Cheap clothing can be very attractive to bargain shoppers, but the reality of fast fashion is anything but attractive.
The combination of poor working conditions in factories, production practices that are bad for the environment and flimsy clothing with the lasting power of paper has many conscientious shoppers turning to ethical clothing brands for their clothes.
But anyone who has checked out ethical fashion knows these brands often charge prices that can put their clothes out of reach for most fashionistas on a budget.
That’s why we pulled together a list of ethical clothing brands that are affordable. The companies in this list boast practices that are ethical and sustainable, and fair to workers (or some combination of the above), and you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to afford their clothes.
This Colorado-based company makes its clothing out of organic cotton that’s fair-trade certified — and the fabric is super soft and comfy. It carries clothing for men, women and children, and almost everything is in solid colors.
We found organic footie sleepers for $20 (on sale for $14), women’s leggings for $35 (on sale for $19) and organic towels starting at $20
Threads 4 Thought
If you’re looking for sweats, comfortable clothing and exercise gear, this is the place to shop.
This company says it only uses factories that are certified for the best working conditions and the highest rating of sustainable production processes. The clothing is made from sustainable materials like recycled polyester, organic cotton and Lenzing Modal.
The clothing that’s not on sale is a bit above our budget, but if you check out the sales section, you’ll find some fabulous deals. We spotted a pullover for $22, a fleece jacket for $32 and a men’s hoodie for $28.
Fast fashion may seem like a bargain, but it usually isn’t. Here’s why you should think twice before buying it.
Clothing sold via this site is made using materials like upcycled cotton, 100% organic cotton clothing, hemp blends and 100% recycled polyester. The company uses oxo-biodegradable packaging, which means the plastic can be broken down and digested by microorganisms, and they reuse and recycle materials from their vendors.
Right now, the site’s hot sellers are pandemic-friendly loungewear: eco-fleece joggers (starting at $22), the eco-fleece hoodie (on sale for $27) and the heavy knit pullover sweatshirts (starting at $17).
This British company aims to waste no fabric when producing clothes. To do this, Nobody’s Child uses certified sustainable fabrics, organic cotton, eco-friendly fabrics and upcycled materials whenever possible. It also has in-house designers who re-imagine the clothing.
Dresses start at about $25, and they tend to be floral, frilly and fun. Sweatshirts and joggers are about $30, and they’re on the plainer side.
A simple way to become a smarter clothes shopper is to use the cost-per-wear formula. This will help you determine whether that dress or those shoes are actually worth it.
This is an English company we’d swear was Anthropologie’s more sustainable twin. When it’s not on sale, the pricing also resembles that of Anthropologie — but on sale, the dresses go down to about $50. You’ll also find tops in the $30 range, along with Boden-looking skirts for about $40.
This UK brand has some legit eco-cred: It meets the Global Organic Textile Standard and it was awarded the World Fair Trade Organization product label. In addition, the company aims to create jobs in rural areas where work is often scarce. The clothing is made using low-impact dyes, and natural materials are used whenever possible.
Even with all of this, they still manage to make everything totally affordable. Hats made from 100 percent wool are $45, tops start at $34, and dresses on sale start at about $50.
Made out of organic bamboo and produced with the highest standards for the workers, this company sells all the wardrobe basics for men, women and kids. Each item has been reviewed plenty of times, and most of them are five star reviews. Each item is available in sizes ranging from extra small through extra large.
Bras start at $17, leggings are around $24 and Muslin baby wraps are $35 for two.
By using sustainable textiles and recyclable materials for the packaging, this company says it has prevented nearly 3 million pounds of GHG emissions. The cotton it uses is 100% organic, the company says it’s 100% carbon neutral. The products are certified by the World Fair Trade Organization. The apparel here is really fun and unisex, with graphics of trees and the earth on many of the items.
Long sleeve t-shirts start at $29, but you can get a two-pack for $40. Their leggings, which are made from plant-based materials rather than from virgin plastic, are $65.
Danielle Braff is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.