Top 15 sustainable fashion organizations in the world
Are you tired of hearing about the fashion industry’s CO2 emissions? Have you ever felt that your love for new clothes contradicts with your intention to be a sustainability advocate? Do you wonder if your wardrobe is harming the environment?
The fashion industry is one of the dirtiest industries on earth. With over 150 billion garments produced annually, most clothes we buy end up in landfills or incinerators after a single use.
As one of the most polluting industries in the world, fashion can be difficult to navigate for the ethical-minded. Fortunately, the sustainable fashion movement has become incredibly active in the last few years. In fact, the community can give you plenty of inspiration on how to navigate this issue. It has become a movement for the new generation, and the ethical fashion industry is getting bigger and more energetic every day.
Thanks to the power and reach of social media, we have seen some of the most unheard and marginalized voices rise up to become some of the biggest influencers in the eco-fashion world. This article will help discover some of these organizations leading the way towards sustainable fashion.
List of sustainable fashion organizations
We have done the legwork and put together a list of sustainable fashion organizations and activist groups that you should follow to keep up with and support the movement.
1. FASHION REVOLUTION
If you’ve ever seen a brand, designer, retailer or individual post an image with the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes, you’ve witnessed the work of Fashion Revolution in action. Founded in the wake of the Rana Plaza tragedy in 2013, the organization has grown to become one of the biggest activism groups in the fashion industry.
With its base in the UK, Fashion Revolution primarily focuses on mobilizing people, brands and policymakers to end human and environmental exploitation in the global fashion industry. The group urges for greater transparency and traceability in the industry by asking companies to be open about how workers and communities are treated and compensated in the industry. Fashion Revolution has 14 registered country offices and is supported by many big names including British Council, European Union, Laudes Foundation.
More recently, the eco fashion group has focused its efforts on the initiative #WhatsInMyClothes, which demands that anyone, anywhere should be able to find out what’s in their clothes.
2. FASHION FOR GOOD
With the mission to create a ‘Good Fashion’ industry, Fashion for Good is a global initiative to drive positive change in the fashion industry by using innovation and education. The non-profit works directly with the fashion industry to come up with technological solutions that are better for people and the planet.
Launched in 2017, Fashion for Good forwards their movement for ‘true good’ in fashion in two ways. The first is their ‘Innovation Platform’ that supports promising sustainable fashion start-ups with the resources they need for their growth and scale. Their second approach is being a ‘Convenor for Change’ which involves educating and reimagining the ways in which people can make sustainable fashion choices.
Apart from these efforts, the organization has also built the world’s first Sustainable Fashion Museum (in the Netherlands) where visitors can learn about the past, present and future of the fashion industry for free.
3. SUSTAINABLE FASHION FORUM (SFF)
Sustainable Fashion Forum is a community for conscious fashion supporters and sustainability advocates. SFF organizes the offline conference that goes by the same name and also run an online platform that aims to ask ‘tough questions that inspire conversations and ignite change.’
SFF is a great resource for industry professionals as well as common people to learn about the topics that lie at the intersection of fashion, sustainability, ethics, and culture. From how digital fashion IDs and product tags can help make fashion more circular to the role of Gen Z in defining the future of sustainable fashion—SFF sparks discussions on important topics in the world of sustainable fashion.
4. RE/MAKE OUR WORLD
Remake calls itself a global advocacy organization who believes that paying garment workers a living wage can reduce both the social harm and the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry. The US-registered non-profit Remake raises awareness on social media about topics such as fashion, waste colonization, and the lack of gender and ethnic diversity in the industry’s top leadership.
The Remake community has started and supported several campaigns including one titled Worst Wage Theft which shed light on the fact that 14 factory owners refused to pay workers in compliance with India’s minimum wage increase in April 2020. The campaign concluded in 2022 with the factories agreeing to pay over half the money owed to workers, around $28.6 million.
More recently, Remake is working alongside policymakers and other workers’ associations to help to develop the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change (FABRIC) Act’s worker rights provisions.
