Sustainability

Sustainable Clothing Brands for Every Budget

Sustainable Clothing Brands that make shopping for responsible fashion easy!

What is sustainable fashion?

“Sustainable clothing,” “low-waste clothing,” “ethical clothing,” and “organic clothing” are terms that are often used to describe what many people are looking for when they are trying to shop responsibly for their clothing. There are many reasons to choose sustainable clothing brands, some of which I described in a post about the clothing industry.

Sustainable clothing brands do their best to avoid and overcome common fashion industry issues such as:

  1. Production Pollution and Resource Waste – opt for fabrics derived from crops that require minimal pesticide use, water use, energy, etc.
  2. Material Waste – minimize post-production excess fabric waste and opting for materials that are compostable (e.g. organic cotton, hemp, or linen)
  3. High Turnover Production Lifecycle – focus on slower production cycles and higher quality materials made to last for much longer than one season
  4. Fair and safe working conditions – fair wages, safe working conditions, no child labor

Why choose sustainable clothing options?

Ultimately what we wear is a representation of what we want to communicate about ourselves to the world. What better way to make a positive statement than to choose to wear brands that emphasize fair working wages, safe working conditions, responsible material sourcing, and weave elements of charitable giving into their business models?

What are the most sustainable clothing fabrics?

According to One Green Planet, you should focus on shopping for clothing made from the following sustainable fabric options:

  1. Pre-Used – The most sustainable option for clothing is pre-used or second-hand. Any production of new clothing is going to have a negative environmental impact so if you are truly looking to reduce your carbon footprint, check your local thrift stores first. Check out my tips for shopping thrifted clothing if you’re new to second-hand shopping!
  2. Organic Cotton – Organic cotton is an important distinction as conventionally grown cotton cops are heavily sprayed. In a Refinery 29 interview with Dr. Ed Barnes of Cotton Inc., Dr. Barnes was quoted stating that conventional cotton farming uses about 6% of the world’s pesticides while other sources state as much as 16%. Concerns resulting from these practices include dangerous levels of pesticide chemicals leaching onto fabrics as well as the health of cotton farmers and field workers regularly interacting with pesticide chemicals.
  3. Hemp – Plant-based fabric that requires similar water and energy resources as organic cotton (source: Stockholm Environmental Institute).
  4. Silk – If produced responsibly, silk can be a very low-waste fabric. With that said, chemicals can be used in the cleaning and degumming of silkworm cocoons as well as in the bleaching and dying process (source: Good On You) so choose your silks carefully!
  5. Linen – Plant based fabric made from flax and when un-dyed, is one of the most biodegradable fabrics available. The only con to linen fabric is production cost. Because of the laborious process required to spin linen fabrics, linen has become a higher priced fabric (source: Truth About Thread Count).

15 Brands That Make It Easy to Shop Sustainably

Below I am sharing a list of sustainable clothing brands that offer products at varied price points. You can absolutely afford to make sustainable/ethical clothing choices on any budget!

EVERYDAY Thredup

Standards: Online, second-hand consignment store

Based In: San Francisco, CA

Price Range: $5-$100+

Product Range: Women’s clothing and accessories; boys and girls clothing and accessories

Description: Going into a thrift store can be overwhelming. Where do you start? What’s actually a good deal? Thredup is changing that. Everything is categorized by exactly what you could be looking for, from designer items to maternity wear and jewelry. You can feel good knowing you’re getting a great deal and giving clothing items a environmentally-friendly second life.

EVERYDAY Everlane

Standards: Fair wages and safe working conditions for factory employees, quality materials

Based In: San Francisco, CA

Price Range: $50-$200

Product Range: Men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories

Description: I like to shop Everlane in just about every category – great quality shoes, cotton, denim, and cashmere. These items are made to last and are produced in colors and subtle patterns that mix and match with one another so for those enticed by the idea of a high quality minimalist closet this is a fantastic resource to build your wardrobe.

