The Best Non-Toxic Fashion Brands For Chemically Sensitive People

Image credit: Christy Dawn
This post contains some affiliate links, meaning EcoCult receives a small percentage of the sale price if you make a purchase. 

If this post is helpful to you, then check out the first and only book on this topic: To Dye For: How Toxic Fashion is Making Us Sick — And How We Can Fight Back, by EcoCult founder Alden Wicker.

Growing up wearing cheap fast fashion, and then mass-market brands for a time thereafter, I didn’t pay any attention to whether my clothes were organic, natural, or azo dye-free. My family bought what they could afford, and that meant clothing from Walmart, Target, and Sears for most of my life.

When I first discovered that fashion and textiles often have endocrine-disrupting chemicals on them, I was absolutely floored. I’ve personally accumulated several endocrine disorders over my life, including endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Having suffered with these ailments for over a decade now, I always wondered why nobody’s come up with any solid answers as to why these conditions are so prevalent in young women.

But toxic chemicals in fashion come with other dangers, too. They can be carcinogenic. They can be allergenic, setting off hives, rashes, and breathing problems that can eventually spiral into autoimmune disease. They can interfere with your fertility. So this applies to you if you’re recovering from or at risk of cancer, if you have sensitive skin, if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, are allergic to dyes, or are managing an autoimmune disease.

The good news is that in the past decade, large companies like H&M, Levi’s, Nike, and Target have been hard at work ensuring their clothing is less likely to have toxic chemicals through restricted substance lists and testing. However, they still sell plenty of synthetic clothing, which is a no-no for people like me. Worse, many clothing manufacturers use toxic pollutants that can cause both acute (short-term and gnarly) and chronic (long-term and mysterious) health conditions. 

At the top of the list of toxic fashion chemicals are azobenzene disperse dyes, which are not biodegradable and are known carcinogens, tumorigenics, and microbiome killers. Used on both synthetics and natural fabrics, azobenzene dyes are known skin allergens and sensitizers, usually beginning with a skin reaction ranging from mild discomfort to painful swelling.

Per- and polyflourylalkyl compounds are also commonly found in fast fashion and are primarily used for stain and water resistance on low-quality fabrics. Often referred to as “forever chemicals”, PFAS compounds earn the name by remaining present in the environment for a very long time, building up in humans in animals, and permanently contaminating delicate ecosystems such as high-altitude forests, rivers and lakes, and even fish and mammals themselves. They’re also known to cause long-lasting conditions in humans, including but not limited to a range of cancers, reproductive disease, endocrine disorders, infertility, and liver disease. It’s not just an outside problem: PFAS coatings can slough off your clothing and onto your skin or into your home’s house dust. 

Other detrimental toxins found in clothing include phthalates, which researchers have found to be prominent carcinogens and endocrine disruptors; VOCs, which can off-gas and cause developmental disorders, liver, and respiratory problems; and brominated flame retardants, which are linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, and endocrine disruption, and some of which are banned in the European Union, but not in the US. 

It’s not always easy to find out if your clothes are made with these chemicals, though. Clothing brands are not required to disclose what goes into even the fancy, branded finishes put on your clothing. So even if your doctor has pinpointed substances commonly found in clothing that you’re allergic to, it’s hard to avoid them. 

Fortunately, Alden’s new book To Dye For: How Toxic Fashion is Making Us Sick — And How We Can Fight Back lends a hand to many like me who could really benefit from the expert guidance around which chemicals to steer clear of and why.

So, it’s difficult but not impossible to find clothing that’s safe to wear, even for people like me with chemical allergies and intolerances. To build this list, I looked for a few key details to determine what was toxic and what was simply irritating on contact. 

Dyes: Herbal dyes, which are derived from plants, can be considered a much safer alternative to mainstream dyes. You can also check for azo-free and other low-impact dyes.

Certifications and labels: Oeko-Tex, GOTS, and bluesign labels are all great starting points for trust, as they’re all focused on ensuring the manufacturing process and final products are free of toxic chemicals. 

Natural and synthetic-free: When in doubt, opt for fabrics that are hypoallergenic, meaning they’re free of synthetic fibers and known sensitizers. One study found that chemically sensitive people preferred lyocell (brand name Tencel), while another showed that merino wool and cellulose-based fabrics (lyocell/Tencel, modal) are good for people with atopic dermatitis, and organic cotton and silk are “generally safe.” 

To help guide you in the right direction, we’ve rounded up an extensive list of brands that offer non-toxic fashion for every occasion.

 

What we love: Harvest & Mill is incredibly transparent about its distaste for azo dyes, and reflects this on its website, where you can also find information about its dye-free, GOTS-certified organic cotton. The brand features collections made entirely from cotton that grows naturally in a variety of subtle earth tones dependent upon the subspecies of cotton, but if you’re after a splash of color, it also offers pieces that are dyed using non-toxic dyes. If you’re after non-toxic basics, loungewear, or the perfect work-from-home outfit, this is the place.

