Do you love shopping but cringe at the thought of all those clothes ending up in a landfill someday? When you buy recycled clothing, you can fill your closet without feeling guilty! But before you go on a shopping spree, you will want to look into the best recycled clothing brands.
The best recycled clothing brands find ways to reuse old clothes, plastic bottles, or other recycled materials. Some companies also upcycle old clothes into new garments to reuse textiles. Companies that sell recycled clothing include Urban Outfitters and Zero Waste Daniel.
In this article, you will find out where recycled clothing comes from. You will discover thirty-one prominent brands that sell recycled clothing. Finally, you will learn whether recycled clothing is safe and if it offers good quality.
- What is Recycled Clothing?
- 31 Best Recycled Clothing Brands
- 1. Aday
- 2. Alternative Apparel
- 3. American Recycled Clothing
- 4. Antiform
- 5. Arielle
- 6. ASOS Reclaimed Vintage
- 7. Batoko
- 8. Beyond Retro
- 9. Broken Ghost Clothing
- 10. Ecoalf
- 11. Elle Evans
- 12. Fanfare
- 13. Girlfriend Collective
- 14. H&M
- 15. Mara Hoffman
- 16. Mother Earth Garments
- 17. Levis
- 18. Outerknown
- 19. Pact
- 20. Patagonia
- 21. Picture Organic Clothing
- 22. Planet Warrior
- 23. PrAna
- 24. Rapanui
- 25. Re/Done
- 26. Repainted
- 27. Rubymoon
- 28. Urban Outfitters
- 29. Wolven
- 30. Wray
- 31. Zero Waste Daniel
- What is the Most Environmentally Friendly Fashion Brand?
- Is Recycled Clothing Safe?
- Is Recycled Clothing Better?
- Does Nike Use Recycled Products?
- What Clothing is Made from Recycled Plastic?
- Recycled Clothing Online: Where to Buy
- How to Recycle Your Clothes
- Recycled Clothing Ideas
What is Recycled Clothing?
Recycled clothing contains recycled material from previously used fabrics or old bottles and plastic materials. In some cases, upcycled garments repurposed into a new style can also serve as recycled clothes, gaining a second life through some creative alterations.
You can recycle clothing in several different ways. Donating items to a thrift store for resale is an easy way to give clothes a second life. This is a much better option than throwing them in the trash!
Manufacturers can also employ many recycling practices such as collecting fabric scraps during cutting for recycling and reusing metal to make zippers and other trims.
In some areas, you can also send certain types of fabric for real recycling.
Ideally, all ready-to-wear clothing would go through a circular lifecycle.
At first, the company would make the garment from fresh materials, either natural or synthetic, just as usual. Then a consumer would buy the garment, wear it, get tired of it, and send it in for recycling. After this, the company would reuse the materials to make new clothes!
Technology exists today to recycle both natural and synthetic fabrics. Natural garments made from cotton or wool can unravel and then have the tiny fibers respun into new threads for weaving. Synthetics recycle even more easily–manufacturers can create polyester fabric out of old polyester fabric or even out of recycled plastic bottles!
Then a new garment can emerge out of the fibers of the old garments and have a second life!
Unfortunately, this recycling process takes more time and money than simply making new fabric from scratch. This means that few brands risk using recycled materials, even though so much ready-wear fashion has clogged up landfills in the past decades.
This also means that sustainable fashion typically costs quite a lot.
That said, recycled clothing is not the only eco-friendly choice out there. Many big-name brands have begun the quest to create sustainable fashion in the past decades. Sustainable fashion can mean many things, from finding dyeing processes that use less water to preventing animal cruelty by using lab-grown leather.
Using recycled fabric or sustainable practices of any kind is a big deal for many companies. After all, every company wants to turn a profit. That means that your choice to buy a garment made out of recycled fabric can help reinforce the company’s brave decision to try this risky, sustainable practice!
Your chance to “vote with your dollars” can make a big difference in the future of fashion. But of course, before buying recycled clothing, you need to learn more about the best brands that sell it!
31 Best Recycled Clothing Brands
The best-recycled clothing brands use recycled materials in their garments and try to get as close as possible to a “circular” production cycle. This means they try to ruse everything instead of letting it go to waste during manufacturing. It can also mean that they employ other sustainable practices like using less water or avoiding chemicals that harm the environment.
Some recycled clothing brands sell millions of garments made out of recycled fabrics processed in massive factories. Others have started small and sell repurposed clothing on a more local scale. Honestly, any brand brave enough to take strides towards sustainability deserves your support!
