The Best Ethical, Sustainable and Warm Coats for Winter
- by EcoCult Staff
- Nov 3, 2021
- No Comments
Image credit: Askov Finlayson
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If you live in a location where winter exists, you know that a good coat is a necessary investment not to be taken lightly. Unless you want to end up freezing every time you go outside, it’s not something you can or should buy cheap. It might cost you a bit more upfront, but if you choose wisely, purchasing a sustainable, high-quality winter coat can bring you years and years of comfort and happiness.
Here’s what to look for in an ethical and sustainable winter coat:
An eco-friendly outer layer: All of the brands below either use natural, biodegradable fibers or recycled synthetic fabrics. Puffers are made out of synthetic materials like polyester or nylon, which are essentially plastic, and harmful to our environment. Of course, water resistance is really great—even a necessity—when it’s snowy outside, so look for recycled synthetics instead.
When water resistance isn’t needed, though, wool is usually the warmest of all of the natural fabrics. Just beware of synthetic wool-imitators such as acrylic, which is a fossil-fuel-based plastic fiber.
Sustainable stuffing: What’s inside puffy winter coats is actually what keeps you the warmest. Whenever possible, you want to look for either recycled and/or ethically-sourced down filling. The down that geese and ducks produce is made to keep them super warm while they’re outside during the winter, and there isn’t a synthetic available that beats it when it comes to warmth. If you live in a super-cold climate, that’s key.
Non-toxic durable water repellent: Many outdoor brands use durable water repellant (DWR) based on a toxic class of chemicals called PFAS or PFCs. Called forever chemicals, they can slough off into toxic dust in your home and in the environment, and have been linked to cancer, infertility, thyroid issues and obesity. If you’re going for a snow coat or puffer, check to see if the brand is PFAS or PFC-free. More about this here.
The brands below are our favorite when it comes to ethical, sustainable winter coats for both men and women. They all prioritize transparency in their production and they all use mostly eco-friendly recycled and/or natural materials. You’ll find a wide variety of coats, from ultra-warm puffy coats that you can take skiing or camping, to sleek and classy wool coats that you can wear to the office or out on the town.
Related: eco-friendly winter accessories, cozy socks & slippers, and sustainable sweaters.
Frank and Oak
Launched in 2012, Frank and Oak didn’t start out as a sustainable company, but it has gradually been implementing more eco-conscious practices and materials into its processes over the last several years. Now, at least 50% of the materials used are lower impact (so make sure to double-check materials before you buy!), such as recycled polyester, wool, hemp, natural cotton, cruelty-free insulation, and non-toxic dyes. Frank and Oak is also a certified B Corp and uses recycled and recyclable packaging.
Prices: $129 – $499
Thought sources natural, sustainable yarns that use less water, fewer pesticides, and create less CO2. Its coats are made primarily out of natural wool, recycled polyester, and organic cotton. The brand carefully sources its fabrics, uses only slow shipping for the lowest carbon footprint, and adheres to a strict ethical code of conduct for employees. Thought turns its scrap fabrics into headbands and leftover yarns into socks. 98% of its packaging is recyclable.
Prices: $99 – $250
Marfa Stance creates timeless and versatile outerwear made from either recycled, stock or dead-stock fabrics or certified sustainable materials from Italy and Japan. All Marfa Stance’s padding for the Quilts is recycled. The brand’s minimal packaging is recycled and it also offsets the carbon footprint of its deliveries. For every Marfa Stance item sold, it plants a tree to reduce its carbon footprint.
Prices: $1,095 – $1,225
The Swedish brand Filippa K aims to have 100% of its styles be fully traceable and certified and reduce carbon impact annually. Filippa K operates under a circular framework that includes reducing, repairing, reusing, and recycling whenever possible. If you live in Europe, you can lease a Filippa K garment for four days for 20% of the price or return your old Filippa K garment to a store for recycling. Filippa K’s coats are made out of materials like merino wool and soft cashmere.
Prices: $450 – $2,400
Based in Minneapolis, Askov Finlayson is one of the few climate-positive companies—it offsets 110% of the emissions used to create its products and operate its business. Its coats are made ethically in Bac Giang, Vietnam, out of recycled material for the outer shell and inner lining. Plus, it has an awesome One Winter Guarantee, so if you don’t love your coat after your first winter with it, you can return it, no questions asked. After that, it’s warrantied for life because to be as sustainable as possible, the brand believes gear should last for many winters to come.
prAna mostly carries activewear, but also has a great variety of jackets and coats. With materials like organic cotton, hemp, recycled wool, and recycled polyester, its traceability has been meticulously documented, and everything is certified Fair Trade too. The brand is committed to ensuring all paper-based packaging is made from 100% recycled content, with preference given to post-consumer waste content by 2025.
Prices: $99 – $449
B Corp certified Sézane is a French apparel brand that creates high-quality, timeless clothing at a fair and accessible price. You can find organic cotton, certified materials, recycled polyester and vegetable-tanned leather for the majority of its collections. 100% of Sézane’s shipping boxes are now made from recycled cardboard or are derived from sustainably-managed forests.
