Guide to Size Inclusive Fashion: Fashion should be for everyone, and yet today’s average woman, fitting into the category of “Plus” Sized, has a hard time finding clothing that fits, is stylish, and is also environmentally conscious. The solution is simple, or at least it should be: Sustainable and Stylish Fashion Brands that are also Size-Inclusive.
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By Ellen Rubin
- Introduction: A Global Lack of Size-Inclusive Fashion
- What do the Size Designations Really Mean?
33 Ethical Brands That Embrace Size-Inclusive Fashion, or…Finding Attractive Sustainable Clothes that Fit
- Alice Alexander
- Beaton Linen
- Bamboo Body
- Big Bud Press
- Citizen Wolf
- Diane Kennedy
- Decade Studio
- Eileen Fisher
- Eli & Barry
- Emlee Design
- Girlfriend Collective
- Good American
- Hackwith Design House
- Hope & Harvest
- Karen Kane
- Kirrin Finch
- On the Plus Side
- Snoozy Sunday
- Universal Standard
- Final Thoughts on Size-Inclusive and Sustainable Fashion
Introduction: A Global Lack of Size-Inclusive Fashion
70% of American women fit into the category of being “plus size”, and the worldwide figures are similar: The World Health Organization reports that “In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these over 650 million adults were obese.”
Despite these facts, however, only 25% of the clothing produced by the fashion industry comes in these sizes! And of that 25%, an even smaller proportion is made by sustainable companies. I won’t even begin to try and figure out what portion is flattering, fashionable, or stylish enough that you want to not only spend your money on them, but want to be seen wearing them.
Why shouldn’t the majority of women have the same choices to look and feel good about themselves?
The fashion industry is just starting to grasp that they are leaving a large portion of potential profit unclaimed by ignoring the average person. More companies are recognizing this and are starting to offer larger sizes. It isn’t equal, by any means, but it does give more people more options.
The first thing to acknowledge is that the average height and weight for an American woman is 5’3” and 170 pounds. This chart gives the average height and weight for people around the world. While American women are larger than many countries, although not all, this doesn’t negate the fact that people throughout the world have been increasing in size.
Fashion designers use a size 8 for their standard as an average person. Unfortunately, the average person wears a size 16-18, and most brands only produce their designs in sizes 2-12, maybe 14. Hmmm…that seems wrong!
To make matters worse, sizing is not regulated or standardized, so each manufacturer’s sizes will fit differently. Then how does a designer create a pattern? They actually use a human model to fit their patterns. Because each designer chooses someone with the proportions they find desirable, there really isn’t any uniformity. Then, to create additional sizes, they increase the overall measurements plus or minus an inch for each corresponding step in size.
The problem with this system is that just because you need a larger size because, for instance, your hips are larger, doesn’t mean that your arms are longer. The pattern makers don’t really take into consideration that curves don’t equal overall size increase in armholes, necklines, sleeve or pant length. This is why many of us walk around with droopy, too long clothing that looks like we put on an oversized sack.
For clothing to fit properly, there needs to be designated sizes for curvier women. This is supposedly “plus” sizing. These are often given as 0X – 5X. Patterns are fit on models that are size 2X (or size 18-20) so they start out curvier. The overall proportions increase or decrease from that starting point. Pants and jeans are cut very differently for straight and plus sizes also. Plus sizes will have more room in the rise, back and crotch areas where curvier (or average) women need it.
What do the Size Designations Really Mean?
This is where things get even more confusing. Straight sizes generally go from 0 or 4-14 (XS-L), with some manufacturers having ranges from 0-22 (XXS-XXL). 0X-5X (12-32) is considered plus sizing. Adding to the confusion, some manufacturers like to use the designation W for “Women’s” which translates to plus sizing. So, theoretically, you fit into 2 or more different sizes: XL, 16, 16W and 1X could all fit the same person, although not the same way. By choosing the 1X or 16W, the neckline, armholes, and arm length may fit better while still leaving a bit more room in other areas like hips, bust, and butt.
Luckily, many sites now include sizing charts with bust, waist and hip measurements. If you are still really confused about which sizing you should use, straight or plus, there is a sizing guide that may give you a start. Otherwise the chart below may be a start.
|Bust||Waist||Hips||Plus||Size Equivalent||Straight Sizes|
For international conversions, Kathy’s Curvy Corner has a convenient conversion chart:
Italy, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia all have different size equivalents and charts are available that give international sizing. And, of course, just to make things really interesting (meaning confusing) some manufacturers like to use “vanity” sizing. They believe that, psychologically, women will be more likely to buy a piece of clothing that says “12” even though it is actually a “16” pattern.
The lesson to be learned is that you should read size charts on sites, don’t assume that a number is the same for every brand, try on several sizes if you are in-store, and don’t fall into the trap of letting a number stigmatize you. Buy what you like, what makes you feel good, and look for styles that accentuate your positives. With more and more companies recognizing that runway models are not the norm, the average consumer has more choices than ever before. And while sustainable companies have been a little slower to embrace “average woman” size clothing, they are starting to catch up.
All the companies discussed below are sustainable, generally ethical, and offer clothing in a range of sizes. These companies also tend to value inclusivity in all areas so many will offer unisex styles, and diversity with model choices.
