The fast fashion industry, which has now experienced decades of top-of-mind awareness among consumers, is beginning to give way to a new variation that some refer to as “ultra-fast fashion.” This movement, spurred by the extreme output of online retailers like Shein and the Boohoo group, has raised a number of questions relating to worker treatment, ethical sourcing and environmental impact.
Given the visibility of these issues, there has been a significant uptick in demand for sustainable fashion brands and a reciprocal emergence of companies seeking to fill this niche. Some of the most notable among these are sustainable fashion brands from Germany, home of Neonyt, the world’s largest green fashion exhibition, and a growing base of consumers who are interested in sustainable practices.
What makes a fashion brand sustainable?
We define sustainable fashion as clothing created through the use of less materials and/or materials that contribute less waste to the environment. Sustainable fashion companies are also often concerned with a variety of adjacent issues, such as the ethical sourcing of materials, offsetting emissions and creating safe working conditions for employees. Given the momentum of the German sustainable fashion scene and other similar communities around the world, we’ve identified sustainable fashion as one of the emerging spaces we track on the PitchBook Platform.
Top German sustainable fashion brands
The following are 10 notable sustainable fashion brands in Germany that encompass manufacturers, online retailers and related companies like textile recycling and sustainability publications.
Leadership: Benjamin Sadler and Sarah Grohé, Cofounders and Managing Directors
Erlich Textil is clothing company primarily dedicated to selling lingerie products made from organic and sustainable textiles. They also produce a number of home goods such as towels and sheets and place a strong emphasis on accessibility. In February 2022, the company was acquired by Calida Group for €15.62 million.
Leadership: Esther Hellmann, Cofounder and CEO
2Ally.Me is an online retailer offering t-shirts, outerwear and loungewear that specializes in the use of organic cotton as a sustainable material. The company completed its Series A funding in September 2018 with the support of PAPA OSCAR Ventures.
Leadership: Till Junkermann, COO and Co-Managing Director
Avocado Store is a sustainable fashion distributor and green lifestyle brand. They sell clothing and household items made from various suppliers that work with sustainable materials.
Leadership: Verena Ziegler, Cofounder and CEO
BeaWear is an online retailer that emphasizes the use of technology in their designs and business strategy. They combine AI and data to produce better-fitting clothes that reduce the need for returns and waste. In January 2020, the company received early stage VC funding from Venture Kick.
Leadership: Steffen Gerlach and Reiner Mantsch, Cofounders
Eeden is a chemical company responsible for environmentally friendly textile upcycling. They develop processes to reuse and recycle clothing and reduce waste in the fashion industry. The company received seed round funding in June 2022 in a deal led by Business Angel Beteiligungs, TechVision Fonds and High-Tech Gründerfonds.
Leadership: Bill Kingdon, Managing Director
ICA Bremen is a cotton testing and research company that works with manufacturers to improve their cotton products and help them meet international standards. In April 2017, the company joined accelerator Plug and Play Tech Center.
Leadership: Carla Reuter and Nancy Frehse, Cofounders and Managing Directors
Oktopulli produces sustainable, gender-neutral clothing for children. Their sweaters are made using recycled materials gathered from second-hand and surplus goods. The company has received early stage VC funding from Purpose.
Leadership: Andri Stocker, Cofounder and CEO
Phyne is an online clothing brand with a focus on sustainable production. They offer a variety of streetwear items such as sweatshirts, caps and t-shirts and manage buyback and reusability programs for their clothes. The company raised early-stage VC funds from Matthias Storch Ventures.
Leadership: Benjamin Schulz, Cofounder
The Beam is a sustainability-focused publication that delivers information on climate change and sustainable production. In January 2021, the company received early-stage VC funding from Soleria Capital.
Leadership: Julia Zirpel, Cofounder and CEO
The Wearness is an online retail platform that hosts locally produced and sustainable clothing. They curate their selection to deliver products that give a sense of luxury while also being responsibly produced. The company received Series A VC funding from PAPA OSCAR Ventures in August 2019.
Get to know some of PitchBook’s other emerging spaces
- Carbon capture & removal
- Clean meat
- Digital freight brokerage
- Election tech
- eVTOLs and air taxis
- Ghost kitchens
- Indoor farming
- Insect-based foods
- Modular construction
- Smart clothing and jewelry
- Space tourism
Learn more about the global fashion industry
See how the worlds of fashion and tech intersect
Read our blog post on the Top companies and investors in smart clothing and jewelry
Learn about how fashion industry’s adapted to changes in the retail landscape
Read our blog post on How clothing startups adapted to COVID-19