Recycled Clothing: Top 5 Brands For Sustainable Fashion

Introduction – Recycled Clothing Brands

Interest in the top recycled clothing brands has increased as consumers turn a critical eye toward the fast fashion industry, known for its rapid production and quick turnover of inexpensive garments, has long been criticized for its environmental and social impacts. With growing awareness of these issues, recycled clothing has emerged as a sustainable alternative, attracting the attention of consumers, designers, and policymakers alike.

Recycled fabrics under a long process that is a net carbon reduction

The Process of Recycling Clothing

Recycled clothing begins its journey with the collection and sorting of used garments. These items are then subjected to mechanical and chemical recycling techniques to transform them into new textiles.

Mechanical recycling involves shredding the clothing, carding the fibers, and spinning them into new yarn. Chemical recycling, on the other hand, breaks down fibers to their molecular level, enabling the creation of new textiles with similar properties.

Technology plays a crucial role in improving recycling processes, making them more efficient and reducing the environmental impact of textile production.

Benefits of Recycled Clothing

Recycled clothing boasts several benefits over traditional fashion production. Environmentally, it has a lower carbon footprint, conserves water and energy, and reduces textile waste. Social benefits include the promotion of fair labor practices and ethical production, as well as community engagement through donation and recycling initiatives. Economically, recycled clothing creates new job opportunities and encourages a circular economy, wherein resources are kept in use for as long as possible.

Carbon Impact Of Recycling

The impact of recycled clothing on carbon emissions is significant as it helps to reduce the overall environmental footprint of the fashion industry. By using recycled materials, brands minimize their reliance on virgin resources, which require energy-intensive processes for extraction, refinement, and production. This reduction in resource consumption leads to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of new textiles.

Recycling textiles helps to curb the energy use and carbon emissions related to the manufacturing process. For instance, the production of recycled polyester generates 75% less CO2 emissions compared to virgin polyester. Similarly, recycling cotton saves considerable energy and reduces emissions, as the cultivation of virgin cotton often requires significant pesticide use and water consumption. It’s no surprise that cotton substitutes like tencel have come to fore for their claim of overall reduced carbon.

Furthermore, by extending the life of garments through recycling, upcycling, or repurposing, brands can reduce the demand for new clothes, which in turn lowers the overall carbon footprint of the fashion industry. The promotion of a circular economy, in which materials are continually reused and recycled, can play a crucial role in mitigating climate change.

Leading Brands and Designers in Recycled Fashion

Several pioneering brands and designers have embraced recycled materials in their collections. These trailblazers are pushing the boundaries of sustainable fashion, often collaborating with established brands to promote eco-conscious practices within the industry.

Top 5 Recycled Clothing Brands


Patagonia is a frontrunner in sustainable clothing, has been using recycled materials in their garments for decades. Their Recycled Polyester line repurposes plastic bottles, manufacturing waste, and worn-out garments, significantly reducing their carbon footprint and water usage.

Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher is another pioneer in sustainable fashion, introduced their “Renew” program in 2009, which encourages customers to return worn garments in exchange for store credit. These garments are then cleaned, repaired, or upcycled into new designs, diverting textile waste from landfills.


Reformation is known for its eco-conscious practices and commitment to using sustainable materials. They create stylish, contemporary clothing from deadstock fabrics, repurposed vintage garments, and recycled textiles, while also maintaining transparent and ethical manufacturing processes.

Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective produces sustainable activewear made from recycled materials, including post-consumer plastic bottles and discarded fishing nets. Their popular leggings and sports bras are not only eco-friendly but also size-inclusive and ethically produced.


Rapanui is a UK-based sustainable fashion brand, specializes in recycled clothing made from organic cotton and recovered textile waste. Their unique “circular fashion” approach allows customers to return worn garments for store credit, which are then recycled into new products, minimizing waste and promoting a circular economy in the fashion industry.

Uplifting Example: Prato, Italy Is A Cneter Of Recycled Clothing

A small district in Prato in Italy is home to many companies who have mastered the method of transforming old scraps into new clothes. Each specializes in one specific aspect of the process – spinning, weaving or designing. Amazingly Prato claims to process 15% of all recycled clothes in the world. 

If a shirt is too old for the charity shop, it is sent for recycling. It is sorted by collar, torn apart, washed, and the new recycled material is taken and transformed into new clothes with minimal waste. 

BBC covers the town of Prato, Italy in its pioneering business of creating recycled clothing

The clothes arrive from many different countries and all the garments that can’t be sold second-hand are taken to a nearby company. Not only are they separated by color, but also by material. The clothes are put in a carbonizing machine, which eliminates impurities, then they go through a giant washing machine, shredded, cleaned and dried. 

At the end of the process, recycled materials look like fine, fluffy wool fibers. They are placed here until a fashion brand buys them and uses them to make clothes. 

Recycling wool is great for the environment as CO2 emissions are more than halved compared to when clothes are made from new material. There is also an immediate impact on animal welfare, as the stress on animals to get the wool is reduced, and there is almost complete elimination of dyes as the way wool is recycled is an assortment by color. 

Consumer Attitudes and Adoption of Recycled Clothing

As awareness of the environmental impact of fashion grows, consumer attitudes are shifting. Social media influencers and celebrities have played a significant role in promoting recycled clothing, leading to increased adoption.

However, the industry still faces challenges, such as overcoming misconceptions about the quality and aesthetics of recycled garments and addressing pricing concerns. To counter these issues, brands are employing strategies to promote the adoption of recycled clothing, such as education campaigns and innovative marketing approaches.

The Future of Recycled Clothing and Sustainable Fashion

The future of recycled clothing is promising, with technological advancements and innovations continually emerging to improve the sustainability of the fashion industry. Policymakers and regulators also play a vital role in promoting sustainable practices, often working in collaboration with industry stakeholders and consumers. As a result, a more sustainable and circular fashion future can be envisioned, in which waste is minimized, and resources are used more efficiently.


The importance of recycled clothing in the fashion industry cannot be overstated, as it offers a sustainable and environmentally responsible alternative to traditional fast fashion. As consumers, industry professionals, and policymakers come together to embrace and support sustainable practices, the rise of recycled clothing signals a much-needed revolution in the world of fashion.

Staff Writer
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