After making the commitment to only buy from ethical brands (which I will define shortly), a few weeks ago, I've been flooded with questions from people asking where I will shop and how I'll afford it. Slow fashion is notoriously much more expensive than the fast fashion alternatives, and while I think that's the part that drives people away the most, I don't think it necessarily has to be like that. When I first began researching brands who did things ethically, I knew there had to be more people out there like me; people who couldn't shell out hundreds of dollars for a new dress or pair of shoes. So I dug deeper and started compiling a list, which you'll find below. I'll add to the list as I get new recommendations or discover new brands, so be sure to Pin or save the list so you can check back often! But first, a few disclaimers:
1. Ethical fashion (or slow fashion or sustainable fashion) simply means that the retailer is transparent about where they're sourcing their clothes, that they pay fairly, and use materials that are organic, un-harmful, or recycled when possible.
2. Keep in mind that clothes made like this takes more money and time to create, so naturally it will cost more. I don't think the goal of this list should be to find retailers that will allow us to keep "consuming" as quickly as possible just because we can afford to do so. Conversely, I think it should encourage us to purchase when we can or need to, but with as much thought as if we were buying a $300 pair of jeans.
People Tree: $$
One of the leaders in the slow fashion world, this UK based brand has been creating sustainably for over 20 years. They make everything from casual tops and lounge wear to dresses and accessories.
LA Relaxed: $$
100% ethically made in the US, LA Relaxed creates styles that are comfortable (ie. relaxed) and perfect for every occasion. I have two of their dresses and am so impressed with the quality and durability.
VETTA Capsule: $$-$$$
One of my favorite one-stop shops for versatile, capsule wardrobe pieces, VETTA Capsule is a NY-based shop designing and releasing revolutionarily (that's a word, right?) versatile pieces for everything from work to date-night to home. I own several pieces from VETTA and love them all.
Bamboo Body: $$
Created by two sisters, Bamboo Body uses organic bamboo fabric (which is softer and more breathable than cotton, and has naturally occuring anti-bacterial and anti-odor properties) in all of their pieces which range from cozy basics to dresses to pajamas and underwear. They even have a maternity section, which is AWESOME for any expecting mamas!
Elegance Restored: $-$$
This "one woman show" donates a portion of their sales to fund adoptions all over the world. You can find ethically sourced, made in America pieces ranging from loungewear to date night and everything in between.
Though they are typically on the more expensive side, there are definitely some more reasonably priced items available, namely their tees which you can find for less than $30.
Brevity Brand: $$
Brevity is a newly launched line of leather moto jackets ethically produced in woman-owned factories. The perfect accessory for a day at the office or a night out on the town!
Aeon Row: $$
Aeon Row creates timeless pieces using recycled materials. Their "revived fabric" program allows you to send them your unwanted clothes to be responsibly recycled and get a discount on future purchases.
Founded by an elementary school teacher who knew the power of education in a child's live, Live the Give donates $3 of every tee purchased to institutions supporting child's education worldwide. They design basic tees, tanks, and sweatshirts for men and women.
Liz Alig: $-$$
With the premise that fashion should be effortless AND sustainable, Liz Alig uses recycled, hand woven and sustainable textiles in all of their pieces.
Ethically made in Canada, Encircled focuses on making pieces that are transformable (ie. most can be worn several different ways!) and perfect for travel.
Kali Clothing: $-$$
Kali Clothing is a Chicago based lifestyle brand focused on creating "all-season" pieces with eco-fabrics like tencel, organic cotton, bamboo and hemp.
Ash & Rose: $$-$$$
With feminine pieces, Ash & Rose makes everything from dresses, to casual tees and blouses, to lounge wear and lingerie.
Style Saint: $$$
Style Saint offers pieces that are far from "basic". Their designs are more elaborate and perfect for business or business casual wear.
A small, online UK based retailer, they sell trendy and youthful styles at very reasonable prices. I haven't done extensive research on this brand, but from what they claim and what I've read, they're committed to producing ethically.
Krochet Kids: $-$$
A non-profit started by three high school friends with a love for crocheting, KK now employs artisans in Peru and Uganda. They make men and women's apparel and accessories.
A line of men's, women's, and children's tees designed and made in LA that benefits victims of human trafficking. I have their "Freedom Fighter" tee.
Ethically made by survivors of human trafficking in Nepal, Elegantees' pieces are stylish and comfortable. I own the Miriam skirt and it's one of my favorites.
