16 Most Sustainable Knitwear Brands: The Conscious Consumer’s Guide

16 Most Sustainable Knitwear Brands: The Conscious Consumer’s Guide

By
Quynh Nguyen

Read Time:42 Minutes

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Stay impactful,

Amid growing concerns about the textile industry’s environmental impact, there is pressure to find greener clothes for your wardrobe, from activewear to knitwear. Unfortunately, fashion greenwashing makes it harder for you and all other consumers to figure out which clothing brands offer the most eco-friendly garments. So, we had to ask: Which are the most sustainable knitwear brands?

The most sustainable knitwear brands are Indigenous, Johnstons of Elgin, and Rifò, which source low-impact fabrics, adhere to responsible production, and strive for circularity. In addition, Paka and Mila.Vert are committed to waste reduction and supply chain traceability. 

Whether you are searching for a knit coat, a cozy sweater, or a trusty pair of socks to add to your wardrobe without negatively impacting the soil, the water, the animals, and other people, there is a brand for you. So, let’s keep reading to learn more about the most sustainable knitwear brands and how they ensure sustainable, ethical practices. 

Here’s How We Selected the Most Sustainable Knitwear Brands

Knitwear can be one of the higher impact and less sustainable clothing items due to the use of resource-intensive conventional-farmed wool or cotton fabrics. 

Sustainable: The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level | Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”

Oxford Dictionary

The brands on this list were chosen based on their commitment and actions to promote sustainable practices while reducing the environmental impacts of the textile industry. 

They are transparent about their materials, processes, and workforce management within their supply chain. 

Some brands focus their efforts on reducing waste and optimizing natural resources while others strive to reduce the carbon footprint of their clothes. 

All of these brands share the commitment to reshape the textile industry toward a more sustainable and Earth-friendly sector. 

These Are the 16 Most Sustainable Knitwear Brands

Overall, these knitwear brands are sustainable. Yet, they take various approaches to reduce environmental impacts and uphold ethical standards. Let’s dive into each brand and find out more. 

1

Indigenous: Organic, Fair Trade Clothing

Logo for Indigenous
Screenshot of the Indigenous front page

Each piece of clothing we make is not only soft on your skin, but also soft on your earth.Impeccably handmade and unique.

Indigenous

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Indigenous ensures sustainability by using exclusively natural and organic fabrics, including alpaca wool from free-range, family-owned herds, USDA-certified organic cotton, and TENCEL™. Thanks to their use of fabrics cultivated from pesticide-free farms, Indigenous helps to keep 400 lbs of pesticides off the land every year. Further down the life-cycle in the manufacturing stage, they use low-impact dyes certified by OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 to be clear and free of harmful chemicals. Their PURE Collection includes undyed items made with alpaca wool and organic cotton. Specifically, by creating a demand for undyed colored alpaca wool, they actively increase the genetic diversity of Peru’s alpaca populations, which are dominated by sought-after white alpacas and their dye-absorbent white coats. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Indigenous ensures their ethics by committing to the fair treatment of the artisans who make their clothes and the animals providing the fleece. They adhere to standards based on the World Fair Trade Organization, providing their artisans with safe working conditions and paying them a fair living wage. They also source exclusively from small-scale ranchers who treat their alpacas with care and reverence

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Indigenous has made grants available to many organizations through the Fair Values Fund. These include Daily Acts, AA Foundation, Good World Solutions, Social Venture Network, Green America, Not for Sale, Ceres Community Project, and Turning Green. Additionally, they are actively involved in improving their artisans’ lives, such as by providing free training for women, bringing clean drinking water to communities in the arid Andean Highlands, supporting ever-increasing access to quality, low-cost childcare for artisans, and offering quality education for their children

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear 
  • Product range: knitted sweaters, tops, dresses, bottoms, essentials, accessories 
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XL
2

Johnstons of Elgin: Ethical Knitwear From Established Luxury Clothing Label 

Logo for Johnstons of Elgin
Screenshot of the Johnstons of Elgin front page

We have worked with natural, renewable, biodegradable fibres since 1797 and strive to reduce our environmental footprint year after year.”

