There’s nothing better than a new summer sundress. But by now we all know the dangers of fast fashion (massive textile waste, pollution, and human rights abuses, to name a few). Yes, we all know and love how Everlane has led the socially responsible charge with their radical transparency, but there are so many other great brands out there also prioritizing responsible fashion. That’s why we’ve picked out eight of the cutest dresses for you to rock this summer, conscience intact.
Each gorgeous piece of clothing from this St. Paul, Minnesota-based company is made in the USA and many of them are made to order, reducing textile waste. While these are investment pieces, the classic silhouettes with modern updates make them a must-buy. We love this easy linen’s rough edges and the ability to slip it on when it’s too hot to even think about buttons.
There’s nothing like a crisp, classic shirtdress for summer, and this stretch poplin version is basically as good as it gets. This San Francisco company is the antithesis to fast fashion — they want you to wear each piece of clothing you buy for years and years to come, which is why they offer so many classic looks. Their Lean Closet initiative also makes it super simple to donate clothing to women in need, and, bonus, they’ll give you credit toward your next Cuyana purchase in return. FYI, this shirtdress also comes in navy and we will not judge you if you buy both.
What is summer without a wrap dress? Universally flattering and unbelievably comfortable, the wrap dress is a staple for a reason. YIREH is a Hawaii company that basically specializes in gorgeous summer dresses, and all of their products are ethically produced in small batches (an added bonus if you don’t like people cramping your fashion style and buying the same thing as you). Everything is completely handmade, and YIREH makes a point of getting to know its artisans and craftspeople. The company also donates extra fabric to Balinese charities in order to reduce textile waste and donates 10 percent of its profits to International Justice Mission, an organization geared toward freeing, and seeking, justice for victims of human trafficking.
This UK company has been involved in conscientious fashion for almost 30 years, making it a pioneer in the industry. They focus on Fair Trade Certified collections, organic cotton clothing, and biodegradable materials. The company is also transparent about the countries and factories where their clothing is produced, making sure to support both local economies and local people.
Okay, I’m definitely splurging on this dress for myself because it is so unbelievably cute. The modern shape keeps it from feeling too precious … and it has pockets. Made in downtown LA, La Causa (which literally means “the cause” in Spanish) offices are actually in the same building as the factory. On top of that, they only source fabrics locally or from trusted partners. If that wasn’t enough to sway you, they partner with a different local organization for each season in order to support and donate to causes like environmental conservation, women’s empowerment, and arts education.
The muted tones and ruffled shoulders of this breezy slip dress make it the most romantic on our list. DÔEN is a woman-run brand out of California and uses domestic production whenever possible. When working overseas, the brand is careful to work only with reputable manufacturers that share the company values of supporting and uplifting female artisans and reducing the gender gap in the supply chain. Also, their dresses are beyond gorgeous. Get more than one because, girl power.
I love a good caftan. And this one has fringe! Neutral tones, subtle striping, and that beautiful fringe make for a world-class summer dress. Bring this to the beach and slip it over a bathing suit or wear it for a casual night out. Made from organic cotton, the dress was hand-woven by artisans in Mexico who are paid a fair wage. Raven + Lily was created to end poverty among women and currently employs more than 1,500 at-risk women at fair trade wages in safe environments with sustainable income, health care, and education in an effort to break the cycle of poverty.
This caftan-style dress (told you I love caftans) comes in the most gorgeous hyper-dyed marigold color, evocative of the golden flowers you’ll see all summer. With a V-neck and back, this is the perfect dress to slip on when the sun is starting to set and a breeze is picking up. Made in downtown LA, The Rou dress uses deadstock fabric, left over from a larger designer. Christy Dawn’s commitment to using this deadstock fabric helps save thousands of gallons of water every year and reduces textile waste.
Jessica Suss is a native Chicagoan residing in Washington, D.C. She is currently getting her master’s degree in secondary English education at the University of Maryland. She enjoys petting other people’s dogs and is faithful to Lou Malnati’s alone. Jessica is also a supporter of MAZON and No Kid Hungry.