It is rather common for people to assume sustainable clothing brands all come with a premium price tag. While it is true that fast fashion brands are often much cheaper than their more ethical competitors, shopping sustainably may not be as hard as you think.
So many big name fashion brands use unethical practices in the production of their clothing. Whether it is through underpaid workers in poor conditions, or cheap fabrics that are not long-lasting, there are plenty of problems surrounding them. I suggest to read up on fast fashion if you’re unaware, and in the meantime here are some better alternatives.
Note: these aren’t Forever 21 prices but think of it this way, when you buy into one of these pieces you’re buying into a high quality piece that is made ethically. That being said, all of these sites have pieces under $100.
First up is Girlfriend Collective, an incredible activewear brand. Like the other companies on this list, they emphasize full transparency. Their ‘about’ page gives detailed breakdowns of how and where their clothing is made and assures that their factory employees are well paid and living safe and healthy lives. One of their initiatives involves using recycled polyester for their socks and underwear to decrease their environmental footprint. They also have a diverse line-up of models of different races and sizes, showing their shoppers that turly anyone can wear their clothing and feel good.
When I was browsing their site, I thought their leggings looked insanely comfortable. I also loved all the colors of their best selling Paloma Bras which are actually made from 11 recycled water bottles each!
I just came across this brand recently and they have an amazing story along with some awesome pieces. ABLE aims not only to create pieces ethically, but employ and empower women while doing so. Women comprise 95% of their staff in an attempt to combat the global issue of many women holding low-paid positions with little job security. They also have created their own system of evaluating manufacturing practices and wages to look at their impact on the women making their products. They choose to publish their evaluations and were the first fashion brand to publish their lowest wages.
Some of my favorite pieces on ABLE come from their shoe department. Their range of sandals, heels, and boots all come in very simple and neutral colors and designs. They’ll work with just about anything and can be worn over and over again.
PROCLAIM is a brand based in LA and specializes in nude lingerie. Not only do they use earth-conscious fabrics, but they also emphasize inclusivity, founded on the principles that fashion should represent all women and can be made in a way that is benefitting people and the planet. They also have a fairly detailed account of how their products are made and where they come from, citing recycled water bottles as one of the materials they break down into polyester. Their packaging is also 100% recyclable, down to their label fasteners.
The current collection on the PROCLAIM site is the Tencel Collection. Pieces are made from TENCEL™, a super-soft fabric produced from wood pulp.
4. Dazey LA
Dazey LA is an ethical brand with a super cool story surrounding their pieces. All of their collections revolve around a subject that modern women struggle with, such as self care, inclusivity, or women’s rights. Their designs feature phrases that are good conversation starters for in-person and social media interactions. Additionally, all their apparel is hand drawn and handmade to order and all production is done in LA. This practice is done in an effort to have zero waste, and all tees are made from 100% certified organic cotton. They also carry items from other female entrepreneurs in their Dazey Lady Shop. Everything on this site is female-owned and ethically sourced, making it more of a community than just another clothing brand.
With earth inspired prints and bright colors, Wolven specializes in active wear and swimsuits. They also make it a point to emphasize the versatility of their clothing. You can wear one of their workout tops as a crop top or one of their swimsuits as a body suit. With all these styling options, any one of their pieces is a good investment. They also go into great detail on their manufacturing process and their carbon off-set initiatives on their site, providing transparency to consumers. Each piece of clothing on the website also has a tagline under it reading, “For each sale, Wolven removes one pound of waste from the ocean.”
With so much fast fashion out there, it is great to see these brands being more conscious. Although they are only small players in the grand scheme of things, they represent a movement. I hope more brands will follow their example.