight leg jeans, relaxed fit jeans, wide leg jeans, bootcut jeans

Our top pick: the Cynthia Chamomile High Rise Straight Jean is an adorable pair, embroidered with tiny chamomile flowers that fit like your vintage 90s jeans should.

Click below to see prices at Reformation:


17. Theo + George – Women-Owned Brand Specializing in Sourcing Sustainable Fabrics From Small Farmers Around the World

Budget: $$$
Features: Sustainable Packing, Recycling Program, Sustainable Materials, Transparent Supply Chain, Organic Cotton

Theo + George is a small business with a global perspective, sourcing eco-friendly materials from around the world. While their speciality is luxe cashmere, their jeans are similarly high-quality and sustainable.

Woman wearing Indy Slim-Fit-Jeans by Theo + George
The Indy Slim fit Jean (image by

Theo + George’s main philosophy of sustainability is the Japanese term, monozukuri, the art and science of making things that last. They create durable, timeless pieces that won’t be thrown out with the change of seasons, but rather investment pieces you can wear forever.

They create these long lasting pieces with globally-sourced sustainable materials like organic cotton and small batch cashmere. They also have a recycling partnership with a company in Dublin that provides convenient locations for Irish customers to recycle their denim.

Range includes: slim fit jeans, skinny jeans, straight leg jeans

Our top pick: the Indy Slim Fit Jean is made with 100% organic cotton for a relaxed fit tailor made in Italy.

Click below to see prices at Theo + George:


18. Volcom – Surf and Skate Brand Making Waves In Sustainable Fashion

Budget: $
Features: Bluesign® Approved Fabrics, Reduced Water Use, Made with Recycled Cotton, Size Inclusive, Energy Efficient Facilities

Volcom, a surfing and skating brand, has begun transitioning to making more and more clothing sustainably with their Eco-True collections for men and women.

Woman wearing Volcom Liberator High-Rise Jeans
Liberator High Rise Jeans (image by

The company as a whole has a very eco-friendly model with an energy efficient HQ, renewable energy run manufacturing facilities around the world, and by running sustainable surfing and skating events. Their products are shipped with eco-friendly packaging.

For their Eco-True denim, they use recycled cotton blends and low-water washing processes. As of right now, there’s not many choices for denim in the collection, but they have plans to expand the sustainability standards to all of their clothing in the next few years.

Range includes: women’s jeans, men’s jeans, skinny jeans

Our top pick: for men, the Slim Fit jeans in black are a relaxed fit you can wear anywhere your wheels take you. For women, the Liberator High Rise Jeans are a classic black skinny jean ready to hit the skate park with you.

Click below to see prices at Volcom:


19. Warp + Weft – Reasonably Price, Size-Inclusive Sustainable Denim

Budget: $
Features: Family-Owned, Recycled Water, Fair Labor Practices, Eco-Friendly Fabrics, Low-Impact Washing, Size-Inclusive

Warp + Weft set out on a mission to create high-quality, eco-friendly denim pieces for everyone three decades ago and they’re still going strong.

Model wearing Warp and Weft ASE High-Rise Straight Cleo Jeans
The Ase is a classy and refined straight leg jean (image by

Their denim uses less than 45 liters of water per pair of jeans, which is staggering compared to the 3,000 liters an average pair takes. They also avoid toxic water pollution by using Dry Ozone technology to dye and wash their jeans. In their HQ and manufacturing facilities, they put people first with fair wages, reasonable hours, and healthy and safe working conditions.

Warp + Weft is one of the most accessible sustainable denim brands because of their size-inclusive offerings and reasonable pricing.

Range includes: women’s jeans, men’s jeans, kids’ jeans, plus size jeans, flare jeans, skinny jeans, straight leg jeans

Our top pick: for men, the AMS Sleepwalker is a sharp slim fit jean comfortable enough to fall asleep in. For women, the Ase High Rise Straight is a true straight leg jean, flowing from the thigh down to a dropped hem in beautiful blue denim colors.

Click below to see prices at Warp + Weft:

Browse WARP + WEFT

20. Boyish – Modern Fitted, Vintage-Inspired Denim Made With Plant-Based Dyes

Budget: $$$
Features: OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Approved, Plant Based Dyes, Recycled Water, PETA Certified Vegan Materials, TENCEL™ Lyocell Fabrics

Boyish makes timeless denim pieces that are in style today, tomorrow, and next decade. It’s a good thing too because their jeans are made from premium organic or recycled cotton and TENCEL™ Lyocell fabric, so they’re made to last decades.

Woman wearing the Ricky in Blue Steel by Boyish jeans
Ricky Jeans (image by

Their jeans are dyed with natural plant based dyes and reduced indigo that has about 80% less sulphates than regular indigo dye. Their denim production is low waste and uses mainly recycled water and renewable energy.

Their production facilities are environmentally and ethically sound with fair wages and many different accreditations from and partnerships with organizations like The Jeans Redesign project, Cradle to Cradle™, Organic Content Standard, PETA, and OEKO-TEX.

Range includes: vintage jeans, wide leg jeans, straight leg jeans, flare jeans

Our top pick: the Ricky Jeans are a throwback to the 70s with a flared bottom and button fly, upgraded with TENCEL™ Lyocell for a 2022-era level of comfort.

Click below to see prices at Boyish:



With 450 million pairs of jeans sold in the United States every year alone, making the denim industry more sustainable is a worthwhile goal for environmentally minded people. By shopping at these brands, you’re signaling to the industry as a whole that making their jeans more eco-friendly is good for their business and the planet. Of course, being sustainable is also about not purchasing too many: we believe most men and women need no more than 3-4 pairs of jeans

Megan Lemon

Megan Lemon

Megan is a sustainability writer based in Fiji, where she lives with her partner in the house they built themselves. In her free time, she free dives, spear fishes, and takes long walks on the dirt roads.