The Most Sustainable Sock Brands

Socks are a quintessential wardrobe basic that many of us don’t think about buying until they’ve got holes. If it’s time to replenish your sock drawer, we’ve got recommendations to restock your socks with neutrals, interesting prints, or eye-catching designs.

To choose the most sustainable socks, we vetted brands based on supply chain transparency, emissions tracking and reduction, and circularity. We also looked into labor and ethics, packaging and waste, and other environmental efforts. Based on our sustainability criteria, we ranked brands as Good, Better, Best, or Avoid. 


→Our Top Picks
→ How We Evaluate Brands
→ Brands to Avoid

Before You Buy: Ask yourself a few questions to decide if you can get more wear out of the socks you already have:

  • Can I mend the holes in my socks to give them a few more months or years of wear?
  • Can I dye my dingy white socks to cover stains and give them some pizazz?
  • What’s my ideal number of socks? Do I have enough already?

Still need new socks? We’ve got some great, sustainable picks below.

But before you send those threadbare socks to the landfill, send them to Subset or Trashie for textile recycling. These companies will capture whatever fibers can be reused in new garments, and responsibly recycle the rest.

Commons’ Top Pick

MATE the Label
Apparel and accessories, free from pesticides and microplastics

  • Commons Rating: Best
  • Price Point: Sold in 3 packs for $48 ($16 per pair)
  • Locations: HQ in the U.S.; manufactured in Los Angeles and Peru
  • Transparency: 2022 Impact Report

MATE the Label’s unisex crew socks are a great, sustainable essential. They come in white and a couple of neutral colors for a bit of variation. 

As an antidote to fast fashion, MATE the Label doesn’t release new styles often, instead focusing on timeless, seasonless fashion that will look good for years.

  • Materials: The brand focuses a lot of its sustainability efforts on fabrics. The socks are made from 80% Organic Cotton, 17% Nylon, and 3% Spandex. According to the website, MATE the Label makes products without pesticides, BPA, PFAS, or formaldehyde. MATE the Label ships its products in plastic-free packaging made from recycled and recyclable materials.
  • Emissions: In addition to being B Corp Certified, MATE the Label is Climate Neutral Certified, which means it measures, reports, and compensates for its footprint with quality offsets.
  • Supply chain & ethics:  MATE the Label published a Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure ethical manufacturing practices at tier 1 factories. One standout partner is the Sree Santhosh factory in India, which has on-site solar and wind power that meets nearly 100% of its electricity needs.
  • Circularity: In partnership with Trashie, MATE the Label offers a Detox Your Closet program for customers to ship unwanted clothes (from any brand) to Trashie for proper textile recycling.

Commons Community Reviews

Reviews from Commons users who have bought from MATE the Label.

Quality: ★★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★★ 

Pros: These socks feel cushy and substantial and come up to mid-calf. I haven't had them for long, but in the first few wears, I haven't noted any pilling or wearing out. I got the tri-color pack, and all of the colors are super cute and muted. They work great with boots, sneakers, or birks.
Cons: None

— Sophie J., June 2024 Sophie has worn MATE the Label socks a few times a month since May 2024.

A More Affordable Option

Organic Basics
Minimal underwear and activewear with ethical production

  • Commons Rating: Better
  • Price Point: sold in packs, starting at $14 for a 2-pack ($7 per pair)
  • Locations: HQ in Denmark; manufacturing in India, Egypt, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Portugal, China, Austria, and Italy
  • Transparency: 2023 Impact Report

Organic Basics focuses on just that — socks, underwear, and bras made from organic cotton in a limited-but-enticing range of colors. Socks and underwear are available for women and men. To make its offerings more accessible, Organic Basics reduced prices in 2022. 

Note: The brand offers free returns for exchanges or store credit. The brand charges a shipping fee for refunds to discourage overconsumption and to be able to keep prices down.

  • Materials: Over 90% of Organic Basics’ material portfolio is GOTS-certified Organic Cotton, which is a stand-out statistic. The socks are made of certified organic cotton (~76%), polyamide (~22%), and elastane (~2%).
  • Emissions: In partnership with Made2Flow and One Carbon World, Organic Basics measures and offsets the emissions associated with their operations and supply chain. The brand also shares a full breakdown of emissions, revealing its largest hotspots. We love the extent of the Organic Basic’s transparency. The sustainability report spotlights successes and illuminates where efforts have fallen short and how the team plans to improve.
  • Supply chain & ethics:  Organic Basics has a formal statement on its website addressing workers rights, specifically addressing child labor, safe working environments, living wages, and employee benefits. However, the brand is not Fair Trade certified and has not published a Code of Conduct.
  • Circularity: Organic Basics has committed to implementing a circular strategy in 2024, but has not yet provided details about what the strategy includes or when it will launch.

Commons Community Reviews

No Commons users have reviewed Organic Basics yet.

Fun Design Choice

Lucy & Yak
Colorful apparel made from organic, recycled materials

  • Commons Rating: Better
  • Price Point: $10-15 per pair
  • Locations: HQ in the UK; manufactured in India and Turkey.
  • Transparency: 2023 Impact Report

If you’re looking for sustainable socks with fun patterns and colors, Lucy & Yak could be for you. They’re crew cut, with all-over patterns and ankle designs. While the socks’ sizing is for women, the brand confirmed that the socks are unisex.