Mata Traders: $$
With gorgeous prints and feminine styles, Mata Traders' products are made by artisans in India and Nepal, helping to "end global poverty and inspire ethical companies and consumers".
Sancho's Dress: $-$$
A UK based shop, Sancho's Dress curates affordable, ethically made pieces that capture the beauty of the culture they were made in and empower the artisans behind their pieces. They sell everything from basic tops, dresses and bottoms to handbags, scarves and even socks.
With everything from basics to business professional, Brass Clothing is an online curated capsule wardrobe with high quality pieces.
Deemed "the last dress you'll ever need", Sotela makes minimal, chic dresses meant to fit your body throughout the many phases of a woman's life.
Loomstate sells tees, tanks, and sweatshirts made from organically grown cotton, and is well known in the "corporate" world as the "base tee" for logos and uniforms. However, you don't have to be a company to buy from them.
Stormie Dreams: $$
Stormie Dreams designs and makes pieces right out of LA that are the perfect combination of edgy and feminine. Their fabric is all ethically sourced from textile mills that might have otherwise went to landfills.
Passion Lilie: $-$$
With a wide selection of tops, dresses, skirts and even sarongs, Passion Lilie employs artisans in India to keep their "ancient artisanal dyeing and weaving traditions" alive.
Yes, the brand you know and probably already love is making HUGE strides in the right directions, according to Project Just.
Mud Jeans: $$
Not to be confused with the brand we all wore in middle school, thank you. Mud offers at home try-on's which is a huge perk. You can find a pair of jean for less than $100 (and they'll send you three to try on, just in case your selected size doesn't fit. Pretty good deal, right?)
With "because denim is filthy business" as their mantra, Patagonia is out to set higher standards and make better products.
A brand that makes only leggings, but is so sure that you'll love them, they're giving them away for FREE (you only have to pay for shipping). And yes, they're ethically made in Vietnam. It sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?
A collection of everyday-wear and activewear, Threads 4 Thought focus on sustainable materials and ethical production.
With separates for $50 and sets for $95, Bikyni is just about as affordable as ethical swimwear comes. Their pieces are the epitome of minimal and they're perfect for mixing and matching. I have their "plunge" top in black and it's by far the best bikini I've ever owned.
Swoon Swimwear: $$
Swoon offers romantic and gorgeous pieces for $50 per item. These are perfect for honeymoon, vacations, or for anyone who loves a pretty pattern.
With basic underwear and active wear, Pact makes all their clothing with non-GMO organic cotton in sweatshop and child labor free factories.
Azura Bay: $-$$$
An ethically curated online shop with lingerie and swimwear from the most sustainable and ethical brands out there.
Tizz & Tonic: $$
This Germany-based brand creates quirky yet affordable lingerie for a variety of sizes.
Naja offers a wide variety from panties starting at $18 all the way to more expensive lingerie sets and bras closer to $100.
Affordable lingerie 100% made in the USA.
The Nude Label: $$
Ethically made in Spain, The Nude Label creates comfortable, sexy, and minimal lingerie.
Some of the most comfortable underwear I've tried, WAMA makes men's and women's undies using ultra sustainable hemp and organic cotton.
Bamboo Body: $-$$
See description above. (They just have a great selection of underwear and PJ's!)
Founded by two sisters frustrated by the lack of quality, ethically made flip flops, Olli uses fair trade, ethically sourced rubber for their ultra-comfy flip flops.
Filanthropik Threads: $-$$
Huaraches, boots, and women's and children's sandals made by artisans in Guatemala.
Made in Uganda, Sseko makes gorgeous leather sandals with interchangeable straps as well as handbags and accessories.
Rothy's sells women's ballet flat-style shoes made with fair trade rubber and recycled water bottles making them both eco-friendly and stylish (and much more affordable than other brands.)
Handbags that are ethically made and affordable are nearly impossible to find. ENAT is on a mission to change that with their gorgeous handbags/totes/jewelry all handmade in Ethiopia.
Seek Wander Share has a gorgeous collection of brightly patterned handbags, accessories, and home goods to spice up your home and wardrobe one piece at a time.
Made with upcycled and recycled materials in a truly innovative and eco-friendly way, EcoBling is on a mission to create gorgeous accessories while repairing the planet.
SHILANGO sells beautifully designed handmade jewelry and handbags made by artisans in Mexico.