Today I will go through my favorite affordable ethical clothing brands,
While jumping into a zero-waste lifestyle, you probably have learned how to avoid packaging, purchase reusable products, and generally be more conscious of the environmental impacts of your daily decisions.
However, have you ever thought about how the clothing you choose to wear plays into this?
Listen to this:
The most commonly used material to make clothing today is polyester.
It takes 70 million barrels of oil yearly to produce and takes 200 years to decompose. Yikes!
Material choice plays a huge role in how a garment affects the environment, however, there is a myriad of problematic elements to the fashion industry. Certain materials are resource and labor-intensive. They also are not biodegradable and take hundreds of years to break down.
Not only are we eating up resources quickly to produce the clothing, but then the industry deems certain looks “out of style” within a few weeks. This ideology makes people get rid of clothing at an alarming rate.
Americans tend to throw out around 81 pounds of clothing per year.
While some clothing gets reused or recycled, a huge portion of it finds it’s way into the landfill.
It’s quite a silly environmental catastrophe to have when it is so easily avoidable.
Some solutions are to shop secondhand and invest in quality pieces. For example, stop following trends and become more conscious of the fashion brands you choose to support.
Many affordable clothing companies outsource their production to lesser developed countries. They do this because the labor is cheap and there are fewer industry standards to be held accountable for.
A large majority of people that manufacture the clothing we wear are not paid fair wages and are forced to work in poor, unsafe conditions.
Listen to this:
90% of clothing production workers interviewed in Bangladesh cannot afford enough food for themselves and their families, forcing them to regularly skip meals or go into debt.
We can be smarter about the clothing companies we choose to purchase from.
Today I will be sharing my top 12 affordable ethical clothing brands.
Affordable Ethical Clothing Brands
That is to say, what does it take to qualify to be an ethical clothing brand?
To me, a large part of it is environmental awareness.
I support brands that are trying to minimize their footprint and use materials that are safer for us and the environment.
Ethical production is a huge part of it, as well. I only support clothing brands that are transparent about the standards and practices of their manufacturing facilities.
It is imperative that these clothing brands are paying their workers the wages that they deserve to make a good life for themselves and their families.
Lastly, price is important to me. I think that in order to be inclusive, clothing brands need to find a way to make affordable ethical clothes for everybody. These clothing brands may be slightly more money than your typical fast fashion retailer, but the quality makes it worth it because the garments will last so much longer.
Okay, here we go. This is my top 12 list of affordable ethical clothing brands:
Everlane is a warrior when it comes to what they call “radical transparency.”
This means that they put a lot of time and energy into finding the best factories to partner with to produce their clothing.
They often visit these facilities and score them to make sure that they are up to standard on fair wages, reasonable hours, and environmental expectations. On every single garment listed on Everlane’s website, they tell you the exact factory the piece was produced in.
Everlane is also radically transparent about cost, which makes them one of my top affordable ethical clothing brands. They break down the material, labor, and transport costs of each item and then compare their price to the typical retail markup of other companies.
Everlane does not follow the trends of the fast fashion world. They make pieces that are timeless, made to last, and will never go out of style.
2. People Tree
People Tree is a leader in sustainable and fair trade fashion.
They promote organic farming, avoid polluting substances, practice water recycling in production, promote environmentally responsible initiatives, and much more.
The organic cotton that People Tree uses is Global Organic Textile Standard Certified.
This type of cotton has met strict environmental and social standards. They also do not use any harmful, polluting dyes.
People Tree is also Fair Trade certified which means that all of the farmers, manufacturers, and workers that help bring a piece of clothing to life are given sustainable wages and safe working conditions.
You can help:
When you support a Fair Trade certified company, you are supporting the sustainable development of villages in developing countries.
You are helping people feed their families and feel empowered.
This 100% organic cotton People Tree jumper is heavenly. It’s comfy, cozy, and only $55!
