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Summer is well underway, and if picking your daily wardrobe is still making you sweat, we’re here to help. We asked top boutique owners and design experts to shed some insight on the latest summer fashion trends for 2018.
Bonus: Each product selected supports ethical or sustainable fashion in some way. It’s great to look good and feel good, but owning a wardrobe that gives back to society in some way takes it an extra step.
“There is a new consumer who is caring and educated and chooses what she puts in her body, and she chooses what she’s wearing. Excess consumerism doesn’t resonate with her. She looks for the right pieces, quality pieces. The root of all of this is education and getting the information out there to learn what impacts all of us,” says Nancy Taylor, CEO and co-founder of eco-chic brand époque évolution. They choose sustainable, organic, upcycled, deadstock, and post-consumer-waste recycled fibers when available and work with mills that are committed to best practices and reducing the collective carbon footprint.
Ready to up your summer wardrobe game? Here are some of the latest summer fashion trends for 2018, plus how you can choose to incorporate them ethically into your wardrobe.
Luxe, Versatile Leisure
Function ranks high this summer. We’re leading incredibly busy, full, and productive lives. In one day, women can go from the office to the gym to a night out, and we want to be comfortable the entire time. Right now there is a major need for pieces that can transfer easily from event to event.
époque’s Flux Top is an essential layering piece. It has a full shelf bra for support during a workout but is also versatile for layering under work shirts. Or you can pair it with a high-waisted pencil skirt to transition it to a going-out top. In addition to that, it’s made of quick-dry material, so it can even be used for swimming.
“Every summer, at the end of the day, you just want something that is easy to wear, with lots of movement that is really lightweight and comfortable, as well,” says Jenn Krouse, brand CEO at Resonance Companies. Resonance Companies’ vision is about sustainable fashion, including manufacturing and marketing in the most sustainable manner possible. From design to raw material to production to sale, they work to keep their impact on the environment as low as possible.
The Trench Dress from Tucker NYC, one of Resonance Companies’ brands, combines the style of a trench with the length of a maxi. It’s super lightweight and fitted in the top for a clean silhouette.
“You’re living outdoors, you’re traveling, you want something that is easy to toss on and go about your day,” says Nicole Zabal, founder and designer of NICOLE ALEX.
Consider the Harlow T-shirt or Chloe Dress, both made with built-in shelf bras. All of NICOLE ALEX’s apparel comes with built-in shelf bras and can be effortlessly integrated into a summer wardrobe. The tops work well with yoga pants, shorts, or skirts. And the dresses are an entire outfit in themselves, with sneakers or sandals by day or wedges for the evening.
In keeping with the comfort movement, a sub-trend in fashion is the throwback to the ’90s. Wearing basics, like t-shirts and denim, allows women to amp up the accessories and show off their personality. “Summer 2018 fashion has a very ’90s feel,” says Beau Dunn, founder of Beaus Babes. “People are wearing what they want and what makes them feel good.”
Consider denim shorts and a white tee, paired with an “it” bag, for example, like this Haskins Nude Purse, made with vegan leather.
“Athleisure and streetwear are playing a major role in runway fashion so now is your time,” says Sola Desgagne, marketing director for Obakki Foundation. Obakki is one of Canada’s most sustainable brands, with an emphasis on philanthropy. Pair Obakki’s Bidi Bidi Scarf with your favorite striped shirt or yoga pants to turn an athletic outfit into something more chic.
“This summer, the ‘maker movement’ will continue to bring human-scale production back into mainstream fashion,” says Laura Hertz, co-founder and CEO of Gifts for Good. Gifts for Good is a marketplace for products made by cause-based enterprises. Their gifts work to expand the reach and impact of more than 40 nonprofits and social enterprises in 19 states and 65 countries.
With that, a growing number of products will now be hand-signed by the person who made them or accompanied by a photo or personal story of the maker.
This Signature Cecilia Leather Tote Bag provides 13 days of schooling for a child in Honduras. It is the perfect everyday bag that you can dress up or down. It’s large enough to carry a laptop by day for a professional look but also casual enough for a friendly lunch. At night, combine it with heels and it works just as well as a lovely dinner accessory.
