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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 I mean by affordable?
When I say affordable, I’m not talking prices that match those found at Forever 21. The point of developing an eco-friendly attitude towards fashion is to embrace a “less is better” mindset. Think items that are high quality and everlasting, not ultra-trendy and disposable. So for the purposes of this post, I looked for basic tops in the $15-50 range, fashion tops for under $100, and dresses 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 thrift stores. Thrifting will always be the most green option when it comes to shopping, and I believe that a combination of ethically-sourced fashion apparel and thrifted items is the best way to go.
Without further ado, here is my list of the best sources for affordable fashion:
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 is seeking to rebuild the industry from the inside. They make their own fabrics from raw cotton bought direct from farmers at guaranteed prices. A Certified B Corp brand, they built a school in Egypt to combat child labor, and are now working on building a second one.
Prices: $20 – $90
Tradlands is a high-quality women’s essentials brand, inspired by classic menswear. Their pieces are comfortable, yet timeless, with an emphasis on fit, detail, and quality. Of course, they value the welfare of their craftsmen and women all over the world, use sustainably produced materials, and minimize waste as much as they possibly can.
Prices: $30 – $170
Toad&Co makes apparel out of eco-conscious fabrics like organic cotton, TENCEL, hemp, recycled fibers, and more. Their 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 they will either clean and resell it as a part of their Renewed Collection, or upcycle it. Even their packaging is reusable—they’ve partnered with limeloop to use a reusable shipper that can be returned to them after you’ve received your goods. Plus, all of their orders are processed, packaged, and shipped by the Planet Access Company warehouse, which is an organization they co-founded to give employment and training opportunities to adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. And they’re not stopping there: Toad&Co 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
Based in the UK, Kool & Konscious is a curated marketplace carrying apparel and accessories for men and women. They make it really easy to shop by material (cotton, linen, TENCEL, leather, etc.), by value (deadstock, recycled, fair trade, etc.), by activity (work, athleisure, lounging, etc.), or by brand — so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. Part of their goal is to make circularity the norm, so they’ve partnered with Thrift+ to give all Kool & Konscious items a second life after you’re finished with them. The company is on the way to becoming carbon neutral, and even created their own Impakt Score methodology to increase transparency as they progress toward their goals.
Prices: $20 – $800
Madewell has been making slow and steady progress toward increasing their ethical and sustainable practices over the past several years, and now you can shop from their curated “Do Well Shop,” which is a collection of clothing and accessories that are made more responsibly, both ethically and sustainably.
Prices: $15 – $200
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
You probably already know that REI carries a ton of adventure apparel and gear, but they also carry a lot of pieces for everyday and workwear. They even have a whole section for skirts and dresses. Every brand that REI carries meets a minimum standard of ethical and sustainable operation. Although not every single item is made out of recycled and/or natural materials, they have a really wide variety of apparel to choose from that’s not only made in a conscious way, but also really high quality. Or, you can shop from their Used section, which is perhaps the most sustainable (and affordable!) option. For more about REI’s sustainability initiatives in depth, read this.
Prices: $20 – $300
Klow is an online boutique that carries brands that are committed to transparency, ethical production, and a care for the earth. They carry 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. They’re all ethically made in a family run factory in NYC and LA out of either deadstock or Tencel fabric.
Prices: $50 – $150
Boma is a family-owned business, founded by the current CEO’s parents in the 80s. They own their own factory, so they can ensure that all their workers earn a living wage, have competitive medical benefits, and long-term career opportunities. Their precious metals are conflict-free, mine-free, and recycled from OSHA certified vendors. They’re also a member of 1% For the Planet and adhere to the Cradle to Cradle list of banned substances. In 2016, they 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. They’re currently on track to become B Corp certified, and have 1, 3, and 5 year plans to implement the work of Paul Hawken’s Project Drawdown to make their business even more sustainable.
Prices: $20 – $65
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
Everybody & Everyone is an eco-innovative, inclusive, everyday women’s brand with sizes ranging from 00 to 24. The brand was built from the ground-up considering its full environmental impact which encompasses sustainable and technical components, fabrics designed to be washed less, recycled materials, non-toxic dyes, ‘naturals done better’ as well as a take-back program aimed at creating a fully circular product.
Prices: $48 – $198
Nau creates clothing that is both sustainable and high tech. They use 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
Mayamiko carries everyday basics that are perfect for the office or your capsule wardrobe as well as fun, playful prints and designs to party in. Everything is ethically made in Malawi by their team of tailors, pattern cutters, and seamstresses in a solar-powered facility. They use locally sourced materials like certified organic cotton and strive for zero waste production.
Prices: $20 – $130
Klow curates products from brands committed to the health of the earth and garment workers, as well as the people wearing their wearing their clothing—you. Each brand is carefully selected based on a set of sustainability and transparency standards in addition to quality and aesthetic.
Prices: $5.00 to $200
Made with their totally innovative color diffusion innovation, Cosmos Studio shirts save 98% of water, 70% of chemicals and 50% of energy used to make a more traditional garment. Check out this post to learn more about Cosmos Studio.
Price: $88 (all prices are USD)
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. They use 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
G-Star has been pioneering the recycling of plastic waste from the ocean into clothing in its special Raw for the Oceans collection. You can find out more about their transparent manufacturing progress here.
