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  • Writer's pictureSyd

Shop Sustainable Dresses With These 21 Indie Clothing Brands

Updated: May 16

Ethical dresses dyed botanically with non toxic dyes in blue and brown.  Created by New York slow fashion brand, Colorant.

These ethical fashion brands are rebelling against tired fashion industry standards.

From working exclusively with sustainable fabrics to prioritizing safe working conditions and fair wages, the indie clothing companies listed are doing their part in educating the consumer to vote with their dollars, in hope of building a more hospitable and conscious society.

Can Fashion Ever Be Truly Sustainable?

Sustainable fashion is a complicated beast.

The ultimate solution to overconsumption will never be more consumption. Creating more things to add to a world already cluttered with things in this capitalist rat race is inherently bad. No shock there.

As a "sustainable designer" myself, I wrestle with the guilt of creating from virgin materials, as top of the line eco and traceable as they might be, but I hold true to my vision of creating wearable art that is part of this movement to heal the environment and to elevate the lives of craftspeople and industry workers around the world. There is also obviously a fair bit of ego involved, but the desire to leave the world better than I found it is at the heart of what I do.

I think this is true for the majority, if not all of the designers that I've selected to feature. We are human, imperfect, but we are giving it our all creatively and compassionately. Progress over perfection.

Ultimately, it is up to your discretion which of these feature brands meet your ethics and sustainability criteria. Many aspects of "sustainable fashion" are still debated. The use of recycled polyester for instance. It is "recycled", a win for sure, but the reality of toxins and micro plastics can't be ignored. The humaneness of silk is another, it is a natural fiber, but the wellness of the silkworms themselves more often than not isn't taken into consideration. Of course there is also the great deadstock textiles debate... is deadstock sustainable? Or do big brands overproduce their textiles intentionally, knowing that they can just sell off their excess.

The point is that no brand is perfect (though, I'll admit, many on this list are close), but to even fall under the category of a "slow fashion" clothing company is a MASSIVE step in the right direction.

1. Ashe Cain Nashville Tennessee, USA

Brightly colored avant garde silk dress from Nashville fashion designer Ashe Cain.

Ashe Cain is an emerging fashion designer obsessed with breaking style expectations.

Known for her Avant-Garde road kill fur coats, Ashe Cain has recently launched a small collection of made-to-order dresses and tops, created to be layered for a maximalist look. Her use of vibrant colors on natural fibers have an electrifying effect, made even more pronounced by intricate hand pleating.


2. Keegan Gippsland (Gunaikurnai), AU

Boxy black midi lenth dress with long sleeves from australian sustainable brand, Keegan.

Founded on a love of fashion and a hate of over consumption, Keegan takes their sustainable practices incredibly seriously.

The brand has been accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia & receives annual audits which ensure ethical standards are being met within the business's manufacturing supply chains. Even the Keegan studio building itself contributes to the mission, and is powered by Diamond Energy, which has been rated 10/10 in Greenpeace's Green Electricity Guide.

Aesthetically, Kegan's sustainable and ethical dresses come in both sophisticated solid colors, as well as original art print designs.


3. Après Studios Australia

Romantic orange short dress in sheer silk fabric with long sleeves.

Australian independent fashion brand Après Studios creates key standout essentials, inspiring their customers quest for personal style through sustainable means.

The materials they employ in their garments are recycled, organic, and deadstock, all sewn together ethically and with care for detailing to ensure both quality and longevity.


4. DOWK Melbourne, AU

Organic cotton rainbow colored dress with fun print from indie brand DOWK.

Dopamine dressing at its finest, this fun loving Australian indie brand is making social media waves!

Born to bring "joy in dress form", DOWK checks all of the ethical sustainable boxes. Their dresses are made to order and size inclusive, using EKO-Tex certified eco friendly dyes to paint hand drawn bold patterns in rainbow colors across organic cotton.


5. Jamie + the Jones Nashville Tennessee, USA

Loose fit, rose colored dress from slow fashion brand jamie and the jones.

Inspired by traditional, hand-worked textile techniques, Jamie + the Jones creates timeless sustainable pieces that you'll want to live in.

Each of Jamie + the Jones's garments are designed, patterned, hand-cut, and sewn in their Nashville studio to ensure an ethical production process from start to finish. While they aren't quite zero waste (yet), they do managed to save the vast majority of scraps from the land fill! These are collected and transformed into the aptly named "Scrap Collection" (and one of the more sophisticated scrap collects I've seen, might I add!)

These eco friendly dresses are size inclusive, and many even come in naturally dyed color options.


6. Asme Studios Poland

Polish fashion brand Asme Studios elegant white knit dress with turtle neck.

Elegant in silhouette and minimal in color pallet, ethical brand Asme Studios is a mission driven fashion company committed to both the empowerment of women, and to long term environmentally sustainability.

Asme Studio's sustainable materials are produced exclusively in Europe in order to insure the highest social and environmental standards possible. These low impact fabrics use the lowest amount of water possible in their production, and are synthetic free.

Socially, the brand commits 1 EUR from each transaction to the Girls Future Ready Foundation to support the empowering of young women in Central Eastern Europe.


7. Luci's Lemons The Netherlands

Dutch independant fashion label Luci's Lemons pink floral print dress with ruffle cap sleeves.

This indie brand works exclusively with deadstock fabric to produce her attention grabbing ethical and sustainable dresses.

Luci's Lemons dresses have been handmade to order with each client's custom sizing specifications, by Luci herself. Her mission is to create high quality and beautifully tailored garments which are unique and limited, through the most low impact means possible.