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Why Sustainable Fashion Needs To Be Inclusive, Too

These 8 brands are leading the way.

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@shopalmostthere
Model wearing blue ALMOST THERE dress.

In a perfect world, sustainable fashion would make its transition from niche to normal, marking fast fashion a passing blip in the industry’s timeline. Writers, activists, and emerging designers who want fashion to become more ethical from both an environmental and human rights perspective continue to make strides in that direction every day. But in order for that perfect world to be truly realized, sustainable and plus-size clothing must be part of the conversation. It’s essential that slow fashion become accessible to everyone who wants to engage with it — including women above a size 12.

Though the average American women’s clothing size is between 16 and 18, there remains limited options to shop in the ethical fashion space. “It’s getting better, but there are so many gaps,” Marielle Terhart, a plus-size slow fashion influencer and writer, tells TZR of the current landscape. “Being a plus-size customer often equates to being treated like a second-rate customer. We are told to accept the bare minimum.”

Terhart is not alone in her sentiment, but there are brands out that equally prioritize sustainability and size inclusivity. "Both are incredibly important right now and will only become more so in the near future. In fact, it will be the norm, not the exception," says Patrick Herning, founder of luxury e-commerce site 11 Honoré. "Fashion is at a turning point where inclusivity and attention to environmentally responsible practices are imperative to a brand's business, but also it's the right thing to do, for and as a reflection of, our culture."

Read on below to get familiar with eight fashion brands leading the way in making sustainability truly accessible — for every body.

We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

ALMOST THERE

If you’re on the market for a versatile wedding guest dress that won’t destroy your budget, turn to ALMOST THERE. The size-inclusive brand combines luxurious silhouettes with affordable price points, all while prioritizing a circular and sustainable mode of practice. “ALMOST THERE makes each product to order, uses only dead stock and natural fabrics, packages with recyclable and biodegradable materials, manufactures in a family-owned, LA-based factory,” says Celine Kabaker, founder and designer of the brand, in an interview with TZR.

Kabaker started the brand after observing an unfortunate trend in the industry. “I noticed that the pricing in contemporary fashion was increasing outrageously, yet I didn’t see any alignment between perceived value. I wanted to create a brand that represented and flattered women of all body types, produced its products locally, and sourced its materials responsibly,” the designer shares. Garments range from XS to 5X and were designed and fitted on real-life models to ensure an adequate fit for all body types.

abacaxi

abacaxi, a playful and vibrant clothing brand founded by Sheena Sood, offers reimagined interpretations of signature South Asian designs with a city-inspired context. “I wanted to be able to highlight and explore the diverse textile traditions from South Asia — embroidery, beading, weaving, and dyeing — by bringing them into our everyday wardrobe in an authentic and fresh way,” Sood tells TZR. “It started with a suitcase full of Rajasthan vintage shisha (mirrorwork) embroideries I brought back from a trip and then used to create a capsule of one-off pieces. Now it’s grown into a full fashion collection.”

For Sood, movement-friendly pieces and size-inclusivity have long been a priority. “I’ve always had a tendency to design pieces that have some adaptable, reversible, or multi-use and multi-size purpose, and I realized that this is also connected to being inspired by traditional dress. The sari for example is the ultimate design for me; one garment that can fit almost anyone, and be draped and worn in a multitude of ways,” says the designer. “I’ve always designed the collections with diverse bodies and shapes in mind, and as someone who is a size 12/14 myself, have always been interested in showing the line on different sizes as well.”

“[Our] garments are also made in small batches with a designer-led and ethical producer in Delhi, India. Our knit and crochet pieces are cotton and alpaca, knit by artisans in Peru,” Sood shares. abacaxi offers sizing up to 4X on and items are made with upcycled fabrics and leftover scraps from production.

Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective debuted in 2016 with a mission to repurpose as much of the earth’s pollution as possible, using it to create a comfortable, durable, and sustainable alternative to synthetic activewear. After launching with an already impressive size range of XXS to 3XL, the brand decided to expand through 6XL two years later, thanks to push of direct customer feedback.

“Above all, we want our brand to be as accessible as possible, across sizing, messaging, and pricing, without sacrificing the quality of the products or the lives of the people who make them,” says co-founder Ellie Dinh. “Making clothes for our amazing community across our updated size range helps us make sustainable activewear accessible to more people and gets us one step closer to our goal.”