Johnstons of Elgin

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Johnstons of Elgin prioritizes sustainability by setting up a low-carbon footprint and low-waste production using mainly natural fibers while working to preserve grasslands, the starting point of their cashmere fibers. Natural fabrics, including cashmere, merino lambswool, and sheep wool account for 99.88% of all fibers used in their portfolio. Further down the life-cycle in the manufacturing stage, Johnstons of Elgin strives to reduce manufacturing waste; in fact, 87% of their manufacturing waste is recycled to create other products. Specifically, batch ends of yarns and cut-offs are redyed to be used in scarves, while waste fiber goes into fillings or insulation materials whenever possible. Plastic, if used during the manufacturing process, is reused or recycled. Furthermore, the brand lowers their carbon footprint by increasing energy efficiency and working with energy providers possessing renewable energy certificates. Johnstons of Elgin’s incentives in reducing energy usage include investing in energy-efficient lighting, improving boiler maintenance, and implementing air-source heat pumps. Johnstons of Elgin also uses low-impact, non-toxic dyes in all of their products. Lastly, they strive for circularity by opting for high-quality, recyclable materials; offering repair services; and facilitating the recycling of their cashmere products

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Johnstons of Elgin ensures their ethics by striving for transparency in how their products are made. Some of their products now have a Digital ID, enabling traceability from fiber to finished garment. Regarding the people making their products, they pay a living wage, provide training for personal development, recognize trade unions, and uphold health and safety. They also trace most of their supply chain. Furthermore, animal welfare is held at the heart of their operation. Specifically, they source cashmere with Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA) certification and mulesing-free merino sheep wool and lambswool with Responsible Wool Standard certification. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Johnstons of Elgin is one of three founding members of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA), a nonprofit international organization working in the cashmere supply chain. SFA funds various programs in Mongolia to train communities and promote ecological and social projects to restore grasslands, ensure animals’ well-being, and secure herders’ livelihoods. For example, their Young Herders program, “Kharaatsai” (Young Swallows), gives students a deeper understanding of their natural environment through biodiversity, weather patterns, and soil health classes.

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear, kidswear
  • Product range: jackets, blazers, hoodies, sweatshirts, sweaters, coats, hats, gloves, socks, pants 
  • Price range: $$$$
  • Size range: XS–XXL
3

Rifò: Fashionable and High-Quality Garments Made With Recycled and Recyclable Materials 

Logo for Rifò
Screenshot of the Rifo front page

“Our planet is no longer capable of sustaining the rhythms of Fast Fashion: it is necessary to create sustainable alternatives for a better future.”

Rifò 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Rifò approaches sustainability by committing to using recycled and recyclable fibers. They opt for natural, biodegradable materials composed of at least 50% recycled fibers, such as recycled cashmere, recycled wool, recycled (organic) denim, recycled (organic) cotton, and recycled silk. Also, their packaging is made with recycled cardboard and is plastic-free. On top of that, they embed circularity principles in every step of their products’ life-cycle, meaning beyond material sourcing, these principles apply to designing, manufacturing, and end-of-life too. Additionally, Rifò fights textile waste by running a presale system to minimize overproduction and take back used garments to reuse or recycle. Customers can trade in their pre-loved items for a €10 ($11) discount voucher by using a free-of-charge home pickup service or a drop-off box. In 2022, 14% of the recycled materials used in their clothes was collected directly from their circular service. Rifò also joined the movement to boycott Black Friday’s rampant consumerism. Last but not least, they are B Corporation certified

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Rifò binds their suppliers with a Code of Conduct covering four of the ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Works. They also trace most of their supply chain.

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Rifò donates €2 ($3) from each purchase on their online store to Nei Nostri Panni, a social impact project to train textile-recycling artisans and spinners who are in vulnerable situations. Additionally, Rifò has supported Fashion Revolution by donating part of the sale from their regenerative cashmere sweater, in an effort to spread awareness for “Green Friday”, an alternative to the hyperconsumerism-supporting Black Friday. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear, kidswear
  • Product range: sweaters, denim, polos, tops, blouses, T-shirts, shorts, plus-size 
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XL
4

Paka: Knitwear Made With Traceable Alpaca Wool 

Logo for Paka
Screenshot of the Paka front page

Paka was created to bring you closer to where your clothing comes from, what it’s made of, and who made it.”

Paka

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Paka prioritizes sustainability by innovating and making low-impact, high-performing fabrics with ethical alpaca wool. In particular, they source alpaca wool from small-scale, family-owned herds. Each herd contains 60 to 90 animals roaming free throughout the Peruvian Andean Highlands. After the fleece is shorn, the fiber is collected and separated by hand before being colored (if needed) with environmentally friendly dyes certified by OEKO-TEX® and GOTS. Half of the energy used in their alpaca wool spinning process comes from solar energy. Further down the life-cycle in the transporting stage, Paka alpaca products are delivered carbon-neutral through their partnership with Ecocart. The packaging is also fully biodegradable.

