Culture Sustainable Fashion The Best Sustainable Kids' Clothing of 2023 We found cute, comfortable, and sustainable clothes for children. By Starre Vartan Starre Vartan Writer Columbia University Syracuse University Starre Vartan is an environmental and science journalist. She holds an MFA degree from Columbia University and Geology and English degrees from Syracuse University. Learn about our editorial process Updated November 30, 2022 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Culture History Travel Sustainable Fashion Art & Media Holidays Community We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Getty Kids’ clothing really is different from adult clothing. For one thing, kids are much tougher on their clothes. So clothing for children needs to be extra-durable, not only to stand up to skidding into second-base at lunchtime kickball games, but also needs to be made from materials from which dirt and food can be washed out easily. They (hopefully) spend plenty of time outside and need outerwear that will keep the rain off and the heat conserved next to their body when it’s cold. At the same time, you may want to avoid clothes made with environmentally concerning chemicals. “Many mainstream brands have been shown to have hazardous chemicals in their clothing that can be absorbed through our skin," says Nadine Maffre, the editor of Zero Waste Memoirs. "Some of these chemicals have been proven to be hormone disruptors, are carcinogenic, or are damaging to your nervous system.” To top it all off, kids outgrow their clothing quickly, rendering investment pieces tricky. With all this in mind, designers who make kids’ clothing—and do it sustainably—often put a tremendous amount of thought and care into their products. Of course they want to make it cute and comfortable, so kids will pick it out of the drawer first, but they also want to ensure that it will last through normal wear-and-tear as well as staying in good-enough shape to pass it down to other children to use. Ahead, you'll find our recommendations for the best sustainable kids clothing. The Rundown Best Overall: Hanna Andersson at Hannaandersson.com Jump to Review Best for Organic Cotton: Pact Apparel Kids at Wearpact.com Jump to Review Best Made in the USA: Mini MATE at Matethelabel.com Jump to Review Best Swimwear: Reima at Reima.com Jump to Review Best Gender Neutral: Finn + Emma at Finnandemma.com Jump to Review Best for Winter Gear: Patagonia Kids at Patagonia.com Jump to Review Best Prints: Made Trade Baby + Kids’ at Madetrade.com Jump to Review Best Splurge: Infantium Victoria at Infantiumvictoria.com Jump to Review Best Designer: Stella Mccartney Kids at Stellamccartney.com Jump to Review Best for Maximalist Kids: Ace & Jig at Aceandjig.com Jump to Review Best Overall Hanna Andersson 5 Source: Hanna Andersson View On Hannaandersson.com Hanna Andersson touts that sustainability has been part of the brand’s identity since its founding in 1983. It has long used organic cotton, and not only are clothes designed to be worn by multiple kids, the company even provides name tags with several lines to promote and normalize the idea of hand-me-downs. The brand has the highest level of Oeko-Tex standards and is also GOTS-certified, making it our top all-around pick. As of this year, all outerwear including fleece and ripstop is made from recycled materials. The brand is particularly popular for their matching family pajamas, and you can find designs that feature many popular children's characters from Disney, Sesame Street, and Marvel. "I absolutely love Hanna Andersson's many adorable prints and graphics. The fabrics are high-quality and the designs run true-to-size." ~ Margaret Badore, Treehugger Associate Editorial Director and mom of one Best for Organic Cotton Pact Apparel Kids 5 Courtesy of Pact Apparel View On Wearpact.com This organic-cotton basics brand has a great kids’ collection, which includes underwear and socks in a variety of colors as well as cargo pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, leggings, pajamas, and hoodies. Pact is a Treehugger favorite because these basics are soft, durable, and a good value. PACT makes its clothing at a Fair-Trade and GOTS-certified factory in India and its pesticide-free cotton uses less water, and creates little to no water pollution. Every item is also certified Net Zero Carbon by SimpliCarbon, which means that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with manufacturing are offset by investments in reforestation, clean energy investments, and community projects. Best Made in the USA Mini MATE Courtesy of MATE the Label View On Matethelabel.com Mate is founded by