This piece is made in the Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills in India, which is People Tree’s main manufacturer of Fair Trade, certified organic cotton garments. Finally, cute, affordable, and guilt-free clothes!
If you love fitness, yoga, and sustainability, you need to check out Prana.
They make amazing environmentally conscious clothing items that fit perfectly into your lifestyle. This is another Fair-Trade certified, organic cotton using brand, but wait, there’s more:
Prana is really smart about seeing where there is waste in other industries and figuring out how to use that in their supply chain. For instance, instead of using virgin wool, they use recycled wool that is reclaimed from textile waste. This reduces overall energy consumption by cutting down on the resources needed for fiber processing.
Similarly, they use “responsible down” in their winter pieces. They use the feathers from animals that are used by the food industry. These facilities are also RDS certified which means the animals are free from hunger, thirst, discomfort, pain, fear, and distress.
I am obsessed with this organic cotton headband that is only $10! It comes in a wide variety of fun colors and is perfect for any on-the-go person.
It keeps your hair out of your face and the sweat from running into your eyes. I love this product and I love Prana!
4. HARA the Label
If you are having a hard time finding cute, sustainability-focused undergarments, look no further than HARA the Label.
Their mission is to bring change and awareness to the fashion industry through the ethical and sustainable production of their pieces.
One sustainable aspect of HARA’s production is that they use bamboo fabric.
Bamboo grows quickly and requires no irrigation systems or harmful pesticides. It provides 30% more oxygen than trees and can be harvested over and over again, making it one of the most sustainable raw materials.
Once the bamboo is processed into fabric, they only uses natural dyes to give it color. These dyes are plant-based and safe for both your skin and the planet!
HARA the Label also tries to have the entirety of their supply chain in one location to reduce the emissions caused by transportation.
All of HARA the Label’s bras and undies are super cute, but my favorite would have to be the leo high cut bra. This rectangle cut bamboo fabric bra is so comfortable that you will forget you have it on. All of the amazing colors are made with natural dyes and it is only $37!
The reason why Reformation makes my list of the top affordable ethical clothing brands is because of how transparent they are on their sustainability efforts. Every single year, they post an updated report on the amount of resources saved and used in comparison to the previous year.
It gets better:
Reformation has invested in green building infrastructure so their manufacturing facilities are as efficient as possible.
They also believing in offsetting their footprint. This means that they track the resources they use then invest in programs that help replenish them. Whether that means replanting rainforests or restoring water, Reformation is making a difference.
If you love classic, high-fashion sustainable clothing, you will love their inventory.
I love this everyday bodysuit that is only $48. Oh, and get this, it is made from TENCEL, a fabric that comes from Eucalyptus trees. It only takes half an acre to produce one ton of material and is not resource or labor intensive!
Kotn is focused on making wonderful clothing from ethically-sourced Egyptian cotton. Since Egyptian cotton is such great quality, many fast fashion brands switched over to cheaper alternatives which devastated local farms and businesses.
Kotn is striving to reinvigorate this industry and empower the people of the area.
Kotn does direct trade with farms which provides farmers with better business practices and gives customers a fair price. In addition, they work closely with factories to ensure that their employees are being paid fairly and have safe, clean working conditions.
I love this fitted henley that is only $28. It’s so great for everyday use. It can be worn alone or be layered. The best part is that it is made from 100% Egyptian cotton which people also refer to as “white gold.”
Remember before how I mentioned how the fast fashion industry quickly deems trends outdated?
Well Poetry is trying to combat that. At the heart of their mission, Poetry is aiming to create long term pieces that can be worn in multiple seasons.
Here’s the scoop:
With subtle shades and tactile fabrics, Poetry uses natural materials to create their garments.
They work closely with various cotton and alpaca farms to ensure an ethically-produced, high-quality product.
I personally love all of the linen pieces that Poetry carries because they are light and airy. This striped 100% linen top is so adorable and it is only $69! I love how subtle the pattern and color is. This is a piece that would look and feel great on anyone.
