Your Summer Packing List: An Ethical Guide
Looking to stock up for your trip? Then you might want to consider checking out these ethical brands and products to your summer packing list.
One of my big goals this year has been to be more conscious and thoughtful in terms of my lifestyle choices whether it’s using reusable straws as much as possible or not just going on shopping sprees every month. I was thinking about some things I’d like to add to my summer wardrobe, and I realized I needed a proper list of which ethical brands to look at for what. So, you know, I made one!
This summer packing list guide will you help you figure out what to do before you start shopping, which brands you should check out for what, and some additional products you’ll want for sustainability.
- 6 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste While Traveling
- Packing List for Hot Weather Travel
- Summer in Korea: What to Do + How to Stay Cool
Before You Start Shopping
I think before you start adding anything to your wardrobe, you should do a few things! Again, this is just my opinion and what I do when I’m 100% on my best behavior. Trust me, I just bought a few things because I passed by H&M in Seoul. I’m not an ethical or sustainable role model — I’m just trying to get better!
1) Assess your entire summer wardrobe.
I mean really assess your entire summer wardrobe. If you have the time, go full Konmari* — try things on, hold them up, and get hippie-doo-da with it. Keep only what you love and what you know you’ll get plenty of wear out of. I may not feel like the most stylish person in my cotton dresses and Birkenstocks, but I know they’re the first things I grab when I wake-up and need to get ready in minutes.
It’s totally okay to keep things you won’t wear a ton either! For example, I have this pair of wedges I love, but I’ll probably only wear for weddings or fancier events (okay also around my apartment fo practice). The moral is to keep what feels right to you.
2) Donate or sell what you know you won’t wear or didn’t wear all last summer.
It’s so easy to drop things off at Goodwill or sell them online depending on what works for you! Don’t just toss them.
3) Save some photo inspiration of trends or styles you can’t get out of your head.
I think before you start shopping willy-nilly, you should look at style inspiration of what you truly can imagine yourself wearing. Trust me, I think Jane Birkin looks amazing, but I have no desire to ever make a deep V crochet dress work on me.
4) Make a list of what’s missing in your wardrobe, and what you truly want and need.
Once you’ve assessed your wardrobe and saved some inspiration, make a list of what’s missing in your summer wardrobe. This is good to prevent impulse buying.
5) Really know your measurements and sizes. Don’t lie to yourself.
Sit down and figure out your measurements and sizes. Try things on when you go shopping. Don’t lie to yourself. If that dress pulls over your stomach in a way that makes you want to suck it in and feel uncomfortable, think about going up a size!
6) Before you shop online or buy new, check out your local thrift store or online for secondhand clothes.
You never know what you’ll find, and the Internet makes things so much more organized than they used to be!
Your Summer Packing List: An Ethical Brand Guide
Okay, so now here are some brands that have come up as ethical, sustainable, and, some, even vegan! See which ones you like, can afford, and want to support! I included the summer products each brand has to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. Remember any links with an “*” are affiliate links, and I appreciate the support!
Products: Dresses, Tops, Jumpsuits, Bags, Sandals, Jewelry
ABLE’s main goal is to empower women. They manufacture locally in the communities they hope to help, and they’ve developed accountABLE, a reporting system that’s incredibly transparent. Their products are made in Ethiopia, the US, Peru, and Mexico.
My Picks: the Joselyne Double Strap Sandal*, the Banchi Satchel in Burgundy*
Products: Dresses, Skirts, Shorts,
Aiayu is a Denmark-based company that balances a classic Scandinavian design with sustainable production and environmentally-friendly manufacturing. They manufacture responsibly in India, Bolivia, and Nepal.
My Pick: The Flounces Mini Skirt
This brand is based in Barcelona and focuses on being eco-friendly by using high quality, recycled fabrics. Their swimsuits are multifunctional and meant to for women who want to live active lives while still being fashionable.
My Pick: The Crucis Australis Swimsuit in Black
Products: T-Shirts, Tops, Dresses, Jumpsuits
Amour Vert’s name quite literally means Green Love in French, so you know they’re serious about their carbon footprint. I’ve been following them on Instagram for a while on my private account, and I just love their clothes and aesthetic. The San Francisco-based company is entirely manufactured in the US (except their sweaters) using eco-friendly materials. They also employ a zero-waste strategy, and they plant a tree for every tee sold. So far they’ve planted nearly 175,000!
My Picks: Wallis Silk Dress in Sunflower (almost sold out!), Barton Cat-Eye Sunglasses
Products: Swimwear, Sandals
Beth Richards is on a mission to help women feel empowered from their swimwear, not ashamed. The brand’s core values are to create “inspirational imagery of women that is still sexy and feminine but also non-exploitive of the female body.” The company is ethically manufactured in Vancouver, Canada. They focus on small production runs, promote first-world wages for employees, and aim for as little waste as possible. The company also runs the not-for-profit CENSOR PROJECT, and 100% of the proceeds go to Planned Parenthood and The Gloria Steinem Foundation.
