The Best Sustainable Fashion Shopping in New York City
- by Alden Wicker
- Nov 9, 2021
- No Comments
Image credit: Another Tomorrow
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I’ve done sustainable shopping guides to cities as far-flung as Lisbon, Lima, and Hanoi. But until now, I’ve never done one for my hometown: New York City. One reason is that, for a long time, it would have been very short. There was very little sustainable shopping to be done!
NYC is a city of flagship stores, large international fashion brands, and luxury. If you wanted more conscious fashion, you had to hunt down the emerging designers, who were scattered about at boutiques here and there.
Times have changed, and Soho is now stuffed with startups and legacy brands who have made sustainability a core part of their ethos. You could even call Soho a destination for shoppers who want to finally interact in person with direct-to-consumer brands they’ve only ever been able to look at online.
But it’s not just the notable brands you’ll find. There are several boutiques listed here where you’ll find emerging brands and unique fashion that none of your friends back home will have.
One note: This does not include secondhand and vintage fashion. There’s a ton of it in New York, and there are a lot of other excellent guides out there if that is your vibe. I definitely recommend you check some of that out as well!
I suggest you set aside an entire day for yourself to explore Soho, pop uptown, and range across the vast shopping wilds of Brooklyn. There’s a lot to see! Should you buy everything? Absolutely not. I never think you should go crazy. Consider it an exploratory trip to narrow your consideration set down to brands you appreciate and want to patronize in the future.
407 Bleecker St
Try on one of Rothy’s signature washable and super packable flats made with recycled water bottles, or one of its new styles of sustainably made slip-ons and sneakers.
Luxury fashion and art
705 Greenwich St
This project by Donna Karen brings together luxury artisan and handcrafted design for your closet and your home. Everything is avant garde, black, white, red, and in natural materials. The prices are high (the target market is the kind of people who have a third home in Aspen), but it’s worth a visit just to see and touch some of the wearable art in there.
Luxury professional clothing
Snag an outfit for your next promotion or public speaking event at Another Tomorrow, which creates modern, high-quality, and timeless products with only organic natural materials that support soil health, ecosystems, and communities. It uses forest-based fibers from responsibly managed forests with zero net contribution to deforestation. The brand also offers resale to further extend its garments’ life and reduce raw material usage.
Luxury artisan fashion
178 Prince St
A B Corp-certified ethical fashion company that pays living wages for every textile and sewn garment, Voz specializes in silk dresses and woven ponchos and wraps. It uses sustainable fibers and processes to create its elegantly cut apparel and accessories collections. The company collaborates with politically and economically marginalized women to create fashion collections, and provide design leadership, training, and opportunity for indigenous women in the rural regions where they reside.
Luxury cruelty-free fashion
112 Greene St
This luxury designer label currently uses all the best sustainable materials available, plus invests in new sustainable and animal-free material innovations.
Upscale fashion basics
10 Columbus Cir + 395 W Broadway
Eileen Fisher the woman decided almost a decade ago that she wanted to turn the brand sustainable, and ever since then has led the way, with more sustainable materials, and certified non-toxic finishes and dyes. It has several locations in the city, but you should definitely visit the Soho location so you can peruse the Renew collection, which is old Eileen Fisher pieces that loyal customers brought back which the brand cleaned, repaired, or upcycled into pieces that are at a more accessible price point.
Upscale outdoor gear
72 Greene St
Patagonia might be the most sustainable apparel brand on the market right now. Not only does it use more sustainable and recycled materials wherever possible, it has a restricted substances list, and takes back its old items for repair and resale. As a 1% for the Planet member, it’s donated over $89 million to environmental causes, has an investment arm dedicated to scaling up sustainable technologies, and has a political environmental action arm.
Upscale emerging cruelty-free brands
63 Greene St
Founded as a pop-up in the fall of 2021, this store will run until the end of the year, with hopes to be permanent. It carries brands like The plant leather purse brand Alexandra K, Montreal couturier Mavra Toufidis, Amur, upcycling brand Rentrayage, activewear by Qeep Up, sneakers by Yatay, plus shoes, perfumes, art, and homewares. Placards give a brief overview of the ethics of each brand — there’s a special emphasis on animal-free products.
A leader in the sustainable fashion movement, this heritage brand makes affordably priced and ethically-made jeans, jackets, and other cotton and denim apparel. It’s committed to using 100% renewable energy in its owned stores and facilities by 2025 and is supporting its suppliers in decarbonizing its supply chain. Ask one of the sales associates to direct you to the Water<Less products, which use less water and energy in the finishing process.
435 Broome St
If your sexy goth teenage friend grew up, got a high-powered job, and started caring about the environment, she would shop exclusively at Nicholas K. Find un-dyed alpaca wrap sweaters, silk goddess gowns, leather-trimmed cocktail dresses, and drop-crotch pants. Everything is expertly draped to look amazing on a real woman’s body, so it’s to your advantage to try everything on in store.
205 Mulberry St
This sustainable French sneaker brand opened its New York store in early 2019. It uses sustainable materials like organic cotton and real Fair Trade rubber. Find fashion-y running sneakers, leather street sneakers, and vegan options, too.
