19 of the best ethical and eco-friendly travel clothes and accessories brands for women on the go—as recommended by me and other bloggers.
For the past seven-and-a-bit years, I’ve worked as a writer and editor for Australia’s leading ethical fashion magazine. In that time, I’ve got to meet and profile hundreds of ethically made and eco-friendly fashion and accessories labels from all four corners of the globe. Fair to say that social and environmental sustainability have become values I hold close to my heart.
Whether I’m at home or travelling, I always try to support ethical and eco-friendly fashion labels. Not only are they better for people and planet, they also tend to make items that are timeless and high-quality—perfect for intensive wear while travelling. There are a couple of brands I’m loyal to and a handful of items I wouldn’t dream of taking off my packing list. To find out what other ethical and eco-friendly brands are fit for travel, I decided I’d ask a few travel bloggers for their recommendations.
Whether you’re trying to decide on your next travel clothing purchase or you’re looking for the perfect gift for the travelling woman in your life, here are 19 ethically made and eco-friendly fashion and accessories that are perfect for ladies on the move.
Ethically made & eco-friendly travel clothes
Recommended by me
If there was ever an ethical fashion label tailor-made for travel, it’s Matter. Co-founded by two Singaporean friends and inspired by their own travels across India in a tuk-tuk, Matter was literally born out of a passion for adventure and discovery.
A big part of this label’s ethos is protecting traditional artisan skills. Both Matter’s cuts and motifs are drawn from heritage designs; the signature Sideswept Dhotis are based off a pair of trousers worn by Gandhi. Ikat, batik and hand-loomed cotton fabrics are all produced ethically by artisan groups in rural India before being sewn into pants, jumpsuits and tops at Matter’s Fair Factory in Delhi. The prints are subtle enough to pair with other patterns (essential for travel in my books)—and even though the fabrics are light and delicate, they can still be machine washed.
I was invited to road test Matter’s Easy Dhoti pants in Falcon Dusk while I was back home in Brisbane—and I’ve been wearing them almost daily! The elastic waist and ankle cuffs are super comfy. They’re definitely on the easy-fitting side, with a generous amount of fabric around the thigh, but it’s easy to dress them up with a scarf and fitted jacket. I will definitely be bringing them along on my next trip!
Recommended by Claudia, My Adventures Across the World
Kuhl is a fantastic American brand that provides high-quality outdoor and mountain clothing. They have a wide range of comfortable and cozy clothes for all seasons, and they are all made with ethical fabrics—whether technical ones or natural ones such as cotton or wool.
One of their best items for both men and women is the Arktik Parka, which should be on any packing list when travelling to cold destinations in the winter months. This jacket is water resistant and coated and waxed to protect it from rain, snow and cold wind. It’s made with Italian faux leather and ethically sourced goose down, so that it’s wonderfully insulating even in the coldest weather conditions.
It has plenty of pockets to keep important items safe, and a good hood to protect against the cold wind. Last but definitely not least, the design and style are such that whoever wears the jacket will look stylish, even in the coldest weather.
Keep up with Claudia’s adventures on Instagram.
Kameleon Rose Travel Dress
Recommended by Nat, natpacker
One of my favourite items in my travel wardrobe is the Kameleon Rose Travel Dress. This dress can be worn in twenty different styles—dresses, pants, skirts and even tops are all possible. It makes packing so much easier. As I girl, I always struggle with outfits when I travel, which often leads to over-packing. But this gives me so much choice in one item. Though I do seem to have four favourite ways of wearing it.
What makes it so good for travel, other than the flexibility? It has a secret pocket to store small valuables, it packs up small, and it’s lightweight and fast drying. Plus, the material is lovely and comfortable. For me it was a perfect addition to my travel clothing.
Kameleon Rose was founded by Leila Rose, who shared the frustration of many women of how to be stylish and comfortable when travelling. So she designed her Ultimate Travel Dress. The dress is made in Madagascar and Mauritius, in ethical conditions. All factories are WRAP Certified, which is the world’s largest independent program for textile certification. The WRAP Certification has twelve principles that must be adhered to, covering health and safety and working hours, and prohibits child labour and forced labour.
Find out what else is in Nat’s backpack by following her on Twitter.
