A review of Colorful Standard T-shirts and Crew Neck Sweatshirts, which are designed in Denmark, produced in Portugal, and meet ethical and environmental standards.
Buying clothes these days isn’t easy if you’re trying to do the right thing. You want something made of sustainable materials, but that wasn’t made in a sweatshop by people earning a pittance for their labor, and isn’t going to fall immediately to pieces. Lately, this has felt like a tall order. For a time, I tried buying organic cotton t-shirts and leggings from a company sewing them locally (I live in Germany) but, even though they cost an arm and a leg, they were made of shockingly thin fabric that sprouted holes and faded almost immediately.
Thus, it was with considerable skepticism that I unwrapped a set of two crew-necked sweatshirts and two t-shirts from the company Colorful Standard.
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Also, read our other review: Colorful Standard: In-Depth Review of this Ethical Brand
Colorful Standard Products Arrive
I figured they’d be just another set of organic cotton garments that would disappoint me by falling apart quickly and fading after just a few washes. While I didn’t do anything like drag them through the dirt or let the dog chew on them, I did take a month to put them through fairly normal paces (and several washes).
Reader, to my surprise, they did not disappoint me.
Some Deeper Insights into Colorful Standard
If you’re like me, you haven’t heard of the company. But that’s nothing that five minutes on the internet can’t fix. Because Colorful Standard is a brand that is available online, in addition to in flagship stores in some of the swankier cities of Europe (namely, London, Paris, Zurich, Copenhagen, Antwerp, and Berlin).
Designed in Denmark and produced in Portugal, Colorful Standard’s line of clothing includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, sweatpants, shorts, socks, scarves, beanies, tank tops, and scarves. Most are made out of organic cotton, but they also sell items made from recycled merino wool. All of it is possible in any of 50 different colors.
To what degree is the brand environmentally friendly? Colorful Standard’s clothes have been tested to see if they contain any of a set of hazardous chemical compounds—such as the pesticide glyphosate and various toxic organometal compounds associated with dyes.
Turns out, they are free enough from them to qualify for the internationally respected Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex certification. Colorful Standard also ships its products in boxes made from responsibly logged tree materials, as certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). (Although there are some issues with this certification, and it certainly does not mean the “ that they were not created at the expense of any person, animal, or forest” that Colorful Standard claims on its website, it is certainly better to have qualified for it than not.)
The bags the t-shirts and crew necks came in were made of 100% recycled plastic. Lastly, Colorful Standard’s clothing is produced under European labor law in Portugal, which means under better, more easily monitorable conditions with better pay for the workers than in far flung factories half a world away.
But what about the goods?!
My first impression of the t-shirts and crew necks was that the crew neck sweatshirts look like crew neck sweatshirts…
…and the t-shirts look like t-shirts.
At the end of the day, after all, crew neck sweatshirts are just crew neck sweatshirts and t-shirts are just t-shirts.
My second impressions were that the colors are strong but also muted, in that way of dyes that aren’t as hard on the environment as other. Also, the t-shirts have a satiny sheen to them. I can also happily say that this sheen doesn’t disappear after even five washes in horribly hard water that we have where I live.
About those colors… although over the last 30 years, my wardrobe has expanded from being all black to being black with some begrudgingly red or dark blue items, the crew neck sweatshirt in Soft Lavender—a color that is the antithesis of me—has grown on me. Yes, I still feel like an Easter egg when I wear it, but the fabric is soft and durably thick and lots of people have complimented me on the color. In separate mealtime mishaps, I have even managed to spill tomato sauce and mustard on the sweatshirt, without leaving permanent stains.
As you can see, our dog, who plopped down while I was taking this photo of the sweatshirt after its most recent washing and line drying, gives his approval, too.
Field Review of Colorful Standard T-shirts
The Colorful Standard t-shirts are also nice to wear. Their fabric is light and thin, but at the same time, tightly knit, hence the satin sheen. So, I think this is a win. As in, so far, no holes, and I think it is likely to stay that way for a while. The colors have also—so far—not faded at all.
The only issue/warning I have is that if you’re sensitive to tags, Colorful Standard’s have been sewn in more securely than Fort Knox.
The tag on the t-shirt definitely drove me crazy (as all tags do). I scratched at it the whole day long. But, after a bit of careful work with some fine scissors and strong reading glasses, I managed to remove the tag without ripping any additional holes in the fabric than the needles did to sew the label on.
All in all, I’m pleased with the t-shirts and crews we got from Colorful Standard and I suspect that we’ll be wearing them for quite a few years before they do anything as unsustainable as fall apart or fade to dishwater grey.