7 Sustainable Fabrics To Help You Build A More Eco-Friendly Wardrobe

by Escher Walcott
Christian Vierig/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

With a climate crisis on the horizon, there has never been a more appropriate time to commit to sustainable fashion. In an industry where trends are always changing, bringing new styles and fabrics to the fore, it can seem quite a challenge, however it can be done — just ask Stella McCartney.

The British designer is known for putting sustainability front and centre, using eco-friendly fabrics such as upcycled denim and environmentally-friendly faux fur in her collections. In a 2019 interview with The Guardian McCartney stated, “It’s my intention to stand shoulder to shoulder with the conventional houses and show that you can actually be respectful in your supply chain and manufacture.” A point driven home by fellow British label Vivienne Westwood, which for decades, has carefully sourced raw materials and used low impact dyeing techniques on its fabrics.

These pioneers have paved the way for up-and-coming designers such as Central St. Martin's graduate Katie Jones to experiment with eco-friendly fashion. Jones' first collection launched in 2014 and was praised for its bold use of knitwear produced from unwanted yarn. A more sustainable approach is gradually trickling down to the high-street, too with brands like H&M and Weekday selling organic cotton products and environmentally-friendly faux leather.

If you're eager to make a difference, here is a list of eco-friendly fabrics with designs on your wardrobe.


Biodegradable Stretch Denim

Stella McCartney has recently announced that she will be launching her own biodegradable stretch denim jeans in Autumn/Winter 2020. As the Independent reports, fabrics made with synthetic fibres, as modern denims often are, can take longer to decompose. Meanwhile, and the chemicals in indigo dues can pollute waters when jeans are discarded/taken to landfill. According to Fashion United, Italian manufacturer Candiani's Coreva Stretch Technology prevents this problem, producing jeans using organic cotton which decomposes more quickly. These jeans are also being produced with limited dyeing techniques that reduce the levels of water and chemicals used.


Organic Cotton Jeans


If you're looking for a more affordable option to McCartney's sustainable jeans, there our plenty of alternative brands to choose from. Weekday is a high street favourite with a range of own range of staple denim cuts all made from organic cotton, E.L.V. Denim creates new styles out of vintage jeans, and French label Sézane has just launched a new collection of eco-friendly denim styles all under £100. Each cut is made with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton and has considerably less water consumption and chemical use during the production process.


Grape Or Wine Leather

This is a type of vegan leather created from the waste of the wine industry. It was developed by Italian company Vegea and does not require the use of chemicals or water. The innovative process was 2017 H&M Foundation Global Change Awards and will be featured in H&M's Conscious Exclusive collection and Bentley's new electric car later on in 2020.


Faux Fur

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney once again broke new sustainable ground in 2019 by pioneering a bio-based faux fur by KOBA® during Sept. 2019 Fashion Week. KOBA® faux fur is made from recycled polyester and up to 100% Sorona fibers, making it the first eco-friendly faux fur line of its kind. Reducing energy use in production by 30% and greenhouse gas emission by 63%, KOBA® is making large efforts to help save the environment one product at a time.




Tencel is a notable favourite fabric of New York designer Mara Hoffman, who according to the brand's website, likes the light, airy comfortable fit it provides. I spoke to vegan fashion expert and PETA representative Sascha Camilli, who explained that this fabric is made from the wood pulp of trees, produced through a closed-loop technology which is completely biodegradable as well as recyclable. Reformation is another brand that creates clothing using Tencel.



This chic vegan silk alternative is an even lighter, airier option. Camilli explains that Ramie is comprised from the stalks of flowers and plants which is probably why its able to maintain shape so well. It has been used by designers at Isabel Marant and Etro.




A high street favourite used by the likes of COS, & Other Stories and H&M, cupro is produced from cotton linter, waste from a cotton plant, through a similar closed-loop technology as Tencel, Camilli tells me. This biodegradable fabric is often used as a silk alternative, on pleated skirts and sweeping maxi dresses.