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Paka ensures their ethics by making their alpaca wool products fully traceable, from free-roaming alpacas up in the Andes Mountains to customers’ homes in the US. The 100+ Quechua women weavers who make Paka’s products are employed by the brand and paid 4 times the family living wage. Regarding alpaca treatment, Paka uses a special technique (Inca Esquila) to minimize the time and stress posed upon the animal during the shearing process

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Through their partnership with Peruvian Hearts, Paka supports the education of underprivileged Peruvian young women with 1% of their annual revenues. Another 1% of their sales supports regenerative agriculture and alpaca families. Additionally, they provide free weaving training for women who want to learn a skill, as well as a “Wawa Wasi” (daycare) in the neighborhood, with full-time supervision and a trained psychologist to enable mothers to go to work. Lastly, Paka is helping to build an NGO that preserves the Inca traditions

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: women’s and men’s knitwear
  • Product range: jackets, sweaters, hoodies, baselayer, T-shirts, joggers, socks, underwear, accessories
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XXS–XXL
5

Mila.Vert: PETA – Approved Vegan Knitwear Made From Organic Cotton 

Logo for mila.vert
Screenshot of the mila.vert front page

Every single Mila.Vert piece is sustainably produced on-demand. By keeping no stock and only producing what you order, we avoid over-production, cut down waste and preserve precious resources to deliver high-quality ethical fashion.

Tina Lo

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Mila.Vert’s sustainability efforts focus on using eco-friendly materials and doing fashion on-demand. Firstly, they carefully select sustainable fabrics for their garments. These include GOTS-certified organic cotton, European linen, TENCELTM, EcoVeroTM, and recycled wool. The brand is also environmentally conscious about their packaging choices, opting for bags made from fabric scraps and containing no plastic. Secondly, they operate on pre-order runs, keeping no stock and only producing what’s ordered. Consequently, they avoid overproduction, reduce waste, and preserve natural resources to deliver high-quality, ethical fashion. Lastly, Mila.Vert manufactures locally in Slovenia, keeping transporting distances and associated carbon emissions relatively low. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Mila.Vert upholds their suppliers to a Code of Conduct that covers four of the ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The brand traces most of their supply chain and audits some of their suppliers. They publicly share their manufacturing partners and their supplier for organic cotton used in their knitwear. Regarding animal welfare, they opt out of animal-derived textiles, except for a small amount of recycled wool used in their coats. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Mila.Vert is not known to be part of any giving-back programs. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear
  • Product range: pullovers, cardigans, coats, jackets, dresses, tops, pants, skirts, shirts, blouses, accessories
  • Price range: $$$ 
  • Size range: XS–XL
6

Finisterre: Ocean-Inspired Sustainable Knitwear Made Ethically 

Logo for Finisterre
Screenshot of the Finisterre front page

Yet from our cliff top workshop, we stay true to our original design ethos of functionality and sustainability, remaining committed to product, environment and people.

Tom Kay, Founder of Finisterre

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Finisterre places circular sourcing at the center of their sustainability commitment. In particular, they use renewable and recyclable textiles and biodegradable natural fibers and finishes. At least 50% of their clothes are made using recycled fabrics. For example, in 2022, 87% of the synthetic polymer fabrics used in Finisterre clothes were made using recycled fabrics, including polyester recovered from post-consumer and post-industrial waste. They also use low-impact natural fibers, including GOTS-certified organic cotton, hemp, linen, and bamboo. In 2019, they replaced all plastic packaging with water-soluble, ocean-safe, and biodegradable “Leave No Trace” garment bags. Finisterre also strives to reduce textile waste by offering repair services and giving in-store credits for gear trades-in, which would be reconditioned for resale. On top of that, they implement various incentives to reduce their carbon footprint, including switching more of their stores and offices to renewable energy tariffs and transporting products using less carbon-intensive modes on land and sea. Last but not least, Finisterre is a B Corporation

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Finisterre is committed to full transparency in their supply chain, holding their partners to the high standards in their Code of Conduct and their Anti-Slavery & Trafficking Policy. Additionally, they partner with Fair Working Conditions (FWC), enabling the mapping of their supply chain, the screening of suppliers, and targeted audits at high-risk locations. Their facilities are also listed on Open Supply Hub. Lastly, Finisterre’s ethical values extend to their dedication to saving the sea. For example, they provide a free resource to inspire ocean activism

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Finisterre provides financial support to various giving-back campaigns and programs through the Finisterre Foundation, championing ocean access for all. For example, Finisterre turned 2021’s Black Friday into Blue Friday, where they swapped discounts for donations, raising funds for The Wetsuit Project, which adapts wetsuits for children and adults with various disabilities to access the sea. In 2022, Blue Friday was used again to raise money supporting Level Water to provide specialist swimming lessons for children with disabilities. Other projects include The Seasuit Project, City Kids Surfing, Seasuit Donation, and Art Auctioning for Good

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: menswear, womenswear
  • Product range: shirts, pants, tops, sweaters, dresses, hoodies, shorts, denim, swimwear, jackets, blazers, sweatshirts, T-shirts, base layers, socks, shorts, 
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XXL
7

The Knotty Ones: Traditional Baltic Knitwear Made Sustainably in Small Batches 

Logo for The Knotty Ones
Screenshot of the The Knotty Notes front page

We employ female artisans in rural Lithuania, giving them a living wage, financial independence and a voice in their communities.”

