The Most Affordable Ethical, Sustainable, and Eco-Friendly Fashion
Image credit: For Days
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A lot of people are under the impression that only the upper class can afford eco-friendly fashion. A decade or so ago this may have been the case, but so many conscious brands have emerged in recent years that “conscious consumption” is now available to the masses.
So what exactly do we mean by affordable?
When we say affordable, we are not talking prices that match those found at Shein or Fashion Nova. The point of developing an eco-friendly attitude towards fashion is to embrace a “quality over quantity” mindset. Think items that are long-lasting and worth repairing, not ultra-trendy and disposable. We mean affordable fashion should be attainable on an entry-level budget, but it should still hurt to throw one of these pieces out after one wear.
So for the purposes of this post, we looked for basic tops for under $50, fashion tops for under $100, and dresses and jumpsuits for under $150 (all prices are in USD). If you are truly interested in becoming a more conscious consumer, then these prices should afford you a few new items each season.
And if you still feel that these prices won’t work with your budget, that’s the beauty of secondhand fashion shopping. Thrifting will always be the greenest option when it comes to shopping, and we believe that a combination of ethically sourced fashion apparel and thrifted items is the best way to go.
[PS: Looking for sustainable fashion that’s work appropriate? Click here. Denim? Or plus-size fashion?]
Without further ado, here is our list of the best sources for affordable fashion:
Launched in 2018, For Days uses high-quality, sustainable materials such as organic cotton and/or recycled materials to create its zero-waste basics. The brand ensures every item is 100% recyclable, and it minimizes waste with initiatives such as reusable packaging and company-wide carbon offsets. For Days created a SWAP program, allowing its customers to swap out anything, anytime, no matter the condition. Every item customers send back gets recycled and turned into brand new clothes, making it a closed-loop system. Customers also receive discounts on new For Days items when they swap out the old.
Prices: $6 – $89
Certified B-Corp tentree creates sustainable apparel that is designed in Canada and ethically manufactured around the world. It sources the most eco-friendly materials such as Tencel, recycled polyester, organic cotton, and hemp. Every time a customer purchases an item, tentree plants 10 trees. It currently plants trees in 10 countries around the world. tentree is also committed to replacing all single-use plastics with sustainable options and eliminating virgin packaging materials from its supply chain by 2023. So far, it has introduced eco-friendly solutions such as eliminating polybags from its manufacturing shipments and using certified recycled paper for all inserts.
Prices: $30 – $88
Thai-owned Boma is a family-owned business, founded by the current CEO’s parents in the 80s. It owns its own factory in Thailand, so it can ensure that all its workers earn a living wage, have competitive medical benefits, and long-term career opportunities. Its precious metals are conflict-free, mine-free, and recycled from OSHA-certified vendors. Boma is also B-corp certified and adheres to the Cradle to Cradle list of banned substances. In 2016, Boma introduced the Boma Girls Fund, which was created to formally donate funds to programs created specifically for the workers and communities of the artisans and craftspeople who make their jewelry each day. The Boma team has chosen to grow slowly and sustainably over the past few decades, and they’re not finished making progress. Boma is currently on track to become B Corp certified and has 1, 3, and 5 year plans to implement the work of Paul Hawken’s Project Drawdown to make its business even more sustainable.
Prices: $20 – $65
Founded by Hang Osment-Le, All The Wild Roses is a certified B-Corp sustainable fashion brand that stems from the founder’s life as an Australian refugee and her family connections to her native Vietnam. Up to 90% of All The Wild Roses fabrics are from upcycled sources, such as deadstock and surplus. And about 20% of its products are vintage pieces restored by repairing, recutting, and hand-dyeing. The brand’s trimmings and accessories are either upcycled from other designers or warehouses or made in-house using offcut fabrics.
Prices: AUD $75 – $185
Founded in 2015, Kotn creates beautiful basics from authentic Egyptian cotton that’s finer, softer, and more breathable than any other cotton. Unfortunately, since 2001, there has been a 95% decline in demand from big corporations that opted to go with cheaper options. As a result, millions of farmers, weavers, and craftspeople are struggling to make ends meet. By working directly with cotton farming families in Egypt, Kotn seeks to rebuild the industry from the inside. The brand makes its own fabrics from raw cotton bought direct from farmers at guaranteed prices. A certified B Corp brand, Kotn has built and operates seven schools in rural areas of Egypt without access to education. It provides private subsidies and resources to smallholder farms and impoverished communities and advocates for environmental responsibility and stewardship.
Prices: $26 – $90
Tradlands is a high-quality women’s essentials brand, inspired by classic menswear. Its pieces are comfortable, yet timeless, with an emphasis on fit, detail, and quality. Of course, it values the welfare of its craftsmen and women all over the world. Tradlands uses sustainably produced materials, and minimizes waste as much as it possibly can.