Aday takes a unique approach to recycled fashion by essentially trying to prevent the need for throwing garments away in the first palace. This company sells unique “capsule wardrobe” garments that last for years.
Many ready-to-wear garments get worn an average of seven times before heading to a landfill. Aday strives to break this cycle by encouraging consumers to buy fewer, better-quality, and versatile clothes instead.
Aday also uses sustainable manufacturing processes, and many (though not all) of their clothes contain recycled fabrics, threads, or trims made from recycled materials.
2. Alternative Apparel
Alternative Apparel sells casual clothing styles made from organic cotton and recycled polyester. Currently, they sell through an Amazon brand store. You can choose either individual items or wholesale items if you want sustainable products for your own home business.
The company calls its style “earth leisure,” which sums up both the company’s mission of sustainable fashion and the comfy appearance of the clothing! Alternative Apparel has won many impressive awards for its sustainable practices, including the “world’s most ethical company’ award in 2021!
3. American Recycled Clothing
American Recycled Clothing offers a large-scale effort at repurposing vintage clothing. This company collects, stores, and then resells used clothing. They sell to big-name brands as well as to individuals.
ARC focuses on the tried and true principle that yesterday’s trash is tomorrow’s treasure because fashion crazes tend to cycle in and out. For example, bell-bottom jeans become crazy popular one year, look passe the next year, and then become all the rage again in another five years!
Unlike most thrift stores which can only reach a handful of locals, ARC focuses on providing bulk amounts of vintage clothing to bug brands that can repurpose the garments for resale.
Antiform is an English fashion company that offers clothes made out of reclaimed, heritage fabrics like tweed. They redesign the old fabrics into modern clothes by offering things like knit sweaters with a front made out of reclaimed tweed.
This company also focuses on sustainability by doing as much manufacturing as possible at their location rather than outsourcing. The main appeal of this interesting brand lies in its ability to offer trendy new items made out of vintage materials, marrying the past and the present in a unique way.
Arielle offers zero-waste, recycled, or organic materials in its luxury clothing, perfect for the eco-conscious business person. Besides focusing on sustainable fashion, the brand also uses plastic-free packaging and focuses on locally sourced products.
Arielle calls its style “the woke wardrobe,” which gives you a pretty good idea of the very mod, very trendy business casual styles they offer.
6. ASOS Reclaimed Vintage
ASOS Reclaimed Vintage offers a curated collection of vintage items like tees, jeans, and military jackets. The company also makes unique pieces from reclaimed vintage fabric and scraps in vintage-inspired styles. With a pretty broad range of items available, the company allows you to sort items by “recycled” or “sustainable materials” as you search the online store.
While ASOS offers many different types of clothing, the overall style has an edgy 60s and 70s vibe to it. You will find a lot of vintage graphic tees, upcycled cardigans, and poufy 70s-style pants!
Batoko sells stylish swimwear made entirely out of recycled plastic. In fact, the tagline for this unique brand is “We’re Rubbish. Literally.” Besides making all of their stylish swimwear out of plastic rescued from the ocean, the company donates a portion of its proceeds to ocean-themed nonprofits like a seal sanctuary.
Batoko swimwear sports boldly colored ocean-themed prints such as lobsters, narwhals, and other cute sea creatures!
8. Beyond Retro
Beyond Retro offers vintage clothes sourced from all over the world, intended for people from diverse backgrounds and style preferences. Many of the pieces sold in the 8 brick-and-mortar and eCommerce store are one of a kind and authentically vintage as well!
Beyond Retro focuses on sustainability by supporting the concept of a circular economy, meaning that it provides second life to clothes instead of letting them get thrown away.
9. Broken Ghost ClothingBroken Ghost Clothing turns sustainability into an art form with its bold, upcycled designs. Rather than using recycled fabrics, Broken Ghost uses recycled clothes, cutting them up and piecing them together into something new. This creates a collection of unique and artistic garments perfect for anyone who wants a bold statement piece to wear.
The overall style offered has a shabby cowgirl aesthetic full of bold colors and a patchwork of colors and patterns in every garment. Think of a denim shirt with a flared, ragged peplum made of squares taken from old scarves!
Ecoalf offers everything from jackets to sweaters to handbags to sneakers made from recycled materials. Much of this material comes from ocean waste, in a partnership with fishermen who dredge up the plastic waste that has accumulated in the ocean.
In a very advanced move, Ecoalf also uses a lot of O-Release yarns in its products. This special type of thread contains recycled synthetic fibers with integrated hydrogen bonds to help prevent plastic pollution.