5. GLOBAL FASHION AGENDA (GFA)
Copenhagen-based Global Fashion Agenda is a non-profit that has been working towards a sustainable future of fashion since 2009. They’re the organizers of renowned global fashion forums including the Global Fashion Summit and the Innovation Forum.
GFA believes in ‘measurable’ progress and is pushing the industry towards a 50% reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2030 and net zero GHG emissions by 2050. They also publish in-depth analysis on the state of the fashion industry and data-based reports such as The GFA Monitor, Fashion CEO Agenda, Fashion on Climate, Scaling Circularity and Pulse of the Fashion Industry.
The organization says that 13% of the global fashion industry has signed their 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment—a partnership that has so far traced 1.500+ tons of textile waste in Bangladesh’s textile and garment manufacturing sector.
6. CLEAN CLOTHES CAMPAIGN (CCC)
Launched in in the Netherlands in 1989 as Schone Kleren Campagne, Clean Clothes Campaign is a global network of over 235 organizations across 45 countries working towards safeguarding the fundamental rights of garment workers.
CCC works as a ‘glocal’ coalition of organizations so that they can focus on effective strategies to address urgent concerns in specific geo-political regions. Their work mainly revolves around challenging the gender inequality and sex discrimination faced by garment workers, the majority of whom are women.
CCC’s main goal is to assist female garment workers in raising their voice against injustice and bring about a positive change in their lives. Some of CCC biggest initiatives include their Pay Your Workers campaign (that highlights instances of wage theft in the garment sector), European Floor Wage (developing a benchmark for living wages in European countries that reflects the reality of garment production in Europe), and more.
7. EXTINCTION REBELLION (XR)
Even if you’ve never paid attention to sustainable clothing brands or the ethical fashion movement, chances are you’ve heard about the work of Extinction Rebellion through news headlines! The self-proclaimed non-violent civil disobedience group was behind:
The British eco-activism group runs a global decentralized effort to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. With the tagline ‘rebel for life’, Extinction Rebellion doesn’t focus their work only on fashion, but the fashion industry is an integral part of anyone’s life. And so, XR’s rebellion against the climate and ecological breakdown includes the fashion industry at its front and center.
XR’s fashion division has protested the fast/ultrafast fashion industry as well as the use of animal skins and hair in fashion products, among other ethical problems in the fashion industry.
8. ECO AGE
A consultancy helping businesses build a sustainability strategy, Eco Age helps brands to lower their impact on people and planet. Thanks to their A-list events such as the Green Carpet Challenge and Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Eco Age has become a major authority on sustainability in the fashion industry and beyond.
Apart from their business consulting work for big name brands including Chopard, Diesel, Reformation and the Woolmark Company, Eco Age also works with a variety of NGOs, charities and organizations on advocacy and global projects to campaign for a more ethical and sustainable world. Eco Age’s social media pages and sustainability guides are a great resource for learning about the current issues in the sustainable fashion world.
9. CONSCIOUS FASHION COLLECTIVE
A little bit different from the other organizations in our list, the Conscious Fashion Collective is a directory of fashion brands and creators that spotlights those who focus on a circular, inclusive, sustainable future for fashion.
It is an online platform and community whose main aim is to give a space for sustainable fashion enthusiasts to discover change-making creatives and organizations in the space. From eco-friendly, secondhand and organic to plus-size, slow fashion or sustainable brands owned by people of color—you can find a wild variety of green and clean brands on their platform.
Additionally, Conscious Fashion Collective shares important industry news and updates along with educational content to keep people updated on the fashion industry’s issues.
10. ETHICAL FASHION INITIATIVE (EFI)
Run as a public-private partnership of a UN program, the Ethical Fashion Initiative helps connect local artisans with better market opportunities.
EFI mainly works at connecting marginalized artisans (from Africa, Afghanistan & Haiti) living in urban and rural poverty with leading luxury brands who can work together to produce high quality, in-demand and ethical fashion items. Some of the biggest brands who’ve partnered with EFI include Vivienne Westwood, Edun, Karen Walker and Mimco.