Price range: $11 to $195

 

What we love: Apart from the noble venture of preserving ancient tradition, Paka brings quite a lot to the table as far as non-toxic fashion. First, we have the option of undyed royal alpaca fiber (gorgeous) or Oeko-Tex and GOTS-certified dyes. Then, there’s the unique, traditional Inca identification that’s added to each piece by hand, depending on the artisan who made your sweater (or socks, or hat). Pair these factors with the stunning traditional Inca-inspired patterns found throughout each section, and you have yourself an incredible collection of non-toxic, biodegradable, artisan-crafted fashion that’s easy on the environment and supports traditional culture. Personally, I’m obsessed with this brand, having worn its socks during the winter months to keep my chronically ice-like feet warm. 

Price range: $20 to $299

 

What we love: This brand specializes in hypoallergenic, GOTS-certified organic cotton, grown without pesticides, fertilizers, and other harsh processing chemicals. Its pieces are dyed using non-toxic methods that prevent allergic reactions, and the brand goes so far as to omit itchy, irritating tags from its clothing. Its website offers categories based on specific allergies, as well, from latex allergies to multiple chemical sensitivities. It offers a huge variety of wardrobe essentials and statement pieces, all available in skin-friendly, earth-toned colors. 

Price range: $8 to $55

 

What we love: When you first open an order from Groceries Apparel, you can smell the inviting, earthy pigments used to dye its fabrics. That’s right — Groceries uses vegetable dyes in its downtown L.A. atelier to dye organic hemp and cotton blends, which are sewn into must-have styles for every season. This brand uses no chemicals in dye or production and offers a look at its production processes and materials on its website so you can see the magic happen.

Price range: $25 to $98

 

What we love: Organic Basics offers Okeo-Tex-certified essentials in naturally derived shades across a colorful palette. Everything from tees to undies can be found in fabrics including cotton and Lyocell tencel, which makes for an incredibly soft feel. 

Price range: $9 to $149

 

What we love: Founded by Sarah Danu, who suffers from autoimmune-related sensitivities, Danu Organic sorts its products by what’s important, from naturally-dyed and undyed to plastic-free. The brand focuses on non-toxic fashion for those with sensitivities like Danu, and even explains how each fabric is grown and made into pieces including underwear, comfy tees and tanks, and trousers. 

Price range: $5 to $335

 

What we love: Made from merino wool, ChosenWoven’s non-toxic lingerie is an absolute must if you have sensitive skin. The brand uses advanced spinning techniques to spin its wool down to a soft, silky texture that caresses the sensitive areas. Its knit patterns are used in order to make each product with no waste, and the brand uses non-toxic, natural dyes that are skin- and environment-friendly. 

Price range: $48 to $128

 

What we love: B-corp certified Mate the Label is well-known for its non-toxic clothing, which is made free of plastic, toxic dyes, and finishing chemicals. It uses natural, organic materials including Tencel, organic fleece, and organic cotton, omitting a whopping 49 dye substances and 31 chemicals from each. Each product listing features information about the factory’s certifications and fabrics used in manufacturing. The brand’s online store offers everything from jammies to outerwear in timeless styles.

Price range: $48 to $268

 

What we love: Kotn is one of those brands that’s exciting on multiple levels. Not only are its styles insanely elegant and modern, but it also only uses Oeko-Tex certified non-toxic dyes to color its natural fabrics. These fabrics include some of our favorites, such as Egyptian cotton, linen, lycocell, and merino wool, to name a few. Kotn knows fashion, and it shows – the brand’s styles are absolutely timeless, which matches their built-to-last integrity. 

Price range: $12 to $248

 

What we love: If you’re looking for the most romantic, non-toxic dresses, you’ve found them. Though these aren’t the only things that Christy Dawn is known for, they’re well with the mention. Everything that comes through the shop is made using naturally derived or organic dyes, and is made with longevity in mind, rather than trends that come and go as the seasons change. Christy Dawn’s pieces are long-term staples, and it shows in the craftsmanship. 

Price range: $68 to $598

 

What we love: People Tree’s environmental policy is enough to make our list. The brand uses GOTS-certified, azo-free dyes to color fabrics like tencel and GOTS-certified organic cotton. Free from synthetics and azobenzene disperse dyes, People Tree offers something to fill every hole in the wardrobe, from basics and lingerie to cute, classic dresses and nightwear.

Price range: $750 to $245

 

What we love: Featuring loose-flowy styles in organic cotton, Loup Charmant walks a tight line between sweet vintage and sultry, using a special organic heirloom cotton that’s responsible for the soft, airy texture of its pieces. It also offers an undyed collection for those with dye sensitivities.

Price range: $60 to $480

 

What we love: MVMT’s ceramic line is a hypoallergenic, non-toxic option for those of us who can’t stand wearing dyed leather or plated metal watches. Polished smooth and super-tough, the brand’s ceramic watches are available in a variety of colors and styles. 

Price range: $228 to $348

 

What we love: Rooted in Peruvian culture, Aya offers affordable pieces in 100% organic Pima cotton that is GOTS-certified and chemical-free, as well as 100% royal alpaca wool dyed with GOTS-certified, low-impact dyes. In an effort to help reduce microplastics in our environment, the brand sticks to cotton and low-impact dyes to produce incredibly soft, comfortable and flattering styles for everyday wear.

