With an eye on our own well-being and that of our communities, we find that we increasingly turn our attention to the source of the items that touch our daily lives — our food, yes, but our clothing, too! While we love a good Target find as much as the next gal, it’s no secret that supporting local is part of our mission here at StyleBlueprint, and we’ve loved learning about Southern clothing designers that are placing an emphasis on ethically sourced materials, with the health of our communities in mind. Here are five Southern sustainable clothing designers you can feel great about wearing. Plus, they’re all female-owned!
5 Southern Sustainable Clothing Designers You Need to Know
Jamie + The Jones
Founded by Jamie Frazier, Jamie + The Jones is a Tennessee-based clothing designer that was founded in 2006 as a way to break the mold of fashion production. Rather than creating mass-produced, poorly made clothing, Jamie set out to create long-lasting pieces made from fabric she sources directly, ensuring she knows exactly where her materials are coming from. “At the time, we didn’t know there was a word for what we were wanting or attempting to do,” explains Jamie. “Sustainability hadn’t yet been so trendy in fashion. We just knew we wanted to make beautiful garments, and we were going to make them on our terms.”
Today, every piece of clothing from Jamie + The Jones is handmade in Nashville without outsourcing to other factories. For their handwoven garments, the brand goes a step further to ensure sustainability: “These garments are made from locally sourced cotton in the U.S. and then woven by hand by one of the four weavers we collaborate with to create our own custom fabrics,” says Jamie. “We also use many of our scraps to create pieced garments, where each one is completely different and expertly sewn together by our seamstress.”
Amity the Boutique
Based in Jackson, TN, Amity the Boutique was created by husband and wife duo Sean Greene and Morgan Phelps. The pair opened the boutique to not only offer stylish clothes but to do so with little sacrifice to the environment. To Morgan, Amity the Boutique is about the connection between clothes and their makers through a single piece of fabric. “My brand is called Amity the Boutique because Amity means, ‘a friendly, peaceful relationship,” she explains. “I want my brand to help others build these friendly relationships with their environment, the people in it, and myself.”
Amity the Boutique offers a variety of ethically sourced and sustainable clothes, including T-shirts, jeans, skirts, dresses, athleisure wear, and more. To ensure she’s doing everything she can to create eco-friendly clothes, Morgan says the process begins with communication and research: “It’s important to build relationships with companies and people that share the same values. I am always eager to learn more.”
Miranda Bennett Studio
After living and working in New York City for over a decade, fashion designer Miranda Bennett asked herself, “What would fashion look like if we took away the built-in obsolescence of trend-based clothing?” This led to the creation of her Austin-based clothing brand Miranda Bennett Studio. “I began exploring plant-based dyes and fell in love with their tone and richness, coupled with the potential of tinting a collection without the use of toxic chemicals polluting our waterways or our bodies,” explains Miranda. “Seasonless, perennial apparel coupled with plant-based color is now the bedrock of my brand.”
Not only does this approach cause Miranda Bennett Studio clothes to last longer, but it benefits the earth, too. “We are trying to encourage a longer garment life cycle, better treatment of the earth by diverting 100% of our textile waste from landfills, biodegradable fabrics, and a commitment to color derived only from non-toxic, plant-based sources,” says Miranda. “We never use petroleum-based textiles and believe in the fair treatment of the individuals creating our clothing behind the scenes.”
Inspired by a trip to India to help a small workshop become Fair Trade-certified, Katie Schmidt opened Passion Lilie in 2013 with a mission to make the world a better place through fashion. Today, the New Orleans-based brand is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, working with several producer groups in India, paying fair wages to workers, ensuring safe and healthy working conditions, and building long-term sustainable relationships. Plus, in addition to clothing, Passion Lilie offers sustainably and ethically sourced jewelry and home decor, and each item is handmade in small batches by craftspeople.
“We care deeply about doing our part to build a more sustainable world — one built on honesty and respect,” Katie says of Passion Lilie’s commitment to sustainability. “From the way we design to the way we create each Fair Trade collection, sustainability is at the core of every aspect of our business. I use streamlined silhouettes with a focus on fit and comfort. I try to create pieces that are timeless and seasonless to help eliminate the need for overconsumption.”
Combining old and new fashion techniques, Julie Maeseele creates sensible clothing that is built to last. Each garment is hand-cut and machine-sewn in Alabama using single-needle fine tailoring. With practicality, comfort, and style at the brand’s core, Julie Maeseele clothes are intended to live alongside the consumer, rather than simply serving as a disposable afterthought. This is done through what Julie calls a “seasonless approach,” where she creates garments that are meant to be worn year-round, ultimately increasing their value and usefulness.
“Buying long-lasting clothes is one of the easiest and most pleasurable things we can do for the environment,” says Julie. “If we can each increase our wardrobe’s lifespan by just one to two years, it would reduce the fashion industry’s CO2 emissions over that year by 24%, and save billions of gallons of our increasingly precious water supply. We want to rediscover the art of keeping and caring for things.”
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