“Companies like Ten Thousand Villages have risen to the complex challenge of creating handmade, fair trade, ethically sourced products from artisans around the world for decades,” says Hertz. “However, since Fashion Revolution Week began five years ago, consumers have begun demanding change at a rapid rate against mass-manufactured goods for a more transparent and ethical fashion industry. A new generation of consumers are using their voice to ask ‘Who made my clothes?’ They want superior, timeless, quality products that will last.”
These handmade Honey Bee Earrings, for example, embrace the summer trend for nature-inspired jewelry. They are made by Mitra Bali, a collective of artisan groups in Indonesia.
Lightweight, natural fabrics that wear well and keep you cool are another trend for the summer. For example, NICOLE ALEX’s summer line is using bamboo–cotton blends. NICOLE ALEX garments are made with OEKO-TEX Standard IOO bamboo–cotton fabrics. Bamboo is an eco-friendly plant, as it thrives naturally without any pesticides or fertilizers and requires little irrigation, apart from rainwater. It is also harvested via cutting, not uprooting, and has a quick regeneration cycle.
Pivotte’s Venture Pants are breathable and machine washable with a smooth handfeel and are available now in two new ready-for-summer colors. They can be worn easily in the office with heels or out on the town in flats or wedges. Pivotte enforces the idea of conscious consumption by encouraging shoppers to question the value of a product—how was it made? By whom? Do you need this piece or do you just sort of want it?
Jumpsuits are all the rage this summer. These light, airy, breathable pieces are an entire outfit all in one, keeping decision-making to a minimum.
Look at these options from People Tree. For more than 25 years, People Tree has partnered with fair trade producers, garment workers, artisans, and farmers in the developing world to produce ethical and eco-friendly fashion collections.
Pair this jumpsuit with flats for a casual look, or add heels, a simple necklace, or earrings to dress it up for an evening. This one works exceptionally well with wedges and can transition throughout the day easily.
You can also find elegant jumpsuits for more formal occasions, like the Scoop Back Jumpsuit from Tucker NYC.
Comfortable (Cruelty-Free) Summer Shoes
As reported by Footwear News, resale site thredUP’s data showed that from December 2017 to May 2018, shoppers added more sneakers and flat footwear to their carts than usual. While we love a good pair of heels, on days when it’s too hot to think, we can’t deny the allure of some comfy flats.
Consider these versatile sandals by Wiivv. The standard strap options come in purple, navy, or black, and they’re waterproof and durable so they can be worn at the beach, water parks, camping, or on a trek through Thailand. The look can be dressed up by swapping the straps for the brown leather option.
Cruelty-free footwear is on the rise this summer, too, as people are making more educated choices about the brands that they support. “We want to be good stewards of the world we live in. By choosing to transition to a sustainable wardrobe, you can be a benefit to our planet and feel like you’re making a difference when you pick out an outfit in the morning,” says Meredith Jolly of Lulus.
Slides, like these cutout slide sandals, are in. These are the perfect slip-on sandal for a summer dress, to wear to the beach, or out and about for the day. They are comfortable, classic, and can be worn with pants, dresses, skirts, or shorts.
Finally, the low block heel trend, which represents the perfect day shoe, continues this summer. One of our favorites? These Tulum Trek Tan Heeled Sandals.
Traditional summer fabrics like cotton and linen are getting an eco-friendly upgrade from brands like Reformation, which aims to reduce waste with fabrics made from sustainable materials and repurposed vintage clothing. A vintage-inspired linen dress can easily be paired with sneakers for a casual look or dressed up with heels and subtle jewelry for a nice dinner out.
époque évolution is a big fan of natural fibers and wool. Wool can be worn multiple times without having to wash it. Their Evolve dress, for example, is the perfect travel piece as it can be worn a few times without showing wear and tear.
Each piece listed here was created with an ethical or sustainable edge—and each one is timeless and can be built upon in any season or made to suit almost any style. They are the perfect must-have pieces in building a wardrobe that suits the many different hats a woman wears each day.