Transitioning to a more sustainable wardrobe: the t-shirt edition! Why are we starting your sustainability adventure with a t-shirt? First, it seems that every sustainable fashion brands start with a t-shirt, so there is a wide range of styles and price points. As important, t-shirts are a year-round item as a layering piece with a sweater in winter, alone as a top with shorts in summer or under a jean jacket for spring and wall. I like mine fitted, soft, and not particularly long. I was a huge fan of Everlane's pima micro rib tee, but transparency isn't the same as sustainability, so I've moved on to other brands.
Building a more sustainable wardrobe means you will be visiting the "About" section of websites more often. If a brand is concerned about their supply chain's impact, they are going to want to share that information. If you can't find anything about how or where a brand is making their clothes, email them.
My new favorite t-shirt is the fitted crew by Kotn. The Kotn crew is made from 100% cotton micro-rib jersey, and the neckline hits perfectly below my collar bone. The tee comes in 7 different colors and retails for $28. Read the fabric, details, and care notes before buying. If you plan on throwing it in a machine rather than hand washing, the company suggests that you go up a size. I should mention all of the shirts I am writing about come in different colors.
If you like your tees to fit a bit looser, there are two other designs to check out: an essential crew and a relaxed v-neck. For those of you who like a higher collar, try the band tee in black.
Kotn has a traceability tab at the top of their website. They are working hard to develop long-term relationships with suppliers and make a point of giving back to the community. I emailed the company several times to ask questions about everything from returns to their supply chain, and customer service was friendly and quick to respond.
Another brand you might want to check out is the Classic T-Shirt Company. It has earned reliable reviews for being sustainably and ethically produced. I tried the women’s v-neck and short sleeve crew. After the v-neck was washed, it fit perfectly, but it was a little long out of the box. The crew tee had a neckline that was too high for me, so I returned it. Customer service was terrific, and I got an email after I made my purchase asking for feedback.
Here are some other eco-friendly options to get you started: