For me nothing quite beats a good t-shirt. The perfect fit. Just the right amount of cozy, soft amazingness from countless washes. And endless styling options. Sigh…
Not only are tees wardrobe essentials in my world, but one of those things that I just can’t live without (okay, I probably could, but I would really, really, really prefer not to).
Once you find a good tee it is one of the absolute best layering pieces, and can be worn in pretty much every situation — wear with ripped denim for the “I’m so cool I can get away with wearing just jeans and a t-shirt” look or style with a hip blazer (oxymoron, bedamned!) and cool trousers for more of the “boss a$$ bitch” look — you name it and you can probably figure out how to wear a t-shirt to fit the bill.
But because basics (and I’m just gonna assume this is doubly true for “ethical” basics) just don’t get a lot of people’s hearts a flutterin’ like the newest “it” bag or a beautiful avant garde piece, I’ve done some of the legwork for you. I’ve scoured the interwebs to find some favorite tee brands that also produce their ish in an ethical and sustainable way.
I’ve mentioned Everlane several times before, but their basics game is hard to beat. With a variety of styles from a basic crew, to their flattering v-neck, to the more fashion-forward square tee, Everlane has probably got just the tee you have been looking for. And with prices starting at just $15 they’re affordable, to boot.
Alternative Apparel is a fabric-first company, which means they can focus on sustainability throughout the lifecycle of their clothes. They are committed to sustainability by creating products responsibly, with over 80% of their garments made with sustainable materials and processes. Their G2 wash uses 60% less water, they use eco-friendly and organic fibers, as well as recycled poly and other materials and they only use non-toxic and low impact dyes. And their tees give off cool girl/tomboy vibes all day erryday.
I’ve also mentioned Amour Vert, which was founded on the belief that great fashion didn’t have to be sacrificed for social responsibility. All of their products are American made and use non-toxic dyes and sustainable fabrics. Their tees are a little more on the pricey side, but use great fabrics and are made to last. Added bonus, with every purchase of one of their signature tees, Amour Vert plants a tree.
When most people think of RE/DONE they think of awesome vintage Levi’s. But, I gotta say, they brought their A game to their tees as well. RE/DONE thinks of themselves as a movement to restore individuality to the luxury fashion space, to keep heritage brands relevant and create sustainable fashion all at the same time. To that end, they are doing the same thing they did for vintage Levi’s (made it cool and modern, duh) for Hanes — making super rad and modern tees from a good old school brand.
PACT Organic believes shoppers can change industries with the simple, everyday choices of their purchasing decisions, and their mission is to change the apparel industry. To that end, they also want to make it easy for shoppers to choose organic by creating a line of super soft and affordable organic cotton clothing. Their tees are simple and come in “everyday essential” colors (i.e. black, white and grey), as well as limited edition colors and stripes for a little added oomph.
I’ve talked about how great Live the Give is before, but let’s do a quick recap just for the fun of it. Live the Give creates high quality, stylish tees that also give back to an important cause. For every tee you purchase, Live the Give helps provide one week of school for a child in a developing country. Their tees are super soft and super flattering. They are made in ethical factories, and made with the environment in mind — they are currently made from a poly-cotton blend, but will soon be incorporating recycled fibers into the line.
Threads 4 Thought is a lifestyle and clothing label motivated by a mission of sustainability. They use non-GMO, organic cotton, recycled polyester and Lenzing modal, which is made from the pulp and Beech trees that are trimmed, but never cut down. They use only socially responsible manufacturing practices and are part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Fair Trade USA. Thread 4 Thoughts tees come in great fabric options and also a variety of cool washes to make them standout from just your average tees.
American Giant started with one simple goal: to make exceptional clothing in the U.S. and offer them at a fair price. They live by the tagline, “Don’t get comfortable,” meaning they are always striving and driving to do better. Their tees are simple, affordable (prices starting at $24.50) and have a lifetime warranty.
Marine Layer makes darn-near-the-softest tee in the whole wide world, just sayin’. Their signature fabric — MicroModal — is made from recycled beechwood, which uses a pulp production method that is self-sufficient, sustainable and eco-friendly. The majoirty of their tees are made in the U.S., and all of their tees are made responsibly, by adults. And did I mention that their tees were soft?
Ever the cool girl of sustainable fashion, Reformation does not disappoint when it comes to its tee collection. Reformation makes super stylish and flattering tees with the same focus on sustainability as everything else in their collection.
Another brand I’ve talked about before (what can I say, I’ve got my faves), DSTLD stands for better ethics in the apparel industry. They use a small circle of socially responsible suppliers, no sweatshops, eco-friendly fabrics and, as a special little gift to you, ethical pricing. And their tees are just as cool as everything else on their line (that’s to say they’re freakin’ cool, man).
From “seed to skin,” Groceries Apparel is committed to developing awareness of all lifecycle stages of their fabrics and garments. That is why they manufacture all of their garments in their own California factory, trace their fabrics to the farm and keep a close eye on their supply chain to make sure that every human involved is treated fairly. They use only “fresh ingredients” like eucalyptus, hemp, recycled cotton, organic cotton, recycled plastic and linen, and offer chic tees that look as good as they feel.
Mainline is a California-based knitwear line that uses 100% natural and organic cotton for all of their basics. With the goal of being the perfect t-shirt to go with jeans, Mainline’s tees are simple, straight to the point and all made as socially and environmentally conscious as possible.