7 Sustainable Fashion Brands From Switzerland Everyone Should Know
July 17, 2019
These cool and innovative Swiss eco-fashion brands are changing the industry in so many amazing ways. They repurpose waste into beautiful items, they try to create a supply chain that’s as ethical and sustainable as possible, and they create job opportunities locally or in developing countries. One thing is true for all of them: they’re all extremely stylish!
Since I moved to Switzerland I’ve discovered so many amazing eco-fashion brands here, they’re quite numerous compared to the size of the country.
You may have heard of some of them already without realizing they were Swiss. But don’t worry, I also included some hidden gems that aren’t as popular yet globally as they should be.
So here are the top 7 Swiss sustainable brands you need to know about whether you live in Switzerland or not!
Avani is a young brand with timeless, feminine style and very high standards for sustainability and ethics.
Avani means “Earth” in Sanskrit which is a perfect name for this brand that works so hard to be as eco-friendly as possible.
They source their materials from Europe, and design, create and sell their clothes exceptionally in Europe to keep their carbon footprint as low as possible. As materials, they use linen, hemp, and Tencel® which are made from natural, organic, plant-based fibers and which are also pesticide-, GMO-, and fertilizer-free. The brand uses “low impact fiber reactive dyes” that are more eco-friendly (they use less water) compared to traditional methods and they don’t contain heavy metals and toxic products. Avani also makes attention to the smallest details: buttons. None of their clothing has zippers, they prefer using natural buttons made of European wood.
In addition to being sustainable, Avani is producing its clothes ethically in France where the people work in decent conditions and without the use of unhealthy, toxic chemicals.
Avani is one of the very few brands that work with a fully traceable supply chain from the raw material to the finished product.
I am following Avani on Instagram for so long and I also had the chance the hear Delphine, the founder of the brand, talk at a sustainable fashion event. It is amazing to see how much effort they’re putting into doing everything perfectly in terms of both aesthetics, ethics, and sustainability.
Freitag is probably the most well-known Swiss sustainable fashion brand, but here in Switzerland, they are extremely popular. If you walk down the streets, you’ll see one out of ten people wearing a Freitag bag.
Why are they so special? Because they’re made of used truck tarpaulins, bicycle inner tubes, and car seat belts. Every bag is unique and made of 100% upcycled materials!
The first bag was designed by Markus and Daniel Freitag in 1993 inspired by “the multicolored heavy traffic” of Zurich. Since then, the functional, water-repellent messenger bag has conquered the world and became the favorite of urban bikers all around the globe. Today, Freitag has 24 stores and more than 400 resellers worldwide.
In 2014 Freitag has developed a new, fully compostable material called F-ABRIC. It is produced in Europe and made of linen, hemp, and modal in different ratios and weaves for different fabrics.
A circular economy is one of the core values of the brand:
“We think and act in cycles”
But they are about so much more: social responsibility, smart design, storytelling, etc.
Check out their website and read about the people who make Freitag awesome!
Urbankissed is a Swiss-based online marketplace for slow and ethical fashion. They sell beautifully curated sustainable brands from all around the world all in one place.
Urbankissed provides a platform for artisans to sell their unique goods and to be seen by a larger audience. But they also want to help customers discover new, upcoming slow fashion brands on their carefully curated website. The Urbankissed online shop is loaded with stylish clothing, accessories, beauty products, and homeware with a sexy, Mediterranean vibe.
It’s a win-win for both the artisans who want to share their stories and promote their ethical collections and the sustainable fashionistas who are always on the hunt for stylish clothing that has a positive impact on the planet.
I love the concept behind Urbankissed and the gorgeous collections they stock. The brands are from different parts of the world and sometimes they use different traditional methods. looking at their clothes makes me want to pack my bag, visit these different destinations and learn more about their culture.
If you love to travel, wear uniquely stylish clothes, and support brands who make a difference in the world, I’m sure you’d find something you like at Urbankissed.
They let you browse by destination or by ethical standards, and find you cool brands to shop from. Unfortunately, not all brands are vegan, so make sure you check the product details!
Urbankissed was kind enough to offer 5% off your order with the ThePrettyPlaneteer promo code.*
*By shopping at their online store you support small ethical brands that make a difference in the world. And you also help me with a small percentage (without additional cost to you) continue running this blog and promoting sustainable fashion.
Sanikai is a Switzerland-based high-end fashion brand that created extremely stylish clothes with great quality and sustainability standards.
The brand was founded in 2015 by Sanaz Wasser and Kai Wasser. They feel a huge responsibility for our planet and love natural and recycled materials. They aim to “represent style & quality in a conscious way” by creating timeless designs that meet the highest ethics and quality standards and using Swiss perfectionism at every stage of the process.
They manufacture their beautiful clothing locally in Switzerland at a family-owned company.
Sanikai claims to use only the most sustainable materials. Their current collection consists of pieces made of regenerated nylon, Lycra®, recycled plastic bottles, organic cotton, organic linen, and leftover denim. Their threads are also made of recycled plastic bottles or organic cotton, and they use coconut shell-, corozo-, or wood-based buttons.
Everything Sanikai does is perfection, it should be a blueprint for all other fashion brands out there to follow!
Jungle Folk is another brand that embraces the Swiss perfectionism. They create clothing that’s timeless, high-quality, and also sustainable. They don’t care about trends and launching new collections throughout the year, but they are all about offering stylish classics that are easy to mix and match and that are suitable for different occasions.
The brand was founded in 2013 by Swiss designer Pauline Treis. She was inspired by a trip to Colombia where she got captivated by the talents of local craftsmen. So she decided to work with rural and urban artisans and sewers in Colombia and Peru.