8. Christy Dawn
Christy Dawn’s slogan is “honoring mother earth” and they do not miss the mark! If you love sustainable, feminine clothes you will love this brand.
They believe in doing things the right way.
Christy Dawn only uses deadstock fabrics.
This means instead of creating new fabric to make garments out of, they source waste from other clothing manufacturers.
This prevents all that waste from going to landfill and gives it a second life.
In addition, they produce all of their clothing in Los Angeles. They pay their seamstresses well and provide health benefits. If that’s not sustainable, ethical fashion, I’m not sure what is!
I am in love with the Delphine dress. At $167, this dress may be for a special occasion, but the quality is amazing. It will last you for years. I love the bright flowery pattern and the flow cut on the dress. Wow!
9. Mate the Label
Mate the Label is a Los Angeles based clothing company that is reimagining vintage graphics and essential pieces for everyone’s wardrobe.
Here’s the deal:
With sustainability and ethics placed in the foreground, Mate creates garments in small batches. Also, all the factories that produce the clothing are within a 5 mile radius of the design headquarters.
They use organic, clean materials in their products, as well.
All of Mate the Label’s clothes are simple, comfortable and great for everyday use. I especially love the Alex Crew t-shirt which is made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton.
Such a great brand!
Although it is important to put your customer first, it is also imperative to put the planet first, which is exactly what Outerknown is doing.
They believe that there are two parts of sustainability: people and the environment.
Outerknown uses raw materials that are not making a negative impact on the planet.
They are a global company, but only work with companies and suppliers that abide by the guidelines of the Fair Labor Association.
In doing so, they have started to think beyond clothing.
They aspire to create deep changes in labor and environmental practices all over the world through transparency, collaboration, and shared values.
I love the simplicity of the Neptune tank.
Made from a blend of hemp and TENCEL, this tank is environmentally friendly and comfortable. At only $48, you are really getting a bang for your buck on this tank that can be worn throughout the year.
11. Organic Basics
It’s all in the name when it comes to Organic Basics. The company produces basics such as underwear and t-shirts for the environmentally conscious.
Organic Basics are a carbon balanced company which means they offset their carbon.
They use profits in order to invest in carbon reducing projects such as solar or wind energy.
They only work with trusted, certified factory partners. These are places that share in the same sustainable vision and practice fair labor. This means employees are paid, respected, and are given safe working conditions.
I love the SilverTech Active Leggings and always wear them when I go to yoga. For each article of clothing, this company shows a resource comparison to other fast fashion brands. For instance, by buying these leggings instead of a cheaper, less sustainable alternative, you are helping save 58 gallons of water. See?
You can make a difference by choosing which brands to buy from!
Pact is a great one stop shop for affordable ethical clothing.
They only use 100% organic cotton because it is better for the environment and only work with ethical factories. When you are wearing clothing that is ethical, sustainable, and comfortable, you are bound to feel confident.
Pact also promises their customers to not be “gross.” This simply means that they do not use any dyes or pesticides that are bad for humans and the planet. Their approach is clean and nice. They would rather have a safe and healthy customer than cut corners to make a cheaper product.
I can’t even put into words how soft their hoodies are. Seriously, it’s like slipping a cloud onto your body and it’s only $45! Made from organic cotton which helps save water, you’ll feel great while wearing this hoodie!
I hope that you now understand what it means to be an ethical clothing brand.
Choosing sustainable materials, partnering with fair trade certified factories, and rethinking the way we use resources are all integral to a great fashion brand.
By choosing to support brands that care about offsetting their footprint and making a difference, we are showing companies what we want to see out of the fashion industry. There need to be standards for people to be held accountable for.
Wearing clean, ethical, sustainable clothes do not need to drain your bank account. I hope that you will take a look at some of the brands I recommended today and consider some affordable options.