33 Ethical Brands That Embrace Size-Inclusive Fashion, or…Finding Attractive Sustainable Clothes that Fit
Alice Alexander has recently switched from a made-to-order business model to ready to wear. You no longer need to wait a couple weeks to receive your clothing. They have found ethical factories around the world that will produce small batches of their collections. Because of the change in business model, they only have renderings of their new collection on their site at this time, but they describe styling, colors available, and sizing. Although they started as a plus size business, they have extended their sizing to include XS-4XL to stop perpetuating the cycle of exclusivity. This is a good source for quality, bright foundation pieces for your wardrobe that are designed to accommodate different body types.
- Sizing – from XS-4XL or up to 30. In the past, additional sizes could be custom-made at no extra charge. Check with the company for their current policy.
- Fabrications & Styles: The spring 2021 collections feature some of their favorite patterns including their Ina blouse (silky fabric and bright colors), the Cass dress (which can go from the beach to weddings and the length will be altered in-house at your request), the Donna Tee (blended organic cotton, lyocell, and spandex), a skirt (also length alterable in-house), a twill jumpsuit (petite and tall options available) and a color blocked, waterproof trench coat made of nylon/cotton blend with a waterproof backing.
- Ethics/Sustainability – They use sustainable materials sourced in the US wherever possible including hemp, cupro, and Lyocell.
- Location – Philadephia, PA.
Altar, sold by Made Trade. Made Trade highlights sustainable companies that offer everything from the full range of clothing to home & furniture, shoes & accessories. Not everything on Made Trade is available in plus sizing, but there is a lot to choose from.
- Sizing – S-6XL (pant sizing 2-34)
- Fabrications & Styles – Altar uses modal, Tencel, wool, rayon, much of which has been upcycled or from deadstock. Non-Altar companies on Made Trade use GOTS organic and/or recycled cotton, modal, and bamboo. Styles include jumpsuits, dresses, tunics, tees, jogging pants, and casual business wear in XS-3X. Their intimate wear does come in sizes up to 2X.
- Ethics/Sustainability – Made Trade: In addition to being officially Climate Neutral Certified, products made by artisans outside the use meet international Fair Trade guidelines and labor practices. These artisans try to source their materials locally using eco-friendly practices. All US made products must meet their strict ethical and sustainable standards. The company is female, People of Color Owned so they value diversity. They use upcycled, deadstock, recycled, or sustainably harvested raw materials. They only use plant and mineral-based dyes and also carry vegan products that don’t include polyurethane, using Piñatex or mushroom leather instead. The company gives to the Katingan Peatland Restoration & Conservation Project, the Envira Amazonia Project, and the Blandin Native American Hardwoods Conservation Project.
- Location – Portland, although many items are imported from artisans around the world.
Beaton Linen offers linen basics in seasonless silhouettes. The collection is an extension from the owner, Katie Beaton’s experience creating her children’s line, Red Creek Kids which is also predominantly linen.
- Sizing – XS-4X (hips measurements up to 60”)
- Fabrications & Styles – Linen produced in Europe and dyed with eco-friendly dyes in the US. Styles include shorts, jumpsuits, shirts, pants (including their only non-linen product: vintage brushed denim of 100% cotton). You can also purchase the linen cloth in 1 yard increments.
- Ethics/Sustainability – In addition to linen being one of the most naturally sustainable fabrics, only eco-friendly dyes are used, and garments are made in small studios or by home sewers in Canada.
- Location – Vancouver, Canada
BAACAL® makes clothes for the true majority in both eye-catching pieces and stunning wardrobe basics. Owner/designer Cynthia Vincent wanted to make high quality investment pieces beyond size 12 that she would want to wear. While there is no real unifying fabric or style, the site offers an eclectic mix that may have just the piece you’re looking for.
- Sizing – BAACAL has their own sizing guide that goes from 1-4. In traditional sizing this would be US 10-22 or UK/AU/NZ 14-26. They also give sizing from France and Italy as well as measurement in inches so you can find the best size.
- Fabrications & Styles – They have a mix of styles and fabrics, some vintage, many bright prints, tailored, slinky, or flowing styles. Many of the fabrics are blends, including a satin (80% triacetate/20% polyester), and Tencel/linen or acrylic/nylon. They do produce a variety of dresses, skirts, and pants made in satin. This is less common in plus sizing.
- Ethics/Sustainability – They use fabric from wood pulp sources from an eco-forest in Japan that is part of the Forest Stewardship Council. 80% of their limited run collections are made in Los Angeles from upcycled, vintage, and existing materials, including buttons and trims.
- Location – Los Angeles, California
Bamboo Body produces soft, stylish, and comfortable clothing for women (including maternity), men, and children. They offer Australia’s widest selection of bamboo clothing. Bamboo was chosen specifically because of its ability to be comfortable, breathable, and block UV rays in Australia’s heat. Not only is it functional and sustainable, it’s soft and drapes exceptionally well.
- Sizing – XXS-4XL (US 4-24)
- Fabrications & Styles – Bamboo is naturally hypoallergenic. Some of their clothing is a blend of bamboo and organic cotton, cashmere or wool. Their collection of black Bamboo Body clothing is certified UPF 50+. They offer the full range of styles from business, to casual, to sleep, lounge, and underwear. There is a wide assortment of colors, although, with the exception of a couple of stripes, everything is solid colored.
- Ethics/Sustainability – The bamboo is OEKO-Tex 100 certified so it’s free from harmful chemicals and residues. They also only use organically grown bamboo that is FSC approved. The company supports a number of causes including World Vision’s “Water Health Life” program, Bushfire Relief causes, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, and Plan International (empowerment of children and their families).