EVERYDAY ABLE

Standards: ABLE is focused on ending generational poverty by providing economic opportunity for women. Their ACCOUNTABLE program is a social impact measurement platform designed to give customers a transparent look at our manufacturing partners. It focuses on equality, safety, and wages, with a particular emphasis on women in the workplace.

Based In: Nashville, Tennessee

Product Range: Womens clothing and accessories.

Price Range: $50 – $200+

Description: ABLE is more than just clothing, handbags, and jewelry—it’s a movement and call-to-action for the fashion industry. I love that they share their wages for everyone to see. By believing in progress over perfection, ABLE is protecting and empowering the women that create their beautiful products.

EVERYDAY Alternative Apparel

Standards: Alternative Apparel uses oxo-biodegradable mailer bags and a majority of their factories are WRAP-certified, adhere to Fair Labor Association guidelines. They also ensure fair, safe and clean workplace conditions on a global scale by joining the Fashion Revolution. Lastly, their clothes are crafted with sustainable materials and processes, including organic & recycled materials, low-impact dyes & water-conserving washes.

Based In: Norcross, Georgia

Product Range: Womens, mens, and kids clothing and accessories.

Price Range: $14 – $250

Description: Alternative Apparel is a great resources for everyday t-shirts, dresses, and loungewear for men and women.

BASICS Krochet Kids

Standards: Ethically made clothing and social empowerment. They work with highly vulnerable women who live in poverty stricken regions of the world, and with each purchase, Krochet Kids will introduce you to the woman who made your product and invite you to visit her online profile to learn more.

Based In: Costa Mesa, CA

Product Range: Women’s, men’s, and kid’s clothing and accessories

Price Range: $10 – $100

Description: Just one look at Krochet Kids’ website and you can feel how much they care about their “makers”. The personal touch of virtually meeting the woman who made your purchased item makes the shopping experience all the more special and meaningful. They primarily offer basics like t-shirts, organic cotton dresses, and accessories for men and women.

BASICS Organic Basics

Standards: Use GOTS certified organic cotton, made in Europe

Based In: Copenhagen, Denmark

Product Range: Men’s and women’s underwear, T-shirts, and leggings

Price Range: $40-$100

Description: Organic Basics offers exactly what their brand name describes – organic basics. They specialize in organic cotton-based basic clothing pieces from underwear to t-shirts and tank tops, to leggings and other comfortable items. Their white t-shirts are very high quality and not see-through (appropriate for work!). Fun Tip: Their bras also double as excellent breastfeeding bras – very easy to pull aside to feed baby and so very comfortable.

*Get 10% off your order for a limited time with code: KAITOBC

BASICS Groceries Apparel

Standards: Groceries Apparel philosophy is “seed to skin,” which means they source directly from the seed and trace all of their fabrics from the farm to our factory. They only source 100% GMO-free, Pesticide & Herbicide-free, Recycled & Fair-traded ingredients.

Based In: Vernon, CA

Product Range: Womens and mens clothing and accessories.

Price Range: $38  – $140

Description: Groceries Apparel offers a great selection of casual basics like t-shirts, tanks, shirt-dresses, and active-wear.

ACTIVE Patagonia

Standards: Patagonia products are produced under safe, fair, legal and humane working conditions throughout the supply chain.

Based In: Ventura, California

Product Range: Womens, mens, and kids clothing and accessories.

Price Range: $30 – $600

Description: Patagonia is more than just a beautiful region in South America, it’s also a company changing the way outerwear is made for people around the world. Their jackets will last you for years and keep you warm in the coldest and wettest conditions. While their clothes can be on the more expensive side, it’s a timeless investment.

FASHION FORWARD Reformation

Standards: Reformation focuses on the fiber standards of our clothes, which impacts how you’re going to wash the garment and potentially recycle it one day. 75% of their products are made from Natural fibers that are rapidly renewable, plant-based and have a potential for circularity or B fibers that are almost all natural or recycled fibers.