Recommended by Susanna, The Wandering Chocobo
I left fast fashion in the dust two years ago and Mata Traders was my first fully ethical and smart purchase. The fact that I LOVE their brand and wear their clothing every single time I fly made me confident in my decision to leave fast fashion behind. With Mata Traders, you can look fashionable, be comfortable when you travel and feel good about your decision. I always pair one of their dresses with an organic bamboo sweater and a pair of leggings for long hauls, and I am always so comfortable. Their tops are loose and comfortable for hot destinations. They even have a curvy line!
Mata Traders is all about empowering marginalised women in communities in Nepal and India to encourage them to use traditional techniques while receiving a fair living wage. All Mata Traders products are unique pieces, handmade with love and fair trade practices. The women get health care, maternity leave, retirement and daycare—and there is no child labor used.
Keep an eye out for them in Chicago and across the US, or they ship around the world. I have even made a few orders from here in Munich!
Wander with Susanna on Instagram.
Recommended by me
Another of my go-to brands for eco-friendly travel clothes is Dorsu. Based in a gorgeous studio-shop in Kampot, Cambodia, Dorsu produce their capsule collections locally using dead stock fabric salvaged from garment factories in Phnom Penh.
When I lived in Cambodia, I got to see firsthand how the fast-fashion industry operates. Dorsu Co-founders Hanna and Kunthear and the rest of the Dorsu crew have an intimate understanding of the industry and its downsides. They offer alternative, fair employment to local women—and a lot of hands-on training—and do their bit for the environment by upcycling those perfectly good fabrics that might otherwise be torched or sent to landfill.
Dorsu clothes are purposefully seasonless and perfect for travel. Because of the way they’re sourced, the makeup and origins of the fabrics are often unknown, but they’re always super-soft, lux, and curated to a neutral palette that’s perfect for layering. My Dorsu long-sleeved tees were a lifesaver on my last trip to Europe, and I always carry my Dorsu pullover black turtleneck dress with me.
Recommended by Emily, Two Dusty Travelers
Encircled’s comfortable and versatile clothes make them my favorite brand to travel with! As a committed ethical traveller and carry-on only enthusiast, I love that their pieces have been thoughtfully designed as basics that can be worn anytime, anyplace. I wear their super soft and cozy (but still fashionable) Dressy Sweatpants on every flight. And their Chrysalis Cardi is always in my carry-on because it can be worn eight different ways—from a fancy one-shoulder dress for a night out, to a cardigan you can keep in your day bag just in case. The founder of Encircled, a former management consultant, says she travelled over 100,000 miles a year and practically lived in airports. This lived experience definitely comes through in her designs that are perfect for frequent travelers.
Encircled is deeply to committed to ethics and sustainability in all aspects of their business. All of their clothes are produced locally in Toronto to reduce their carbon footprint, and they use sustainable fabrics and recyclable shipping materials. They also believe transparency is essential, so they openly share information about their sewing studios and welcome questions about their business. They even reduce waste by up-cycling their excess fabric cuttings into headbands and hair elastics!
For more ethical travel inspiration, follow Emily on Instagram.
Recommended by Thea, Zen Travellers
Patagonia is a tried-and-tested giant in the outdoor apparel world. Their speciality clothing is made for any outdoor pursuit conceivable—including travel. From the beginning, the company has dedicated funds to conservation causes and promoted environmental stewardship as well as supply chain transparency. They currently have programs to use recycled fabrics in the construction of their clothes and each piece comes with an ‘Iron Clad Guarantee’, so you can shop with confidence.
I personally love their Capilene long-sleeve shirts that provide sun protection while keeping cool at the same time, and the GoreTex jackets for active travel. Their three-layer breathable GoreTex Triolet jackets, for example, can be used on their own as a rain jacket in the summer or layered over a synthetic or down mid-layer for winter or high alpine pursuits.
While they’re definitely pricey, these jackets are virtually bomb-proof and will be a part of your travel kit for years to come. I bought my Super Alpine jacket (similar to the Triolet) in 2012 and it’s been travelling around the world with me for 14 months. Most recently it helped me reach the sky high 6088m summit of Huayana Potosi in Bolivia!
Join Thea for more outdoor adventures on Instagram.