The Knotty Ones 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

The Knotty Ones ensures sustainability by reducing, avoiding, and eliminating plastic, chemical, and textile waste. They use exclusively natural and fully biodegradable yarns for their knitwear. Specifically, they source linen, cotton, merino wool, and alpaca wool for their fabrics while opting for corozo nuts from the tagua tree for button materials. Their Žemiau and Ethno alpaca sweaters are undyed and come with Peru Fair Trade Certification, reducing their chemical use. Thirdly, The Knotty Ones operates a “fully fashioned” production model where each sweater piece is pre-ordered, individually shaped, and factory-knitted before being sewn together by hand. This zero-waste approach ensures no deadstock and leftover scraps. Lastly, The Knotty Ones is certified carbon neutral

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

The Knotty Ones maintains their ethics by creating fair partnerships with their female knitters and factory partners. They offer weekends off, living wages, and safe working conditions. Additionally, the artisans who work on The Knotty Ones’s handmade pieces choose their work schedules (part-time, full-time, or while their kids are napping) from the comfort of their homes, with everything they need to work safely and comfortably. And finally, The Knotty Ones traces and visits their suppliers. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

The Knotty Ones is not known to be part of any giving-back programs. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, kidswear
  • Product range: sweaters, cardigans, tops, bottoms, accessories
  • Price range: $$$ 
  • Size range: XS–XXL
8

Sheep Inc.: Merino Wool Knitwear From a Carbon-Negative Brand 

Logo for Sheep Inc.

“To us, transparency isn’t a fleeting trend but a steadfast commitment. We believe in equipping our consumers with complete knowledge about their purchase’s journey. The Connected Dot stands as our unwavering promise, a testament to our dedication to clarity and authenticity.”

Sheep Inc.  

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Sheep Inc. ensures their sustainability by making data-driven decisions to lower their environmental impacts. They partner with other organizations like Carbon Footprint Ltd to measure their impact and adapt their choices according to the data. For example, they source merino wool from regenerative sheep farms in New Zealand instead of local farms in the UK because the former has a carbon footprint of -14kg CO2 per kg, while the latter has an average carbon footprint of 20-30 CO2 per kg. Even with the emissions from transportation, their choice of merino wool comes with a much lower carbon emission. Additionally, the brand actively supports regenerative farming to ensure that they give back more than they take, leading to Sheep Inc. being a carbon-negative operation. Further down the life-cycle in the manufacturing step, the brand reduces their carbon emissions by using solar energy to power their zero-waste 3D knitting machines. Lastly, they design timeless pieces that don’t just last but also outlast, contributing to textile waste reduction. They ensure longevity against wear and tear by reinforcing stress points and choosing resilient stitching. On top of that, the brand provides a merino wool care guide and a repairing service to help extend the lifespan of each and every Sheep Inc. garment. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Sheep Inc. commits to transparency across their supply chain. Each Sheep Inc. garment comes with an NFC tag ingeniously integrated into the hem, enabling tracing every step of the garment journey, starting with a single thread spun from the fleece of a hand-selected Merino sheep in New Zealand to wool treating, spinning, and knitting across Europe (Italy, Bulgaria, Portugal, and Romania). They also publish the life-cycle’s greenhouse gas emissions of their products (cardigans, hoodies, medium knits, V-neck sweaters, light knits, and beanies), staying transparent about their climate impact. Regarding animal welfare, they source exclusively from farms certified by ZQ, which ensures sheep are well-fed and resilient against natural stresses, free to live naturally, and free from discomfort and distress. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Sheep Inc. donates 100% of the profits from each design in their Sheep Inc. x LUAS collection to Rainbow Migration, an organization providing practical and emotional support for LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum in the UK. Additionally, they earmark a portion of the profits to form the Radical Farming Fund, which supports groundbreaking projects in sustainable farming. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear 
  • Product range: crewnecks, half zips sweaters, cardigans, high neck sweaters, V-neck sweaters, T-shirts, polos, pants, shorts, accessories
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XS–XXL
9

L’Envers: Made-To-Order Timeless Knitwear 

Logo for L’Envers
Screenshot of the L'envers front page

We work hard on a daily basis to design beautiful pieces that are environmentally responsible and that will last you for many years!

L’Envers

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

L’Envers promotes sustainability by sourcing a medium proportion of lower-impact materials. They use certified organic cotton and certified wool (merino, yak, mohair, and alpaca). Their alpaca wool, in particular, has OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certification and The Alpaca Mark from the International Alpaca Association. Additionally, they knit their clothes on demand and have small batches produced, following their philosophy of slow fashion and anti-consumerism. Lastly, they lower their ecological impact by working exclusively with local partners to reduce their carbon footprint, using low-impact dyes in all products, and avoiding plastic packaging. Lastly, L’Envers is Bluesign® certified. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

L’Envers is transparent about where their clothes are made, which materials are used, and who makes the clothes. L’Envers also traces all of their supply chain, including family workshops in Spain, France, and Italy, countries with strict laws and minimum wages that cover the basic needs of their employees. Furthermore, they disclose areas they still need to improve in, as they move toward their sustainability goals.

