When it comes to cool weather fashion the sweater reigns supreme. From chunky cable knits to elegantly fitted v-necks, we love sweaters in all shapes and sizes—especially when they’re made from sustainable materials.
Can you even grab a PSL if you’re not wearing a sweater and boots? Once those leaves start turning and cold weather is in the air, it’s officially sweater season. Sweaters are closet staples: they can be worn any number of ways—going from work to casual to date night-worthy wear. Layer them creatively and often—wear them over dresses and skirts, denim, and slacks, over turtlenecks, collared shirts, and under blazers and jackets.
Sustainable sweater options of the past relied on animal products such as wool, cashmere, angora, and mohair, but there is a new wave of sustainable knitwear bringing us the best in animal-free options with sustainable textiles and fine hand-knit designs.
Yes and no. Wool is sourced from sheep, which are ruminant animals. They’re leading producers of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps more heat than CO2. So while wool is not synthetic—those materials are often byproducts of the oil industry—calling wool sustainable is misleading given the environmental footprint of raising livestock.
Wool is not vegan. It comes from the thick, oily fur of sheep. And while it can be clipped like hair, without causing pain, most wool is sheared forcefully and quickly, which often leads to injuries. Further, the practice called mulesing shears off the fleshy folds of skin on sheep’s hindquarters in order to prevent flystrike.
Like wool, cashmere and angora also come from animals and are obtained cruelly. A growing number of retailers and brands have banned angora, which comes from rabbits, because of its inherent cruelty.
Demand for cashmere, which comes from goats, has skyrocketed in recent years and is putting pressure on natural resources including threatening the food sources for the elusive snow leopard.
Sweaters can be made from a range of sustainable materials including organic cotton, deadstock scraps, and upcycled ocean plastic turned into polyester yarn. Of course, the most sustainable sweater is the one already in your closet. Wear it until it’s unwearable, and when its time to upgrade, shop sustainably. You can also shop secondhand, by thrifting at your local resale shop, or checking online secondhand platforms that offer a range of products.
1. Everlane Renew Fleece Raglan
Covid may be (mostly) over, but cozy is here to stay. Everlane gives you a wear anywhere fleece raglan made from 100 percent recycled from plastic water bottles so you can feel even better about wearing this. Layer over turtlenecks or a fitted collar shirt for a casual-yet-cozy style.
2. Amour Vert Layla
French girl style but make it sustainable. Amour Vert answers the call with this classic striped organic cotton sweater with a ribbed neckline, ribbed cuffs, and an easy relaxed fit. Layer this over pants, skirts, dresses, and your yoga pants for a timeless look. All of Amour Vert’s sweaters are ethically and sustainably produced. And the company’s sustainable practices address all aspects of its business operations and the full lifecycle of the garment: the fibers and production processes used, how workers are treated, how it gets to the consumer, and finally—whether it can be recycled or is forced into a landfill.
3. Everlane Texture Cotton Crew
Keep it classic this season with the cotton knit you’ll reach for again and again. The oversized, relaxed fit makes it perfect for the office, weekend brunch, or your flight to a warmer destination. The sweater is made from GOTS-certified organic cotton guaranteeing a quality, sustainable garment from seed to shelf.
4. Eileen Fisher Peruvian Organic Cotton Crimp Turtleneck
Chic and casual at the same time. That’s the crimp turtleneck in thistle from Eileen Fisher. The relaxed turtleneck top has an unmatched texture featuring raglan seams and rib trim in soft Peruvian organic cotton. Grown, spun, and dyed in Peru, the fair trade knitting means higher wages for the workers and investments in local communities. And organic farming is better for the soil and water. It’s a season must.
5. Stella McCartney Cable Knit
Who can deny a good cable knit? Made in Italy with GOTS-certified organic cotton, this sky blue cable knit sweater from Stella McCartney, is one for the ages. All the fibers are grown without the use of harmful pesticides making it an easy choice for fall shopping. With its classic style and a pop of color, this one you’ll be wearing for years to come.
6. Reformation Vintage Oversized Organic Cotton Crewneck Sweatshirt
Let’s be real: when it comes to keeping warm, the sweatshirt reigns supreme and when it’s got style like this classic cut from Reformation, you’ll wear it with everything. Like all of Reformation’s products, this crewneck is sustainably made in Los Angeles. It’s made from certified organic cotton and saves 26 lbs. of CO2 and 14 gallons of water.