- Location – Caringbah (south Sydney), Australia
Big Bud Press offers ethically made unisex and size inclusive fun clothing. If you are looking for bright colors, fun flowery prints, or tie-dyed causal wear, this is a good place to start. They have custom-dyed trousers and statement jumpsuits that are impactful.
- Sizing – All of their sizing is unisex. XXS-7XL (waist goes from 22-56”). Their site shows different sized male and female models in each style.
- Fabrications & Styles – They use 100% cotton for their shirts, pants, jumpsuits, and coats. 98% is grown in the US and NAFTA certified. Most is knit/woven in the Los Angeles area, the rest is produced on the east coast. If it isn’t 100% cotton, it is either recycled yarns, or deadstock fabric. They use low impact and non-toxic dyes and screen printing is water based.
- Ethics/Sustainability – They are sweatshop free and visit all facets of their manufacturing processes at least weekly, usually daily to ensure that everything from working conditions to quality meets their high standards.
- Location – Los Angeles, California
Citizen Wolf has acknowledged the importance of a well fitting tee shirt by creating a company that produces custom made tees for men and women. Their award-winning Magic Fit® algorithm uses biometrics to create a shirt that perfectly fits your body. You choose the style, fabric, and color that you want, and they make your shirt within 10 days. Alterations are free and they guarantee to replace your Tee if it’s not perfect. They also offer free repairs (you only pay shipping).
- Sizing – Magic Fit® uses over 196 million data points to create a pattern based on your height, weight, age, and bra size.
- Fabrications & Styles – They offer a rainbow of colors (22) and more basic styles than you can imagine. For instance, there are 4 different V neck styles, various sleeve styles (rolled, half length, three quarters, long), etc. Their fabrics are natural, organic fibers that are either GOTS or RWS certified. You can choose from 3 different cotton weights, a 55% hemp/45% organic cotton blend, or merino wool. Waists can be tapered or straight. In fact, they encourage you to tell them exactly how you like your clothing to fit and look so they can create your perfection. For instance, do you want pockets, or even a tail hole because you are a golden retriever (honest, this is on their site).
- Ethics/Sustainability – They are B Corp and Ethical Clothing Australia certified and function as a carbon negative business. Since they make only what is sold, they produce 48% less carbon per Tee than fast fashion. Most fabrics are knit in Melbourne to decrease their supply chain and further reduce their carbon emissions. In addition to production sustainability, they also 5x carbon offset every shirt to become truly carbon negative. Since the Australian bushfire crisis their focus is in preserving the forests of Tasmania. They are completely transparent and are open to the public Monday through Saturday.
- Location – Sydney, Australia
- Recycling – They have a zero waste manufacturing process that captures, sorts, and upcycles every scrap of offcut fabrics. You can shop for products made from their scrap here.
Dariadéh offers a range of foundational garments in the most sustainable fabrics available. They are also one of the most transparent companies you’ll find – it is one of the few brands that tells the customer what their thread is made of and exactly where each and every aspect of a garment is produced down to how many hours are in a worker’s shift.
- Sizing – XXS – XXXL
- Fabrications & Styles – They never use polyester. Fabrics they use include Lyocell (Tencel™), cupro, hemp, linen, and organic cotton, corozo buttons from Ecuador, and their waistbands are made from organic cotton and natural rubber. By the way, their thread is made from Lyocell.
- Ethics/Sustainability – The company’s philosophy is based on a more conscientious fashion world that is both ethical and sustainable. With every order placed, they donate 50 cents to social and ecological charitable causes choosing a new organization every month. They are strong believers in transparency. Not only do they have information about the factories they use, each product page has a price transparency list where they down the costs of production, fulfillment, company costs, and payment provider fees. The description of each item enumerates where fabrics and trims come from in detail. They have multiple models for each item so you can imagine how the clothing will look on you.
- Location – Clothing is produced in small, family owned factories in Portugal, Serbia and Turkey.
- Recycling – Scraps from production are reused in other products such as female hygiene products and social projects such as making scrunchies.
Day/Won is a size-inclusive performance activewear brand. Their clothing is made consciously in the US for every body shape using sustainable practices and recycled materials to create a positive change. They want to support your biggest dreams and greatest goals. They are driven by the idea that anything you do in your day that makes you feel like your best self is a “day won”. The company’s philosophy is based on female empowerment and Many items have inspirational phrases printed on them. They also have collaborations with Tayler Ayers and Megababe.
- Sizing – 0-32 or XS – 5X on every item on their site
- Fabrications & Styles – Their activewear fabric is sweat-wicking, compression, and antimicrobial made from recycled materials that are marathon tested. They use recycled polyester, polyester, cotton, and spandex MaxDri. Some items are made from deadstock fabric.
- Ethics/Sustainability – All of their prints are digitally constructed, not water dyed, to prevent polluting the oceans. They manufacture clothing on-demand to reduce waste.
- Location – Upstate New York
Diane Kennedy creates luxurious 100% certified organic bamboo foundation clothing that is both comfortable and wearable. They are designed by founder and designer Diane Kennedy specifically for curvy women because she is a petite plus size woman herself. Their bamboo viscose is chosen to be smooth, glide over the body, breathable, cool and easy to wear. It’s also water absorbent and travel friendly.
- Sizing – S-XL, Plus sizes 0X-3X and Plus Petites (waist to 47”). They adjust their patterns so that XL does not fit the same as 0X or 1X.
- Fabrications & Styles – Their premium 12oz certified organic bamboo jersey knit is blended with 8% lycra for memory and is manufactured for the company in Canada. Their collection is designed so that the dresses, tops, tunics, and bottoms all coordinate with each other. Most items come in a variety of solids and complement their boldly printed accent pieces. They combine classic and modern silhouettes.
