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17 Essential Eco-Friendly Fashion Brands To Shop Right Now

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<a href="">Claire Vivier foldover clutch</a>, $180 at
Claire Vivier foldover clutch, $180 at

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Sustainable fashion has become a hot topic in the past year or so. Vegan designer Stella McCartney managed to nab Britain's Designer of the Year Award without using leather, which is practically unheard of in luxury fashion. Giant global brands like Victoria's Secret and Zara have pledged to detox their production practices. Even H&M has launched a eco-friendly Conscious Collection.

Brands large and small, mass market and niche, are beginning to pay attention to the ecological impact of the industry, and so are consumers. That said, fashion production is extremely complicated, and making eco-friendly shopping choices is a daunting task. So in honor of Earth Day, we enlisted the help of Rachel Kibbe, founder of the revolutionary eco-conscious shopping site HELPSY, to share some her recommendations. Below, Rachel's picks of the 17 most eco-sound, fashion forward places to shop online. Enjoy, and happy Earth Day.

Loomstate: Best laid back vibe with a serious mission
Founded by Rogan Gregory and Scott Mackinlay Hahn, this 100% organic line will make you want to book a beach vacation stat. But the casual attitude stops at the aesthetic–they are dead serious when it comes to ethical production. The proof is in the eco-pudding, as co-founder Scott Mackinlay Hahn was just nominated as co-chair of the CFDA Sustainability Committee along with Melissa Joy Manning (more on her below). And FYI, the committee is holding a Google+ hangout on April 24th at 1pm, should you care to get in on that.

Maiden Nation: Best singleness of purpose (and bitchin' celeb collabs)
Want to support women, buy ethical designs created by some of the baddest mama jama female celebrity activists around—including Yoko Ono, Gloria Steinem, and Lauren Bush Lauren? Of course you do, and you can find them here. Maiden Nation's focus is singular and strong: to empower women through ethical fashion. What's not to want?

Stella McCartney: Best high fashion using eco-friendly technology
Stella is one of the few high-end designers staying atop of the runway heap while consistently bringing it in the sustainability department. Her line is not only completely vegan and cruelty free, she has also pioneered some innovative sustainable fabric technology. Case in point, last season she came out with a line of faux-croc heels with biodegradable plastic soles.

Kaight: Best online/brick-and-mortar duo
One of the first eco-fashion boutiques based in NYC, Kaight has a nice virtual and physical selection of cool, eco-friendly fashion, highlighting new talent every season. Carrying indie design faves from Baggu to Samantha Pleet, they even have one-of-a-kind pieces made with their customers in mind.

Coclico: Largest variety of eco-friendly shoes
From clogs to flats to heels, Cocilco has you covered in style. The NYC-based shoe line has more than a decade-long history of eco-footprint mindfulness. Producing timeless styles in a small, family-owned factory in Majorca, Spain, each component is carefully considered for its beauty, utility, and environmental impact. Wedges are made from recycled Portuguese cork and local Spanish pine; leathers are sourced only from local tanneries using environmentally conscious practices and vegetable tanning.

HELPSY: Coolest curation
We're biased, of course, but with good reason. HELPSY stocks cool designer fashion with a clear mission–every purchase made on HELPSY has a clear positive social impact, with no to sacrifice to visual appeal. HELPSY's special strength lies in making ethical purchasing seem like anything but a holy mission. Selective curating showcases top emerging designers, and the HELPSY blog is written in a fun, tongue and cheek tone, so you actually want to read it and stay onto of the most current, conscious design. Bonus: Filter by ten different ethical categories to know just how positive your purchases are.

H&M: Best eco-initiatives in (really) fast fashion
Fast fashion is controversial because of its intrinsic environmental impact. Undeniable, however, is the fact that this Swedish company has made a very public commitment to becoming increasingly eco-conscious. These eco-initiatives include a clothing recycling program, the release of a "Conscious Collection," fabricated in eco-friendly fabrics, as well as publishing details making their supply chains some of the most transparent in existence. Several weeks ago H&M hosted a panel at Vogue's New York headquarters, engaging top eco-fashion experts in the field in a public discussion on the matter. As far as fast fashion goes, H&M is leading the sustainability charge. And while they don't have an online shop yet, they have about a million stores, and chances are there's one within spitting distance of you.