Jungle Folks mission is to “create social change through business, not aid”. By providing job opportunities to a community of artisans, Jungle Folk helps them to improve their skills, increase their income and as a result, improve their lives as a whole. They work with each craftsman individually in small workshops which allows them to maintain a relationship with the artisans, and to get to know their needs and situations. The personal relationship between the brand and the workers also creates an opportunity for the workers to have an input in the development of the collections which can be very beneficial for both the brand and the employees.
I love this mindset and the way Jungle Folk invests in people, treats them with respect and changes their lives. It may seem insignificant on a global scale where millions of people work for less than a living wage in the fashion industry, but it surely has a huge impact on the lives of these artisans!
But Jungle Folk doesn’t only care about its impact on people, they also want to reduce its impact on the environment. By creating long-lasting, timeless collections, and by using materials like organic cotton, organic linen, and peace silk they have a much more positive environmental impact compared to popular fast fashion brands. However, they use alpaca wool for their sweaters that I wouldn’t consider sustainable, nor ethical. They also just came out with some leather sandals and slippers that are very pretty, but once again, leather is one of the dirties materials, so they might need some fact-checking in this area!
If you want to know why I don’t consider these materials sustainable and ethical read these posts I wrote on why peace silk is better than traditional silk, why I don’t wear cashmere or any other type of wool, and why I think vegan leather shoes are better than leather shoes!
If you don’t know Calida yet, it’s one of the biggest underwear brands in Europe. They are in business for over 75 years now and they claim that sustainability is not a new idea for them, it was always the core of their business.
The Swiss brand designs contemporary underwear, sleepwear and loungewear for everyone. Their pieces can be easily mixed and matched with each other so everyone could find what fits their needs best. Calida provides premium Swiss quality and durability and that’s one of the main reasons why they’re pioneers in sustainable European underwear. But they also embrace innovation and sustainable and ethical production.
However, Calida is quite a big brand, and it feels like they had to make some compromises in sustainability to grow this much. I’ll talk about these compromises after listing why Calida is still an awesome brand that worth your money especially if you live in Switzerland.
In Switzerland, Calida is everywhere. They have stores in major cities and you can also find them in almost every multi-brand retail store around the country. Buying local is always more sustainable than having something shipped from another country because it reduces the impact of shipping (especially if you shop in-store, not online). And, as a plus, you also support the local economy.
Calida is aware of the impact of transportation on the environment, that’s why they source all their fabrics from Europe. 75% of that comes from Switzerland and neighboring countries: Austria and Germany. They produce 80% of their collection in their own factory in Hungary which is also pretty close to Switzerland, but the wages are much lower there than in Switzerland. Sourcing and producing everything in a close radius is a great solution for keeping low the environmental effects of transportation.
Calida was the first underwear brand to use the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label in 2016.
They also put a huge emphasis on innovation. They have developed a Cradle to Cradle®-certified collection of fully compostable T-shirts using cellulose-based Tencel®. The cellulose used for this collection is sourced from sustainable forestry, and the fabric is produced in a closed-loop process. The range of fully-compostable, basic T-shirts is available for the whole family in different colors.
Now let’s talk about some of the issues with the brand to get the whole picture…
My first problem with the brand is that they don’t seem to have any transparency about their factories. They say that 80% of their clothes come from their in-house production in Hungary. But what are conditions in that factory? They don’t say anything about it. Do they pay a living wage to their workers? I’m from Hungary so I know that the minimum wage is not a decent living wage in every city. So maybe they decided to take advantage of the cheap Eastern-European labor without trying to improve the lives of their workers while selling clothes they the workers could never afford? Not cool! I’m not sure whether or not this is the reality, but since they don’t say anything about this on their site I can assume it is.
And where does the other 20% of production come from? We have no idea!
My other issue with Calida is the choice of materials they use. They use Tencel® and modal that are great, cellulose-based innovative materials. On the other hand, cotton, if not organic, is not as eco-friendly as it seems, because it uses way too much water and pesticides. Besides, silk and merino wool are sourced from animals which is something I will never consider ethical and sustainable. You can read my previous post about how silk is made and about how cashmere and other types of wool are made to understand why I don’t support these materials.
But apart from these, regarding its size, Calida is doing a great job in changing the fashion industry and raising awareness of sustainability.
You can check out their website to know more or to purchase your next pair of sustainable undies!
I discovered AgentSpécial during Fashion Revolution Week at a sustainable fashion fair in Geneva. Their bags are so special and unique, it was love at first sight!
AgentSpecial upcycles the Doypack® which is a packaging material used for food and beverages. The Doypack® is that small bag that’s used to keep olives and fruit juices and has a silver-colored interior. It is a very strong material that’s also very resistant to temperature changes, water, and sunshine. AgentSpécial buys the waste materials from the food industry, cuts it, fold it, sort it according to color and weaves it into beautiful bags and other accessories.
The bags are created by Philippino artisans using the traditional basket-weaving method. And the result is gorgeous! The bags come in different shapes and sizes ranging from small makeup bags to huge beach bags. They stock basic styles as well as trendy pieces so everyone can find their perfect match.
The coolest thing about using Doypack® as the material is that it makes so many color combinations possible, and as a result, each bag is unique and “spécial”. Their original collection mix and match the different colors and the silver in many fun variations while their “nude” collection is all about chic, minimal, completely silver bags.
Written by Csilla Herbszt, a sustainably stylish fashion blogger living her vegan life in Switzerland. You should follow her on Instagram!