- Ethics/Sustainability – All of their products, down to their labels, are made ethically and locally. They’ve chosen to create their collections from bamboo not only because of their comfort and ease of wear, but also because of its sustainability.
- Location – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Decade Studio creates jeans for all women. They’ve surveyed women to create a collection of shape-inclusive denim that they call “Ratio-Fit”. It is based on the difference between your waist and hip measurements. That ratio determines which of their 4 styles is the best fit for your body type. Their goal is to eliminate the gap at the waist that many women experience with traditionally cut jeans. They rely on creating the proper fit rather than stretchy fabric.
- Sizing – 25-50 (most are in single inch increments). Their overalls only come in XS-XL at this time. Also, please note that they warn customers that their jeans require a certain amount of time to become broken in and achieve the right fit. They offer Fit Sessions to help you find your perfect style.
- Fabrications & Styles –100% Italian denim. Most styles come in 4 color choices. Other fabrics they use for tops include linen, Italian cotton, and silk noil (silk cotton blend).
- Ethics/Sustainability – They use natural indigo and all their fabrics are sustainable.
- Location – Headquartered in Canada, their jeans are handmade in Portugal.
- Recycling – If you have changed sizes, or just want to try a different wash, they have a platform from which you can sell or buy your used Decade jeans.
DL1961 is a sustainable denim company that clothes the entire family. For an extensive look into their sustainability practices and all the different styles and fits they offer, please see _____LINK from denim article________
- Sizing – inclusive sizing goes from 14W-26W. Each product page gives extensive measurements for rise, inseam, leg opening, the amount of stretch, hold and softness on sliding scales.
- Fabrications & Styles – Denim. They use sustainable denim and eco-friendly fibers such as Refibra Lyocell and their own recycled denim. Their fabrics are treated with an anti-microbial process. They focus on waterless technologies and consider everything from eco-dyes to the finished projects.
- Ethics/Sustainability – They give statistics on the water conservation, efficiency of processes, and their vertical supply chain. Their manufacturing plants use solar power. They also give back to The Pantry, a New York City group that supplies necessities to area shelters and charities.
- Location – New York, New York
Eileen Fisher has always championed women and the environment by creating slow fashion in an inclusive range of sizes. This is a brand that is as sustainable and socially conscious as it is elegant and stylish. It’s a company that you can feel good about supporting while you feel good in their clothes whether you are relaxing or at working.
- Sizing – Pants sizing goes from 0-28 and tops are sized PP-3X. Their petites go up to size PL.
- Fabrications & Styles – Sustainable and organic fibers include linen, organic cotton jersey, viscose, ponte, silk, cashmere, organic hemp, organic cotton and blends of these fabrics. All fibers are either organic, regenerative, or recycled. This is a good company to find staples in neutral tones. The dedicated plus collection is designed to be flawlessly proportioned for the perfect fit. The silhouettes are modern, flattering, yet flowy, and project an ease that can be mixed and matched in a selection of solid neutral tones. While the collections are bold, they are elegant, stylish, luxurious, and comfortable.
- Ethics/Sustainability – Fair Trade Certified collections. They have a closed supply chain, circular design, and are Fair Trade and B Corp Certified. The company focuses on human rights, preventing trafficking and slavery in their supply chain. They list over 40 causes that they support that deal with human rights, female empowerment, and environmental injustice or conservation.
- Location – New York. There are 65 stores in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom
- Recycling – They have an extensive re-sale shop, Renew, which has taken back over 1.5 million pieces of clothing since 2009 and either resold, donated, or remade them into new designs. Eileen Fisher has partnered with Botanical Colors to hand dye some of these with natural indigo. Waste No More is their initiative that makes artisanal textiles form post-consumer clothing in collaboration with artist Sigi Ahl. These creations are exhibited around the world in galleries.
Eli & Barry offers simple clothing for everyday wear. They don’t offer a huge selection, but instead focus on a few comfortable pieces, made from soft, durable, sustainable fabrics that can be used as a foundation for a wardrobe. Their clothes are meant to be comfortable in any setting and are extremely durable.
- Sizing – The collection has “open sizing” so that there is no stigma attached to a size label. For tops they carry OS 0-4 and each product page gives the actual measurements of the garment that correlates to each size. There are multiple models with their exact measurements and what size they are wearing to help the shopper judge their proper size. Their pants come in 20 sizes 0-OS20 and 3 length options.
- Fabrications & Styles – Everything is made from organic linen, hemp, or cotton, or a blend of these fabrics. Styles are comfortable, loose fitting, and pants have elastic waists.
- Ethics/Sustainability – While there is no specific information on sustainability practices, their fabrications are all some of the most sustainable available. The founder/owner, Lily Schlosser, started the company as a reaction to fast fashion.
- Location – Based in Denver, Colorado, they have stores in DC, Detroit, NYC, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.
Emlee Design offers thoughtfully designed, versatile, effortless, but unexpected clothing. They want their clothing to make you feel beautiful, but not too polished. Their aim is a magical, easy feeling. Their clothing is multi-functional and made from eco-friendly natural fabrics such as hemp, linen, and organic cotton. They are based in Nashville, TN and offer clothing in sizes XS-3XL. Unfortunately, they have taken a production break and don’t have any new collections, but you can still shop their previous collections.
Encircled offers clothing in capsule collections that is “high quality, comfortable, stylish, and (genuinely) sustainable.” They believe in slow fashion, creating clothing that is durable, versatile, and classic.