Price range: $11 to $195

 

What we love: One of the rare denim brands that have earned a “Great” rating according to Good on You, Kings of Indigo has really earned its name. Its jeans are 100% vegan, made from organic cotton, and are dyed using plant-based indigo. There are no harsh chemicals or dyes in these jeans, and they’re made to last a very long time. Oh, and Kings of Indigo offers other wardrobe essentials, too.

Watch out for:  This brand uses real indigo dye, which can bleed quite a lot before it’s “set”, for which the brand recommends washing in natural vinegar as a remedy. It might look bad, but this natural blue isn’t toxic – and I think it’s neat to watch the fabric fade over many years.

Price range: €49,99 to €230

 

What we love: If you’re looking for sexier or more creative festival fashion that won’t make you itch, you’ll find that all here. Cellulose-based fibers, cashmere, tanguis cotton and plant plant-based dyes are among the natural materials found in Nia Thomas fashion. Stitched, woven and even crocheted pieces include dresses, tops, skirts, and basics in gorgeous hues and styles. 

Watch out for: While some pieces contain elastane for stretch and fit, much of the knitwear catalogue is made without synthetic fibers.

Price range: $49 to $725

 

What we love: Many of Pact’s most recent accomplishments have led to this brand’s push into non-toxic territory. Its GOTS-certified organic cotton activewear and everyday staples are made without the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and toxic dyes. As an added bonus, Pact uses recycled, recyclable, plastic-free packaging- which means your clothes don’t show up smelling like a plastic bag.

Watch out for: Some of the brand’s activewear and underwear is made with a small amount of elastane, which the website warns could contain trace amounts of latex.

Price range: $14 to $128

 

What we love: All our favorite sensitive-skin-friendly fibers are here: Tencel, modal, washable bluesign-label silk, and merino wool, to name a few. Amour Vert is where non-toxic meets luxury in elegant, standout styles from basics to outerwear, colored and patterned with Oeko-Tex-certified dyes.

Watch out for: The brand does carry some items that are made from recycled polyester, categorized under trademarked fabric blends such as Flaxen Eco Chain, which can be found in a tab within each product listing.

Price range: $38 to $425

 

What we love: Backed by certifications like Oeko-Tex and Bluesign, Toad & Co goes above and beyond to keep harmful chemicals out of its products. It uses fabrics ranging from recycled and organic cotton to hemp and lyocell, and makes its vegan options easy to find. This brand offers some of the best options for long-term pieces in a capsule wardrobe, including dresses, sweaters, and trousers, but it’s also great for the basics – think socks and underwear – that need to be replaced more frequently.

Watch out for: If Spandex is a no for you, be sure to check the elastane content on the products you’re interested in — some of the jumpsuits and dresses contain trace amounts of elastane up to 12%. Toad & Co also uses recycled polyester in some of its recycled-fiber pieces.

Price range: $18 to $130

 

What we love: This brand makes clothing from both natural and recycled synthetic fibers, but it offers options that are made using only natural fibers, as well as some dyed naturally, which will fade naturally over time. 

Watch out for: While many of its pieces are made using only natural, organic fibers, some of its pieces include a large portion of recycled polyester fibers. Check the details of each individual listing to determine if they contain polyester.  

Price range: $18 to $328

 

What we love: Few brands cover bases surrounding toxicity quite like Prana, which entirely eliminated PFAS from its outdoor line in Spring of 2022 (hurray!). Prana is also transparent about its restricted substance list under bluesign guidance for strict non-toxicity, which is available to read on the brand’s website. Primarily using hemp and organic cotton, Prana’s activewear is designed for comfort and movement. 

Watch out for: Many items are also made primarily from polyester and others contain a small percentage of elastane, which can be irritating to those with a sensitivity. 

Price range: $25 to $470

 

What we love: Fair Indigo makes it easy to find non-toxic, chemical-free pieces by categorizing its fabrics by materials. Using GOTS-certified organic Pima cotton as a base, the brand has developed several fabrics dyed with Oeko-Tex-certified dyes.

Watch out for: Fair Indigo does offer pieces that contain synthetic fibers, but it’s easy to discern recycled polyester from 100% cotton pieces using the website’s directory features.

Price range: $35 to $90

 

What we love: Dedicated is perfect if you’re looking for vegan fashion without sensitizing chemicals. Printed pieces are made using water-based, environmentally-friendly inks, and can be found on a variety of fabrics including Tencel, GOTS-certified organic cotton, hemp, and recycled wool. It even lists its suppliers and their respective certifications on its website. You can find a variety of wardrobe pieces and then some in the brand’s shop, including loungewear, outwear, and everyday basics in fun prints and colors.

Watch out for: Though many of the brand’s pieces are made from entirely natural fibers, some contain recycled polyester fibers.

Price range: $9 to $399

 

If you have any experience with them, please leave your comment below and help other readers! And if this post is helpful to you, then check out To Dye For: How Toxic Fashion is Making Us Sick — And How We Can Fight Back.

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