What is Sustainable Luxury Fashion?

For a long time, luxury fashion has been associated with excess. Thousand dollar shoes that are meant to last a season. A high-end gown worn just once. Disposable trends, chewing styles up and spitting them back out--all in the hopes of staying ahead of the trends.

Luxury often means high price, but what are you really paying for? Luxury doesn’t always need to be lavish. Good taste doesn’t mean overindulgence. And sustainability doesn’t have to mean compromise. 

It’s time to make luxury worth its price with better quality, better for the environment, and better for the bottom line by reducing cost per wear. It is possible to buy clothes that are both luxurious and ethically made. In fact, more and more fashion-forward buyers are holding brands accountable for the impact that their clothes have on the world around us.

Sustainable luxury fashion means investing in garments that are of the best quality and do the most good. It’s about caring about how you look, and also about how you impact the world around you.

But in order to understand why sustainable luxury fashion matters, you first need to ask the question…


sustainable farm for luxury cotton


How does fashion impact the earth?

In the world of fast fashion, garments are often worn for a few months before being cast aside as out of season. The buildup of discarded clothing in landfills is hardly the biggest negative impact--the process is the biggest problem.

When companies produce luxury clothing cheaply and at scale, they use up resources like land and water to produce cotton. The companies will often reduce costs by using cheap fertilizer and chemical pesticides, without regard to how those fertilizers and chemicals may contaminate local water supplies, ecosystems, and communities. 

It takes large machinery to harvest cotton at scale, large factories to process it, and large vehicles to transport it. Think about all that traffic, all that packaging, and all that ends up in a landfill. 

Oftentimes, chemicals are involved in every step of production. Whether to artificially soften the cotton or wash it with dye, these chemicals are harmful to natural ecosystems, and sometimes to human skin. 

The materials our clothes are made of have an impact, too. The sad truth is, inexpensive fabrics are often produced in a way that’s harmful to the earth. Polyester, for example, is popular for being cheap,but it’s made from non-renewable resources, isn’t biodegradable, and is produced using harmful chemicals.

Related: Why wear organic cotton T-shirts?

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How are luxury and sustainability related?

When it comes to fashion, luxury and sustainability go hand in hand. Higher price tags aren’t just status symbols; expensive luxury garments often come with benefits like:

Quality. Luxury fashion is made from the best quality materials, not the cheapest ones. Our sustainable luxury T-shirts, for example, are made from 100% organic cotton, which is softer, more breathable, and uses less water than conventional cotton. Organic cotton is not genetically modified to be softer, it is not artificially softened by chemicals which can wash off or irritate your skin, it is simply a healthier crop which in turn makes the fabric better quality. 

Durability. Luxury garments are made with better materials and better processes. That means they last far longer than cheaper alternatives. Cheap clothing often shrinks in the wash for a variety of reasons, and one of the most common reasons is thread count. A lower quality T-shirt has a low thread count, which means the threads per square inch are not as closely woven together as they would be in a high quality T-shirt with a high thread count. 

High thread count fabrics are naturally shrink-resistant, and Classic T-shirts are pre-shrunk, so you can enjoy the same fit and comfort wash after wash. By buying well-made clothing, you reduce waste and lower your cost per wear, saving you money in the long run.

Appearance Luxury garments look like they’re worth more because they are. You can only dress a cheap T-shirt down, but you can dress a high quality T-shirt up or down and be comfortable in both scenarios. Believe it or not, you can tell a high quality T-shirt just from looking at it. Compared to a cheap T-shirt, high quality T-shirts will appear silky, smooth and have a nice sheen to them. People will notice the difference at a glance, and you’re sure to notice the difference after you put one on. 

Peace of Mind. Consumers are getting smarter about the moral cost of their purchases. Do your due diligence on clothing brands and you’ll find that luxury brands are more likely to produce their products the sustainable way as opposed to the cheap way. Sometimes a higher price tag means healthier conditions for workers, pesticide-free farming, or ideally both. Your dollar is your impact—ask yourself what you support.

Related: Dressed for change: how & why of sustainable T-shirts

blank tags for luxury brands

 

How do I find sustainable luxury fashion brands?

While many of the qualities that make a brand luxurious also make it sustainable, not every high-end brand is conscious of its impact. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help you determine which brands are dedicated to sustainability.

Certifications like GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and Fair Trade are given to brands that follow strict, pre-determined measures to ensure their products are made in ways that minimize harm to the environment and communities. It’s important that the certifications are carried out by independent organizations, meaning these organizations are not run or directly influenced by governments or private companies, but by their own standards. Every certification has different standards, and it’s important to understand what their standards are and how they hold brands accountable. Always make sure the certification represents your values and that they are well-respected.  Certifications are a great way to know for sure that the product you’re buying is sustainable, but not every sustainable brand will have official certification.

