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Made in emerging Europe: Five sustainable fashion brands

We take a look at five fashion brands that combine the well-being of the environment with style.

With incomes increasing – albeit faster in some places than in others – and the region’s middle class continuing to grow in size, the countries of emerging Europe have developed a consumerist society eager to spend its disposable income on clothing and accessories, exacerbating the global issue of fast fashion and its impact on the environment.

For some time, the countries of the region were seen as an outsourcing destination for jobs in the fast fashion garment industry, which is infamously associated with back-breaking labour and low wages. However, a new type of clothing production process is now taking shape in emerging Europe – sustainable fashion. Using eco-friendly textiles, often locally-sourced and vegan, ethical fashion also takes into account the human side of clothing and by definition requires fair treatment and fair pay for the people behind one of the most essential (and underappreciated) professions worldwide.

These five emerging Europe-based brands offer investment-worthy clothing items that put quality over quantity, and style above all.

Gnana Studio (Romania)

Founded in 2017 by Floriana Sandu, Gnana Studios started off as a one-woman company but has grown to offer a diverse set of high-quality limited-edition pieces, all fully manufactured in Romanian family-owned ateliers and well-established factories. The growing company relies on small stocks, backorders, and local infrastructure for an efficient production process, while only using natural and cruelty-free fabrics such as handloom, upcycled wool, viscose and cottons, and organic wool yarn. Since 2019 Gnana Studios has used its profits to partner with the SOS Children’s Villages association, working with children without parental support.

Their newest collection Memories of Freedom was inspired by Eastern European fashion of the 1990s, defined by asymmetrical shapes, vibrant colours, and power suits for women. The collection aims to bring back nostalgia for “an era of living the dreams built under oppression”.

gnanastudio.com

imprm studio (Poland)

 

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Summer all around the world 🌏 with our Caribe bikini 💫

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Firmly focused on sustainability, without making any compromises on style and aesthetics, this small business offers an impressive variety of items from business-casual tops and bottoms to swimwear and activewear. All items are designed and produced in small Poland-based workshops, the majority of which are located within 12 kilometres of the company’s offices in Poznań.

As part of their efforts to encourage slow fashion and to decrease waste, if an imprm piece is damaged, the team offers repairs, upcycling and swaps.

imprm-studio.com

Linenfox (Lithuania)

 

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California rocks and @kellybrownphoto wearing the Work jumpsuit in terracotta linen. 💛

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This Lithuanian brand aims to bring sustainable clothes to a wider and more diverse consumer base by making them more accessible. Like all sustainable fashion, Linenfox’s pieces are an investment meant to last much longer than a season, however, their prices are in fact noticeably lower than those offered by competitive companies. Combined with their appealing minimalist aesthetics, it is not hard to see why, with more than 50,000 followers on Instagram, Linenfox is the most talked-about emerging European sustainable fashion brand.

All of their garments are made from Lithuanian linen and tailored by a team of 20 local professionals directly employed by the company. Making sure to minimise waste by selling fabric scraps and utilising them for accessories, samples, and even whole pieces of clothing entirely made of scraps.

linenfoxclothes.com

05 Studio (Bulgaria)

Having only just graduated from a fashion design degree at the University of Sofia, Sianna Marinova and Teodora Vukodinova decided to take the unusual step of launching an ethically-made lingerie and swimwear company in 2017. All of their products are produced of nothing but upcycled dead stock fabrics, such as surplus materials from other design houses, garment factories, and mills. The tailoring is completed in collaboration with local seamstresses and small independent ateliers, but the two founders take pride in also taking part in the handwork.

Perhaps thanks to their modern yet comfortable designs, alongside the unique production process, 05 Studio is the only sustainable fashion brand from the region to be sold not just online but in-store. More specifically at the Tictail Market in New York’s Lower East Side, which focuses on giving a platform to female, small-business owners who offer one-of-a-kind products.

the05studio.com

Ode to Sunday (Lithuania)

 

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Cecilia dress #odetosunday

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Arguably, no other country in emerging Europe has embraced the zero waste and low-impact movement to the extent that Lithuania has, so it is not surprising that there is another Vilnius-based sustainable brand on this list. As suggested by its name, this independent clothing company was also inspired by another movement spreading across the region and that is slow living that prioritises well-being and the reduction of stress.

Ode to Sunday’s designs are made to be comfortable and practical above else. This is achieved through the use of all-natural fabrics, such as Lithuanian linen, which has the added benefit of leaving behind a rather low carbon footprint. The production cycle they follow utilises traditional Lithuanian garment-making methods, completed entirely by hand by well-paid and well-respected local tailors.

odetosunday.com

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