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

L’Envers is not known to be part of any giving-back programs. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear
  • Product range: knitwear, sweaters, tops, blouses, dresses, pants, hats, accessories
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XXS–XXL
10

Nui Organics: Putting People and the Planet First 

Logo for Nui Organic
Screenshot of the Nui Organic front page

“We create high-quality, low-impact apparel in timeless, long-lasting styles using only sustainable materials and an ethical supply chain.”

Nui Organics 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Nui Organics approaches sustainability by making long-lasting products with natural materials. They use blends of natural fibers, including GOTS-certified organic merino woolalpaca woolsilk, and GOTS-certified organic cotton. Additionally, they have OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certification, guaranteeing no harmful substances are found in their textile materials. Regarding the manufacturing process, Nui Organics lowers their environmental impacts by relying on renewable energy and integrated processes in manufacturing, using low-impact, non-toxic dyes in most of their products, avoiding harsh chemicals in fabric treatment (for example, no chlorine in merino wool treatment), and treating wastewater the standard of OEKO-TEX® Detox to Zero. They are also certified by Bluesign® for sustainable manufacturing. Furthermore, Nui Organics is a part of the Responsible Packaging Movement, actively eliminating single-use plastic and virgin forest fiber from packaging. Furthermore, their newest collections are delivered in FSC-certified 100% recyclable paper bags. Lastly, they run the (re) Nui platform, where customers can buy and sell pre-loved Nui garments to keep them in circulation, reducing waste and bettering the planet. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Nui Organics works exclusively with factories that share their commitment to ethics and sustainability, both for the environment and for society. Their suppliers are also certified by GOTS, OEKO-TEX®, Bluesign®, SA 8000, and SEDEX adhering to ethical practices and improving working conditions. Finally, Nui Organics traces and audits most of their partners in the supply chain.

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Nui Organics is not known to be part of any giving-back programs.

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear, kidswear
  • Product range: sweaters, knitwear, tops, blouses, T-shirts, socks, stockings, tights, accessories
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XXL

ASKET: Timeless Clothes Made Under Full Transparency and With Life-Cycle Responsibility

Logo for Asket
Screenshot of the Asket front page

Our mission is to end overconsumption and restore value to the clothing industry.

Jakob Dworsky, founder of ASKET

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

ASKET ensures sustainability by reducing waste and using less energy throughout the life-cycle of their garments. They tackle the textile waste problem with their Repair Program which helps keep clothes last longer and their Revival Program which diverts used garments from landfills to be repaired, renewed, resold, or recycled. On top of that, they use various recycled fabrics, including recycled wool, recycled cotton, recycled silk, recycled polyester, and recycled nylon. In garments like jeans that require a stretch element, ASKET sources (a very small percentage of) recycled elastane or degradable elastane to lower the impact of using this synthetic fabric. ASKET also runs a Care Program, helping consumers keep their garments fresh longer while using less energy, lowering the environmental impact of the usage stage. In an effort to encourage consumers to buy and waste less, they are fully transparent about the environmental impact of their clothes

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

ASKET maintains ethics through fair labor practices, responsible sourcing, and a commitment to transparency in their supply chain. In 2022, their average traceability score across their entire collection was 96.0%. Regarding animal rights, they follow the Responsible Wool Standard, appropriately addressing sheep’s welfare and the land they graze on. Specifically, their merino wool is non-mulesed and 100% traceable.

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

ASKET is not known to be part of any giving-back programs. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: high-quality, essential, versatile wardrobe pieces 
  • Product range: tops, sweaters, pants, chinos, jackets, coats, socks, underwear
  • Price range: $$$ 
  • Size range: XS–XXL
12

Norgäte: Luxury and Sustainable Alpaca Knitwear

Logo for Norgate
Screenshot of the Norgate front page

Our mission was to seek out exceptional craftsmen, source prime materials, and identify suppliers capable of delivering high-end garments featuring alpaca fiber and pima cotton.”