- Sizing – XS – XXL (0-20). They have a virtual fitting service, if you desire.
- Fabrications & Styles – They offer comfortable clothing that is just dressy enough to wear to the office yet is comfortable enough to wear around the house on days off. Their sustainable fabrics are smooth, silky, luxurious, and tree based. They use Lenzing MicroModal (beech trees), bamboo, Tencel, Modal, cotton, organic cotton, linen, and merino wool. They offer the full range of women’s styles that can be combined to create many different moods. All their offerings are solids in fairly neutral colors – you won’t find bold prints here, but you can create a versatile wardrobe foundation. They do have one product – the Chrysalis Cardi – that can be manipulated into 8 different styles from a scarf to a dress. One of their Cardi’s plus some leggings can create an entire wardrobe.
- Ethics/Sustainability – Encircled is a Certified B Corp that used OEKO-TEX 100 certified fabrics. They use FSC certified paper and eco-friendly cleaning products, participate in a yearly park clean up, have absolutely no plastic on-site (including individual water bottles), and have a strong diversity and inclusion policy that they are continually improving upon.
- Location – Toronto, Canada and locally made.
- Recycling – All scrap fabric is upcycled into accessories. They also hold quarterly sample sales, and have a Facebook site where you can buy, sell, or trade Encircled clothing.
Free Label manufactures their clothing locally in small batches to help avoid overstocking. They also work with eco-fabrics to make their comfortable wardrobe basics. This is another company that offers quality wardrobe foundational garments in very inclusive sizing.
- Sizing – XS-4XL (0-26)
- Fabrications & Styles – They offer, tops, bottoms, and sport bras. Bras are made from 85% bamboo rayon and 15% spandex. For their summer 2021 collection tops are made from linen, organic Supima cotton, Tencel, Lyocell, and bamboo rayon/spandex and bottoms are either linen or bamboo rayon/spandex. Their clothing comes in solids – either neutrals or rich colors (not necessarily brights). They occasionally use deadstock fabrics.
- Ethics/Sustainability – To ensure ethical production, they manufacture and even mill their fabrics locally. As part of their diversity and inclusion business plan they created a Bursary and Mentorship program for BIPOC entrepreneurs. While there is only one yearly mentorship, they have stayed in touch with many of the applicants and have created a BIPOC marketplace for the entrepreneurs on their site where they can showcase their products.
- Location – Vancouver, Canada with some production in Toronto.
Girlfriend Collective is one of the first companies people think of when sustainability is raised. They offer swimwear, undergarments, sustainable activewear, bottoms, and jackets, as well as accessories. They are a great company for inclusivity, including size inclusivity.
- Sizing – XXS up to 6XL
- Fabrications & Styles – They use recycled materials for their activewear. Leggings use 25 recycled post-consumer bottles and sports bras (11 recycled bottles). They also have leggings made from recycled fishing nets in ECONYL® and cupro tanks and tee shirts.
- Ethics/Sustainability – SA8000 certified fair production practices and OEKO-TEX 100 Certified fabrics. They use eco-friendly dyes and all water is carefully cleaned and cooled before being released. (Warning: they state that their dyes will run at first, so wash separately or with like colors in the beginning). The company is transparent about their production processes, the factories they partner with, their fair labor initiatives and certifications. They use 100% recycled and recyclable packaging.
- Location – US based company that manufactures in Viet Nam because that is where the best manufacturers for high-performance fabrics are located.
- Recycling – Because only 1% of clothing is recycled worldwide, they will send you a store credit when you send back old Girlfriend clothing. The fibers will be recycled to create new clothing. Because synthetic materials make up 60% of all clothing worldwide, and especially because their clothing is made from recycled plastics, they offer a Microfiber filter that can be attached to your home washing machine to filter out all microfibers and nano-plastics before they can enter our waterways.
Good American is a denim brand that has extended their offerings to include just about everything a woman would need. It was founded by Kloe Kardashian & Emme Grede as a direct to consumer denim and apparel brand. Not all of their clothing is sustainable, their goal is to make 90% of their denim sustainable by 2021.
- Sizing – XS – 5XL (00-24) which they translate into sizes 0-8. They also have maternity collections. They have a guide that will help you find the best fitting jeans for you based on which features you would like to highlight – waist, legs, or curves. Each product is modelled by 3 different sized models as part of their inclusivity campaign.
- Fabrications & Styles – There are 8 different fits and 11 different jeans collections to choose from. They also have swimwear, activewear, and casual collections. They use separate prototypes for their standard and plus sizes – making adjustments for inseams and pocket placements. They also use sustainably manufactured Turkish Calik denim. Calik has created “Selfsized” fabric that is highly elastic so that the stretch denim can cover a range of 3-4 sizes per pair. All jeans have a gap-free waist.
- Ethics/Sustainability – They use Denethic technology that reduces energy and water usage in production and have environmentally safe washes. They are working toward their B Corp Certification. The site indicates which items are sustainable.
Hackwith Design House takes a slightly different approach to sales by offering a limited-edition collection where they produce one design every week, making no more than 25 of each garment. They do have additional lines that include a Core Collection, Swim, Basics, Plus, and Intimates. As part of their sustainability mission and to reduce waste, the majority of their items are not produced until they are ordered. Their design aesthetic is classic with updated detailing.
- Sizing – Straight sizing XS-XL (0-14), Plus sizing +1- +4 (14-28). Plus size swimming goes from +1 to +4.5 in ½ size increments.