Recommended by Emma, Small footprints, big adventures
I love bamboo clothing for many reasons. It feels super-soft and slinky, and the fibres are made from a very fast-growing and renewable crop that doesn’t require pesticides or huge amounts of water to grow like cotton does. Although any crop can become unsustainable, I trust Australian brand Bamboo Body and have been wearing their clothes for many years. They are committed to producing clothing ethically and sustainably, and highlight their garment creators on their website. Bamboo Body is also committed to a low carbon footprint and employs sustainable practices for their factory and for product transportation.
Their clothes are perfect for travel for several reasons. Comfort is most important to me! Garments are as comfy as t-shirts and tracksuit pants, but don’t look anything like sportswear. I’ve used them as sleepwear many times and they are perfect for that, too.
Another great benefit is that Bamboo Body’s range is certified UPF 50+, making them wonderful for sun protection. And as bamboo is all natural and breathable, they can be worn in the heat or cold while helping with temperature regulation. And the final benefit that is truly awesome for travelers: No ironing!
Follow Emma’s next big adventure on Instagram.
Recommended by Kay, Jetfarer
For female and male travellers who like to shop sustainably, Prana is a perfect go-to clothing brand. Prana sells every kind of clothing a traveller could want, from leggings to hiking pants, t-shirts to sports bras. And of course, their products are built to last. I love my Prana leggings and tops because they are breathable, easy to wash, sweat-wicking, and comfortable. Most are made of either organic cotton or other high-quality materials, so they’re perfect for layering or wearing alone in warmer weather. Whether I’m hiking or lounging around, you can usually find me in something made by Prana.
One of the best things about Prana is that when I buy from them, I know I’m supporting a conscious brand. Prana isn’t just stylish and durable, but it’s also a company with a track record of sustainability and integrity. They are in compliance with Fair Trade, bluesign, Textile Exchange, and Responsible Down Standard—not to mention using sustainable materials in all of their clothing. Prana cares about the environment and about the future of the clothing industry, and it definitely shows in the way they do business.
I’ve travelled the world with Prana products and I’ll continue to be a happy customer for many years to come, knowing that my clothes are sustainably sourced, environmentally friendly, and fair trade.
Jet far and wide with Kay on Instagram.
Recommended by Ashley, A Southern Gypsy
Pact is easily my favorite clothing brand right now and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
They’re great for basic and minimalistic pieces that are made from the softest 100% Organic 100 organic cotton. Pact’s materials are eco-friendly and Global Organic Textile Standard compliant, and all garments are made in Fair Trade Certified factories. Additionally, Pact products are incredibly affordable. Even though I would be willing to pay more money for ethical clothing, it’s nice not to have to break the bank to do the right thing, especially as a traveler.
I have several pieces of their clothing including a black dress—with pockets!—and several pairs of leggings, t-shirts and hoodies. I’ve definitively put them through the ringer and you’d never know it!
Wander with Ashley on Instagram.
Recommended by Emma, Small footprints, big adventures
Travelling is a bit more difficult for us women when we have to manage our periods. I have avoided disposables for years now for environmental and health reasons, but I have never found my menstrual cup to be very comfortable, nor trusted it not to leak. But I do love menstrual underwear, and have found them to be even better than cups for travelling.
I bought underwear in different absorbances from Australian brand Modibodi before we went overseas, and fully tested them at home to ensure they would not leak or be uncomfortable. Even now after almost two years of using them every month, I haven’t had a single leak. They’re also so much more comfortable than pads; they don’t feel any different really. And for travel these benefits are godsends, because I can wear them all day—even on a long bus ride—and be very comfortable AND assured that I won’t have any embarrassing leaks. They contain odours and are moisture-wicking too, so they are helpful in many ways to feel confident anywhere.
As well as loving their products, I love that Modibodi has a great social conscience. They are involved in many projects to empower women and girls to have stress-free periods, and also match customer’s to donations to women’s shelters through their Give A Pair program.
Check out Emma’s Instagram for her next big adventure.
Ethically made & eco-friendly travel accessories
Recommended by Katie, Two Wandering Soles
Choosing a travel backpack is no easy feat. Through nearly 50 countries and over the course of nine years, I’ve tried a few different types of backpack, and I think I finally found my match.