Ecoalf clothes come in lots of different styles. They also sell items for men, women, and children. You can search the online store by type of garments, such as knitwear or jackets, or by browsing special collections.
11. Elle Evans
Elle Evans partners with the Heavy Seas Initiative to use rescued ocean waste such as nylon fishing nets to make all of its fabrics. The brand sells a variety of swimwear and activewear. Though the company is primarily based in Australia, US customers can also make online purchases.
You can buy from a wide range of sizes and mix and match the top and bottom styles in the swimwear line, too!
Fanfare has a three-pronged approach to sustainability. The company sells one collection of upcycled vintage garments with a modern flair. They also offer a line of premium vintage clothes collected from around the world.
Finally, Fanfare also sells handcrafted “slow fashion” meant to last a long time and then get recycled at the end of its life. The company is based on ethical considerations and even uses recycled thread to sew its clothes together!
13. Girlfriend Collective
The Girlfriend Collective sells clothes made from recycled materials, and every product has its own unique makeup of recyclables listed in its sale description! The recycled polyester used to make much of the company’s clothing is guaranteed BPA-free plastic.
The company also uses 100% recyclable packaging. Besides this focus on sustainable materials, the Girlfriend Collective pledges to use fair labor at its manufacturing facilities and offers a transparent description of this process on its website.
You have almost certainly heard of H&M, but did you know that 80% of the clothes sold by this prominent company use recycled materials? These items fall into the “Conscious Choice” label within the brand and all come with a special green tag describing the type of recycled fabric used. Besides using “regular” recycled material like recycled polyester fabric, H&M includes all kinds of recyclables such as hemp, grape leaves, and old glass in its fabrics!
H&M also places clothing recycle drop-offs at all of its physical locations to encourage cyclical clothes to use.
15. Mara Hoffman
Mara Hoffman offers designer pieces made out of natural and recycled fibers. Its fabulous and bold swimwear line uses 100% recycled synthetics like nylon and polyester. Much of its regular clothing contains 100% hemp, one of the most eco-friendly fabrics available.
The vividly colorful and extremely stylized designs of these pieces may not work for everyone, but if you want unique designer swimwear or clothing that promotes sustainability, check out the Hoffman collections!
16. Mother Earth Garments
With the tagline “Looking Good, Doing Good,” Mother Earth Garments promotes social sustainability by using fair labor standards and developing roles for women in impoverished areas. As one of the first sustainable fashion lines to focus on modern Indian designs, this clothing line also fills a niche in the modern fashion world.
Mother Earth Garments does not promise to use 100% recycled materials. Still, the company does strive to use sustainable materials and fair trade practices as it manufactures its unique line of clothing.
Famous for its invention of denim jeans, Levis also promotes sustainable clothing processes and sells a line of vintage denim products. The company has developed a process called Water<Less denim, designed to use as little water as possible while growing and dyeing cotton for denim.
They also design denim products meant to last a long time to help prevent the quick-fashion waste of many types of clothing. Finally, in recent years Leis has launched a vintage store to help recycle old denim products. You can find the “secondhand” store promoted on Levi’s home website, making it easy to track down the perfect pair of vintage jeans!
Outerknown sells clothes made from recycled blue jeans, repurposing worn-out denim in creative ways! This company aims to make its manufacturing circular by 2030 and continuously develops new ways to use regenerative and recycled materials in its garments. They also have fair trade certification and focus on fair labor standards with all their partners.
Outerknown designs men’s and women’s clothes, offering everything from jumpsuits to jackets to sleepwear and sweatpants. Their collections have a somewhat clean-cut or preppy vibe and focus on cute patterns and neutral colors.
Pact calls itself “Earth’s favorite clothing,” a title borne out by its pledge to use organic fibers, chemical-free dyes, and sustainable farming practices. The cotton used in Pact’s clothes requires 81% less water than non-organic cotton. They also offer recyclable packaging and ways to offset the carbon footprint caused by shipping your purchases.
While the company does directly recycle the clothes it sells, it does provide suggestions and containers for recycling your garments once you no longer need them.
You probably know that Patagonia specializes in sports and activewear, including cold-weather gear and camping and hiking equipment. But did you know that Patagonia sells two different recycled collections: ReCrafted and Seconds? The ReCrafted line offers uniquely upcycled used clothing intended to give fabrics a second life.
The Seconds line sells something called “factory seconds,” which means clothes with minor flaws like an incorrect logo or a misplaced drawstring. Ordinarily, factory seconds go to the landfill, but Patagonia rescues as many as possible to resell for a low price!