My Pick: The Daphne One Piece in Black
Products: Activewear– tops, bottoms, dresses, underwear
Bhumi is an Australia-based brand that focuses on sustainable luxury. It focuses on transparency, traditional textile craftsmanship, and sustainable design using 100% GOTS organic cotton. It’s also certified Fairtrade Australia, which means it ensures social, economic, and labor rights for both farmers and workers, pushes for environmentally-friendly farming practices, and provides funding for community projects. Its main product is bedding, but it has a nice selection of clothing as well!
My Pick: The Wrap Dress in Black (such a nice classic staple)
Bikini Empire is the brainchild of Monica and Kelsey Rush. Everything is ethically made in Canada and all the materials, from the fabric to the zippers to the elastic, are made from ethical sources. They use Italian Eco-Luxe fabric, and the fabric company itself supports the World Wildlife Fund.
My Pick: The Better Draper in Lipstick
Camp Cove Swim
Products: Swimwear, T-Shirts, Rashies, Board Shorts, Tote Bags
Ahh, I LOVE the retro vibe of this whole brand. From the site design to the prints, it speaks to the seventies-hippie-dippy-loving side of my personality. All the swimwear is ethically manufactured in the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia, all the fabrics are printed in Sydney, and they incorporate recycled fabric into the lining of their suits.
My Pick: Emma Full Piece – Merlot Polka Dot
Coclico is an NYC-based, Spain-made brand that sources its materials locally in Europe. It believes luxury should be found in choosing wisely rather than spending endlessly. They partner with Native Energy to track annual in-house carbon usage and are investing in renewable energy projects. All shoes are made in a small factory in Mallorca, Spain. The factory only produces Coclico products, pays living wages, and is environmentally friendly.
My Pick: Oohlala Sandal in Black
Gala Maar is a fairly new brand, only launching in 2017! It’s “environmentally sound fabrics and proudly produced in Los Angeles, CA.” They make sure to practice sustainability in every detail of production from recycled packaging to even having fulfillment centers on each coast to reduce carbon footprint. They also use fabric made from discarded fishing nets too cut down on ocean pollution.
My Pick: Deep Garnet Neeve High Waist Two-Piece
Hackwith Design House
Products: Swimwear, Dresses, Skirts, Tops, Jumpers, Bags, Shoes, Hats
Hackwith Design House was founded by Lisa Hackwith when she combined her studio art background with a love for sewing after receiving a sewing machine as a gift. Everything is made entirely in-house in Minnesota. They also focus on making items to order to reduce waste.
My Pick: Off-the-Shoulder Dress in Baked Clay
Products: Straw bags
This is where I got my little straw bag, which I adore! Mallory sent me a link to it because we were both obsessing over woven straw bags but couldn’t find one that was totally ethical. Hartwood House is awesome. It’s actually a sub-brand of SALT, which is a skincare brand. All bags are traditional and handmade in Indonesia. The “leather” is also all faux, making it vegan-friendly. Profits are donated to The Orangutan Project, which is dedicated to buying land back in Borneo from palm oil companies. (Seriously if you’ve never looked up the plight of the orangutan in Borneo, look it up. You’ll also realize how many things have palm oil in them).
My Pick: The Sol Bag, of course!
Products: Shorts*, T-Shirts*, Tops*, Skirts*, Dresses*, Sandals*
If there’s one brand I’ll ALWAYS recommend to everyone, it’s Everlane. I love all my products from this store, and I just love how they position themselves on human issues. They made a big splash when they first started with how radically transparent they were in their costs, expenses, and why they charge what they do. They even highlight their factories and where they source their materials.
My Picks: The Japanese GoWeave dress in yellow* or the 100% Human tees* (I have the pink one)
Products: Sandals, Slip-On Shoes
Can you believe these shoes are made from repurposed tires? That’s seriously amazing. Tire-waste is a real problem considering they take thousands of years to decompose and over a billion of them wind up in landfills every year.
Indosole is based in San Francisco and Bali. It’s a certified B-Corp, which means it meets certain social and environmental performance standards. They’ll even share updates from the Indonesian factories on social media! Oh, and they’re also vegan-friendly. If you’re looking for a good pair of flip-flops for summer, then this is the perfect brand for you!
My Pick: The Biku Sandals in white
Products: Skincare, Cosmetics
I feel like LUSH needs very little introduction! This company focuses on 100% vegetarian products with absolutely no animal testing and as little packaging as possible. Everything is handmade, and you can even see a picture of the person who made your product on the package if there is any! I always try to pick up a few items when I’m home since it’s crazy expensive in Korea.