Prices: $25 – $210
Symbology partners with marginalized artisans in developing countries to create handcrafted pieces using traditional fabric techniques like block printing, tie-dye and embroidery. Most of their pieces are made from sustainable viscose, Modal, and cotton.
Prices: $80 – $200
IKKIVI is an India-based sustainable fashion boutique curated from the most beautiful slow fashion designers who are creating timeless, high quality silhouettes. Some of IKKIVI’s pieces are a bit more expensive, but that’s because they are actually upscale fashion pieces, but meant first and foremost for the Indian market, so you’re getting great value for handmade artisan luxury fashion made with natural fibers like pure silk and cotton.
Prices: $15 to $300
Kings of Indigo is dedicated to creating the highest quality denim in the most eco-friendly way. They use recycled and naturally-dyed denim in addition to other sustainable materials. They are deeply committed to transparency and are certified by a whole host of third-party sustainability certifications.
Prices: $57 – $220
I’m obsessed with Alternative Apparel’s basic cotton tees and own them in several different colors. They also have a collection of activewear including leggings, sports bras, tanks, and shorts.
Prices: $16 – $168
I love this brand’s patterned leggings which are sure to inspire you to get on your yoga mat, and their collection of casual dresses are perfect for a beachy getaway.
Prices: $18 – $98
Bluer Denim’s high-quality, tailored denim jeans run for $95-145 and are made entirely in America using Georgia-grown cotton, and buttons and zippers forged in Kentucky.
When it comes to sustainable apparel that makes a statement, Amour Vert is one of my top picks. Amour Vert is fashion-forward eco apparel without the designer prices.
Prices: $35 – $95
This UK-based fair-trade and eco-friendly fashion company offers fashion forward dresses for under $100, tops for under $50, and hand-made jewelry in the $15-50 range.
Prices: $10.50 – $179
This brand takes deadstock and vintage clothing and makes it into super affordable, one-of-a-kind fashion. Find sexy tops, dresses, fringe leather jackets, and sweaters from $38 to $150.
Prices: $28 – $168
ABLE is a lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty through providing economic opportunity for women. Their wages are transparently published on their website in order to protect the women makers and empower consumers. You can find apparel, shoes, purses and bags, and jewelry.
Prices: $50 – $200
This small brand makes the highest quality, classic clothing and sells it directly to consumers, so that there’s no markup. Find Italian merino wool sweaters and silk blouses for under $100.
Prices: $20 – $178
I might get flack for this, but I firmly believe that H&M is investing with 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
Nobody’s Child owns their own factories in the UK, Europe and Asia, and their knitting plant, dye house, print facility and distribution centre are all based in the UK. They work hard not to create waste in terms of fabric and cost, so their ethically-made garments are shockingly cheap!
Prices: $10.50 – $60
Syngergy’s clothes are made out of eco-conscious materials like GOTS certified organic cotton, recycled plastic, and low-impact dyes. Plus, they prioritize transparency and fair wages to their seamstresses in Nepal.
Prices: $35 – $150
Urban Outfitters’ line of vintage and re-worked apparel includes denim cut-offs, tees, dresses, and other trendy pieces for budget prices.
Prices: $8 – $275
Yoga Democracy is committed to using recycled fibers and their fabrics are dyed using a waterless transfer process. They are also determined to use suppliers who adhere to high standards of sustainability in water use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Prices: $40 – $80
ASOS offers a curation of vintage, reclaimed fashion apparel, jewelry made from sustainable materials, and anti-cruelty handbags.
Prices: $5 – $372
Levi’s has been committed to ethics and sustainability from the beginning, from their Worker Well-being program to their Waste<Less and Water<Less processes. While they have 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
Buy secondhand first! thredUP is the largest online secondhand fashion boutique where you can buy and sell high-quality pre-owned clothing.
Tasc’s high-performance clothing is made from from bamboo rayon. This is a great brand if you want to get active and look great at the same time.
Prices: $18 – $175
Groceries Apparel basics are made from organic cotton, Tencel, recycled plastic, recycled cotton, hemp, and non-toxic vegetable dyes. Their operation empowers human beings through fair trade, fair conditions, and fair treatment across our entire supply chain and by providing full traceability to customers.
Prices: $38 – $138
A leader in sustainability for the past four decades, Patagonia carries a wide variety of apparel for men and women. Many of Patagonia’s pieces are made with fully or partially recycled and fair trade materials. You can find our more about their traceability on their website.
Prices: $30 – $170
Ella Stein creates affordable diamond jewelry that’s made to order to prevent waste. Each piece is made using the small diamonds that are cut from larger ones and would otherwise be thrown away. Read more about Ella Stein here.
Prices: $99 – $299
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
A collection of edgy rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings run for $120 and under and are handmade in New York City.
Prices: $42 – $120
WAMA Underwear for men and women is made from sustainable, GOTS Certified hemp and organic cotton. There are a lot of great things about hemp: it’s naturally anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, odor-fighting, and super soft and breathable. And trust me: these undies are super comfortable! The WAMA team works transparently with certified factories in China and oversee production there in order to ensure ethical manufacturing is taking place.