Norgäte

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Norgäte ensures sustainability by basing their design strategy around the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. As such, they utilize only the required yarns or fabrics, eliminate pre-consumer textile waste, and repurpose leftover yarns and fabric remnants. Their Zero-Waste Collection also contains items produced in small quantities, which increase only with pre-orders. This is their way to tackle waste and fight fast fashion. Additionally, Norgäte sources low-impact materials, including organic cotton certified by GOTS, soft baby alpaca fiber certified by AZO, OEKO-TEX®, REACH, biodegradable dyes, and compostable shipping bags. Both the sourcing stage for fabrics and organic dyes, as well as the manufacturing stage happen in Peru, minimizing their supply chain’s length and lowering the carbon footprint. Lastly, their apparel comes with an eco-cotton storage bag and dried lavender bag, helping keep garments last longer while being stored in your home. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Norgäte is committed to fair trade practices with certifications from Fair Trade Peru and the International Alpaca Association. Additionally, they commit to ensuring the well-being of their knitters, as well as their job stability

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Norgäte has a “buy one, give one” commitment, in which they create cozy alpaca beanies and scarves for Peruvian children, and alpaca ponchos and insulated covers designed especially for the youngest baby alpacas during the coldest time of the winter. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: menswear, womenswear
  • Product range: coats, jackets, sweaters, vests, hats, scarves, 
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XS–L
13

Unrecorded: Unisex Clothing Made Sustainably With Consideration to Quality and Elegance 

Logo for Unrecorded
Screenshot of the Unrecorded front page

“In our determined pursuit of refinement, we embrace the charm of natural fibers, carefully chosen for their exceptional durability and resilience. ”

Unrecorded 

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How do they ensure their sustainability?

Unrecorded ensures sustainability by using a high proportion of low-impact natural fabricslowering carbon emissions, and minimizing textile waste. They craft their designs using a selection of natural fibers, including lambswool and sheep wool with RWS certification and from non-mulesed sheep. They also use linenhemprecycled cotton, and organic cotton with GOTS certification. Additionally, they strive to incorporate more Dutch-made fabrics to reduce the transporting footprint between sourcing and manufacturing factories in Portugal and Italy. Lastly, all orders are shipped in FSC-certified cardboard boxes

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How do they ensure their ethics?

Unrecorded sets up their final stage of production in the European Union, a low/medium risk region for labor abuse. They also trace most of their supply chain and visit their suppliers regularly. Regarding animal rights, they follow the Responsible Wool Standard, appropriately addressing sheep’s welfare and the land they graze on.  

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Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Unrecorded is not known to be part of any giving-back programs.

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What is their product range?

  • Best for: unisex apparel
  • Product range: knitwear, sweaters, hoodies, pants, shirts, T-shirts, polo shirts, outerwear, socks, scarves, hats, accessories 
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XXL
14

Foxology: Sustainable and Ethically-Sourced Knitwear 

Logo for Foxology
Screenshot of the Foxology front page

“Foxology produces durable clothing, designed to be timeless and will see our customers through season after season. The fabrics and workmanship are of the highest quality and long-lasting. This is ‘slow fashion’.”

Foxology 

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How do they ensure their sustainability?

Foxology ensures sustainability by exclusively sourcing high-quality natural fabrics to make long-lasting knitwear. These included GOTS-certified organic cottonnon-mulesed lambswool, and merino wool. Additionally, they use a whole garment, seam-free 3D knitting technology to ensure no waste manufacturing. Foxology also eliminates all plastic in their packaging. Their products are wrapped in protective tissue and delivered using biodegradable bags or boxes. Lastly, Foxology publishes product care instructions to help extend the lifespan of woolen and cotton clothing items while lowering the environmental impact of owning and wearing them. 

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How do they ensure their ethics?

Regarding animal rights, the brand sources their lambswool and sheep wool from non-mulesed merino sheep, avoiding the cruel treatment of the animals. Foxology manufactures their knitwear in the UK, a medium-risk country for labor abuse. 

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Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Foxology is not known to be part of any giving-back programs.

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear
  • Product range: sweaters, tops, base layers, dresses, pants, scarves, hats, knitwear, accessories
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XXL
15

Achiy: Slow-Fashion Clothing Made With Natural Materials in Partnership With Artisans 

Logo for Achiy
Screenshot of the Achiy front page

“In the best possible harmony with nature, we create limited collections with sense, which offer an absolutely suitable answer to the fast fashion industry.”

Achiy

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How do they ensure their sustainability?

Achiy approaches sustainability by exclusively using certified yarns of known origin that use biodegradable dyes approved by AZO, OEKO-TEX®, and REACH. Their alpaca wool is also certified by the International Alpaca Association, ensuring quality and durability, while their organic cotton is GOTS-certified. For the “Designed by Another Life” labels on their products, they use pineapple leaves, which are normally a by-product but are now processed into alternative leather. Regarding carbon emission reduction, they use reusable packaging that can be used for at least 20 order cycles from their warehouse to their customers and back. Additionally, Achy’s clothes are made in small batches, celebrating the craft of the artisans while avoiding textile waste. 

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How do they ensure their ethics?

Achiy is transparent about the knitters who make each and every one of their products. Furthermore, their clothes are produced in workshops that are part of the Fashion Revolution, where artisans are paid fairly for their work. 

