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!
“Imagine clothes as natural as you” – that’s the motto of budding “it” brand, Otherbrother. Fusing natural processes with eco-conscious textiles, including sustainable California Cleaner Cotton, Japanese small batch organic wovens, and American wool, this Portland, Oregon-based is creating contemporary classics that you can run in, work in, and just live in. One of the best parts: All of their garments are free of heavy metals, toxins, and gnarly chemicals – something not all brands can say. Another one of the best parts, it gives us major Visvim vibes at a fraction of the price.
LOOMSTATE | $
After teaming up to launch a men’s fashion label, Rogan, designer Rogan Gregory and his partner Scott Mackinlay Hahn had another venture in mind: Loomstate, a clothing line dedicated to environmental and social responsibility. Not a stuffy brand with astronomical prices, Loomstate provides consumers with garments that promise interesting design details (think: a pale pink sweatshirt with raw hems - Yeezy vibes, anyone?), a focus on fabrics and fits that ensure world class quality, and an emphasis on durability and function – all at affordable prices – for men, women and children.
STYLE SAINT | $
Los Angeles-based brand StyleSaint, which was created by Allison Beal, a 9-year fashion industry veteran, is taking the unpleasant byproducts of affordable fashion and removing them from the equation, while still providing you with quality and fashion-minded garments (think: turtlenecks, which according to the runway, are slated to be hot commodities this Fall/Winter).
While browsing its e-commerce site, you will notice that alongside its bralettes, perfect tees, distressed denim and lacy pencil skirts, StyleSaint outlines the hours spent, yards of sustainable fabric used, and the gallons of water saved per garment. By focusing on quality over quantity – and timeless collections that are meant to be worn year-round – StyleSaint is operating on the belief that fashion “should be neither fast nor disposable.” From a business perspective, the brand is also interesting, as it produces each of its capsule collections in small runs in LA, with a new collection being fabricated every six weeks, allowing the brand to accurately gauge consumer demand and eliminate waste (and the need to sell off a large number of garments at a discount). Fast fashion addicts, this one is for you.
GOODLIFE | $
Guys, this one is for you. Goodlife is a premium essentials collection, consisting of staples that are a welcome addition to any fashion-conscious man’s wardrobe. After spending time helping to build small niche brands and managing businesses at larger fashion houses like John Varvatos and Michael Kors, Chris Molnar launched Goodlife with the goal of creating updated basics that will become modern classics. Offering the very best in fit and quality, Goodlife marries Molner’s own style with a sophisticated yet understated approach to menswear.
CROCHET KIDS | $
Southern California-based brand, Krochet Kids, is on our radar not only for the impact it has on the communities where their artisans live and work, but also because its garments and accessories include some pretty spot on alternatives to the trend-forward offerings that fast fashion retailers offer (think: a t-shirt that reads, “Wild Thing” or a hand crocheted top). A non-profit social impact brand, Krochet Kids has developed an extensive monitoring and evaluation system that measures a series of empowerment indicators every month, ensuring that every person in their program is impacted for good – and that includes consumers who benefit by way of ethically made garments at affordable prices!
PATAGONIA | $$
It may not be the first brand that comes to mind in connection with garments other than outdoor clothing and gear, but Patagonia has stepped up its efforts in recent years to provide a wardrobe for men and women in addition to the coats and vests for which they are best known. From dresses and jeans to sweaters and swimwear – all under $100 (with the exception of coats), Patagonia aims to bring its customers “the best products, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Have a look, you might be pleasantly surprised.
ZADY | $$
We’ve included Zady in a previous list, but figured we would throw the brand in again for good measure. This online retailer, which is one we swear by here at TFL, launched its own in-house “Essential” collection in 2013, with the goal of meeting consumers style needs, while dedicating their brand to sustainability. By working with U.S. partners at every step of the apparel supply chain — ranchers, washers, dyers, millers, knitters, and sewers — it is learning the issues and taking them head on to create a new standard. The only problem here: People have caught on to this amazing brand and as a result, most of Zady’s newest the styles sell out very quickly. So, if you see something you like, buy it right then!
$ = majority of pieces under $150
$$ = majority of pieces between $150-$400
$$$ = majority of pieces between $400-$750
$$$$ = majority of pieces over $750
* This list is brought to you in part by Shopspring.com.