Some other projects by EFI include a Social Enterprise support campaign, a Designer Accelerator that supports local African design talent, and a Homeware Accelerator that’s exclusively dedicated to homeware designers based in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
11. NEW STANDARDS INSTITUTE (NSI)
There are plenty of hullabaloo over vague sustainability claims in the fashion industry. So, who’s going to check whether organizations’ claims actually support any real efforts? Well, that’s the goal of the newly set up New Standards Institute.
Backed by a network of scientists, NSI is a platform that publishes ‘independent, science-backed analysis of sustainability claims and the stories of the people’ who are moving the fashion industry towards a brighter future.
NSI’s mission is to give an open-source tool that allows all stakeholders to clarify from a scientific perspective what “sustainability” means and how it can be achieved. In addition to this, NSI also runs a 60-minute sustainable fashion Masterclass that can be attended by anyone who wants to learn about key points of impact as garments go ‘from fiber, to textile, to garment, and from there to retail and ultimately disposal.’
The NSI’s efforts have also been endorsed by celebrities like Jane Fonda, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz.
12. SUSTAINABLE APPAREL COALITION
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is one of the biggest non-profit alliances for the fashion industry with over 250 member organizations. The SAC works towards the main goal of ensuring that this consumer goods industry gives more than it takes—to both the planet and its people.
Members of SAC range from apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations, academic experts, to govt organizations.
SAC is most famous for working on developing the Higg Index that is basically a set of tools for the ‘standardized measurement of value chain sustainability.’ These tools aim to address inefficiencies in the industry, resolve damaging practices, and achieve environmental and social transparency across the value chain.
13. ELLEN MACARTHUR FOUNDATION
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is committed to rethinking, inspiring and helping build a circular future of fashion. They work with businesses, governments, and academics to create a blueprint for a new economic system of fashion.
The foundation publishes evidence-based original research on the benefits of a circular economy, and how it can contribute to solving pressing global issues like climate change and biodiversity loss. They also support and train both individuals and companies on the principles of circular economy through courses and teaching material.
The foundation was set by Ellen in 2005 after she became the fastest solo sailor to sail around the world. Her 71-day solitary journey through the wild made her aware of the fragility of our earth’s ecosystems. That’s when the foundation began its work of pushing for a move away from the linear throwaway economic model. In favor of a circular economy which is designed to keep materials in use, eliminate waste and regenerate natural systems.
14. SLOW FACTORY FOUNDATION
The Slow Factory Foundation is a non-profit that calls itself a school, knowledge partner and climate innovation lab for sustainable fashion. The foundation empowers creative, interdisciplinary collaboration across the science, arts, and business world.
The foundation runs many educational initiatives that work towards making climate and social education accessible and free for all. To date, they have 23,000 learners from 100+ countries and raised over $300,000 in funding for their mission.
Most recently, Slow Factory is working to set up its first ever brick and mortal location in New York City. Called the Slow Factory Institute, the space will include classrooms, a theater and community space, as well as manufacturing facilities for its proprietary plant-based leather.
From its base in Hong Kong, Redress is an environmental non-profit working towards the reduction of textile waste, pollution, water and energy consumption in the fashion industry.
Redress’ hallmark initiative is their ‘Takeback Programme’ that allows Hong Kongers to extend the life of their unwanted clothes. The project asks people clothes from any brands for re-use, resale and recycling/downcycling by Redress. As of 2021, the program had collected over 48.1 tons of clothing, effectively preventing them from filling up landfills.
They also host regular workshops, exhibitions, panel discussions and facilitate design collaborations in the industry. Redress also hosts a fashion design competition called the Redress Design Award to educate emerging fashion designers around the world about sustainable design theories and techniques.
The Sustainable Fashion community has done a tremendous job of raising awareness and advocating for better practices within the industry. They’ve helped shine a light on problems in the industry, and more importantly, they’ve started working to fix them. And by supporting these amazing organizations and keeping up with their work, you too can be a part of that change.
Don’t let this list limit you though—there are many smaller, independent groups that may not be on here yet! The most important thing is to be informed and make better choices in your own life.