The Cleanest fashion out there: where and why your next shirt should be undyed, unbleached cotton

  • By Aaron Nesser
  • Published on October 5, 2023

Image: Industry of all nations

The Cleanest fashion, where and why to buy undyed, unbleached cotton

It’s not hard to read about the myriad of chemicals used throughout the fashion industry – it’s much harder to see and avoid them. In To Dye For, Adele Peters delves into the hazards present in dyes, waterproofing, and other garment additives. 

At the heart of this tale lies a revelation—the many chemicals in textiles and garments today are considered to be safe at their use and concentrations. Yet, for as much as 20% of the population, these chemicals in combination with each other, can create chemical sensitivities – imagine ‘catching’ an allergy to your clothing. The symphony of dyes, fire retardants, and stain-resistant treatments—especially found together in work uniforms—emerges as the crux of the issue. 

Hope lies in bio-based dye and chemical companies, like Pili.Bio, Colorifix, Lite-1, and OrganoClick. Using biology and green chemistry these innovators make effective and safe dyes and fabric treatments. While these solutions move closer to widespread availability, a question arises: How can we avoid the chemicals in our garments until then?

The first thing we can do is avoid fast-fashion brands that rely on dropshipping. Dropshipping brands don’t receive any scrutiny from import authorities, and as a result, banned substances can get through to consumers.

If you want to go further, check out the world of undyed, unbleached, untreated garments. These garments, known in the industry as "Greige goods,"  represent the least-adulterated garments available.

Here are the brands making undyed, organic cotton t-shirts and more. An ode to simplicity, sustainability, and general chemically-free-ness. 

Image: Harvest and Mill Heirloom Brown Cotton

Harvest and Mill 

The only producer on this list that makes colored garments without dye, Harvest and Mill is unique for their use of heirloom colored cotton, which is cotton that grows with color built-in. They also have plenty of undyed products in the natural color you would expect from undyed, unbleached cotton. 

Read more about Sally Fox, who grows these historic cotton breeds

Good on You rating: 5/5 Great 

  • Price: $48.00
  • Organic cotton grown in USA, yarn spun and knit in USA, sewn in San Francisco Bay Area
  • Undyed and unbleached 
  • Carbon emissions are offset via reforestation and wind farming

Products: Men’s Crew, Women’s Heirloom Brown Crew

Industry of all Nations

The coolest brand on this list has a supply chain based in a single province in India, Tamil Nadu, which is a global textile and garment manufacturing center, producing 2-3% of the world's garments. IOAN offers a wide range of undyed unbleached organic cotton garments, and if you want some color, they use naturally fermented indigo to dye a handful of their products, measuring color as ‘number of dips’.

It’s worth noting that Tirupur, Tamil Nadu’s nexus of garment production was notorious for their polluting dye and bleach houses until 2012, when, after a court order, the producers achieved zero wastewater discharge (this has mostly been maintained since then, but not 100%)

Good on You rating: 3/5 it’s a start

  • Price: $40
  • Undyed and unbleached
  • Grown and manufactured within Tamil Nadu, India.

Products: Crewneck T-shirt, Canvas Pants, Cropped T-shirt, Pique Tank, and many more.


Rawganique is the OG organic clothing brand, specializing in undyed and natural fiber clothing in 1997, including cotton, linen, and hemp. Rawganique's undyed organic t-shirts are grown, spun, and sewn in the USA (Texas and South Carolina) with no sizing or stabilizing chemicals. Rawganique also offers many products sans-elastic that would otherwise include spandex or latex.

  • Price: $25.00
  • Uses organic cotton grown on a small farm in Texas. 
  • Cotton is ginned and spun in North Carolina and sewn in South Carolina
  • No sizing or stabilizing chemicals

Products: Parker W’s T-shirt, Sonoma M’s T-shirt

The Big Favorite

The Big Favorite's relaxed, quality pieces are made in Peru, saving significant water, energy, and CO2 emissions from dyeing while providing fair wages. Vogue and The Strategist recommend The Big Favorite's ultra-soft undyed tees as a versatile wardrobe staple. TBF also has some awesome naturally dyed pieces in colors bright enough to defy any natural stereotypes.

  • Price: $36.00 
  • Grown and manufactured in Peru
  • Carbon Neutral via Cool Effect
  • Take-back program via ForDays

Products: Undyed Relaxed Crew, lots of Underwear


Similar to The Big Favorite, Aya makes all of its organic cotton clothing entirely in Peru, from sourcing to sewing, and ships directly to the US and Europe to minimize environmental impact. Aya also features some natural dyes including indigo and eucalyptus (gray). 

  • Price: $30
  • Grown and manufactured in Peru
  • OEKO-TEX Finishing, GOTS ink on labels

Products: T-shirt - M’s, T-shirt - W’s


ISTO is a Portuguese clothing brand that uses organic and recycled materials. Their products are GOTS-certified and produced in Portugal using materials from Europe, Asia, and the Americas. ISTO offers a ton of supply chain transparency. You can see where all of their materials come from and the factories where they are produced.

Good on You rating: 4/5 Good

  • T-shirt Price: $45
  • GOTS certified
  • Made in Portugal

Products: Classic T-shirt, Denim Work Jacket

Some other brands worth mentioning: Of the Oceans, Cottonique

Read more about the effect of chemistry in fashion: To Dye For by Alden Wicker