women, and also mostly employs women. All of the knitting, cutting, and sewing for the collection is done in Los Angeles. The low-impact-dyed collection of basics all comes in GOTS-certified organic cotton. Made with supersoft materials, the Mini MATE collection includes sweatshirts, sweatpants, tees, and boxy baby tees. Best Swimwear Reima Courtesy of Reima View On Reima.com Reima makes a variety of swimsuits for babies, toddlers, and kids up to age 14. Each age category has a few different coverage choices, most made with SPF 50+ fabrics, with plenty of unisex styles. The fabric used in many of the styles is made with recycled water bottles, and the design, materials, and craftsmanship are all focused on durability. All the factories Reima works with are subject to third-party compliance for human rights. The Best Sustainable Swimsuits of 2023 Best Gender Neutral Finn + Emma Courtesy of Finn + Emma View On Finnandemma.com This brand offers a whole Gender Neutral section for those who aren’t looking for baby or toddler clothes that scream pretty princess or tough guy. Prices are reasonable for the GOTS certified 100% cotton pieces in fun colors and prints via eco-friendly dyes. Even snaps are lead and nickel free, and all items are “heirloom quality” and meant to be passed down. Finn & Emma also carries fun, ethical baby gear like a macrame swing, and stroller toys made from wood. Best for Winter Gear Patagonia Kids Courtesy of Patagonia View On Patagonia.com You'll find Patagonia on a number of Treehugger's lists of recommended products thanks to the gear company's efforts to manufacture sustainably and make clothing that lasts. Patagonia's gear for kids is no different, with durable designs often made with recycled materials and fewer "forever chemicals" that are often used to make outdoor waterproof. Some of jackets are insulated with recycled down, which isn't vegan, but does divert down feathers from ended up in landfill. Many of the garments are sewed in Fair Trade certified facilities. The company has sizing for babies and toddlers, so the littlest ones in your life can still hit the trail in the winter. Best Prints Made Trade Baby + Kids’ Clothing Courtesy of Made Trade View On Madetrade.com For bold basics in bright array of patterns and prints, turn to Made Trade’s collection of kid’s clothes. This sustainable retailer sources garments from artisans around the globe, with the goal of supporting ethical labor and eco-friendly manufacturing. We particularly love the unisex wave shorts and monkey pajamas both made with organic cotton. You can also find dresses, onesies, and cardigans. Made Trade offers carbon neutral shipping. Best Splurge Infantium Victoria Infantium Victoria View On Infantiumvictoria.com This PETA-approved German brand offers fashion-forward, vegan clothing for babies and kids. Each item has information about what fabric it’s made from (there’s a lot of GOTS certified cotton, but also a vegan wool too), as well as where accessories like buttons come from too. As part of the brand’s transparency commitment, the company also discloses where materials were grown and woven, as well as sewn and sold. There are also details about how much time each piece takes to make, in terms of paid work, and in which countries that work is done. The brand even has its own Preloved section for used items. Best Designer Stella Mccartney Kids Courtesy of Stella Mccartney View On Stellamccartney.com A member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the designer brings her signature flair and ethical stance to her children’s line, which is filled with graphic, but still appealing-to-kids pieces. Many items are made from organic cotton and tencel, while coats and pants are made from a recycled polyester that’s fully windproof and waterproof (via a fluorocarbon-free coating). The company has a strategy to reduce waste across the whole supply chain, and has signed a code that defines a living wage for those who work for the company. Best for Maximalist Kids Ace & Jig Courtesy of Ace & Jig View On Aceandjig.com The two women behind Ace & Jig bring the same festive, colorful, pattern-rich textiles to their kids’ line as they do their adult clothes. The brand’s custom-made textiles are woven in India, where employees get fair wages, paid time off, and childcare. The company uses AZO-free dyes, and is dedicated to minimizing waste, using sewing-room floor materials in all kinds of projects, including creating clothing, masks and scrunchies made from smaller offcuts, to entire initiatives like quilts and throws that use them as patchwork pieces. Ace & Jig works with Project Thrive which employs at-risk women