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Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Achiy encourages customers to return the RePack packaging that their clothes come in. For every RePack returned, they donate 2€ (3$) to the Kinsacchocha Community in Paru Paru, Cusco, where 10 indigenous families live at an altitude of 4,010 meters (2.5 miles). 

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What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear
  • Product range: sweaters, jackets, dresses, knitwear, scarves
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XS–L
16

FTC Cashmere: Climate-Neutral Cashmere Knitwear From Zero-Waste Production 

Logo for FTC Cashmere
Screenshot of the FTC cashmere front page

“Specializing in high-quality, cashmere knits in the premium segment, FTC Cashmere stands for elegant, pure, coveted fashion and luxury articles as well as for a strong sense of responsibility with respect to fairer, ethically correct manufacturing conditions.”

FTC Cashmere

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

FTC Cashmere promotes sustainability by innovating to achieve zero-waste production and offsetting all of their carbon emissions. They have developed a technique to seamlessly join the threads of the leftover yarns, which remain on the bobbin after a garment is knitted. Thanks to this technology, FTC Cashmere could recirculate the cuts-off to make high-quality cashmere products in their upcycled fashion line “UpKnit – Upcycling for Uniqueness by FTC®” while leaving behind no yarn waste. Between 2019 and 2022, they reused almost a ton of waste yarn. Additionally, they now use FSC-certified recycled paper bags instead of polybags for packaging to reduce plastic consumption and waste. They further reduce their impact by offsetting all carbon emissions coming from their operation in reforestation and solar energy projects in China, where their farms and factories are located. Lastly, FTC Cashmere is certified MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX®, an all-encompassing sustainability label representing transparency, social responsibility, environmentally friendly operations, and consumer safety.

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How do they ensure their ethics?

FTC Cashmere ensures their ethics by committing to fair treatment toward the workers who make their products and the cashmere goat herds. They employ all textile workers and partners in China and thus ensure living wages, a high level of job security, and above-average employment conditions. Additionally, FTC Cashmere signed an exclusive contract with the local government and the farmers for the purchase of the cashmere raw material at market prices plus a premium to make sure farmers are paid fairly. Additionally, they trace most of their supply chain. Regarding animal welfare, they work with national universities to have the health of the cashmere goats regularly checked by specialists. They set eight grounding principles spanning from grounds for breeding, general health conditions, keeping of animals, the shearing process, the transportation of animals, and all other stages of life while documenting each and every goat to ensure fair treatment

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Are they part of any giving-back programs?

FTC Cashmere gives back to the farmers and the communities where their products are made by building schools in the area. The schools, which are planned, financed, and constructed entirely by FTC®, provide basic school education to more than 1,000 children from 4 to 14 years of age. 

🛍️

What is their product range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear
  • Product range: shirts, sweaters, gloves, hats, scarves, polos, knitwear, tops, blouses, T-shirts, socks, shorts, dresses, skirts, jackets, loungewear
  • Price range: $$$$
  • Size range: XS–XL

Why Is It Important to Buy Products Made of More Sustainable Fabrics

It is important to buy products made of more sustainable fabrics because a sustainable textile industry has a lower carbon footprint, helps save natural resources, and is better for forests, animals, and humans. 

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Reduces Your Carbon Footprint 

The production of clothing and footwear is estimated to contribute 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions—more than all international flights and shipping combined. If the fashion industry were a country, it would be the fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide

One way to reduce the carbon footprint of the clothes you buy is to opt for sustainable fabrics. Sustainable fabrics, which are often made with natural or recycled fibers, have relatively low carbon footprints compared to petroleum-based fabrics. For example, organic cotton made in the US has a carbon footprint of 2.35 kg CO2 (per ton of spun fiber)—a quarter of polyester’s carbon footprint.

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Reduces Demand for Natural Resources and Waste Management

The textile industry uses water and land to grow wool and other fibers. It is estimated that 79 billion cubic meters of water were used for the sector worldwide in 2015. For example, producing a single cotton T-shirt requires as much water as one person drinks for 2.5 years (2,700 liters of fresh water).

Worse yet, the textile economy is vastly more linear than circular: the largest amount of resources used in clothes ended up in landfills (instead of being recycled to remake clothes). According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation,

  • Less than 3% of materials used in the textile economy in 2015 came from recycled sources.
  • In other words, more than 97% of resources used in making clothes are newly extracted. 

When clothing items are disposed of within a short period of time—under a year in the case of half of the fast fashion clothes—the natural systems that provide raw materials for fabrics don’t have enough time to recover and regenerate, which could lead to ecological breakdown. 

Sustainable fabrics are made with less water and emissions while lasting longer:

  • Because they are durable, you don’t need to buy new clothes too often. 
  • Thus, you help reduce the pressure to extract more resources for making new items. 

