It’s easy to love the cheap prices and cute styles of Forever 21 or H&M, but it’s also easy to feel guilty about shopping there. Sweatshops and child labor produce a lot of big brand name clothing, and that makes it difficult to feel 100% comfortable in their clothes. Unfair treatment, shockingly bad work conditions, long hours, and low wages make clothing lines that use factories not up to par with basic ethical standards difficult to support. So next time you’re out shopping, take a minute to consider what you’re supporting with your wallet.
Just in case you’re worried, better quality and better manufacturing doesn’t necessarily mean unaffordable! Pick some statement pieces from these brands, or stock up on basics, this list is meant to be affordable. It’s better to have a few great quality pieces that you’ll get more usage out of than a lot of cheap clothes that fall apart after wearing them a few times. So remember, you’re paying for quality, and these brands will make your wardrobe look great with less, which is the whole point of going eco-friendly and fair trade friendly! With that in mind, here are some ethical clothing options so you can look good and feel good about what you’re wearing:
Everlane’s brand is transparent as possible about their manufacturing process, allowing you to research their factories from their homepage, as well as explaining the reasoning behind their pricing, so you know you’re getting your money’s worth. Bonus: their minimalist Parisian chic style will instantly make you want to stock up on your basics.
2. Krochet Kids
Krochet Kids is one of the most ethically motivated brands out there. A nonprofit that aims to empower employees in Uganda and Peru through fair wages and mentoring and training programs, Krochet Kids offers gorgeous, unique pieces at great prices. Check back often for great new clothes and deals. Be sure to check out their #knowwhomade it link to find out who designed and created your great look!
Looking to replace Nike products with some fair trade, organic athletic wear? Patagonia’s got you covered. At about the same price as Nike or Adidas, Patagonia offers clothing that’s committed to following labor ethics and Fair Trade policies, all while using recycled materials and organic cotton. Next time you go for a run, know that you’re supporting the environment and others just by looking great in those new jogging pants!
4. Mata Traders
Looking for some great jewelry pieces? Check out Mata Traders, a company that directly hires artisans in India and Nepal. Their organic materials, and uniquely creative pieces are guaranteed to create the perfect statement piece to pull your outfit together with!
5. LA Relaxed
LA Relaxed was created by Dana Weinstein as a way of creating a clothing line using organic, sustainable materials, as well as providing jobs right here in America. LA Relaxed is manufactured downtown LA, supporting local workers with fair wages! Their pieces can be a little bit pricey (usually under $100, but often over $50), but consider replacing your basic LA beachy pieces from Brandy Melville for around the same price, but a much different social and environmental impact! Also check out their sale section, where you’ll find extremely reasonable prices for beautiful pieces!
Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell while just browsing in the stores which products are ethically made or which companies support fair trade. However, in this era of Google, it’s a lot easier to find out which companies are supporting better practices!
I recommend checking out One Green Planet’s Guide to Buying Sustainable, Fair Trade, and Cruelty Free Clothing for some more information, as well as Ethical Fashion Forum’s review of company standards and ethical practices.
Leave comments with any other ethical, affordable companies or pieces that you love!