- Fabrications & Styles – They use a variety of fabrics including linen, Lyocell, rayon, and cotton. Their swimwear is made from recycled polyester/spandex and their intimates is made from 92% modal/8% spandex.
- Ethics/Sustainability – While their site doesn’t go into great detail about their sustainability or ethical practices, they make all their clothing in-studio so they know their employees are being treated fairly. They reduce waste by only producing once clothing is ordered, and they use more sustainable fabrics.
- Location – Made in-house in St. Paul, Minnesota
- Recycling – Sustain Shop is their recycling program. Customers merely return worn and used pieces which will be updated and resold to receive a $20 store credit toward their next purchase.
Hope & Harvest clothing is consciously designed and engineered for curves. The company matches staples worthy of the investment, but also follows trends to keep your wardrobe fresh. The site lists awards received and celebrities who have worn their clothing. They are more runway forward than most plus sized brands.
- Sizing – XS-XL (UK/AU/NZ 12-26, US 8-22)
- Fabrications & Styles – Using organic cottons and reconstructed cellulose fibers such as Modal, they offer a full range of styles for work week to weekend. Their clothing has structure, yet is flowing, and they offer feminine prints in weaves such as crepe and chiffon.
- Ethics/Sustainability – They manufacture both locally and through Fair Trade agreements with off-shore small family manufacturers who demonstrate ethical business practices and hold SA8000 accreditations.
- Location – Ballarat, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Australia. They offer design consultations if you live near their studio in Melbourne or via Skype.
Hours creates consciously crafted, elevated essentials exclusively for sizes 14-28. Their goal in creating the company was to produce chic, seasonless, quality clothing that was flattering to curves and comfortable enough to wear all day. They “design intentionally, source sustainably, produce ethically, and craft to last for years” in their mission to empower women.
- Sizing – S-XL although their Small is a 14/16 and XL is 26/28
- Fabrications & Styles – They have upcycled over 1500 yards of fabric such as rayon, viscose/cotton, stretch cotton, and polyester. While many of their styles are less constructed, like many plus size clothing is, they feature a greater than normal number of styles that work with curves really well by accentuating them through their construction methods.
- Ethics/Sustainability – Although the fabrics themselves may not be the most sustainable, they are all upcycled choices. They ensure worker safety, fair compensation, and proper waste disposal of scraps by carefully choosing their suppliers and regularly auditing their supply chain.
- Location – New York based
IGIGI offers made-to-order upscale and elaborate clothing (special occasion and formal wear) that provides the exclusivity of Couture but at truly reasonable ready-to-wear prices. By selling made to measure, the company not only guarantees a perfect fit, but it supports their commitment to sustainable and ethical manufacturing. Company owner Yuliya Raquel and her team have been developing a 3D automation fashion design technology to assist in delivering clothing that fits and flatters. (Warning: because clothing is custom designed and made, delivery times may be as much as 6 weeks.) This is a great site for fancier and colorful dresses.
- Sizing – All their garments are made to your measurements. They make only plus sized clothing (12- 36)
- Fabrications & Styles – Their site breaks clothing options into Modest Chic, Daywear Favorites, Playful Prints, Little Black Dress, Semi-Formal Event, Cocktail party, and Bridal. For instance, Little Black Dress currently offers 12 different designs and there are over 20 bridal designs. Any given design can be modified in a variety of ways from the neckline style to the dress length. While many of the fabrics aren’t very sustainable, they get them from deadstock, thereby preventing their disposal.
- Ethics/Sustainability – By only making made to measure garments, they drastically cut down on the amount of waste. They use deadstock fabrics and pay their workers far above the local wage and ensure only 40 hour work weeks.
- Location – Company headquarters are in the US, but manufacturing is done in Kiev and Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Karen Kane makes well crafted feminine clothing made from the best fabrics and advanced techniques to yield an incredible fit and feeling. Their clothing is flowing, casual, yet nice enough to wear to the office. The company is family run and their vision is that “women should feel beautiful and comfortable, always.”
- Sizing – Plus sizing 14W-22W or 0X-3X. Regular sizing XS-XL (2-16). They also offer petites and children’s clothing.
- Fabrications & Styles – Tencel®, rayon, viscose, nylon, linen, Modal, cotton, polyester, spandex, and blends of these fabrics. They also tie dye some of their designs.
- Ethics/Sustainability – They are a Certified B Corp that features OEKO-TEX certified fabrics, and a transparent production process and supply chain. Their management team is over 70% women and more than 75% of their employees are from underrepresented populations. They are continuing their sustainability efforts by minimizing their use of plastics, integrating sustainable packaging, reducing water and power usage, and increasing their sustainable fabric choices. They support a number of women’s, children’s, fashion and environmental charities.
- Location – Los Angeles based where they cut and hand sew most of their clothing.
- Recycling – they have switched to using returned hangers which prevents 1 million new hangers from being made each year.
Kirrin Finch is a bit different than most plus sized clothing brands. It is menswear inspired and caters to the androgynous fashion and tomboy style although it’s made for female and non-binary bodies. They offer everything from casual clothing to formal wear that combines the design and aesthetic of menswear with the perfect fit for the female body. Their clothing can either be dressed up or dressed down.
