Ethical Socks and Undies

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We are excited to bring you a series by Marina Starck featuring various sustainable fashion topics she’s interested in! In this third post, Marina discusses a popular fashion item that can be deemed as a necessity in our everyday lives — socks and underwear. She shares some insights and some sustainable brands!

Post by Contributing Writer Marina Starck.

By and large, we know how to slow fast fashion down. We know to avoid frivolous shopping. We know to maximize the value of our pieces by taking great care of them. We know that when a piece has been more useful as a closet dust collector than as clothing, the best plan of action is to give said piece to a friend. There are some articles, however, for which these principles are less applicable. Socks and underwear are particularly problematic in this way. They are washed more frequently than jeans or tops. They are obviously not swappable. And we purchase them more often than other articles. But have no fear! There are still sustainable options for us to choose from. We simply need to follow different guiding principles when shopping for socks and undies. 

The first thing we need to do is go through a mini paradigm shift, and start thinking of these items as an investment. Socks and underwear are commonly perceived as disposable: they have less intrinsic value to you than does the gorgeous peacoat you invested in three winters ago. That is only logical! But in order to adopt slow fashion at every level of the closet hierarchy, we need to buy long-lasting pieces, often at a higher purchase price. We should search for socks and undies made of the highest quality materials and made through the most ethical processes.

Sustainably produced undergarments are often made from hemp, bamboo, or organic cotton. And as is often the fortunate case with sustainable fabrics, they also offer more benefits to your body than do cheaper fabrics-those considered more disposable. For example, hemp is famously durable, absorbent, and light-all valuable qualities to have in undergarments. Hemp also scores highly on the sustainability scale: one acre of hemp produces three times as much fabric as an acre of cotton. Hemp cultivation requires no pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMOs. Farming hemp also improves soil quality through nutrient production and erosion prevention. Similarly valuable is bamboo: with strong antibacterial and antifungal properties, bamboo keeps you feeling fresh throughout the day. Sustainability-wise, however, bamboo is more contentious than hemp. Undoubtedly healthier than most commercially-grown crops due to its pest-resistance, quick growth rate, and self-regenerative properties, the current circumstances surrounding commercial bamboo production have tainted the inherent sustainability of the plant. Nevertheless, when ethically sourced, bamboo can be a strong choice. 

Many consumers prefer cotton undergarments because they are accustomed to the feel of the fabric. When purchasing cotton socks, however, make sure they are made with organic cotton! Organic cotton is produced using non-genetically modified plants on to which no pesticides are sprayed. Though organic cotton still uses an incredible amount of water-20,000 litres per kilogram- by choosing organic cotton, you support more ethical farming processes that ensure greater health for the farmers and the soil exposed to nasty chemicals.

Luckily, many companies in the business of sustainable, slow fashion production create both underwear and socks for men and women! Listed below are companies producing apparel with sustainable fabrics and certifiably ethical manufacturing processes.

  • Thought is a sustainable slow fashion-focused company based in the UK. With a large selection of articles made from a variety of sustainable fabrics, Thought creates funky wear through ethical production.

  • Boody is a company based in Australia with a strong presence worldwide. All of their products are made from bamboo, which is ethically grown and manufactured. Boody holds certificates in ethical production and they are PETA approved.

  • For a more basic design, look to Rawganique, a company that makes socks and undies from organic cotton and vegan hemp in the US, Canada, and Europe.

  • If you are searching for a company that produces apparel for both work and play, look no further than Pact, the organic cotton apparel company that is certified Fair Trade Factory Certified. 

Believe it or not, this is a highly refined list. The Internet is saturated with companies producing high-quality slow fashion apparel. When researching said companies, however, ensure that you are doing the deep dive: truly sustainable companies don’t just assure you of their sustainability through a value statement. They communicate sustainability at every level of their business and can assure you of their ethical practices through certification. So research thoroughly, choose thoughtfully, invest enthusiastically, and enjoy your new evergreen undergarments!

Selina HoComment