- Claire Kalikman
6 BRILLIANT B CORP BRANDS
YOU WANT TO SHOP MORE SUSTAINABLY, BUT IT’S HARD. WHERE TO START? WHO TO TRUST? THAT’S WHERE B CORPS COME IN.
B Lab, the nonprofit that oversees B Corp certification, was founded in 2006 by Andrew Kassoy, Jay Coen Gilbert, and Bart Houlahan as a way to challenge the old model that puts shareholder profits first. B Corps treat people and planet, not just shareholders, as stakeholders. Some of the most famous B Corps include Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s.
Certified B Corporations are a type of business that balance profit with purpose. Accredited businesses must undergo performance checks each year to make sure they meet high standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.
Unlike some brands who claim to be sustainable by just measuring the end product, B Corps are checked at every step of the way. In their words: “B Corp Certification doesn’t just evaluate a product or service; it assesses the overall positive impact of the company that stands behind it. And increasingly that’s what people care most about.” Their approach is cutting through: so far they’ve tallied nearly 3500 brands worldwide, and fashion is getting involved. Here are 6 to make you feel better about shopping for clothes and shoes…
This San Francisco-based brand claims to make the world’s comfiest shoes, and we can’t disagree. You’ve probably heard the story by now: pro soccer (er, football, as you Aussies call it) player Joey Zwillinger wanted to make a simple, logo-free shoe. He teamed up with sustainable material expert Tim Brown to create a superfine wool fabric out of which to make the shoes. Though we in the sustainable fashion world often focus on clothes, it turns out that shoes are made from loads of plastic bits. Allbirds is open about continually improving their shoe; in 2018 they announced an improvement to their shoe by creating the white foam part out of sugar cane instead of plastic. Better yet? They’re happy to share the formula with other companies, proving that collaboration, not competition, will be the key to a more sustainable future.
Need something to wear with those new sneakers? Bombas is known for its innovative socks. Founders David Heath and Randy Goldberg spent two years tinkering with the oft-overlooked staple to create what they reckon is the perfect sock. The beginnings of the company weren’t out of a desire to create apparel, though - Heath and Goldberg learned that socks are the number one most requested item at homeless shelters. So they set about selling socks in order to donate a pair for every pair sold, in a model that TOMS pioneered. We love this brand for putting social purpose first.
“We know each of our seamstresses by name, they earn a living wage and are given support to build a bright future for themselves and their families. They are the reason we do what we do,” says Outland Denim. Like Bombas, Outland Denim started with a mission in mind first, then the product followed. After learning about the horrible realities of sex trafficking, founder James Bartle set out to help the survivors. The company now employs 85 women in Cambodia who earn a living wage. They also use less water, energy, and chemicals than traditional denim brands. Check out this Australian brand next time you need some denim.
GOOD DAY GIRL
Another Aussie brand, Good Day Girl is pioneering the slow-fashion model. Pushing back against the fast fashion system that promotes more clothes more often, this Sydney-based atelier presents collections twice a year and only sells made-to-order. That means there’s no leftover pieces chucked out at the end of a season. They’e great at dressed-up casual, perfect for a work or WFH day. Founders Alexia Spalding and Sophie Pollitt keep innovating; they’ve just announced a new styling service helping you clean out that closet (helloooo everyone’s favourite quarantine activity) and remodel pieces that need a refresh.
Jade Sarita Arnott’s made-in-Melbourne womenswear brand Arnsdorf was born out of rebelling against the traditional fashion system. Instead of overproducing and then marking down or tossing unsold merchandise, they offer a trans-seasonal permanent collection and small runs of new collections. Arnsdorf stands for transparency, ethical manufacturing and sustainability. And their beautiful pieces - everything from staples to fun going out pieces - are made to last.
Finally, a company for all your sustainable buys. Thread Harvest is an ethical marketplace where you can shop your values, literally. They’ve amalgamated loads of good brands and you can sort them by what matters to you, from “employing the marginalised” to “empowering women.” You can find everything from clothing to homeware to skincare. Founded by Jai Sharma and Brian Lee, this marketplace just made it a little easier to shop ethically.
By Claire Kalikman