Organic cotton clothing can be an accessible option when looking for sustainable fashion.
While there are plenty of fantastic and innovative sustainable fabric options on the market, the scale of organic cotton production typically makes it a more affordable option for those looking to make better choices for their closets.
Why Choose Organic Cotton Clothing?
So, you’re likely familiar with organically grown food and organic certifications for everything from bananas to cocoa, but there are also organic certifications for clothing and other textile products.
The most popular organic fabric is organic cotton, as it is the most widely used natural fiber, making up 80% of all natural fiber production and 24% of global fiber production overall as of 2020. But why choose organic?
There has been a lot of misinformation about the impact of cotton, as the Transformers Foundation explored in their “Cotton: A Case Study in Misinformation” report. The reality is that we do not have sufficient data and research on the impact of the fashion industry, from emissions to water usage to waste.
Combine that with the rapid (and largely unregulated) dissemination of information on social media, an accelerated media cycle (which inevitably leads to journalists and news outlets cutting some corners) and companies using greenwashing campaigns to appeal to sustainability-minded shoppers, and we have a recipe for misinformation.
Plus, as the report explains, there is largely a lack of public access to data, a need for more technical-scientific expertise in fashion and little regulation of the industry as a whole.
All of this said, there are a lot of data points on cotton’s environmental footprint that have been published, including ones that were formerly published in this post found from reputable sources, that have since been “busted”.
The not so convenient truth about cotton is that there can be huge variations in numbers (from water usage to emissions) because this crop is grown in many different regions by farmers that may use distinctly different methods. For example, some farmers may be growing cotton in areas where it can be rain-fed while in other areas, cotton farms may rely on irrigation. This would dramatically impact the numbers on water usage.
So, organic vs. conventional cotton is not as simple of a debate as once thought, as there are many other variables at play.
However, I personally still prioritize organically-grown cotton because it still avoids the use of harmful synthetic pesticides and other inputs. And I look for GOTS-certified organic products in particular because this ensures that:
- At least 95% of the fiber content is certified organic
- A number of harmful substances, including halogenated solvents, chlorinated flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, genetically modified organisms, heavy metals, and PFC are prohibited. [See full list here.]
- The mills must follow strict standards for social and environmental responsibility
Plus, although we don’t consume the fabrics on our clothes, the textiles we wear can have an impact on our skin health.
Studies have found that wearing textiles with hazardous chemicals can penetrate skin and accumulate in our bodies.
I could go on… but the case for a cleaner cotton industry is clear.
Best Organic Clothing Brands
These 21 incredible organic clothing brands below are offering organic cotton dresses, pajamas & loungewear, and everything in between.
Many of these brands go above and beyond sourcing organic, also looking for Fair Trade certified cotton, using natural dyes, sourcing from ethical manufacturers, reducing waste in their supply chain, and more.
This article features affiliates and partners. As always, we only feature brands that meet high standards for sustainability that we love — and that we think you’ll love too!
1. People Tree
Sustainable fashion pioneer People Tree has been creating versatile and playful eco-friendly clothing since 1991. The brand has received the World Fair Trade Organization product mark and utilizes earth-friendly fabrics in all of its pieces, including many organic cotton options.
One of the most impressive organic clothing brands out there, Harvest & Mill grows, mills, and sews all of their clothing locally in the US. Not only is 100% of their cotton is organic and American grown, but the organic fashion brand partners with some of the leading sustainable farmers implementing regenerative practices.
6. Mata Traders
Fair Trade fashion brand Mata Traders works with artisan cooperatives in India and Nepal and pays all of their artisans’ fair wages. The ethical label has a selection of organic cotton jersey dresses with the cutest vibrant prints! They also have extended sizing options available.
Threads 4 Thought has organic clothing for women, for men, and for kids! The organic clothing brand has plenty of essentials and activewear at accessible, affordable price points. The brand uses earth-first fibers like organic cotton and recycled polyester.
One of the early eco-friendly fashion brands, Komodo has been creating earth-first clothing for over 30 years! Komodo is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified and is a member of the Soil Association. The brand also ensures ethical production and donates 1% of revenue to the Sumatran Orangutan Society.
11. Eileen Fisher
Sustainable designer Eileen Fisher creates timeless, minimalistic clothing from earth-friendly fabrics. Among the fabrics Fisher chooses are responsibly-sourced wool, silk, TENCEL, and organic cotton jersey. The brand’s prices are on the higher end, but they are exceptionally designed and made to last.
Committed to sustainable production from seed to garment, Groceries Apparel partners with family farms and local manufacturing facilities to create its earth-minded pieces. The organic clothing brand uses fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, and recycled cotton for its comfy garments.
Earth-minded outdoors brand Patagonia has been using organic cotton before it was cool! The company not only uses materials like organically grown cotton, Tencel, and recycled polyester but is also actively working for a more transparent and ethical supply chain—many of their pieces are made in Fair Trade-certified factories.
14. Christy Dawn
Once known for sourcing deadstock fabric for their dreamy dresses, Christy Dawn has expanded into regenerative organic cotton as part of their efforts to go beyond “sustainable”. With their Farm-To-Closet initiative, the California-based slow fashion label has partnered with Oshadi Collective to steward dozens of acres of farmland in Erode, India and create more reciprocal relationships with Mother Earth.
15. Nudie Jeans
While you used to be able to safely assume that your denim was made of 100% cotton, the rise of stretch denim has also meant the introduction of synthetic fabrics. Swedish label Nudie Jeans, though, creates high-quality jeans and other denim apparel from 100% organic cotton (or 80% organic cotton + 20% recycled cotton). The circular fashion label also has a reuse and repair program.
16. The Waight
Slow fashion label The Waight produces in small batches on a pre-order basis and has an entirely domestic supply chain, ensuring minimal waste and maximum transparency.
18. For Days
Circular-minded fashion label For Days creates all of their pieces — including their organic cotton basics and loungewear — for recyclability. Designed with the end in mind from the beginning, 100% of For Days’ products are recyclable. Some of the yarn is reused for new clothes (yay!) while others might be reused for things like rugs (also cool!) or insulation (this is downcycling, but could be a good option for items in poor condition).
19. MATE The Label
With the motto “spread love, not chemicals”, MATE The Label is committed to using organic, natural and non-toxic materials throughout their collections — including organic cotton. All of their basics and loungewear are made sustainably in Los Angeles. The eco-conscious brand has also recently unveiled their reMATE Circularity Program.
This B-Corp certified Canadian conscious fashion label has everyday apparel, basics, loungewear, and activewear in a range of more earth-minded materials. Tentree has organic cotton clothing for women, men, and kids. Their organic cotton collection includes tees, sweaters, hoodies, joggers, and more.