Prices: $49 – $227
Toad&Co makes apparel out of eco-conscious fabrics like organic cotton, TENCEL, hemp, recycled fibers, and more. Its products carry a host of different third-party certifications such as bluesign and OEKO-TEX. Not only that, but you can actually send back your clothing when you’re done with it and Toad&Co will either clean, repair and resell it as a part of its partnership with The Renewal Workshop to give Toad clothing a second life. Even its packaging is reusable—the brand has partnered with limeloop to use a reusable shipper that can be returned to them after you’ve received your goods. Plus, all of its orders are processed, packaged, and shipped by the Planet Access Company warehouse, which is an organization the brand co-founded to give employment and training opportunities to adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Toad&Co is not stopping there: it has some great goals for the next decade, like transitioning to 100% recycled synthetics by 2025 and 100% certified Responsible Wool Standard by 2024.
Prices: $35 – $90
Ably Apparel is a collection of 100% cotton men’s and women’s t-shirts, button-downs, hoodies, socks, shorts, tanks, and dresses, all treated with Filium® technology. Filium is an eco-friendly technology that turns cotton, wool, silk, or other natural fabrics into water-shedding, stain-resisting, odor-refusing fabric, without losing any natural softness or breathability. Read more about why we love Ably here.
Prices: $20 – $200
Klow is an online boutique that carries brands that are committed to transparency, ethical production, and care for the earth. It carries women’s and men’s apparel, accessories, and beauty products and you can shop by the causes you care most about: ecological, ethical, social, vegan, organic, recycled, or upcycled.
Prices: $10 – $300
VETTA makes it really easy to create a capsule wardrobe. Each collection is made up of five pieces, which can be combined to create an entire month’s worth of outfits. Its items are all ethically made in a family-run factory in NYC and LA out of either deadstock or Tencel fabric.
Prices: $59 – $150
Made Trade is an ethically-elevated and beautifully curated online shop for fashion, home goods, and gifts. We like to think of it as the ethical, sustainable alternative to Anthropologie. You can learn more about Made Trade on our featured post here.
Prices: $24 – $325
Nau creates clothing that is both sustainable and high-tech. It uses all-natural and/or recycled materials, with a bunch of certifications behind them to give you peace of mind. Plus, a portion of each purchase is donated to a grassroots environmental organization.
Prices: $40 – $150
Taylor Stich uses materials like upcycled and recycled (but durable!) yarns, organic cotton, natural hemp, responsibly-sourced leather, and synthetic down-made from recycled plastic bottles. It uses production methods that work to lower their carbon footprint, reduce water usage, and limit chemical exposure. Plus, you can get discounts by pre-ordering up-and-coming designs.
Prices: $45 – $200
Kings of Indigo is dedicated to creating the highest quality denim in the most eco-friendly way. It uses recycled and naturally-dyed denim in addition to other sustainable materials. Kings of Indigo is deeply committed to transparency and is certified by a whole host of third-party sustainability certifications.
Prices: $57 – $220
Threads 4 Thought uses sustainable materials such modal, organic cotton, and recycled polyster and nylon to create its comfortable apparel. It does use a low percentage of spandex, which the brand is working to eliminate. The brand’s factories use less than half of the water typically used per garment. And 80% of its wastewater is recycled & reused. Last year, Threads 4 Thought saved over 500 million gallons of water.
Prices: $18 – $98
Amour Vert is fashion-forward eco apparel without designer prices. Its pieces are made in limited quantities to ensure the highest production standards and to eliminate any excess waste. For every tee you buy, Amour Vert plants a tree.
Prices: $38 – $228
ABLE is a lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty by providing economic opportunities for women. ABLE’s wages are transparently published on its website in order to protect the women makers and empower consumers. You can find apparel, shoes, purses and bags, and jewelry.
Prices: $50 – $200
Alternative Apparel creates casual and comfortable clothing made with eco-friendly materials and responsible manufacturing. The brand has a selection of basic cotton tees and activewear, including leggings, sports bras, tanks, and shorts.
Prices: $9 – $168
We might get flack for this, but we believe that H&M is investing with the intention to figure out how to make mass-market clothing sustainable. Organic cotton is throughout H&M’s store, but the Conscious Collection is made with eco-friendly materials such as recycled polyester and Tencel.
Prices: $6.99 – $60
ASOS offers a curation of environmentally conscious clothing, accessories, and living items.
Prices: $4.50 – $340
Levi’s has been committed to ethics and sustainability from the beginning, from its Worker Well-being program to its Waste<Less and Water<Less processes. While it has high-end Levi’s Made and Crafted items, you can easily find a pair of affordable everyday jeans to love.
Prices: Jeans for $12.79 (sale price) – $278
Groceries Apparel basics are made from organic cotton, Tencel, recycled plastic, recycled cotton, hemp, and non-toxic vegetable dyes. Its operation empowers human beings through fair trade, fair conditions, and fair treatment across its entire supply chain and by providing full traceability to customers.
Prices: $38 – $138
Soko is a fair-trade company that uses natural and recycled materials and provides guilt-free, on-trend jewelry that is shockingly affordable for the quality. Everything is made by artisans who, before being connected through Soko, didn’t have access to global markets.
Prices: $30 – $94