21. Picture Organic Clothing
Picture Organic Clothing designs outdoor apparel for the water, the snow, or other outdoor environments. The company uses a number of sustainable and recycled materials. For instance, 69% of the polyester used in its cold-weather clothes comes from recycled plastic bottles!
The company also uses organic cotton to minimize the water consumption necessary in the manufacturing process. Like many companies seeking to eventually reach truly cyclical business, they also use the scraps from the cutting floor and try not to waste materials during clothing production.
22. Planet Warrior
Planet Warrior offers luxury items from athleisure to swimwear made from recycled plastic. Founded by two sisters, the company also focuses on empowering women and allowing its brand ambassadors to share their stories.
Planet Warrior uses eco-friendly packaging as well and recently won the Eco-Age award for its work on plastic pollution in the ocean.
PrAna uses organic cotton and hemp and recycled nylon and polyester to make its unique earth-toned collection of garments. They sell clothes for men and women covering everything from swimwear to day dresses, with an emphasis on athleisure such as yoga pants.
The company is also part of the Fair Labor Association, has fair trade certification, and emphasizes social justice for itself and its partners. On top of this, they have joined the Responsible Forest project to help stem the destruction of forests for cellulose consumption in textiles. Plus, they even use plastic-free packaging to ship their products!
Rapanui embraces a circular supply chain by establishing a system for worn-out clothes to return to the manufacturing process and emerge as new clothes to sell again. If you buy from Rapanui, you will find it easy to send back a worn-out garment for recycling!
They also focus on custom orders. Rather than making hundreds of thousands of t-shirts, they make just enough to meet the needs of their customers.
Besides custom-order t-shirts, Rapanui offers a variety of sweaters, jackets, and underwear made in the same sustainable, recycle-based circular system.
Re/Done literally “re-does” old clothes, turning them into artistic garments with elements like faux leather flowers stitched onto vintage jeans or a new pair of jeans made out of a patchwork of recycled denim squares. The company’s main focus is on rescuing heritage denim, upcycling it, and reselling unique denim-based garments.
Each item is one-of-a-kind and is considered a collectible, luxury garment. Re/Done has also partnered with Hanes to use special recycled cotton in their other clothing, such as leisure wear items.
Repainted is an Italian-based sustainable fashion brand that uses 100% recycled ocean waste materials like nylon and plastic. Their swimwear offers excellent chlorine resistance and UV protection and also maintains its bold colors and pretty patterns over many uses!
Besides elegant, handmade swimwear, the company also sells dresses, caftans, and loungewear. Many of their pieces use bold floral designs and vivid colors, ruffles, swirled skirts, and a luxurious appearance.
Based out of the UK Rubymoon focuses on sustainable swimwear and active wear. Founded and led by a team of women, Rubymoon also emphasizes empowering women and social justice in the workplace. In fact, the company tagline is “cleaning up the oceans and empowering women”!
In terms of sustainability in their garments, Rubymoon uses 100% recycled ocean waste materials in its garments. They also employ manufacturing processes that create 42% less carbon than the average.
28. Urban Outfitters
Of course, you know of Urban Outfitters, but did you know this big-name company sells a line of clothing called Urban Renewal, which sells repurposed vintage clothing? Urban Renewal maintains the beach-y, trendy vibe of Urban Outfitters while offering a much more sustainable version of the brand.
They also use special categories like their “deadstock” collection, which uses a patchwork of leftover scraps to make beautiful, original pieces of clothing and home goods.
Wolven is a just-for-women brand that uses recycled fabrics made in ethically run Chinese factories. The brand focuses on body positivity and on embracing design elements from many different cultures. The company tagline is “making sustainable sexy,” which helps you visualize the attractive, fun clothes offered by this brand!
The company also invests in processes that make Wolven garments carbon-neutral. Each garment is handmade in LA by a special team of seamstresses.
Wray sells an exotic line-up of mesh clothing made entirely from recycled materials. You can buy mesh t-shirts, skirts, and tank tops made out of mesh in many different colors and designs.
Wray also uses fair-trade practices and focuses on the ethical treatment of laborers at its overseas facilities.
31. Zero Waste Daniel
Zero Waste Daniel stands out from the crowd of sustainable fashion for several reasons. First, the brand sells genderless clothing. Second, it uses 100% recycled materials drawn from hard-to-recycle products. And, of course, the whole manufacturing process does not cause any waste, as every scrap gets reused or repurposed in some way!
