As a result of continued inquiries, we have a running series of posts outlining some ethically-manufactured “alternatives” to fast fashion and other sweat-shop made clothes (because high fashion brands are not always blame-less either). (Find previous lists here).
While in general, ethically made garments and accessories tend to cost a bit more than their fast fashion alternatives, there are increasingly more brands that are aiming to achieve accessible price points - and we are dedicated to doing endless research to include more and more brands on these lists that are truly affordable (because guess what, $150 for a top is expensive!).
It is also worth noting that sustainability is not just about buying! It also includes holding on to the clothes you already have (regardless of their price points) and taking care of them in order to get the most wears/use out of them. Remember, sustainability is about taking small steps to improve your wardrobe and is not meant to happen overnight. This is a marathon.
Having said that, if you are in the market for some ethically-manufactured garments, 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). They focus on creating sustainable garments and accessories with a lower environmental impact, including by minimizing waste by repurposing it to make additional garments, reducing carbon emissions and/or shipping using recycled paper products.
Still yet, many of them engage in careful oversight by working with factories that abide by national labor standards, and in many cases, visit their factories on a regular basis and speaking to factory owners even more frequently.
Check out the list below and remember, shopping responsibly does not mean wearing high fashion; that is just a myth, my friends!
CUYANA | $$
If we have learned anything from Mansur Gavriel’s “it” bags over the past year or from Celine’s incessantly covetable clothing, it is that minimalist garments and accessories of high quality are everything. Enter: Cuyana. Based in San Francisco, Cuyana’s pieces are “essential pieces for the modern woman with the most premium materials and finest craftsmanship. Lifestyle-wise, we strive to create a content destination on intentional living and elegant simplicity across all categories.” Their purses – our personal favorite offerings of theirs – have found homes in our wardrobes, as well as those of some of Hollywood’s hottest ladies. Founder s Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah have managed to give us everything we want and to do so in a sustainable manner.
KUYICHI | $
Kuyichi was founded on the idea that socially responsible work conditions and environmental considerations aren't just trends, but a way of the future. Kuyichi works directly with Peruvian farmers who supply their organic cotton, and even encourages them to become shareholders in the company. In addition to their organic cotton, Kuyichi uses sustainable materials like recycled cotton and polyester from discarded water bottles. The result: Cool tees, sweatshirts, denim, and more for women and men, making it one of our favorites brands on this list.
PEOPLE TREE | $
This is another good one. UK-based People Tree, which was founded over 20 year ago, is recognized by customers and the fashion industry as a pioneer in Fair Trade and environmentally sustainable fashion. All the while, People Tree is dedicated to bringing you fashionable garments, which can sometimes be a bit difficult to come by in terms of sustainable clothing. The brand has garnered quite a following amongst top fashion bloggers and industry insiders, alike. Guys, this one is for you, too.
1964 THREADS | $
You don’t have to shop fast fashion for “parody” tees. Our friends over at Helpsy discovered, 1964 Threads, which has them and unlike fast fashion retailers’ ware, they’re made locally, in small quantities, and in a cruelty-free manner. So, you can get your hands on a Brooklyn Basquiat tee, Frida Khalo ones adorned with the word “Selfie,” or maybe the best one yet: a tee with that photo of Karl and Anna (pictured below).
ANNE GREENABELLE | $
Annie Greenabelle launched in September 2007 after years of research into the idea of establishing an ethical brand that would combine the use of organically grown, recycled and reclaimed fabrics. The UK-based ethical fashion brand makes clothes from organic and Fair Trade Certified cotton plus many reclaimed and end-of-roll fabrics. The initially launched with a small website and concession in Topshop, Oxford Circus, London, but now supply about 6 new lines a week to Topshop.com, which offers about 70 Annie Greenabelle lines at all times. That’s right, they stock at Topshop and yet, don't believe that anyone or anything should be treated badly in the pursuit of a “bargain” piece of clothing.
MARIALIA | $$
Having a bit of withdrawal of the edgy wares provided by fast fashion retailers? Mariala (a discovery of one of our go-to sites, Helpsy) looks like anything but a “green” brand. From lips-shaped sunglasses and mesh bodysuits to studded jogging pants, shiny leggings, and crop tops, this Los Angeles-based brand has the appeal of Nasty Gal minus the blatant copies and other negative side effects of fast fashion.
$ = majority of pieces under $150
$$ = majority of pieces between $150-$400
$$$ = majority of pieces between $400-$750
$$$$ = majority of pieces over $750