Elizabeth Suzann

The Nashville-based brand churns out timeless designs from natural fibers, and manufactures right in its hometown in Tennessee. The neutral, minimalist palette transcends season, making every piece a possibility to break out year round.

Offering sizes XXS through 4X — as well as one size fits all pieces in OS, OS medium, OS plus, OS plus2, and OS plus3 — Elizabeth Suzann not only shows each piece on at least two different models on its e-commerce site, but shares a video as well so that customers can see the clothing in action. Bonus: The brand is working on extending its sizing even further, so that more women can enjoy their classic pieces.

Berriez

Berriez, an Instagram shop based in Brooklyn, New York, has taken it upon itself to fill a void often overlooked even when talking about sustainable fashion inclusive of plus-size — vintage.

“I discovered vintage and second-hand clothing through my grandmother, who would have been a modern day size 12 or 14,” says founder Emma Zack. “When my mom gave me a few of her pieces to try on, I remember loving their fit, uniqueness, and knowing I would be channeling my grandmother’s energy each time I wore any of it. I soon realized I had a better chance of finding something at a thrift shop that fit than at most retail shops.”

With that realization, Zack set out to make that experience more accessible to a wider audience. During a time where secondhand shopping is on the rise, Berriez offers an option for a portion of shoppers who are often underserved. Follow along and you’ll see daily posts showcasing one-of-a-kind vintage wonders sized anywhere from XL through 26 and beyond, along with an assortment of trend-driven accessories, like tie-dye slip dresses and leopard printed pants.

“Berriez strives to be accessible to all,” Zack adds. “This goal may be limited by the items I am able to source, but inclusivity and, of course, representation will always be at the core of Berriez.”

Hackwith Design House

Hackwith Design House, or HDH, walks the fine line between classic and trend-driven offerings, bringing together timeless silhouettes and current season accents, like square necklines and tie-tops. Committed to transparency and ethical production, everything is made out of its Minnesota-based studio by its in-house seamstress.

Not every garment is available in extended sizing, but there are dozens of options — from statement jumpsuits and minimal dresses to everyday pants, blouses, and swimsuits — that are available through 4XL.

Mara Hoffman

Fashion designer Mara Hoffman made headlines for extending her brand’s sizing based on customer — or would-be customer — feedback. “It’s been such a long time coming, and so many women have been asking us for [extended sizing] on social media,” Hoffman shared in an interview with Vogue back in 2018. “Women would write, ‘Can you please make this in my size?’ Or they’d ask, ‘Why don’t you include me in this conversation?’ That’s always a brutal [question], because of course I want to include you. I want to include everyone.”

Hoffman took the time to extend sizes in a thoughtful way, bringing in the right fit models and pattern-makers to do the extension justice. Today, Hoffman has dozens of garments available through size 3X — depending on the piece — in the free-flowing, colorful, and patterned aesthetic her brand is known and loved for, with even more available through luxury size-inclusive site 11 Honoré.

And as with every Mara Hoffman piece, extended-sizing garments are also crafted by way of sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices in New York City.

Big Bud Press

Big Bud Press is a small but mighty Los Angeles-based operation specializing in size-inclusive, unisex clothing made using ethical and local manufacturing. One look at the brand’s site and you’ll find a bright, animated explosion of color — overalls, corduroy trouser shorts and patch-work coach jackets all available in sizes XXS through 5X.

“We work hard to make a product you can feel confident in. Not only when you wear it, but knowing where it comes from and how it's been made,” the brand shares on its site. “We may be small, but we work hard to make something for as many folks as possible.”

Tuesday Bassen

Should this brand sound familiar, it’s probably because it's the eponymous shop of one of social media’s favorite illustrators, Tuesday Bassen. Staying true to her aesthetic, the lifestyle brand brings to life a collection of clothing that one could only imagine the cast of the '90s animated sitcom Daria would love — its quirky, a little dark, and extremely spirited, in the best way possible.

The brand produces clothing in sizes XXS to 7X with an emphasis on adjustable fit (think hidden side zips and elasticated back waist) and local, ethical production. Tuesday Bassen uses deadstock vintage and California-made fabrics whenever possible at its sewing house in Los Angeles.

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