Ready to wear and swimwear
183 Lafayette St
This brand prioritizes natural, recycled, and organic materials, including organic cotton and alpaca for their sweaters. Its garment workers are treated and paid fairly and it aims to minimize waste and energy usage throughout the entire supply chain.
73 Spring St + 201 Columbus Ave
This California start-up launched with its signature merino wool sneaker, but has expanded into slip-ons, flats, boat shoes, high tops, and water-repellent shoes. It offsets its carbon emissions and uses sustainable and non-toxic materials. Read more about Allbirds.
39 Bond St + 156 Ludlow St + 1055 Madison Ave
This sexy-cool brand from California makes more sustainable, fresh fashion from sustainable and deadstock materials. A large portion of it is made in Los Angeles, and some right in a factory it owns.
Luxury artisan fashion
15 Bleecker St
This eponymous label has well-crafted artisanship and natural materials from countries like Peru, Uruguay, India, Kenya, Brazil, Ghana and the Philippines at the heart of every unique item. You’ll find rich embroidery, cozy knits and crochets, hand-hammered jewelry, and lifetime leather pieces.
Zero + Maria Cornejo
Luxury artisan fashion
33 Bleecker St
Eighty-four percent of Zero + Maria Cornejo collection of elegant separates has been produced in the heart of New York City’s Garment District, with the exception of a few categories including shoes and knitwear which are made by small, independently owned factories in Italy, Bolivia, Peru and China. The brand uses ecological and sustainable fabrics wherever possible, and continuously looks to develop special collaborations with women artisans around the world.
230 Mott St
Find sustainably made and super sexy lingerie, ranging from cute organic cotton panties to full lace lingerie sets at the store of this beloved brand, which has been producing in New York City since the late 1970s.
Backpacks and outdoor gear
262 Mott St
This Scandinavian brand, who you might know for its signature backpacks, creates outdoor apparel and products that are meant to last both in style and physical endurance. It uses sustainable materials like recycled wool, organic hemp and Tencel; good, recycled polyester, and G-1000 Eco and traceable wool. Its products are PFC-free and non-toxic, too.
Upscale men’s and unisex denim
This Swedish denim brand sells organic cotton, ethically made jeans. I can attest that they are indeed unisex — both my husband and I have a pair — and you can get them shortened or repaired right in the store.
Emerging and artisan brands
This slow-fashion store moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan and got a glow-up. There are brands that marry handcrafts like lace crochet and quilting with modern elegance, interesting athleisure, work-appropriate separates with edge, punk protest slogans on upcycled denim. What they all have in common is that they are small brands with an ethical ethos that you won’t find almost anywhere else.
985 Madison Ave
Talk about ladies who lunch — this eponymous label sells luxury women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and accessories. Launched by the South American designer who recently took over Chloé, this label constructs each garment 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 — check out this store to see how close the brand is to its goal of being zero-waste and report back!
155 Grand St
Disillusioned by industry standards that turned a blind eye to metal and gemstone mining’s environmental and human tolls, the co-founders and designers behind this brand are now industry leaders in ethical sourcing and progressive manufacturing. It offers Fairmined gold and responsibly recycled metals, and traceable and conflict-free diamonds and stones. Everything is made in Philadelphia.
219 Bedford Ave
Catbird sells ethically-made jewelry from other designers as well as its own, which is made in its workshop right in Brooklyn. Find delicate earrings and necklaces made from recycled metals and ethically-sourced stones, and build yourself a very Brooklyn and pretty ear party.
683 Driggs Ave
This New York-made brand is incredibly transparent and thoughtful about how it sources metals, stones, and other vintage and organic materials for its quirky yet elegant jewelry. When possible it has other precious metals cast in New York City by a trusted network of responsible partners. In terms of stones, it’s built strong relationships with suppliers who share in its philosophies on environmental protection, fair labor, social responsibility and making positive contributions to the communities where the stones come from. For example, it strives to use 100% responsibly sourced, eco-friendly or recycled gold, it only sources pearls that are deadstock or 100% sustainably cultured. And its garnets are Ant Hill garnets (mostly from Arizona), which are mined and hauled to the surface by ants while excavating their underground passages. You’ll also find sustainable and locally-made home objects in the Williamsburg store.
Melissa Joy Manning
196 Court St
We’re big fans of MJM here at EcoCult—she actually created my engagement and wedding rings! Everything is handmade in Melissa’s studios in New York City or California. The Berkeley studio is green-certified and the jewelry is made using recycled precious metals from a Green-Certified refiner, and packaged in recycled packaging. The brand also carbon offsets all its shipping.
385 Tomkins Ave
This small boutique features global fair trade fashion, like wax cloth jumpsuits, oversized bronze jewelry, sneakers, and colorful woven purses.
158 5th Ave
Founded by South Asian fashion expert Swati Argade, Bhoomki features clothing, jewelry and accessories by brands committed to ethics and sustainability, including favorites Osei-Duro and Kowtow, plus tailored designs by Argade herself.