Image credit: Tradlands
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Sustainable fashion often has a rep of being super expensive and unaffordable to many people. 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 many more.
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. Affordable fashion should be attainable on an entry-level budget, but enough of an investment that it should hurt to throw one of these pieces out after just 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).
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.
Without further ado, here is our list of the best sources for affordable fashion:
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 including linen, tencel, and cotton canvas, and minimizes waste as much as it possibly can. It also has a pre-loved section where you can buy and sell used Trandlands pieces.
Prices: $55 – $227
Founded in 2015, Kotn creates beautiful basics from authentic Egyptian cotton. The brand works directly with 2,390 smallholder farmers in the Nile Delta and Faiyum regions of Egypt to buy raw cotton, which it then uses to make its own fabrics. By buying directly from the farmers, it provides them with better wages and business practices, but also provides transparency to customers and partners. A certified B Corp brand, Kotn has funded 15 schools in rural areas of Egypt without access to education.
Prices: $12 – $175
Soko is a women-led certified B Corp jewelry brand that uses mobile technology to directly connect marginalized artisans in Kenya to the global marketplace. Avoid gold-plated jewelry where you can — this fair-trade company uses natural and recycled materials including recycled brass, handmade ceramics, reclaimed horn and bone, and sustainably sourced wood, so definitely opt for these collections instead. Guilt-free, on-trend, and high-quality jewelry that you’ll love for a long time!
Prices: $38 – $228
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. And as our editors can attest, many pieces from the Conscious Collection are high quality and classic enough to last years and years of frequent wear. If it’s between this and Amazon, go with H&M.
Prices: $4.79 – $239.20
Launched in 2018, For Days is a circular fashion brand that uses high-quality, non-toxic 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 each item customers send back gets recycled and turned into brand new clothes, making it a closed-loop system. When you purchase For Days’ Take Back Bag, you get discounts on new For Days items, and can also give back clothing from other brands — since this contains unknown materials, it’s recycled into things like insulation, rugs, and cleaning materials.
Prices: $4.20 – $110.60
Toad&Co makes apparel out of eco-conscious fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, recycled fibers, and more. Its products carry third-party certifications such as bluesign and OEKO-TEX. Through its partnership with thredUP, the brand takes back old clothing (from any brand) and gives it a second life, giving customers a Toad&Co credit in return. 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.
Prices: $15 – $145