Based In: Los Angeles, CA

Product Range: Womens clothing and accessories.

Price Range: $28 – $450

Description: From crop tops to bridesmaids dresses, Reformation caters to every occasion. Their clothing tends to be very light-weight, so I would recommend you save most of your items for the warmer months out of the year.

FASHION FORWARD People Tree

Standards: People Tree actively supports farmers, producers and artisans through 14 producer groups in 6 countries. Their producers use traditional skills, such as such as hand weaving, hand knitting or hand embroidery, and combine them with new innovative technologies to support and grow their businesses. Every product is made to the highest ethical and environmental standards from start to finish.

Based In: London, England

Product Range: Women’s clothing and accessories

Price Range: $9 – $200

Description: People Tree offers a variety of styles from great quality casual work-wear to trendy weekend-wear. They have a large selection of dresses that is definitely worth browsing!

INVESTMENT Eileen Fisher

Standards: Eileen Fisher’s goal is to design out negative impacts—and design in positive change. They do this by committing to use organic fibers, recycled fibers and sustainable fibers such as hemp and Tencel®; using manufacturing partners that offer certified dye processes, most notably the bluesign® standard;  offsetting an increasing amount of our shipping and store emissions by partnering with NativeEnergy; and working to increase water efficiencies in our manufacturing process.

Based In: New York, NY

Product Range: Womens clothing and accessories.

Price Range: $100 – $600

Description: Eileen Fisher cuts tend to be loose and airy and always made from high-quality materials. Their designs are versatile and appropriate for work, special events (I actually wore an Eileen Fisher dress to mine and my husband’s rehearsal dinner!), or casual weekend brunches.  

INVESTMENT: Hackwith Design House

Standards: Hackwith Design House sources their fabrics from a local, family-owned fabric store that specializes in run-off and second-hand fabrics, all of which are natural fibers or biodegradable. Aside from their Limited Edition pieces, all clothing is made to order, which avoids using unnecessary excess materials.

Based In: Saint Paul, MN

Product Range: Womens clothing and accessories.

Price Range: $30 – $1,500+

Description: Hackwith Design House price points range widely likely in large part due to their true commitment to selling clothing that is sustainably and ethically sourced and produced. If you are looking for a brand that is doing things right, then Hackwith Design House is worth the investment.

ACCESSORIES Nisolo

Standards: All Nisolo producers receive, at a minimum, beyond fair trade wages, healthcare, and a healthy working environment. Your purchase enables them to create opportunity for over 500 people across our supply chain.

Based In: Nashville, Tennessee

Product Range: Womens and mens shoes and other accessories.

Price Range: 200+

Description: Nisolo is a men’s and women’s shoes and accessories brand that offers everything from casual sandals, to high quality boots, to versatile leather bags.

ACCESSORIES Cuyana

Standards: Cuyana creates timeless collections for the modern woman through carefully selected fabrics, precise silhouettes and attention to detail. At checkout, shoppers have the opportunity to select Lean Closet, which will add a linen bag to their order that they can fill with clothing they no longer need. These items are then donated to give victims of abuse a fresh start in partnership with H.E.A.R.T.

Based In: San Francisco, CA

Product Range: Womens clothing and accessories, namely handbags. Home items, too.

Price Range: $50 – $300

Description: Cuyana specializes in high quality leather accessories like purses, weekend bags, and travel cases. I love that they will monogram just about anything in their collection – their pieces make fantastic gifts.

MENS Todd Shelton

Standards: All Todd Shelton products are manufactured in-house in the company’s NJ headquarters, which reflects their ‘anti-inventory’ business model. Todd Shelton fabrics originate from the US, Portugal, Japan, Germany, Italy, and England. They will not purchase fabrics from countries with irresponsible environmental or human rights laws.

Based In: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Product Range: Mens clothing

Price Range: $75 – $300

Description: Classic casual-wear and workwear for men.

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