- Sizing – 0-24 or 3XL
- Fabrications & Styles – Sustainable & natural materials including organic options and low impact dyes. Fabrics include cotton, wool, recycled wool, mohair, and nylon. They have adjusted the traditionally made button up shirt to flatter women. For instance, to avoid having your shirt gape over the bust, they’ve added extra buttons there to reduce the strain and the buttons are on the right side so you won’t have to pay dry cleaners extra. They’ve added pops of contrasting color in unexpected places like the collar, cuff, gusset or buttons. They’ve also made the collar slightly smaller and more sturdy than normal so that a bow tie or tie will be supported. Front darts have been removed and they have a seamless and unpleated back. Shirt length has been adjusted so it will stay tucked in but isn’t too long to be worn untucked. Each of these details was thoughtfully designed.
- Ethics/Sustainability – They use sustainable fabrics and dyes, ensure that their factories use fair labor and ethical manufacturing practices, and give back to LGBTQ+ organizations through donations and events.
- Location – New York
Levi’s offers many sustainable clothing choices. They’ve been innovators from their inception about 150 years ago. They invest heavily in new technologies and processes to make their clothing eco-friendly – from growing cotton to using new, innovative fabrications, and partnering with other sustainable companies. Ethically, they treat their employees well and use fair suppliers. There are in-depth discussions of their sustainability at ___sustainable clothes__ and _denim________.
- Sizing – For women, Levi’s sizing goes from 23”-34” waists and 25”-34” lengths. Their plus sizing goes from 1X-4X, 14-26 in Short, Medium, Long for each size. Luckily, there are Levi’s to meet just about any body.
- Recycling – Not only does Levi’s run their own resale shop on their site – Secondhand – but there are a number of other resale retailers that rely on vintage Levi’s. See our complete guide to sustainable denim with a history of Levi’s and information about vintage jeans.
Nu-in is a fun, fashion forward, casual brand that is incredibly transparent about every aspect of their products and production. They are vegan, designed for circularity, and committed to being both sustainable and affordable. They offer clothing for the entire family and a unisex collection.
- Sizing – US 14-22, UK/AU/NZ 18-26
- Fabrications & Styles – Organic or recycled cotton, recycled polyester, Seaqual (recycled polyester from plastic bottles removed from the ocean), Ecotec cotton (certified upcycled yarn made from waste and plastic bottles), Lyocell, recycled polymide made from carpets, old fishing nets, and manufacturing waste. They start their design process with the fabrications that meet their affordability and sustainability requirements, and then design around that.
- Ethics/Sustainability – Their site gives exhaustive information about their manufacturing, sustainability processes, and the circularity of their clothing. In fact, they have built a new factory that specializes in mechanically recycling mixed composition clothing. Each product page gives information on that item’s circularity, composition, it’s packaging, and manufacturing site.
- Location – US based with factories in China, Turkey, and Portugal.
- Recycling – Their Buy For Good page is a way to sell their overstock rather than putting it on sale. 30% of the net revenue from these items will go to different chosen charities that fight social and environmental injustice around the world.
On the Plus Side makes every day earth day. They offer a wide selection of clothing in probably the widest size range available. They emphasize comfortable clothing with a good feel and an even better fit. They carry everything from clothing, outerwear, sleepwear, intimates, and swimwear.
- Sizing – 1X-8X or 18W-48W US. Many of their fit models are actual customers. They also carry petites.
- Fabrications & Styles – They use mostly natural fibers and fiber reactive dyes to produce the minimum amount of harmful waste. Fabrics include cotton, linen, rayon, wool, and silks in various blends.
- Ethics/Sustainability – They source their garments from socially responsible companies to combat unfair and unsustainable work practices. They also donate to local organizations such as The Red Cross, The Living Room, COTS Work Ready Apparel Shop, and Redwood Food Bank. They also host clothing swaps and donate surplus fabric to local schools and surplus products to local non-profit organizations.
- Location – New Jersey
Poplinen was founded to help women feel more than, not less than. They want to create collections for those who have felt left out – whether because of size, gender preference, or ethnicity – they want to democratize fashion. They translate their philosophy into fashion by listening to women and creating basics and loungewear that’s comfortable, earth-friendly, durable, and can be worn without compromising individual style.
- Sizing – XS-3XL. They create two distinct patterns based on two fit models for each design to ensure that plus sizes feel and fit as well as straight sizes. Each page has a “Find My Size” tool to help customers find the best fit.
- Fabrications & Styles – Sustainable plant-based fabrics including Tencel™ Lyocell, Modal, GOTS organic cotton, upcycled denim, linen, and rayon from bamboo. Some of their fabrics are from deadstock finds. These are all OEKO-TEX Certified and they use low-impact dyes.
- Ethics/Sustainability – In addition to using factories near their headquarters to ensure fair wages and working conditions, using compostable shipping mailers, and compostable and recycled packaging materials, they donate 1% of every purchase towards Step Up – a program that empowers high school girls, especially those from underserved areas, and supports their goal of becoming professional women. They are also part of 1% for the Planet.
- Location – Los Angeles based and produced.
- Recycling – They have a Poplinen Pre-Loved resale section on their site where customers can post pictures of clothing they’d like to sell. Poplinen will send a prepaid shipping label, and the customer receives the payment. The site is administered by Treet.
Snoozy Sunday (formerly Ori) makes soft, comfortable tee shirts and dresses for every day. The biggest feature is their soft feel and wide size range.
- Sizing – S-XL (2-16), 1X-4X (18-32)
- Fabrications & Styles – Clothing is offered in both their CloudSoft cotton available in both pastels and rich tones as well as tie dye, Cool Knit which is a blend of 95% rayon and 5% spandex which features darker colors, and new Bamboo fabrics. They offer both more fitted styles (CookKnit) and relaxed fit (CloudSoft and Bamboo).
