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Last Updated: October 2020
When you think about ethical clothing, how far back does your memory go?
In this world of ours, ethical clothing is a relatively new term. It was not that long ago that the expression did not exist, even though ethical clothing did.
The common misconception about ethical clothing is that it costs a lot more than regular clothing. While that used to be exclusively the case, it is not true anymore.
In the past, you would have struggled to find ethical clothing and affordability, but the world around us is changing.
With more demand comes more supply, and brands and companies everywhere are creating eco clothing to satisfy that demand. Consumers are becoming more conscious, and manufacturers and responding to that.
When it comes to purchasing clothing, you can now invest your money into ethically sourced clothing that will help those who create it instead of exploiting them. Of course, you will still find fashionable clothing without breaking the bank.
What Is Ethical Fashion?
Ethical fashion encompasses everything about a piece of clothing. From the sourcing of the material to the production process, to the treatment of those involved, ethical fashion means that everything is, well, ethical.
The brands that are heavily invested in ethical fashion are the ones who respect everyone involved or impacted by the production of a garment.
But what does this mean?
- When materials are sourced, they are sourced ethically and with the environment in mind.
- Fair prices are paid for materials, and individuals are paid fairly for their skills.
- The people involved in each stage of the process are treated fairly, work in safe environments, and are not just another cog in the machine to be exploited.
The ethical part also extends beyond the people. If animal products are being used, then how are the animals treated? How is the environment being treated?
At every stage of the process, every effort is made to be completely ethical.
What Do We Mean By Affordable?
If you buy high-quality clothing, you know that it is more expensive than regular clothing. The same goes for ethically manufactured clothing. The material is generally higher quality, but it is also ethically sourced, pollutants are managed differently, and workers are often paid more. All of this adds up, and that is passed onto the buyer.
Choosing to pay this higher cost means forgetting about cheap and throwaway clothes, thinking more about the environment, and knowing that the people who made the clothes are being paid a living wage.
And, let’s face it, most of us can save money somewhere else to be able to afford clothes that are better for everyone and are likely to save you money in the long run by lasting longer. Not to mention the great fashion that comes from premium fabrics and careful manufacturing processes.
Yet, there are ethical manufacturers out there who manage to produce clothes while keeping down costs.
Next to each brand, there are 1-3 dollar signs ($-$$$) which mean the following:
- $: The prices, on average, are somewhat lower than that of traditional clothing manufacturers.
- $$: The prices, on average, are about the same as those of traditional clothing manufacturers.
- $$$: The prices, on average, are somewhat higher than those of traditional clothing manufacturers.
Our 16 Favorite Ethical Fashion Brands
Okay, we have gone into what you should be looking for and why, but you are really here for the brands. We have done our homework so that you do not have to. Here are our favorite ethical and sustainable brands that are also affordable and are known for producing high-quality clothes.
For: Women, Men, Babies
Product Range: Underwear, Activewear, Bodysuits, Babywear, and more
Boody was born in 2011 in Sydney, Australia, and that Australian flair has created clothing that is ethical, fashionable, and timeless.
The company was started by experts in health, retail, and fashion, and they have expanded to multiple types and styles of clothing. You can find simple underwear, stylish formal wear, and even a onesie for your little one. The garments are crafted from organic bamboo, giving 100% natural and chemical-free clothing.
The clothes are hypoallergenic, breathable, comfortable, and beautiful. You can also purchase their giving bracelet and 100% of the profits will go towards fighting malaria.
2. Girlfriend Collective
Product Range: Basics, Sweatsuits, Maternity, Underwear, and more
Girlfriend Collective is all about inclusive clothing that is also ethical, affordable, and comfortable, with a focus on activewear.
Sizes range from XXS up to 6XL, so you will be hard-pressed to shop and not find clothing that fits. They offer bras, shorts, leggings, t-shirts, and other activewear that are all crafted from recycled materials (even using plastic bottles and fishing nets).
The workers in the Vietnamese factories are provided with a safe working environment, living wages, and standard working hours. Affordable activewear that helps others.
For: Women, Men, Kids, Babies
Product Range: Dresses, Tops, Pants, Coats, Sleepwear, and more
Boden started with a focus on fashionable clothes that are durable, and the clothes have only improved from there. By creating clothes that last, they not only save you money in the long run, but they keep clothing out of the landfill too.
They create a healthy working environment for all their employees, and the focus on durability comes down to each individual button. If something does go wrong, they also have a 365-day quality guarantee.
A sustainable company where you can buy clothes that last.
4. Old Navy
For: Women, Men, Kids, Toddlers, & Babies
Product Range: Tops, Dresses, Jeans, Shorts, Activewear, Pajamas, and more
You do not usually associate ethical clothing with the larger brands, but Old Navy is one of the exceptions. They have grown over the years and created more premium clothing, but that has not stopped them from remaining ethical.
With enormous collections for all of the family, you can outfit everyone with ethical clothing, all at a low price. Old Navy has been sustainable and eco-friendly for a long time, and it has continued to improve quality and durability.
Find a whole new wardrobe for everyone, all in one place.
For: Women, Men
Product Range: Dresses, Tops, Sweaters, Outerwear, Shoes, and more
Outerknown has a real focus on durability. They have a large range of denim apparel that is not only eco-friendly but affordable too. They are a forward-thinking brand that has been constantly recognized for its efforts in the design, production, and marketing of their clothing.