  • Materials: Lucy & Yak’s socks are made from 55% organic cotton, 43% nylon, and 2% elastane. We love that the brand uses eco-friendly fibers across its product line, including GOTS-certified organic cotton, GRS-certified recycled polyester, LENZING ECOVERO, deadstock fabric, and other natural fibers like linen, bamboo, and hemp.
  • Emissions: Lucy & Yak uses Greenly, a carbon accounting platform, to measure its carbon footprint and identify the greatest opportunities for reduction.
  • Supply chain & ethics:  Lucy & Yak was accepted into the Fair Labor Association in 2023 and is a member of Sedex, a membership organization that helps companies manage and improve working conditions in their global supply chains.
  • Circularity: Lucy & Yak has its own branded buyback program available in stores and an official Facebook group to trade, sell, and buy Lucy & Yak products secondhand. Intimates like socks and underwear are not eligible for sale or trade through these platforms.

Commons Community Reviews

No Commons users have reviewed Lucy & Yak yet.

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Other brands we recommend

Best Brands

  • Armedangels: These are a great option, especially if you’re based in Europe since Armedangels is based in Berlin. Most Commons readers are based in the U.S. which is the only reason Armedangels isn’t a top pick. 
  • Etiko: This is another great choice for folks outside the U.S. Etiko is based in Australia. 
  • Dedicated: Dedicated has built its brand and business model around sustainable fashion, prioritizing transparency, certified low-impact and natural fibers, and ethical labor throughout the supply chain. We’d like to see the brand use less plastic packaging, but it’s good to see that all the plastic is 100% recycled.

Better Brands

  • DillySocks: We’re impressed by DillySocks’ commitment to measuring its footprint and taking ownership of its emissions by compensating via the support of offset projects. It also uses a majority natural and climate-friendly materials, such as organic cotton. We’d like to see the brand publish a breakdown of its emissions numbers, as well as a Fair Trade certification or Code of Conduct. 
  • Colorful Standard: With OEKO-TEX Standard 100 (dye), FSC, and Global Recycled Standard certifications, Colorful Standard has invested in sustainable practices. We’d like to see the brand measure and report their emissions, as well as a Fair Trade certification or Code of Conduct.
  • Pact: This brand has some impressive certifications including GOTS, Fair Trade USA, and Global Textile Standard. While it shares the footprint of its products, it doesn’t yet share the whole company emissions. We’d like to see greater transparency throughout the supply chain and emissions reductions efforts, beyond the use of organic cotton.

How We Evaluate Brands

Commons helps people tap into the power of their collective spending choices to lower global emissions. When we evaluate brands, we’re carefully evaluating the actions they’re taking to meaningfully measure and minimize the carbon emissions associated with their products.

Transparent Supply Chains and Reporting

Openness and transparency encourage trust and build accountability. We review publicly available information, including sustainability reports, supply chain partner information, certifications, and partnerships. If this information isn’t available, we don’t include these brands in our top picks.

Emissions Tracking

We look for brands that measure and share the footprint of their company and/or products. When a company understands what its biggest emissions drivers are, it can make plans to address these drivers while also demonstrating progress against these plans. This involves:

  • Measuring their footprint, ideally in collaboration with a third-party partner.
  • Reporting carbon emissions publicly, ideally sharing the breakdown of their carbon drivers.
  • Taking ownership of their emissions by compensating their footprint with verified, high-quality offsets.

Meaningful Carbon Reduction Efforts

We look for actions that address the most important drivers of the company’s footprint. For clothing, this includes:

Materials: Certifications are important to understand the sustainability of a material and its processing. A couple of key ones we look for are:

  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A processing standard for organic fibers that tracks the entire supply chain with environmental and social criteria.
  • Global Recycled Standard (GRS): A voluntary product standard for tracking and verifying the content of recycled materials in a final product. This is especially prevalent for brands using recycled plastic bottles.

Energy: We look for brands using renewable energy and/or engaging with their supply chain partners to support decarbonization of their facilities and manufacturing processes.

Slow or Circular Business Models

Our fashion brand top picks fundamentally shift from fast fashion towards slow fashion and circularity. Evidence of slow or circular business models include:

  • Offering take back and/or recycling programs for their products.
  • Recycling or upcycling fabric scraps, rather than letting them go to waste.
  • Focusing on timeless pieces and infrequent collection releases instead of pushing trends.
  • Engaging in made-to-order or batch manufacturing.

Community and Environmental Efforts

Although we prioritize carbon-related criteria in our rankings, there are other important factors that determine how a brand treats people and the planet. Some of these include:

  • Labor and ethics: Fair Trade certifications and a comprehensive Supplier Code of Conduct (audit for factors like a living wage and safe working conditions)
  • Packaging and waste: plastic-free, FSC-certified packaging that is recyclable and recycled
  • Other community and environmental efforts: This can include donation programs with nonprofit partners, projects that uplift communities near their supply chain partners, and more.

Commons’ Brand Ratings

  • Best: Best brands are measuring, reporting, and actively reducing their emissions. They don’t have to be perfect, but they must have evidence of progress and of tailored strategies to continually improve their footprint.
  • Better: Brands must meet more than one of our climate-related criteria. For example, a brand may not be measuring its footprint, but they are making earnest efforts to address the common drivers of emissions for clothing companies.
  • Good: Brands must meet at least one of our climate-related criteria.
  • Avoid: Brands that meet none of our climate-related criteria.

Brands to Avoid

The business model of fast-fashion brands relies on overconsumption, unethical labor, and fossil-fuel-based fabrics. We recommend avoiding these brands when buying socks or other clothing:

  • Shein
  • H&M
  • Zara
  • Forever 21
  • Uniqlo
  • Mango
  • ASOS
  • Temu
  • Amazon and Amazon Basics

For a more expansive list of fast fashion brands, check here

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June 17, 2024
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