The goal of this brand is to eliminate the waste and pollution so often caused by the fashion industry. They even use fully recyclable packaging as part of the zero-waste endeavor.
What is the Most Environmentally Friendly Fashion Brand?
Several big-name fashion brands like Patagonia and Levi’s have made a name for themselves as environmentally friendly fashion brands. However, many big-name brands have begun moving toward sustainability. Companies do this in many different ways.
Some companies use facilities 100% powered by solar panels for sustainable energy use. Others focus on using organic cotton, which does not require as much water use. Others focus on zero waste by carefully collecting and reusing any scrap material during the garment-making process.
Someday, maybe all quick fashion will come from a sustainable process. But for now, any step in the right direction helps protect the planet!
Is Recycled Clothing Safe?
In most cases, recycled clothing is at least as safe as first-use clothing, but you will find a lot of disagreement on this topic. There is some evidence that all types of plastic can contain harmful materials. This holds true for cloth made out of recycled plastic, too.
On the other hand, many brands that use recycled plastic make sure they do not use plastics that contain chemicals like BPA.
The fact is that over 60% of all clothing sold contains at least some polyester, which is made out of plastic. It’s hard to avoid plastic in the fashion world, but it’s also hard to state with 100% certainty that this plastic contains no harmful toxins.
Is Recycled Clothing Better?
Recycled clothing uses more sustainable practices than first-use quick fashion, making it a more environmentally-friendly choice. But sustainable fashion almost always costs more than quick fashion, so you also have to consider the price tag.
Which is better? This depends on your priorities and you will have to choose for yourself!
Does Nike Use Recycled Products?
Nike uses some recycled materials in some of its products, but not in all. Perhaps more impressively, the company does use wind turbines to power its production plants, meaning that it uses sustainable, renewable energy!
Nike’s famous Air Soles contain 50% recycled material, and the company is also making strides toward further sustainability.
What Clothing is Made from Recycled Plastic?
Many brands, including Mara Hoffman, Patagonia, Batoka, and the Girlfriend Collective, use recycled plastic in their clothing. A surprising number of clothing brands have begun using nylon rescued from the ocean by reclaiming old fishing nets and other waste. Other companies use recycled bottles melted down and turned into polyester yarn.
Recycled Clothing Online: Where to Buy
You can buy recycled clothing online through brand-name stores, through secondhand hubs like ThredUp, or even by searching for certain brands on Amazon. The guide of the 31 top recycled brands listed earlier in this article will also give you a good place to start!
In the broadest sense, any thrift store or vintage clothing store like Plato’s Closet will also provide clothing that you can recycle just by buying it to give it a second owner!
How to Recycle Your Clothes
As an eco-conscious person, you want to make the right choice and keep your clothes out of the landfill, so check out these tips on how to recycle your own clothes!
- You can find drop sites that will collect your clothes and recycle them for you. H & M offers a drop-off at all of its physical locations, just for starters!
- You can donate your gently used clothing to places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, where the garments can go on to someone who may need them more than you.
- You can tear up worn-out garments to use as rags around the house or garage. As an added bonus, this will save you money as you will not need to buy dishcloths!
- You can check the guidelines for your local recycling centers. Some locations may accept synthetics like polyester for recycling.
Recycled Clothing Ideas
If you adored some of the upcycled recycled clothing sold by brands like Re/Done, but you can’t afford the price tag on those luxury items, why not upcycle your own clothing? Who knows–you could try this as a hobby and then launch your own upcycled clothes business someday!
Check out a few ideas for how to upcycle clothing to give it a second lease on life:
- Make a scarf or a pair of mittens out of an old knitted sweater.
- Paint animal faces over the scuffed-up toes of your favorite flats to give them a lot of character and make them last a little longer.
- Sew a guy’s button-down shirt into a dress for you using simple skills and a sewing machine.
- Make a denim skirt from any pair of jeans using sharp scissors and a sturdy sewing machine.
- Turn any dress into a skirt by cutting off the bodice and adding elastic or a waistband.
- Make any piece of recycled clothing look fancier by adding applique. You can even do this with hand-stitching if you do not own a sewing machine!
The best recycled clothing brands use sustainable fashion practices such as using recycled ocean waste, bottles, or even old clothing to create their garments. Many of these brands also emphasize renewable energy by using solar panels or wind turbines to power their facilities. Most sustainable fashion brands also make a point of using fair trade and fair labor practices.
Some of the best recycled clothing brands include Patagonia, H&M, and Zero Waste Daniel. But any brand that upcycles clothes into something new makes an effort toward a more sustainable world!