Good on You has an app that ranks brands on an ethical rating system which reflects how they treat the planet, people, and animals. The system takes into account certifications as well as reliable public statements. Good on You also publishes roundups to help you discover new ethical brands to shop. The Classic T-shirt Company is proud to have been featured on Good on You 

Certified B Corporations according to B corporation “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” In other words, they pledge to be conscious of their impact on people and places and to conduct their business in a way that does no harm and protects future generations. You can search this directory to find certified B Corporation businesses.

Customer Reviews As ethical consumerism becomes more and more important, customer reviews become more than just about the quality of the product. While not all of our customers mention sustainability in their reviews, many of them do--and many of them say they plan to buy from The Classic T-shirt Company again because we make high quality sustainable T-shirts. 

Reviews like that make brands very proud of course, but more importantly they tell you how the brand is different from others. After all, not all sustainable brands are also luxury brands that offer premium T-shirts. But to be fair, if it were easy to make sustainable luxury T-shirts, more brands would probably do it! We owe our success to our customers who have supported us and helped us sustain and grow our business. There are over 300 reviews and counting that you’re welcome to check out any time--and you can also read some of our favorites.

The Story Behind The Brand if a brand is proud of their story, they’re not going to shy away from telling it. You might think any reason is a good reason to go sustainable… unless the company is just doing it for the label. It’s important that a brand is sustainable because the people behind the brand genuinely care--from the owners of the company to the writers of the blog. What’s the story behind sustainable luxury? 

For example, the Classic T-shirt Company was founded by loving parents who wanted to create a better future for their daughter, Gabriella, and show her by example what it means to do the right thing. It makes a difference when the entire brand was founded on principles like that, instead of looking for ways to justify a label, we look for ways to create actual value and change in our world. It’s not just for Gabriella’s future, but her friends, neighbors, community--and yours. 

Truly sustainable luxury brands aren’t just in business for themselves. We are all part of a larger ecosystem, and responsible brands act accordingly.

Related: Follow these 4 tips to find high quality T-shirts

man and woman wearing luxury sustainable tshirts


Can luxury sustainable fashion be as simple as a T-shirt?

A T-shirt might not have always been the first thing that comes to mind when you think of high fashion or luxury, but minimalist fashion is on the rise and T-shirts are a timeless classic. In many ways, the T-shirt has been underestimated by the fashion industry but embraced and beloved by fashion pioneers. From hollywood stars like James Dean to the modern tech leaders who made it cool to wear T-shirts at work, the T-shirt itself has been an icon of redefining fashion, and we believe T-shirts will lead us into the future of fashion.

The Classic T-shirt has always been immune to the changing tides of fast fashion. T-shirts never go out of style, and they can be dressed up and dressed down depending on the season or occasion. Versatility and durability are cornerstones for sustainable fashion, and an organic cotton T-shirt checks both items.

But not all T-shirts are made equally. Opt for a luxury brand that follows sustainable principles and handcrafts their garments to create a flattering fit. If you’re spending money on an expensive T-shirt, you want it to look good. Last long. Without too much cost to the planet.

At The Classic T-Shirt Company, our T-shirts are handmade using environmentally friendly and fair trade practices. Our luxury lightweight fabric makes our shirts ideal for layering—they can be part of your look in any season. Check out our line of semi-fitted men’s T-shirts and boyfriend fit women’s T-shirts for a timeless fashion staple that’s as sustainable as it is chic.

Related: Are expensive luxury T-shirts really worth it?

INVESTING IN THE FUTURE OF LUXURY FASHION 

Luxury fashion starts with T-shirts, and the change starts with those of us who make them. Offering an alternative to fast fashion was the first step, and now the next step is improving our product and our brand. From going plastic-less when it comes to shipping, to offering more variety of T-shirt colors, we’re taking the next steps together with the support of customers like you. 

There’s a lot of harm that the fashion industry has done to our planet, and we plan to undo that harm and create new paths forward so that we never again have to face this crisis. We still have time to save our planet before it’s too late, but the sooner we can make changes, the better our planet will be not just for our children and grandchildren and so on… but for ourselves. 

Sustainability doesn’t have to mean sacrifice. Sometimes immediate gratification is healthy, because when you’re investing in a better future, it can start to pay off sooner than you might think. Try on a Classic T-shirt, wear it for a day, and see how long it takes before you don’t want to wear anything else. People will notice the difference. Not because of a name, but the quality of the T-shirt and how you wear it. 

With your support of the Classic T-shirt Company, we can change luxury fashion from being destructive to sustainable. We started with a simple premium white T-shirt, and now we’re proud to offer more than 15 colors for men and women, short sleeve and long sleeve, V-neck and classic crew neck. We’ve sent T-shirts plastic-free across the country and around the world, and we can’t wait to see where the movement takes us next. Let us know your thoughts on sustainable luxury fashion, and what you would like to see in the next steps forward that we take together.

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