Prices: $170 – $905
Jack Wolfskin creates outdoor apparel and equipment. Its products are made from recycled material and without PFCs or natural fur. Since 2013, all of its products that include cotton or a cotton blend originate entirely from a certified ecological source. Jack Wolfskin offers a wide selection of winter jackets, allowing you to shop by category. You can find windproof, mosquito-proof, waterproof, among other jacket categories.
Prices: $59.95 – $449.95
This high-end Canadian brand sells apparel, backpacks, and hiking shoes, climbing and snow gear with sleek, modern design. Though not as well known for its environmental innovation as Patagonia, you’ll see the Arc’Teryx name in many of the same programs around microfiber research, science-based carbon emissions reduction, and reducing the use of PFAs and other toxic finishes and dyes. It also has a repair program and resells used Arc’Teryx apparel and gear at an affordable price.
Prices: $139 – $999
Gabriela Hearst launched her eponymous label, a luxury women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and accessories collection, in 2015. Each garment is constructed with conscientious materials, including silk, cashmere, linen, and wool from her family’s Uruguayan ranch. The brand uses biodegradable TIPA packaging and is committed to being plastic-free and investing in zero-waste stores.
Prices: $1,220 – $15,000
A leader in sustainability for the past four decades, Patagonia carries a wide variety of winter coats for men and women, whether you’re looking to go on a winter mountain climbing expedition or walk to work in the city. Many of Patagonia’s coats are made with fully or partially recycled and fair trade inner and outer materials. All of the virgin insulation used in the natural down coats is fully traceable and certified to the Advanced Traceable Down Standard by NSF International, meaning there was no live-plucking and that broader humane animal welfare standards were observed throughout the supply chain. Patagonia partners with Fair Trade-certified factories, aims for carbon neutrality by 2025, funds research into microfiber pollution, and donates to environmental nonprofits and political campaigns.
Prices: $249 – $900
Stella McCartney’s eponymous label designs ethical and high-end clothing, shoes, and accessories with a responsible, honest, and modern ethos. Its sustainable and cruelty-free designs lead the brand to pioneer new alternative materials, pushing towards circularity and sustainability. Stella McCartney’s coats are all made with either recycled materials or natural, eco-friendly materials like cotton, wool, or sustainably sourced viscose. Stella McCartney measures and reports its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions with an approved science-based target to reduce them. Its sweaters are all made with either recycled materials or natural materials like organic cotton, wool, and alpaca.
Prices: $1,395 – $3,500
Nau creates clothing that is both sustainable and high-tech. It uses all-natural and/or recycled materials, with multiple certifications behind them to give you peace of mind. Its winter coats are made of 100% recycled down and are also PFC-free DWR for water repellence. Plus, a portion of each purchase is donated to a grassroots environmental organization.
Prices: $190 – $250
Eileen Fisher has been a leading pioneer in fashion sustainability for a decade. Founded in 1984, Eileen Fisher is a certified B Corp brand that creates ethical, timeless and well-made clothes. Still helmed by Eileen herself, the brand is committed to transparency and reducing its water and climate footprint. The majority of Eileen Fisher’s coats and jackets are made from natural and biodegradable materials like organic cotton or wool and recycled synthetics like polyester. Eileen Fisher is also an advocate for circularity, which is why it has introduced several programs that further extend the lifecycle of a garment. With the Renew take-back program, customers can bring back/return old pieces, and Eileen Fisher cleans them in an environmentally friendly way and resells them in nearly perfect condition.
Prices: $370 – $528
Pangaia is a collective of scientists, technologists and designers that share the common goal of creating essential products that are innovative and safe for the planet. Its smart technology includes bio-based materials, recycled fibers, natural botanical dyes and antibacterial peppermint fabric additives. Pangaia also tracks its supply chain using NFC chips to ensure full traceability and transparency. Pangaia’s sleek winter coats are filled with FLWRDWN, a vegan, biodegradable down material created using natural wildflowers and a biopolymer, then infused with aerogel for performance and durability. The wildflowers are sourced from areas that contribute to habitat restoration, reduce greenhouse gas production, and preserve groundwater. The outer shells of these sustainable coats are made from recycled nylon. Plus, a tree is planted with each purchase.
Prices: $315 – $1000
Since it requires almost no resources to produce and saves material from the landfill, purchasing secondhand is one of the most sustainable ways to shop—and can provide some more affordable options too. Shopping secondhand online can save you a ton of time and effort in the searching process versus going to your local thrift stores and consignment shops.
thredUP is the largest online consignment store. It checks its clothing for quality and functionality before shipping them to you. You can expect to find a wide variety of jackets and coats, but it has a lot of filter options to make shopping easier.
Prices: $20 – $3,700
You will find more vintage luxury piece on Vestiaire Collective, which is more heavily curated based on brand. You can shop designer coats for both men and women.
Prices: $25 – $33,600