Similarly, making and consuming sustainable fabrics made with recycled materials reduces the demand for virgin materials while helping tackle waste management. 

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Encourages Sustainable Management of Forests

Sustainable plant-based fabrics are made with raw materials from forests and plantations that are sustainably managed, such as complying with FSC standards

When you buy sustainable plant-based fabrics, you discourage unsustainable forestry practices like illegal logging. You can help reduce deforestation, biodiversity loss, and the effects of climate change. 

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Encourages Fairer Treatment of Animals 

The fashion industry is rife with animal mistreatment when it comes to making animal-based fabrics like wool or silk. Every year, billions of animals suffer and die for clothing and accessories.

Buying sustainable vegan alternatives can help to reduce the pressure on raising more and more animals to meet the demand for animal-based fabrics while sacrificing their well-being and lives. 

Suppose you have to buy fabrics made with, for example, wool or silk; make sure you only choose brands committed to cruelty-free products. In that case, you help advocate better treatments for animals raised within the textile industry. 

Using Sustainable Fabrics Encourages Fairer Treatment of Textile Workers 

Recent statistics from UNICEF estimated as many as 170 million child laborers worldwide, many of whom were engaged in some form of work in the textile industry. They don’t get paid minimum wages and often work long hours. 

When you buy sustainable fabrics from brands that are transparent about the working conditions at their factories, you discourage the use of child labor and help promote better working conditions for textile workers.

How Can You Generally Buy More Sustainable Fabrics

The key to sustainably buying fabrics is to check on relevant environmental and original certifications. 

For natural fabrics

  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A globally recognized certification system that ensures a certain threshold of organic content has been met. It covers manufacturing, packaging, labeling, transportation, and distribution (but not what happens in the fields where crops are grown). 
  • USDA Certified Biobased Product: The USDA BioPreferred® Certification is a voluntary certification offered by the United States Department of Agriculture. The certification identifies products made from plants or other renewable materials.
  • Ecolabel: Ecolabel is the official European Union voluntary label recognized worldwide for certified products with a guaranteed, independently verified low environmental impact. The label requires high environmental standards throughout the entire life-cycle: from raw material extraction through production and distribution to disposal. It also encourages companies to develop innovative, durable, easy-to-repair, and recyclable products. 

For plant-based semi-natural/semi-synthetic fabrics:

  • Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification: PEFC’s approaches to sustainable forest management are in line with protecting the forests globally and locally and making the certificate work for everyone. Getting a PEFC certification is strict enough to ensure the sustainable management of a forest is socially just, ecologically sound, and economically viable but attainable not only by big but small forest owners.

For recycled fabrics:

  • Recycled Claim Standard (RCS): The Textile Exchange RCS was originally developed as an international, voluntary standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of Recycled input and chain of custody. 
  • The Global Recycled Standard (GRS): The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) is an international, voluntary, full product standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of Recycled Content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions. It can be used for any product with more than 20% recycled material.

For all types of fabrics:

  • STeP by OEKO-TEX®: STeP by OEKO-TEX® is an independent certification system for brands, retailers, and manufacturers from the textile and leather industry. It communicates organizational environmental measures, including reducing carbon footprint and water usage.
  • OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100: OEKO-TEX® labels aim to ensure that products pose no risk to human health (i.e., containing banned chemicals). 

Some certifications that are signaling brands’ efforts toward lowered environmental impacts and a circular economy are: 

  • B Corp Certification: The label B Corp is a certification reserved for for-profit companies. Certified holders are assessed on their social and environmental impacts. 
  • Cradle2Cradle certification: Cradle2Cradle provides a standardized approach to material circularity. It assesses whether products have been suitably designed and made with the circular economy in mind covering five critical categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.

Final Thoughts

Knitwear is a category of clothing that is often high-impact due to its use of resource-intensive, conventionally farmed wool or cotton. 

By purchasing knitwear from brands that commit to sustainability, you support their mission to create a fairer and less harmful textile industry for all lives on Earth. 

Here is the list (again) of the most sustainable knitwear brands:

  • Indigenous
  • Johnstons of Elgin
  • Rifo
  • Paka
  • Mila.Vert
  • Finisterre
  • The Knotty Ones
  • Sheep Inc.
  • L’Envers
  • Nui Organics
  • ASKET
  • Norgäte
  • Unrecorded
  • Foxology
  • Achiy
  • FTC Cashmere

To make your use of these clothing items even more sustainable, follow these steps:

  1. Buy second hand, recycled, or upcycled knitwear made with low-impact materials. 
  2. Keep your knitwear for as long as possible.
  3. At the end-of-life of your knitwear, upcycle the materials to extend their usage and arrange for them to be recycled or properly disposed of.

Stay impactful,



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