Sustainable plus size clothing – a quick guide

Sustainable plus size clothing – or better, size inclusive clothing – is becoming a popular fashion market by the day, which is fantastic. As of 2020, I found there to be thousands of internet searches per month on average, in the USA alone, for plus-sized sustainable clothing. Sometimes, this search overtook the search for sustainable clothing itself.

And as a quick note: even though the usual term is ‘plus-size’ or ‘plus sized’, I think the term size inclusive is better.

Sustainable clothing is available for all sizes, you just need to know where to look
Everyone should have access to sustainable clothing, regardless of their size. Your wardrobe shouldn’t cost the Earth!

Fashion has not always been body-inclusive. Instead of seeing this as a bad thing, I think this can be inspiring. Without flinching with irony: sustainability in fashion and clothing is based entirely on natural and inclusivity principles – which means there is a serious gap to be filled by the sustainable industry too.

Despite the growing trends for sustainable brands, for plus-sized eco-conscious clothing fans – finding sustainable and eco friendly plus sized clothing is challenging.

And if you’re a budding sustainable fashion entrepreneur, perhaps size inclusive sustainable clothing is a niche could be a business idea that piques your attention.

The Haberdasher Bee

Mending your own clothes to be sustainable

Mending your clothing is a great way to make the switch to the zero waste, sustainable lifestyle. One of the temptations with making the shift to sustainability is to, well, go out and buy a tonne more stuff. This is pretty much at odds with the goals of sustainability. Slow fashion – buying when you need something, and buy for quality and longevity – is a totally different approach to mainstream consumption. So is mending your existing wardrobe.

There are lots of techniques you can use to mend you own clothes, which you can discover in my scrap-busting blog posts and my post on textile recycling. A few ideas might be textile and clothing upcycling, patchwork and embroidery design.

Is sustainable fashion discriminatory?

I certainly don’t think so! But a glance at social media might tell you otherwise, which I believe right now, is unfair. However, the landscape is changing. With major designers like Hugo Boss, Stella McCartney and mass brands like H&M starting to use sustainable leathers – that gap is thankfully beginning to close.

So how do you go about sourcing plus-sized sustainable clothing? I have some tips, which I will go deeper into through this article – keep reading!

Plus-size friendly, sustainable clothing brands

The great news is that there are size inclusive sustainable and ethical brands who are really changing the way that people shop and made their fashion choices, right across the world.

I found the following plus-size / plus-sized friendly sustainable fashion brands:

Sotella – Sotella is an indie-Mom-cool California label which produces clothes and promotes body positivity. All materials used include those like Tencel, modal and linen (check out my post on textiles for more information on artificial textiles and materials like Tencel), and are delivered in low waste packaging.

ThredUp – this online second hand store and recycled items distributor is super popular with my US and Canadian audiences. You can order a multitude of thrifted, upcycled and recycled plus size clothing.

Eileen Fisher is another big US brand known for making fabric upcycling commercially viable. They are also committed to using traceable organic cotton, where the supply chain of its growth and production is certified.

Azura Bay – Azura Bay is a US lingerie brand curated for eco-aware and eco-conscious customers, right down to the packaging. It is growing in popularity as trends begin to shift towards sustainably-sourced underwear.

Kirrin Finch is a body positive, LGBTQ friendly fashion label which creates its clothing from sustainable materials and is committed to fair labour in the US, with no off-shore manufacturing.

Kaia Clothing is a UK based clothing brand aiming to change the way we buy our clothes. All items are made to order from carefully chosen, sustainably sourced materials and each piece of clothing is designed for maximum comfort when wearing.

Pattern designers producing size inclusive patterns

Making your own clothing is perhaps one of the most satisfying ways to source sustainable plus size clothing; you can choose your own materials and make your clothes fit best for you (especially useful if you’re different sizes between top and bottoms, or perhaps between two sizes). Many pattern designers across sewing, knitting and crocheting are working to produce patterns suitable for people of all sizes – and this is being done carefully to ensure that both the fit is right and that design details translate well across all sizes.

Cashmerette Patterns – these sewing patterns are designed with curvy figures and bigger sizes in mind. They have a full range of beautiful, flattering patterns, so you can create anything from trench coats or swim suits to jeans and many different styles of dresses.

Megan Nielsen Patterns Curve range expands the size ranges of their patterns while ensuring the fit is perfect no matter what your size, as the patterns have been carefully re-graded to ensure the best fit for plus sized figures.

Make & Do Crew have lots of lovely crochet projects in sizes ranging from XS to 5XL, all of which are available freely on their website, or you can buy PDF copies of the patterns if you don’t want to see adverts.

Drops Design have a range of beautiful knitting and crochet patterns – no matter what your size, you’re sure to find a pattern you love which fits wonderfully.

Hopefully this has given you a rough and ready starting point for your journey into becoming sustainable in your fashion and clothing purchase choices. The Haberdasher Bee blog is always open to hearing about truly sustainable and eco-aware brands who are taking steps to change the world, so please feel free to contact me if this relates to you and your burgeoning business, I would love to hear from you.