- Ethics/Sustainability – Unfortunately, the site has very little about their sustainability and ethical practices, although their fabrications have the potential to be sustainable.
- Location – Los Angeles
Sotela creates flexible clothing because our bodies often change on a week-by-week basis. The name is a combination of the Spanish word “tele” (fabric) and “so” (sew) – Sew fabric. Their main goal is to empower women to develop a positive relationship with their clothing. They design clothing that neither too loose nor restrictive and allows for body/weight fluctuations so it will always be forgiving, flattering, and fairly made. Soleta is a made-to-order slow fashion brand.
- Sizing – They take an unconventional approach to sizing of 0-10 as well as including tall and petite. They have a sizing guide that will help you correlate your measurements to their sizing. Based on your bust, waist, and hip measurements you pick the size that will accommodate your largest measurement. In traditional sizing, their clothes will fit US 0-30. They believe their system helps keep complicated emotions out of finding comfortable clothing.
- Fabrications & Styles – natural fabrics such as Tencel™, linen, organic cotton, and recycled materials. Their clothing is both fitted and loose to accommodate weight fluctuations. They are made in neutral, earthy colors and can be mixed and matched to create numerous outfits.
- Ethics/Sustainability – All their fabrics are sustainable. The site doesn’t describe their supply chain, transparency, or packaging choices. They are extremely inclusive and focus on body-positive messaging.
- Location – Los Angeles, California
Tradlands offers refined foundational pieces that are inspired by thoughtful tailoring, quality fabrics, and expert detailing. The entire line stems from the founder’s inability to find quality and durable clothing that fit well. In contrast to women’s choices, she found that the vintage men’s clothing she altered felt and wore best. Tradlands is built on the concept of offering quality pieces that combine detailing with flexibility.
- Sizing – XXS-5X
- Fabrications & Styles – They use natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk and Tencel to create their flexible, comfortable styles. Many product pages feature more than one model and each page gives details of how the garment fits. For instance, is it true to size or oversized and customer reviews which include their impressions of fit as well as the customer’s measurements. Each page also tells where the fabric was sourced. The site has a quiz to help customers discover their personal style and offers essential pieces that will help you build a wardrobe. To create durability, the company embraces details like French seams and extra thick buttons; and details like side gussets and no-gap (extra buttons) busts help make their clothes wearable.
- Ethics/Sustainability – They produce their clothing in small batches with each new item slowly and thoughtfully developed. They engineer each detail from the fit to the trims and refine their designs on a yearly basis for continual improvement. The company believes that Cost Per Wear should be the underpinnings of building a sustainable wardrobe. Fast fashion can’t compete with quality sustainable garments when the actual cost per wear is factored in.
- Location – Oceanside, California
- Recycling – The have a Pre-Loved page on their site. The Worn Well Exchange is where customers can shop and sell pre-worn clothing. This is also where you will find company samples for sale.
Universal Standard has always been about inclusivity – from size to lifestyle to race, while also keeping sustainability in mind. They offer everything from casual to workwear, sleep, athleisure, and workout clothing. The company tries to make shopping as easy as possible for their customers so you can try on 8 items at home for 14 days. They also offer curated capsule collections, and customers can book 30 minute Virtual Styling appointments to them find the proper fit and style. They sell modern essentials and the company is based on premise of accessibility, uncompromising fit and quality.
- Sizing – 00-40 in traditional sizing. However, they have created their own sizing scale that goes from 4XS-4XL. Their medium is the average size in the US of a 18-20. They also offer petites. They have a “Fit Liberty” program that allows you to purchase clothing in your current size, and if that changes within a year of purchase, they’ll replace your clothing for your new size and/or a different color. This program even includes Fit Liberty (Mom) for those who are pregnant. They term this collection as Pregnancy clothing because they are styles you can wear before, during, and after pregnancy.
- Fabrications & Styles – Fabrications include cotton (pima, stretch twill, recycled, French terry), stretch linen, merino wool, cupro, and polyester satin and includes upcycled and recycled fabrics. Because their clothing is based on foundational garments, most are solids, but all are comfortable and flatter multiple body types. They have an extensive stretch denim/jeans collection with multiple styles in short, regular, and long inseams, and mid or high rise.
- Ethics/Sustainability – The company will use upcycled and recycled fabrics and are committed to fair labor standards. Their greatest strength is in their commitment to size inclusivity and racial equality for which they have an extensive action plan.
- Location – New York, New York
- Recycling – They have a Reset, Recycle, Refresh program where you order a prelabeled recycling bag from them for $4.50 which can be filled up with 1-4 pieces of clothing to be sent to Marimole, a textile recycling company. You will receive a $25/piece voucher toward purchasing new clothing from Universal Standard. Returned clothing from their Fit Liberty programs are donated.
Final Thoughts on Size-Inclusive and Sustainable Fashion
There is still a long way until the average sized woman is treated as an equal by the fashion industry. Luckily, greed is levelling the playing field and more fashion houses are accommodating a greater proportion of the population. I believe that sustainable fashion brands will embrace including larger sizes in an exponential fashion – after all, the underpinning of sustainability are sensitivity to others and the planet.
It’s encouraging that both dedicated plus size companies and straight size companies are embracing sustainability, slow fashion, and circularity. It’s even more encouraging that there are made to measure choices out there for everything from a tee shirt and jeans to your party dress and bridal gown.
If you’ve discovered a favorite sustainable clothing company, please let us know. We are always on the hunt for companies that are worthy of being endorsed, encouraged, and shared with others.