Banana Backpacks has just one bag on their website. But if you do one product right, you don’t need more than that. It’s for both men and women and combines all my favourite aspects of backpacks I’ve had in the past, but also includes new features I’ve always wished for. They have a ton of thoughtfully placed pockets and compartments, and the material is durable and water resistant. Oh, and this backpack comes with packing cubes that are specifically designed to fit the bag. (If you haven’t tried packing cubes yet, your life is about to change!)
Not only is this a super-quality backpack, but my favourite part of the brand is their ethos and mission. Anika and Michael are the brother-sister duo behind Banana Backpacks, and they started this company to create high-quality, ethically manufactured travel gear while giving back.
Every backpack purchased supports a child go to school for a year. And that child’s name is stitched into the strap on your backpack. Umm, anyone else have goose bumps?! Beyond that, Anika and Michael spent a month touring factories in Vietnam to find exactly what they were looking for: A manufacturer that is a certified for its responsible and ethical labour practices and is dedicated to the local community.
A backpack that is durable, well-designed, ethically manufactured AND gives back… What more could you ask for?!
Follow Katie’s soulful travels on Instagram.
Recommended by Madhurima, Orange Wayfarer
Instagram had started to make me feel frustrated—the endless rounds of pictures showing animals tormented by plastic waste were becoming a norm. It seemed the world had stopped caring. Then I came to know about Batoko. Their bright floral swimwear evokes a surge of emotion as you learn the story behind the production. As Batoko says, ‘We are rubbish, literally’. They endeavour to recycle some of the plastic waste humans nonchalantly dispose of in the sea every year. The swimsuits are stitched from fibres made of recycled plastic marine waste and finished with fun prints depicting orcas, sharks and banana leaves.
The fact that they care shows in Batoko’s minimalistic packaging too—it comes with an extra strip, ready to be reused.
Keep up with Madhurima’s wayfaring on Instagram.
Recommended by Allison, Eternal Arrival
One of my favorite sustainable shoe brands for travel is Rothy’s, which makes comfortable, stylish flats made out of recycled water bottles. So far, they’ve recycled more than 12 million water bottles into flats—and more every day. The water bottles are stripped down to the point where they can be turned into a fabric, and then they are knit by machine and put together by hand. Rothy’s uses a seamless construction process using 3D knitting which significantly reduces waste—so not only are they turning waste into fabric, they’re not wasting any of the fabric they create. The fabric is really soft and comfortable, and the finished shoe almost feels more like a soft sock than anything hard or ‘plasticky’.
They’re really comfortable and can withstand several hours of pounding the pavement when you travel around a city, which is why I often include them on my packing list for city trips. They come in four styles—rounded flat, a pointed flat, a loafer-like flat, and a slip on sneaker—and a huge variety of beautiful colors. My personal favorite is the pointed flat: It’s really polished but super comfortable. The shoes are also machine washable (in cold water) so that if they get a little funky or dirty after several days of traveling, you can easily wash them.
They aren’t cheap, but they are well-constructed and made to last, so I consider them a great travel investment for someone looking for a versatile, stylish, but sustainable and ethical shoe. Finally, when you’re ready to part with your Rothy shoes, they are completely recyclable: Just send them into Rothy’s dedicated recycling facility and they will be given a new life.
Follow Allison on Instagram to see where she’s arriving next.
Recommended by Nuraini, Teja on the Horizon
As a sustainable traveller with a really low tolerance for cold, I know my warm fibres! If I might get cold because of climate or inexplicably frigid air-conditioning (important for business travel in Asia!), and especially if I want the option to be a bit dressy, I pack my cashmere. Cashmere is at least as warm as alpaca, but has a finer and more luxurious texture.
Ethical Cashmere is a social enterprise that my friend and I helped to start along with a Kashmiri weaving family I met in Nepal. We wanted to support the community-based economy of Himalayan cashmere, as well as introduce online authentic cashmere as an affordable and sustainable alternative to mass-produced wool and polyester fleece.
In the Himalayas, where cashmere is originally from, the wool is still obtained by combing it off goats shepherded at high altitude when they moult in spring. Weavers are hired on fairly traded wages, either on a contract or a per-piece basis. The employment is flexible and adapted to the weavers’ existing lives and free time. It does not disrupt family life or culture. Our ambition is to double our weavers’ wages by 2020.
See what’s on the horizon for Nuraini by following her on Facebook.