One thing that Outerknown has been focused on is ensuring that the clothes are only sold by retailers that share the same values as they do. If you find their clothing at a retailer, you know that the retailer is all about ethical clothing.
6. Organic Basics
For: Women, Men
Product Range: Bras, Bottoms, Tops, Dresses, Socks, Underwear, Activewear, and more
Sustainable clothing has been the main focus of Organic Basics since it began. They choose the best fabrics, think of the environment every step of the way, and partner with factories who share the same beliefs and care about their impact on the world.
The clothes are designed to last so that they don’t end up being wasted, and that means that you don’t have to buy clothes as often. They design everything to be simple, functional, and fashionable.
For: Men, Women
Product Range: Essentials, Loungewear, Pans, Yoga, Denim, Activewear, and more
At PrAna everything is created sustainably, and with an eye on quality, durability, and versatility. The company was born in California in 1992, starting out with yoga and climbing gear, before moving onto their own stylish clothing range.
From handmade clothes, they grew into a company that continues to follow the same core belief but can now bring their clothes to the masses. They have a commitment to the community and try to do the right thing by leading sustainably.
Product Range: Dresses, Intimates, Jeans, Tops, Dresses, Basics, and more
This brand from California is all about luxurious, timeless fashions and design. There are fads that come and go, but Reformation creates clothing that does not pander to those fads and is, instead, about longevity and style. The designs are always on-trend but are also built to last (in more ways than one).
These timeless designs also come ethically. The company has always demonstrated excellent commitment to eco-clothing and sustainable practices. The materials are sustainable and recycled, both in the clothes themselves and the packaging.
They have an extensive range for all sizes and shapes, focusing on all women and not just the 95%.
9. Threads 4 Thought
For: Women, Men, Kids
Product Range: Activewear, Outerwear, Tops, Shorts, Shoes, and more
This brand goes out of its way to ensure that the factories creating the clothing are creating the best possible working conditions for the workers. They also promote sustainability in the factories that they work with and have partnered with the International Rescue Committee.
The clothes sold by Threads 4 Thought help to create a more sustainable environment and strengthen communities from all around the world.
For: Women, Men
Product Range: T-shirts, Tops, Bottoms, Jackets, Lounge, Accessories
Kotn is all about, as the name implies, cotton, but not just any old cotton. With 100% Egyptian cotton, the clothes are soft, comfortable, and durable. When you also find out that the cotton is 100% eco-friendly, you feel a little warm inside.
The commitment to ethics and responsibility has helped to grow the brand while keeping the costs low. The quality is high, the prices low, and the look is amazing.
11. Made Trade
For: Women, Men
Product Range: Activewear, Basics, Dresses, Swim, and more
Made Trade wants to create sustainable and ethical clothes while ensuring beauty too. They put artistry above efficiency, while still maintaining streamlined manufacturing processes.
Quality craftsmanship means sustainable sourcing, fair wages for employees, eliminating mindless consumption, transparency, and putting people and the planet first.
You can shop here, knowing that everything is ethically sourced, sustainable materials have been used, and people are paid a fair wage.
For: Women, Men, Kids, Babies
Product Range: Underwear, Hoodies, Leggings, Maternity, Bodysuits, and more
All of the cotton pieces from Pact have been certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and that tells you everything that you need to know about it. The manufacturing process follows organic guidelines, the company is Fair Trade Certified™, and workers have great working conditions and appropriate wages.
The clothing itself is soft and comfortable enough to be worn every day. This organic brand will become a staple in your day-to-day living.
13. Thought Clothing
For: Women, Men
Product Range: Dresses, Tops, Trousers, Jackets, Underwear, Loungewear, and more
If you like organic materials such as cotton, bamboo, and hemp, then Thought Clothing might just be your new favorite brand. The clothing feels amazing, and it looks amazing too. Thought has some fabulous pieces with lots of style and color.
The eclectic mix brings you clothes for the office, a night out, or relaxing in front of your favorite streaming service with a glass of wine.
Product Range: Jumpsuits, Sweaters, Dresses, Outerwear, and more
With high-quality clothing, Tradlands has focused on women’s clothing inspired by menswear, creating a “tomboy” style. The range is here to help inspire women to wear what they want and feel comfortable and confident while they do.
We often pass clothing down from one kid to another, and Tradlands hope to replicate this with durable products that can be passed down from mother to daughter, or between anyone.
Ethically created clothing that is built to last.
15. People Tree
Product Range: Dresses, Trousers, Socks, Activewear, Underwear, Basics, and more
People Tree from the UK are pioneers of the Fair Trade movement. They have been creating ethical clothing for years, and continue to refine their methods to bring you the very best. They create beauty that lasts, and there are many people who purchased from them years ago that are still wearing the same clothes today.
The clothing is durable, stylish, and timeless.
Product Range: Dresses, Tops, Shorts, Trousers, Jackets, Accessories, and more
One of the industry leaders when it comes to sustainable fashion, Mayamiko gives back to the people they employ and try to create opportunities that will change lives, creating eco-friendly clothing in the process.
With handpicked textiles and fabrics that come from markets in places like Malawi, there are no seasonal products, everything is built to last, and their fashion can be worn in spring, summer, fall, and winter.
In partnership with the Mayamiko Trust, the brand also offers educational courses to the most disadvantaged people across Africa. When you buy clothes from Mayamiko, you can feel great and look amazing too.