Eileen Fisher: Strongest green initiatives among chains
Eileen Fisher is not just your mom's favorite brand (and/or your fave sweater to steal from your mom and not tell anyone it's Eileen Fisher). It's also one of the greenest chains around. Their commitment to eco-friendly materials, recycling programs, and philanthropic initiatives is head of the class.

Ethica: Best selection of prints and handbags
Founded by sister team Melissa and Carolina Cantor, these ladies are serious purveyors of beautiful, ethical fashion. If prints are your game, Ethica has a few to dye for (yup pun intentions). Also, their slick selection of handbags is your bank statement's worst enemy. Icing on this ethical cake—their company is based in a LEED-certified green building. Huzzah.

Edun: Best Africa-centric, ethical brand founded by a Rock Star
When it comes to celebrity clothing lines, it's often tempting to wish they'd just leave design to the designers. But in this case, husband and wife team Bono and Ali Hewson are actually perfect for the job. Bono has made African socio-economic concerns his life's mission, so a clothing line supported by him and mainly produced in Africa makes sense. Additionally, Edun has combined forces with denim brand Diesel this season, and for the first time in history created a denim line completely sourced and manufactured in Africa and distributed globally. More high-fashion cred: former Alexander Wang design director Danielle Sherman recently joined the team.

honest by.: Best high-fashion eco-site, European edition
Founded by Belgium-based designer Bruno Pieters, the elegant, minimal pieces here are out-of-control beautiful from the inside out. With a rotating cast of 100% ethically transparent chic, the site features new designers all the time. Pieters conducts extensive research on the items, tracing the origins of fabrics and trimmings to ensure each garment is as environmentally friendly as possible.

VogueVert: Best Charitable Foundation
Not only does VogueVert curate top eco-friendly designers, such as Edun and A Peace Treaty, every time you make a purchase $1 and 10% of profits are donated to the VogueVert Charitable Foundation. The foundation's mission is to fund scholarships for green design students and to support causes that advance the protection of the environment, animals, and women around the globe.

Ahalife: Best sustainable selection on a non eco-centric site
Amid the housewares and other products on this design-centric site, you'll find covetable sustainable jewelry from designers like Nettie Kent and Natalie Frigo and solar powered watches by Neo-Utility. It is no wonder the goods are so great—Aha's CEO Shauna Mei has brought out the big fashion guns with top-shelf curators such as Donna Karan, Peter Davis, and Tim Gunn.

Fashioning Change: Best tech platform
Influenced by her father's experience in the manufacturing industry in Suarez, Mexico, founder and CEO Adriana Herrera has created an eco-friendly fashion database to rival all eco-friendly tech platforms. Sift through thousands of fairly priced, eco-friendly options by various categories as the technology gets to know you and your personal style, then helps you dress accordingly. Finally, the site shows the direct positive social impact of your purchases. Much better than Mom blindly throwing clothes over your dressing room door (sorry, Mom!).

Melissa Joy Manning: Widest selection of eco-friendly jewelry by one designer
Melissa Joy Manning, recently appointed Co-Chair of the CFDA Sustainability Committee, obviously knows a thing or two about sustainable jewelry design. Her handmade designs are stunning, employing traditional metal smithing, conflict-free stones, and recycled gold and silver. Each piece is hand made to order by artists in her green-certified California studio.

Clare Vivier: Best "I want every single item, literally" leather goods
Locally made in LA, using sustainable and eco-friendly design practices, Claire Vivier's line of small leather good is a 'each one better than the last' situation. Minimal in design, lush in hues, endless in use—one of each plz.

Have any of your own favorite eco-conscious designers we should know about? Share the love in the comments.
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