Recommended by me
Ginko was one of the first ethical brands I looked up when I moved to Vietnam. The label has gift shops all over Hanoi and is something of a local icon.
Ginko is best-known for the cute, quirky Viet-centric designs they print on organic cotton tees. But it’s their travel bags that I love best. Messenger bags, swing bags, totes and backpacks are all handmade from upcycled materials—including brightly coloured tarpaulin. Robust but still lightweight, the materials used make the backpacks water and weather-proof, with a roll-down top you can secure with a clip. Straps on the back are heavily padded, making them comfortable enough to carry around all day.
My Ginko pack is the perfect size for weekend trips. It also has an interior pocket that’s big enough to hold my laptop, so I’ve been using it in the city too. The shape of the bag can make it a little frustrating to pack and unpack (I’ve been spoiled by my full zip-down backpack—this one is top-access only); but on the plus side, it does fit a lot of soft items inside. Like all Ginko products, travel bags are made locally in Hanoi in ethical conditions.
Read next: My favourite gift shops in Hanoi (including Ginko and other Fair Trade shops).
Recommended by Katie, Two Wandering Soles
Tree Tribe is a company that makes a variety of eco-friendly accessories and adventure gear. Some of their products, like insulated water bottles and reusable tote bags, help people use less single-use plastic. And other products, such as journals, leggings and travel pouches, are perfect for taking on travels or outdoor adventures.
All their products are mindfully made. Their leggings are made from recycled materials and they have a whole line of pouches, wallets and bags crafted from ‘leaf leather‘—a natural (and vegan) alternative to traditional leather.
But that’s not all… Tree Tribe plants 10 trees around the world for every product purchased. They’ve already planted more than 250,000 trees, which is a pretty inspiring number!
I love when a company has a strong commitment to something greater than just their product: Be it the environment, community, education or clean water. We all know our world could use a few more companies that give back in a way that speaks to them.
Follow Katie on Instagram and join her responsible travel tribe.
Matt & Nat
Recommended by Susanna, The Wandering Chocobo
I had been looking for a leather-alternative wallet, and even more so something that wasn’t cheaply made using dodgy business practices. My first Matt & Nat vegan wallet checked all those boxes and more. I’m now faithful to the brand, which also makes the perfect sustainable bag for traveling. I love the weekender and tote bags, which are perfect for carrying on the airplane. Their backpacks are great for city exploration. They even have a suitcase line!
So, what makes Matt & Nat so great beyond the use of vegan leather? Well, the entire company is cruelty-free. Each bag’s lining is made from recycled plastic bottles, meaning they recycle two million plastic bottles a year. The owners have a close working relationship with and visit all their factories to ensure their product line is ethical and maintains strict working standards. They experiment with different vegan leathers, including recycled cork, nylon, and rubber. The best part is that it feels and looks natural, so I am proud to pull it out and show it off as I travel the world.
If you ever decide you don’t want your Matt & Nat (even though mine is still holding up well after two years), make sure you recycle it. The company encourages you to donate to Dress for Success so that last year’s model doesn’t end up in a landfill.
See what else is in Susanna’s suitcase on Instagram.
Recommended by Margie, DQ Family Travel
Unless I am in the snow, I love to wear my Allbirds sneakers everywhere, especially when I travel. They are lightweight, slip on, and so comfortable.
One of my favorite things about the shoes is that they are made of merino wool and have a simple design. The brand started in New Zealand, where designer Tim Brown began thinking why wool wasn’t used more in footwear. Since sheep outnumber people there six-to-one, he started brainstorming on how to use more natural materials in footwear.
Allbirds uses all-natural materials, from wool to tree fibers to sugarcane for the shoe soles. They use castor bean oil to aid in the comfort of the insoles; the laces are made from plastic bottles; and the shoes come packaged in recycled cardboard boxes. They have various style and color options for men and women and all provide the same level of comfort, breathability, eco-friendliness and simple design that I have come to love.
Find more family friendly travel tips from Margie on Instagram.
Over to you! What are you favourite eco-friendly travel clothes and ethically made accessories? I’d love to hear your recommendations!
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Transparency: I received a pair of Matter pants to try for free as part of Matter’s Fieldtest program. This post was not part of our agreement, and I was not paid to create this post or any other content for Matter. All opinions, endorsements and awkward poses are 100% my own.