My Pick: Cosmetic Warrior — Ah-mazing for when my skin breaks out.
Products: Swimwear*, Dresses*, Jumpsuits*, Shorts and Pants*
Mara Hoffman is an example of a brand that didn’t start out with sustainability in mind but began making the change recently and are still continuing to change and adapt. All of their swimwear is ethically made in LA using ECONYL®, a 100% regenerated nylon fiber made from pre and post-consumer waste or REPREVE®, a polyester fiber made from 100% recycled plastic.
My Pick: The Lydia Bikini Bottom* + Carla Bikini Top* in the Vestige Print
Matt & Nat*
Products: Sunglasses*, Shoes*, Bags*
Matt & Nat is actually short for “Material and Nature,” which I think is a pretty cute spin on the two words! The brand is vegan-friendly, all the linings in their bags are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and they work on incorporating sustainable materials into their designs such as cork and rubber. They also have personal relationships with their factories.
My Pick: Manya sandal in ruby*
Products: Dresses*, Skirts*, Tops + T-Shirts*, Activewear*
People Tree is another of my favorite brands for ethical clothing! It’s relatively affordable compared to a lot of options, and it has generally flattering cuts and pretty prints. It’s considered a pioneer in the slow/ethical fashion movement, having been founded over 25 years ago! Their clothes are fair trade and sustainable, and they were the first organization to receive a GOTS certification in their supply chain.
My Pick: Cat Jumper in Navy*, Keiko Dress*
Products: Dresses*, Tops*, Jumpsuits*, Swimwear*, Straw Bags, Sandals*
I feel like of all the brands my ethically-minded, vegan friends love, Reformation sits at the top. There’s an effortless cool about the brand in addition to all the good they do for the fashion industry. On the one hand, they’re constantly designing for women, and the majority of their fabric is made with sustainable materials. While the company isn’t 100% sustainable, they offset their practices by investing in environmentally-friendly practices like planting forests. Most of their hourly workers are paid more than minimum wage and over half make more than the LA living wage. Heck, you can even schedule a tour of their factory!
My Picks: Francis Dress*, Sally Dress in Red*
Taryn Sage Larok founded the line in 2015 with the mission to be both stylish and sustainable. It’s entirely produced in LA, and a percentage of their swimwear sales go to the NGOs HealthSeas.org and Canopy to help the oceans and forests respectively. All their material is either recycled or organic.
My Pick: Laguna One Piece in Lavender
Vitamin A Swimwear
Vitamin A goes back to 2000 when the founder, Amahlia Stevens, couldn’t find a fabric supplier that made recycled fibers for swimwear. She worked for 3 years to create the EcoLux fabric. The company also uses waterless digital printing technology for all their products, and a percentage of their sales goes towards environmental organizations.
My Pick: The Ava Bodysuit Full Coverage in Black
Other Products to Help You Be Sustainable:
A reusable water bottle
I mean, it’s summer, so I’m assuming you’re going to get pretty thirsty no matter where you go! Bring along a reusable water bottle to fill up instead of wasting plastic by buying water bottles. I’ve been carrying my Hydroflask* everywhere. Korea has water filters pretty much everywhere, so it’s been easy to refill it. It seriously keeps things cold and doesn’t get all full of condensation.
If you don’t have access to water filters or don’t trust the tap water in your country, then get one of these! It’s on my list to buy eventually. You basically fill up your water bottle and stir this around for 90-seconds and it makes it drinkable.
House of Marley Headphones
I forget where I heard about them, but I remember jotting them down. If you’re traveling, chances are you’re going to be listening to music or a podcast/audiobook at some point. If you need a new pair of headphones, check out ethical brands like House of Marley.
Check here for a list of brands PETA approves.
You guys didn’t think I just knew about all these brands, did you? Of course not! I did some research beforehand! Basically, I scanned through different listicles, made a list, and went to the individual sites to read their manifestos and about us pages. Here are some of the most helpful:
- Everything on Good on You. Seriously, it’s been my favorite thing to read since Mallory introduced me to it. They have the app and also a blog section!
- The Good Trade, especially their swimwear article.
- Eco Warrier Princess is another blog that came up in my searches as well.
This list is by no means complete! Let me know if you have a favorite summer brand I missed, and I’ll update this list as I find out about more companies.
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I love this! I hate the idea of fast fashion and am trying to get better about investing in ethically produced, sustainable clothing (and hygiene products). Dang, it’s hard though, with cheap cute stuff floating in front of your face all the time. Anyway, thanks for researching and writing this! I’ll definitely bookmark it for the next time I need to make an intentional purchase ;)
Thanks, Dylan! I’m trying to get better too (and I know, so many cute things!). It’s hard when H&M is the only real store that fits me in Korea!