Stay chic and conscious with these sustainable fashion brands—World Earth Day and beyond

Stay chic and conscious with these sustainable fashion brands
Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply? As we celebrate World Earth Day, it’s crucial to spotlight an industry that often goes unnoticed in environmental conversations. With the fashion industry significantly contributing to ecological degradation, adopting sustainable approaches becomes imperative to mitigate its adverse effects.

Embracing sustainable fashion practices is crucial for forging a greener future. By prioritising eco-friendly materials, ethical production methods, and transparent supply chains, sustainable fashion brands pave the way for a more harmonious coexistence between fashion and the environment. World Earth Day underscores the interconnectedness between humanity and the earth, emphasising the urgency of addressing pressing environmental challenges. From climate change to biodiversity loss, it prompts reflection, action, and collaboration in safeguarding our shared home for future generations, offering a moment to celebrate the beauty of our planet while galvanising efforts to protect and preserve it for years to come.

sustainable fashion for World Earth Day

Fashion brands are walking the talk.

Sustainable fashion is reshaping how we think about our clothes. By choosing organic and recycled materials, using renewable energy, and adopting water-saving technologies, the industry champions environmental stewardship from start to finish. Supporting brands that invest in durable, timeless designs helps curb the fast fashion trend and its harsh environmental effects. Mindful consumerism is at the heart of sustainable fashion, pushing us to make choices that reflect our values. Brands like Shekudo, Dye Lab, and This Is Us are leading the charge in Africa, blending local craftsmanship with ethical practices. Shekudo’s unique accessories, Dye Lab’s vibrant boubous, and This Is Us’s artisanal designs exemplify the powerful combination of style and sustainability. These brands not only prioritize eco-friendliness but also drive the fashion narrative towards a more ethical and sustainable future.


Akudo Iheakanwa via Ndaane

“I want my products to tell the story of this ever-growing small-scale industry that we have here. I want to show its potential to be something much bigger.” – Akudo Iheakanwa, founder of Shekudo.

Shekudo’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of sustainable craftsmanship and ethical production practices within the African fashion industry. Founded by Akudo Iheakanwa, Shekudo embarked on its remarkable trajectory in 2013, originating in Sydney, Australia, before transitioning its focus to statement accessories and footwear in 2017. Now flourishing in Lagos, Nigeria, Shekudo has remained deeply rooted in its commitment to celebrating local artisans and traditional craftsmanship while seamlessly infusing contemporary design elements into its creations.

Hand-woven aso-oke mules designed by Shekudo via @shekudo

Central to Shekudo’s belief is its unwavering dedication to sustainability and ethical responsibility, a journey that emerged organically from practical considerations and a desire to support local communities. As Iheakanwa explains, sustainability became inherent in Shekudo’s DNA, driven by the need to find innovative solutions and support local vendors. She tells sustainthemag, “Sustainability inevitably comes on its own, which is wonderful because so much of the time it emerges from trying to find solutions.” This commitment is evident in every aspect of Shekudo’s operations, from sourcing materials locally—such as soft leather, cotton, and traditional Nigerian textiles like Aso Oke and Akwete cloth—to embracing upcycled leather as a testament to its dedication to environmental conservation.

Leather bags via Shekudo

A deep sense of community and empowerment characterises Shekudo’s journey. From its humble beginnings with a small team of artisans to its current diverse workforce of 14, Shekudo has fostered a vibrant community united by a shared vision of style, sustainability, and sisterhood. Through its engaged Instagram following and grassroots initiatives, Shekudo continues to nurture connections with women worldwide, embodying a vision of fashion that transcends borders and celebrates cultural diversity.

Iheakanwa’s advice to stay true to oneself, prioritise the local community, and strive for inclusivity, she encourages designers to “design for your people…but also design for the rest of the world.”

Dye lab

Ozzy Etomi and Rukky Ladoja via Dye Lab

Dye Lab infuses innovative dyeing techniques into environmental consciousness, which refers to being aware of and concerned about human activities impact on the environment, taking actions to minimise harm and promote sustainability, and using cultural celebration to make timeless, signature pieces. Founded by Rukky Ladoja during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dye Lab quickly gained traction in Nigeria for its dedication to minimising waste and embracing indigenous dyeing methods of the Yoruba people. While some may label Dye Lab as sustainable, Ladoja prefers to characterise the brand as “socially responsible,” emphasising its commitment to practicality and local adaptation over conventional sustainability. As Ladoja explains in an interview,

“One thing I am big on is no waste,”

kaftans via Dye Lab

Guided by a vision of honouring Africa’s rich history and culture of dyeing methods, Dye Lab’s collections pay homage to artisanal formulas passed down through generations. Each piece is meticulously crafted from hand-dyed textiles using Batik wax, primarily utilising materials indigenous to South Western Nigeria, such as Adire and Aso Oke fabrics. The brand’s use of batik wax material is particularly notable, with each batch reused to minimise waste and environmental impact. Dye Lab’s commitment to small-batch production and minimal fabric cutting further underscores its dedication to sustainability and eco-conscious practices.

Dye Lab Agbada Kaftan via Industrie Africa

Beyond its environmental initiatives, Dye Lab’s aesthetic is characterised by a blend of simplicity, vibrance, and functionality. The brand’s modern offerings, including slip dresses, flowing agbada kaftans, and contemporary interpretations of the kimono, cater to the effortlessly stylish woman who appreciates cultural heritage and contemporary design. Through their artful representations of diverse cultures and commitment to practical everyday wear, Dye Lab has garnered a cult following in Nigeria, earning favour among editors and influencers alike.

