Enough with the Bralettes: An Open Letter to Sustainable Brands

 
Illustration by    Pierce Kinnally

Illustration by Pierce Kinnally

 

I have now looked through over 1500 clothing websites, to discern whether they’re sustainable and ethical, and I have a lot of feelings, conclusions, and bones to pick. Here, some of my notes for sustainable clothing brands:

1.       Enough with the bralettes. We never needed them in the first place. What do they do? They don’t hold your boobs up. They don’t look good under clothes. If you don’t want to wear a bra, just don’t wear a bra. I don’t get it.

2.       We have more than enough options for: Sustainable white tees. Sustainable sweatshirts. Sustainable skinny jeans. Sustainable boho dresses, basically because Christy Dawn, Spell, Sticks + Stone, ByTimo, and GoldDust are just so, so good. Wide leg linen pants with an elastic waist. Any athleticwear made from cotton, which really shouldn’t exist in the first place, but that’s a conversation for another day.

3.       Please do market research before starting a clothing company. It’s painful how many times I’ve read “I couldn’t find the perfect white tee shirt/basic dress, so I decided to design it myself!”, and I’m like, really? Just a Google search, that’s all I ask.

4.       Leave Elizabeth Suzann out of this. We don’t need a million designers doing Elizabeth Suzann, when we already have one Elizabeth Suzann doing Elizabeth Suzann fantastically well.

5.       When designing, identify a problem & address it. Your collections should have a purpose. You should know the person who you are designing for. Figure out who this person is and what their wardrobe issues are, solve those issues, and your collection will make sense & sell itself.

6.       If you are sustainable, make this information easily discoverable on your website, and reprint it on each garment’s page. If you want customers to know, don’t make them hunt for it.

7.       Jeans I do not need: anything fitted and without stretch. I enjoy sitting, walking, and eating snacks.

8.       I’m going to wear a bra. Please design accordingly. Or don’t. But I’m still wearing a bra.

MY SUSTAINABLE WISH LIST


I’ve looked through hundreds of brands & here’s what I can’t find enough of, where “enough” means multiple options in each country/region, at multiple price points, and with a range of styles.

  • Sizes over XL or 12. Out of hundreds of brands, about 50 carry plus sizes. The average American woman is a 16/18 and a 34DD, and the average British woman is similar. These women love and need clothes!

  • Natural fiber athleticwear in cute colors. I want matched sets in addictive colors a la Girlfriend or Outdoor Voices, but made from bamboo, Tencel, or hemp. Ripple Yogawear is the closest for pretty colors, but their bras are mostly low-impact & I need a high impact option for running.

  • Natural fiber undies that do not cause epic VPL (visible panty line). Figure out how to do that seamless edge!! I actually cut the elastic off the legs of one pair of undies that was a particularly bad offender.

  • Speaking of which, natural fiber sports bras that actually hold up your boobs and are wicking.

  • Natural fiber underwire bras. Do you sense a theme here? Boobs are wildly underserved.

  • Socks. There are actually so few sustainable socks, and we all need them. Please don’t comment and suggest Pact, they only offer like two options and neither of them are white crew or ankle socks. I would love to see some basic crew and ankle socks in black and white, ideally organic cotton blended with something that wicks a little better, like Tencel or bamboo.

  • Cool recycled wool coats for fall & winter. Bonus points if you can accomplish this at a ~$200 USD price point rather than the $400+ I keep seeing.

  • More shoes made from fabric and apple, pineapple, and mushroom leather. I don’t want plastic vegan leather. I want Pinatex, peace silk, upcycled parachutes, upcycled fire hoses maybe (a la Elvis & Kresse bags), and I want gorgeous stuff, again ideally under $200 USD. Make me cute Chelsea boots with a low block heel. Make me loafers that will go with tailored pants. Let’s start moving away from leather.

  • Running sneakers that are cute enough to wear as a fashion sneaker. Why doesn’t this exist???

  • Maternity wear! There are good jeans options but we need everything else. (We as in women. I’m not preggo atm.)

  • Classic clothes for men – Dress shirts, polos that aren’t weird – regular stuff for adult men to wear to the office. I feel like every sustainable polo I see is just a little too “something” to buy for my husband.

 

 And while I’m on my soapbox, a note for bloggers:

Models are paid a day rate, usually starting about $1200/day for e-commerce if their face is showing. They make 1.5-2x their day rate for swimwear, and they make 2-3x their day rate for lingerie, which means any kind of underwear, not just the sexy kind.

Ever wonder why underwear and swim brands are tripping over themselves to send you free stuff? Your insta photos save them a shit ton of money. Ask to get paid.