I know I'm not alone when I say that I'm committed to becoming more thoughtful about what and where I shop, taking into consideration which brands I support and the impact my purchases have on the environment and the industry as a whole. More than ever, I want to feel good about my shopping choices.
To help me move in a more conscious direction, I sat down with someone who knows a lot about clothes that look as good as they feel. Enter Cassandra Dittmer. After working as a traditional celebrity stylist with the likes of Laura Dern, Bebe Rexha, Donald Glover, and others for nearly a decade, she's branching out to work with a wider array of clients to identify the values they want to see represented in their wardrobes (aka me).
Dittmer has an array of styling services ranging from sourcing specific items for her clients such as a new winter coat or a dress for an upcoming event to complete closet overhauls, and my work with her fell somewhere in the middle. We created a sustainably sourced digital boutique—basically a curation of items from the seven brands you're about to discover here, which Dittmer handpicked for me based on things like my personal style and the values I want to see represented in my wardrobe. I knew I wanted to focus on three aspects: sustainable production, ethical working conditions, and Black- and women-owned businesses, all of which are represented in this list.
Not only do these additions stand to move my closet in a more thoughtful direction, but each one is also an exciting new-to-me brand that I simply can't keep all to myself. Ahead, discover what makes each label exciting to a sustainable stylist like Dittmer, and shop my picks from them.
"I am obsessed with everything Gimaguas is creating. There is not a ton of information about exactly how the brand is crafted. I do know that it was started by two Spanish sisters who design and run the entire label. They create handcrafted and unique items. They definitely have a mystique to their brand. I think the square-neck and polo-style tops are both unique but timeless pieces. They are both so classy, cozy, and elevated."
"The Norr brand really encompasses the Danish modern woman. Everything is always very minimalistic but still intriguing and interesting. Norr has a very special commitment to the environment and to improve the regions it works in. It focuses heavily on materials and the standard of its suppliers, helping integrate sustainable fabrics and reducing the use of harmful chemicals. I know leather is controversial, but this company has an amazing commitment to making it as sustainably as possible. I love this set together, but it also looks amazing worn separately. I love this skirt paired with a turtleneck for fall. This would probably look amazing with your black square-toe boots."
"Sometimes finding the right basics can be tough. There are many sustainable brands that make 'basics' nowadays. As the ground is a bit more trodden in this category, I hold the brands to a very high standard in ethics. Public Habit is doing some of the best work. It has an on-demand model that eliminates waste and warehousing costs. It does an excellent job building its community around transparency. Its website clearly explains the pros and cons of each fabric and shares specific details about its factories and supply chain. I am a big fan of the hand on its cashmere. I also love the cut on this turtleneck. It’s cropped enough but can still be tucked into high-waisted pants easily. Its items are perfect for fall layering and NYC weather!"
"Everything from the fabrications, trims, pattern-making, and sewing, every contribution to Izayla is crafted in Los Angeles. The owner, I’sha Dunston, takes pride in domestic craftsmanship while ensuring ethical compensation for all of her freelance contractors. Her future plan for Izayla is to provide employment opportunities for all women in Los Angeles.
"She pioneers made-to-order to ensure waste is kept minimal and works to let each customer know that their garment is made with love. She purchases fabrication trimmings and stores the inventory for selected styles on a needed basis. I’sha is very hands-on with every element of her business such as sketching, fabrications, fitting samples, meetings with showrooms, and connecting with people that she sees as an asset to her brand.
"Izayla is a brand I just discovered recently. This jumpsuit is a total statement piece. I actually just worked with I’sha last week to incorporate a couple of these items into a new campaign. This is the type of item you wear from work to dinner, traveling, and beyond. I love the easy but flattering shape."
"Gestuz describes its brand as 'subtly disrupting and updating the classics,' which just sort of makes me happy. The brand focuses on sustainable materials, production, and the well-being of its workers. Currently, about 40% of its collections are made from recycled materials. It also specifically states that it is looking for ways to further improve. I really appreciate when a brand takes such a strong but vulnerable stance on its current business pulse. I love the buckle detail, overall fit, and color of these jeans. They are a modern, not-too-skinny cut that can pair well with many tops and jacket combos from your existing wardrobe."
"Ovna Ovich (овна -ovna feminine, ович -ovich masculine) is an independent label based in Auckland, New Zealand, with a devotion to making environmentally and socially sound womenswear of effortlessness and elegance. Female-designed, small runs, and the designer maintains complete control of the supply chain to my understanding. I know you were looking for easy pieces, and I love the drape on this oversize blazer. It's so simple and chic to pair with minimal jewelry, your favorite pants, and a T-shirt or turtleneck. The materials are selected for their naturally renewable and sustainable characteristics. This blazer is wool, which is renewable, fire-resistant, and does not require chemical inputs. Also, the buttons are made from the seed of a palm tree."
"Sustainability, craft, and empowerment lie at the heart of Sindiso’s label. She works very closely with non-governmental organizations in developing handmade textiles for her collections. Everything is handmade in South Africa. I love the quirky and interesting patterns on all of her items. She has everything from beautifully structured suiting to really French-looking dresses. This suit has incredible shape and structure. I am obsessed with her patterns and love the white booties paired with her white dresses."