Dye Lab’s unique approach to fashion celebrates Africa’s cultural heritage. It sets an example for sustainable and socially responsible practices in the global fashion industry by embracing indigenous techniques, minimising waste, and fostering a vibrant community of supporters while honing in on a vision of innovative and environmentally conscious fashion.

This Is Us

Oroma and Osione via This Is Us

“For us, sustainability is about sustaining people, our communities, and, by extension, our environment. We feel it’s important to support local crafts, talents, and resources and propagate their relevance as a means of sustaining the future of Africa and the world”—Oroma, cofounder of This is Us.

Founded by Oroma Cookey-Gam and Osione Itegboje in 2016, This Is Us is deeply rooted in sustainability, featuring transparent supply chains and ethical sourcing. The Nigerian brand prioritizes local materials like Funtua cotton and natural indigo from Kano’s ancient dye pits, turning heritage crafts into modern fashion. This commitment not only supports local communities but also minimizes environmental impact. Reflecting their sustainable ethos, This Is Us adopts the mantra “Waste not, want not,” utilizing every part of their resources responsibly. Their dye pits, operational for over six months, repurpose residues for other uses, like medicine, once their primary function ends, exemplifying their comprehensive approach to sustainability.

iamdodos via This Is Us

This Is Us stands out for its transparent supply chain and commitment to ethical practices, from cotton cultivation to the dyeing process. By emphasizing traceability and accountability, the brand builds consumer trust and raises awareness about the broader impacts of fashion on society and the environment. Uniquely, This Is Us views fashion as a means to support communities rather than just an end product, embedding what is often termed ‘ethical fashion’ into its core practices. Their approach to sustainability goes beyond environmental care to include social and cultural preservation, positioning This Is Us as a pioneer of ethical fashion that genuinely respects both people and the planet.

Uniform 2.0 via This Is Us

The brand’s unique aesthetic seamlessly blends heritage crafts with contemporary design elements, offering a range of elevated everyday pieces characterised by reworked proportions, cropped cuts, and bold colour-blocking. This Is Us embodies Nigerian excellence, celebrating the beauty of local craftsmanship while striving for sustainability in every aspect of its operations.

How supporting sustainable fashion has a ripple effect

Image via The Guardian

Sustainable brands often prioritise eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient production processes, and responsible waste management practices, mitigating their environmental footprint. Supporting these brands as a consumer entails consciously selecting products made from eco-friendly materials like organic cotton or recycled polyester. It involves prioritising durability by investing in well-made items designed to last so you’re not replacing them frequently. It also includes advocating for transparency by researching the brand’s sustainability practices and asking questions about its supply chain. Consumers play a vital role in promoting sustainable practices and fostering a healthier planet for future generations.

Investing in sustainable fashion brands does more than just reduce environmental impact—it supports vibrant community livelihoods, especially in regions heavily involved in the fashion industry. By choosing brands like Shekudo, which promotes traditional Nigerian craftsmanship in Lagos, or Dye Lab, which helps preserve indigenous dyeing skills in South West Nigeria, consumers contribute directly to cultural preservation and economic growth. Similarly, This Is Us supports cotton farmers and dye artisans in northern Nigeria, emphasizing ethical practices and local sourcing. Supporting these sustainable brands fosters community development and social well-being, making each purchase a step toward a more equitable fashion industry.

Image via Aspiga

Sustainable brands often engage in community initiatives and social impact projects, further enriching the lives of those they interact with. Whether through philanthropic endeavours, skills development programs, or community outreach initiatives, these brands demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility and positive social change.

Supporting sustainable brands creates a ripple effect that benefits the environment, uplifts communities, and promotes a more equitable and sustainable future for all. Consumers can contribute to a more resilient, inclusive, and environmentally conscious society by making conscious purchasing decisions.

Practical tips for developing sustainable shopping habits

  • Research and educate yourself: Take the time to learn about sustainable fashion and familiarise yourself with eco-friendly materials, ethical production practices, and transparent brands.
  • Prioritise quality over quantity: Invest in well-made, durable clothing and accessories that will last longer and reduce the need for frequent replacements.
  • Shop secondhand: Explore thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces for gently used clothing and accessories. Buying second-hand extends the life cycle of garments and reduces waste.
  • Support local and small businesses: Opt for locally made products and support small, independent brands that prioritise sustainability and ethical practices.
  • Consider minimalism: Embrace a minimalist approach to fashion by focusing on essential pieces and avoiding impulse purchases. Quality over quantity is vital.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle: Practise the three R’s by reducing your overall consumption, reusing items whenever possible, and recycling clothing and accessories when they can no longer be worn.
  • Look for eco-friendly materials: Choose clothing made from organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, Tencel, or recycled materials, as these have a lower environmental impact than conventional fabrics.
Kilentar via Fashionghana

On World Earth Day, as we reflect on the interconnectedness of human well-being and environmental sustainability, the relevance of embracing sustainable fashion practices becomes even more pronounced. The choices we make in fashion directly impact not only our planet but also our health and the health of communities around the world.

By supporting sustainable fashion brands, we contribute to reducing environmental pollution, conserving natural resources, and promoting ethical labour practices—all essential to creating a healthier world for everyone. From reducing exposure to harmful chemicals used in conventional textile production to supporting fair wages and safe working conditions for garment workers, sustainable fashion aligns with health equity and environmental justice principles.


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