Image credit: Boob
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As a mom-to-be, you want to feel safe, comfortable and supported as you grow a little human inside you. But as a conscious shopper and future parent, you are also worried about the consequences your child will inherit with the fashion choices you make today. Which is why along with comfortability, you most likely have ethics, sustainability, and non-toxicity at the top of your shopping list when it comes to maternity wear.
What to look for in ethical and eco-friendly maternity wear
Natural fibers: Fast fashion brands love to utilize polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers due to their cheap production. But these textiles are not recyclable, are made from fossil fuels, shed toxic microfibers and encourage fashion overproduction and waste. They also aren’t very kind to your skin and have a tendency to absorb and retain odors.
We recommend looking for natural fibers that will cocoon you during this time (and that you can nap in when the mood strikes), such as organic cotton, with USDA Organic or GOTS certifications. To take it a bit further, shop from brands that have transparent field-to-factory programs that support cotton farmers on their journey to healthier soil.
Non-toxic finishes: Toxic chemicals can be breathed in and absorbed through your skin, and then cross the placenta to be absorbed by your baby in the womb, which can affect their development even into adulthood. Don’t fall for a pretty garment that was dyed with petroleum-derived synthetic dyes, as there’s very little governing with the use of toxic azo and aniline dyes in the countries where most of our fashion is made. Some contain heavy metals or carcinogenic substances that are hazardous when inhaled or come into contact with the skin.
Also, avoid non-wrinkle finishes, which contain formaldehyde, a chemical known for its use in biology class to dissect animals that are also found in personal care items, clothes, and sheets. Studies have revealed that formaldehyde contact could increase your chances of having fertility problems or miscarriage.
So favor non-toxic products that are processed and dyed without harmful chemicals. Look for labels like OEKO-TEX, bluesign, and GOTS.
The same goes with choosing dry-clean-only garments. Dry cleaners use a chemical called perchloroethylene or trichloroethylene, which according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is likely to be carcinogenic to humans. When inhaled, it can cause several issues, including respiratory and eye irritation, headache, kidney dysfunction, and vision problems.
Recycled synthetics: If you opt for synthetic fabrics due to their versatility and stretchiness, consider brands that utilize recycled polyester and nylon, as they produce fewer carbon emissions than their virgin counterparts.
Fair working conditions: You wouldn’t want to wear clothing sewn by exploited mothers and children. Below you’ll find brands that prioritize transparency and fair, safe conditions for their workers. Certifications like Fair Trade and SA8000 make it easier for you to buy from brands that prioritize these crucial elements.
Multi-use for beyond nine months: There’s no need to limit yourself to just specifically maternity clothes and spend money on a whole new maternity wardrobe. Many brands below offer clothes that can support you throughout your pregnancy and be used for much longer than just a few months.
Sustainable packaging: Buy from brands that use packaging that contains recyclable or biodegradable materials, like recycled cardboard or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper.
Where to buy ethical, sustainable, comfortable yet stylish maternity wear
Pact was one of the first companies to make organic basics available at a more affordable price. It started with basics like underwear and tees, but has since expanded its collection to include maternity, bedding and bath towels as well. You can find a nice range of leggings, dresses and t-shirts — all made with organic cotton. For packaging, Pact uses paper envelopes made from 100% post-consumer recycled paperboard and cardboard boxes made with 98% post-consumer recycled materials; both are 100% recyclable.
B Corp certified Isabella Oliver is a London-based maternity brand focused on ethical and sustainable designs that you can wear throughout your pregnancy and beyond. Its style is contemporary and comfortable, made with fabrics that derive from natural fibers that biodegrade without releasing harmful chemicals into the environment. Isabella Oliver’s packaging is 100% plastic-free.
Cosabella is a cult-favorite lingerie brand that has been around since 1983 and is best known for its comfortable, high-quality, and eye-catching pieces. Cosabella has been a family business for two generations and continues producing everything in Italy to this day. It takes measures to ensure its employees are treated well and the factories it works with adhere to Italy’s labor standards. Cosabella’s maternity selection includes underwear, bras and sleepwear.
Amour Vert (which means ‘green love’ in French) creates clothing made from low-impact fabrics like organic cotton, TENCEL, OEKO-TEX-certified silk, ethical wool, and more. Its beautiful and versatile pieces are made in limited quantities to ensure the highest production standards and eliminate any excess waste. Amour Vert also develops zero-waste designs and works directly with mills to develop its own fabrics that are sustainable, soft, and stand the test of time. Most of its products are made transparently in California in limited quantities to reduce waste. The brand is also one of the first companies to use compostable protective bags to store and ship its garments and is committed to only using packaging made from recycled materials and printed with soy-based inks. Check out Amour Vert’s dedicated page for maternity-friendly designs.
Warp + Weft is a family-owned company that’s been in the denim business for three decades. It is committed to ethical practices, fair wages, reasonable hours, and positive working conditions for all its people. You can shop for straight or skinny maternity jeans.
Girlfriend Collective is known for its inclusive and sustainable activewear. Its leggings, bras, and shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles and old fishing nets, along with OEKO-TEX certified safe dyes. Everything is made ethically in an SA8000 certified facility where workers are guaranteed fair wages, safe and healthy conditions, and zero forced or child labor. You can also grab Girlfriend Collective’s Microfiber Filter, to stop the microfibers from your recycled garments from getting into our waterways! Its maternity selection includes leggings and biker shorts in many different colors.
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. The brand’s maternity capsule collection showcases comfy knitwear and jackets. 100% of Sézane’s shipping boxes are now made from recycled cardboard or are derived from sustainably-managed forests.
Threads 4 Thought makes activewear for men and women made from organic cotton, recycled polyester, and Lenzing modal. In addition to its fair working conditions and water conservation, it also uses profits to support the International Rescue Committee. Threads 4 Thought offers a wide range of maternity leggings and maternity-friendly cardigans and sweaters.
Founded in 2004, Frugi creates 100% GOTS and Soil Association-certified organic cotton garments. Some items contain a little elastane and recycled polyester from plastic water bottles. Its maternity collection showcases dresses and tops in multiple whimsical prints. Frugi’s factories are located in India, Turkey, Portugal and China.
Boob offers garments that are comfortable, flexible and double-up for pregnancy and nursing. You can shop for numerous maternity items, including nursing bras, t-shirts, dresses, underwear, activewear, among other garments. Its entire collection is made of sustainable materials that are all traceable from fiber to final garment, such as organic cotton, Tencel, Modal and merino wool. Boob’s production takes place in Portugal, Turkey, Italy, Greece, India and Morocco.
Christy Dawn’s designs are known for being made out of deadstock fabric leftover from major fashion houses and would otherwise end up in a landfill. In partnership with Oshadi Collective, it has introduced its Organic Cotton Collection — perfect for a quick shut-eye on the couch. Each piece is made with organic cotton and colored using natural or organic dyes. In 2019, Christy Dawn also worked with Oshadi Collective to plant cotton seeds on a regenerative farm in Southern India. Since May 2021, customers can check out how those seeds grew into a collection of dresses. All of Christy Dawn’s designs are ethically made in Los Angeles by a team of talented seamstresses who are paid a living wage and health benefits. Christy Dawn’s dresses aren’t necessarily branded as maternity, but their flowy silhouettes make them maternity-friendly.
Symbology partners with marginalized artisans in developing countries to create handcrafted pieces using traditional fabric techniques like block printing, tie-dye, and embroidery. It offers a wide selection of fun dresses, blouses and skirts appropriate for expecting mothers.
Or, Shop Secondhand
Shopping secondhand is one of the most sustainable and affordable ways to shop. And these days, you have an endless selection of different items, sizes, and price points, quality validated by online platforms. Try thredUP or Vestiaire Collective. For more, check out this post.
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