As a result of continued inquiries, we have a running series of posts outlining some ethically-manufactured “alternatives” to fast fashion. (Find previous lists here). It is worth noting that in general, ethically made garments and accessories tend to cost a bit more than their fast fashion alternatives. However, there are certainly pros in favor of spending a bit more: the quality is significantly better, as is the peace of mind of knowing your clothes were not made in sweatshop-like conditions.
The brands listed below engage in original design, local production (many of the brands manufacture locally), responsible selection of raw materials (think: the use of Viscose, which comes from man-made fibers made from renewable plant material, and requires approximately half of the energy than a cotton garment to produce), careful oversight (these brands are working with factories that abide by national labor standards, visiting the factories on a regular basis and speaking to factory owners even more frequently), and/or focus on creating sustainable garments and accessories with a lower environmental impact. (think: minimizing waste by repurposing it to make additional garments, reducing carbon emissions and/or shipping using recycled paper products). Check out the list below and remember, shopping responsibly does not mean only wearing Hermès or Prada; there are reasonably priced alternatives.
CONDITIONS APPLY | $
London-based brand Conditions Apply believes the future of true luxury to be about beautifully handcrafted products made with integrity, authenticity and transparency. Using sportswear fabrics alongside traditional techniques and processes to achieve pieces which would otherwise be impossible to mass produce due to a complex mix of processes, techniques and materials, Conditions Apply manufactures all of its garments in its own living wage factory in Delhi, India where workers are provided with education, training and additional support.
VERYAN | $
Created to fill the void for garments that focus equally on design and sustainability, Veryan studio began to produce select series of garments in 2013. Creating pieces that walk the line between tailoring and practicality, Veryan aims to put forth garments that have ethically made roots and a long lifespan in terms of wearability (they shun trends-based garments in favor of classic, season-less wares). With fabrics made using Global Organic Textile Standard certified organic cotton, grown in India and woven in Wales, then dyed using non-toxic reactive dyes in Leceister, Veryan garments are of some of the best quality available.
BEING APPAREL | $
“The daily routine for a busy modern woman is hectic. I know first-hand: keeping fit, running a business and being mum to a 6-year-old keeps me moving all day long and changing outfits frequently to always look my best. I designed Being Apparel to make the daily routine easier for woman who have busy lifestyles, women who love the comfort and versatility of their yoga pants, but need to elevate their look throughout the day,” says Being Apparel’s founder, Shonagh Speirs. After working in the fashion industry for 15 years, Speirs decided to launch her own label that embodies just that. The best part: Being Apparel is dedicated to producing all of its garments responsibly, ensuring everyone in the supply chain is treated and paid fairly.
BEAUMONT ORGANIC | $$
British brand Beaumont Organic offers affordable but luxurious pieces that have a laid back, easy-to-wear feel to them, not to mention the fact that they are crafted from the softest organic cottons. Designer Hannah Beaumont works with a small, family-run organization in Portugal to ensure premium quality garments, limited delivery transport emissions, and fair wages and hours, as well as minimum age requirements, for its laborers. Pro-tip: Shop the sale section for even more affordable options.
TUKUTUKUM | $$
Tukutukum – a label of garments and accessories made from pure silk and wool – was founded by Istanbul-based artist Tugba Kuzdere. Each exclusive collection is crafted by some of the most eminent fashion garment artisans in Turkey, using sustainable resources, modern production technologies, and authentic craftsmanship. Our advice: skip the scarves and head straight for the kimonos!
LEMLEM | $$$
Ethiopian model, actress, and World Health Organization ambassador Liya Kebede launched her label lemlem in 2007 as a way to support the struggling weavers of her home country, Ethiopia, while preserving their traditional methods. The brand's inspiration arose during a trip to Ethiopia; lemlem means “to bloom” or “to flourish” in Amharic. The garments are handmade in Ethiopia from natural cotton and rooted in tradition, but woven with a modern touch. According to Kebede, the label “aims to add a sense of diversity to the clothing market while fueling prosperity in another.”
$ = majority of pieces under $150
$$ = majority of pieces between $150-$400
$$$ = majority of pieces between $400-$750
$$$$ = majority of pieces over $750