for special projects, and donates to a host of environmental and human-rights organizations each year. Best for Second Hand ThredUp 5 thredUP View On Thredup.com Reuse of good-quality clothing is always going to be more sustainable than buying new. For those who don’t live near a good thrift store and have already looked through the neighborhood or parent group, the next best place to find those items is on a large platform that allows you all the convenience of online shopping (like searching by a specific brand, age of child, price, or type of item) combined with reuse. ThredUp is our top pick for easy second-hand shopping online, and also allows you to sell any clothes your child has outgrown. You can also find new clothing on the platform, from sustainably-minded brands on this list like Hanna Anderson. Final Verdict We think the most sustainable option for kid's clothing is shop second hand, either locally or via an online retailer like thredUp. However, if you're looking to sock up on organic basics like socks and underwear, check out PACT Apparel's kids line. What to Look for in Sustainable Kids' Clothing As Nadine Maffre says, there are many factors involved when it comes to classifying clothing as 'sustainable.' “We need to look at where the fabrics are coming from, how they're grown/made, where the clothes are constructed (and who is making them), transportation, how they're packaged, and of course, how well they're made,” Maffre says. Yes, this is a lot of things to consider and can seem overwhelming at first, but there are some short-cuts. Certifications There are some labels you can look for: When it comes to textiles, Fair Trade Certified; GOTS-, Organic, Cradle to Cradle, or OEKO-TEK certified; organic cottons, and wools; and recycled materials. Keep labor standards in mind too—kids in another country with poor labor laws and enforcement shouldn’t be making your childs’ clothing. “If clothing is very cheap, it's normally because someone is working for very little—often a long way from where you call home,” says Maffre. The Treehugger Guide to Sustainable Certifications Quality “Focus on buying quality locally made clothing that's created out of organic fibers—do this and you'll be well on your way to supporting sustainable clothing brands,” Maffre advises. Because children will outgrow clothing so quickly and budget is a concern for most parents, consider “quality over quantity.” It’s easy to buy a five-pack of t-shirts, but does your child need five new shirts? What if you spent the same amount on two better-quality shirts or got t-shirts second-hand and put the money towards a good-quality jacket (that could be passed along and worn by others) instead? Of course, kids might not understand why they are not getting a haul of new clothes, especially if they see that behavior online or from friends. But a few more memorable and fun pieces will be more satisfying in the long run. “One of the main reasons we all need to have more of a focus on sustainability is to look after the planet that our kids are going to grow up in," Maffre points out. "That's a pretty motivating factor in itself!” Materials If you aren’t getting hand-me-downs from friends, checking out the kids’ clothes at a local thrift store or online group, and you do buy new clothing, avoid synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic and nylon. “While these fabrics are cheaper to produce, they're polluting our environment at an alarming rate, they use up non-renewable resources, and they're not biodegradable at end-of-life,” says Maffre. Instead, look for natural fibers, like organic cotton, hemp, and flax. Wool is also a natural option, although some vegans prefer to avoid it. Bamboo fabric is kind of a grey area, because it can be very energy and chemical intensive to produce, although some brands do use more sustainable processes. Look for bamboo fabrics that also have eco-friendly certifications, likeOEKO-TEK. Why Trust Treehugger? To create this list Treehugger tapped the expertise of sustainability writer Nadine Maffre about what to look for in sustainable clothes for kids. We then researched the manufacturing practices, ethics policies, and materials used by many kids' clothing brands to make a list of top recommendations. Parents on our staff also weighed in with their personal experiences. This article is by Starre Vartan, who covers science and the environment. She is also the author of "The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green." The 14 Best Eco-Friendly Clothing Brands of 2023 View Article Sources Ginty, Molly M. “'Forever Chemicals’ Called PFAS Show Up in Your Food, Clothes, and Home.” NRDC.