When you think ethical fashion, you might also think mucho dinero. Since fast fashion has taught us that t-shirts should be $10 or less, slow fashion must cost a lot more, right? Not really.
You needn’t spend your whole paycheck to feel good about the clothes you’re buying. Increasingly, there are a number of affordable brands dedicated to the production of ethical fashion.
Last week, fashion designer Alice Grau shared 12 simple strategies to combat this era of fast fashion by reducing, reusing, and recycling your clothing. This week, I asked her to share some of her favorite brands and resources to help you choose sustainable options when you make clothing purchases.
8 Ethical Fashion Brands You Can Afford + Feel Good About Buying
#1 – Global Mamas
It’s only fair to begin Alice’s list with her employer, Global Mamas, a fair trade producer based in Ghana. Since 2003, Global Mamas has worked with local artisans to produce men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and housewares made from hand-batiked textiles, recycled glass-bead jewelry, and accessories from recycled plastic. In the interest of full disclosure, I also volunteered with them in 2009.
#2 – Maggie’s Organics
Maggie’s Organics began with a question: Was it possible to establish a successful, sustainable business while protecting the limited resources of the planet, and respecting and dignifying each worker who makes the business run? Working directly with cotton growers in the Americas and producing over 65% of their products in the U.S.A., Maggie’s is able to minimize its carbon footprint for the organic cotton apparel they create, from socks, tights, and leggings to tops, tees, and skirts. Each product’s farm-to-finish story is shared on their website.
Since 2004, Marigold has been working with a co-op of over 600 women from the slums of Mumbai to create fashionable fair trade clothing. With a product line similar to Global Mamas’, they produce clothing and housewares from hand block printed and organic fabrics.
#4 – Mata Traders
A design driven, fair trade brand, Mata Traders’ colorful, original designs are made by artisans in India and Nepal and sold across the United States and 12 additional countries. They produce women’s clothing (including a curvy line), jewelry, accessories, and home decor. Personally, I love their earrings.
#5 – Passion Lilie
Designed in New Orleans and made in India, Passion Lilie is a fair trade and eco-friendly apparel brand with a mission to empower artisans across the world by creating dignified employment opportunities. The Passion Lilie collection is vintage and retro inspired, made with 100% Indian cotton and hand block printed or hand woven with eco dyes. They produce women’s apparel, outerwear, and accessories.
#6 – People Tree
UK-based People Tree makes beautiful garments that are a living blueprint for their values that people and the planet are central to everything they do. Their clothing is hand crafted in organic cotton and sustainable materials, using traditional skills that support rural communities. People Tree is one of the only brands on this list to offer a real men’s line and, coming in at around $50 for a knit shirt, it is also a splurge brand.
#7 – prAna
prAna is a pioneering Fair Trade USA brand partner. In addition to its Fair Trade practices, the company uses sustainable materials that have a reduced environmental impact such as recycled polyester and organic cotton. They carry a full line of men & women’s apparel, swimwear, and accessories.
#8 – Raven + Lily
Raven + Lily is an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering women through design. A certified B Corporation, the company was named the Best for the World in Community Impact. Raven + Lily offers jewelry, women’s apparel and accessories, and luxury home goods. With its beautiful clothing, this is definitely another splurge brand!
As I stated at the outset, these are just a few of the ethical fashion brands out there. Here are some resources to discover more:
- 30 Fair Trade Clothing Brands That Are Betting Against Fast Fashion
- 11 Fair Trade Jeans Brands You Should Know Exist
- 25 Fair Trade Jewelry Collections
- Shop Online with the Fair Trade Federation
- Fair Trade USA Partners
- More Ethical Brands from the Good Trade, which supplied the first three lists above.
In what areas do you want to learn more about being a conscious consumer? Skincare? Cleaning products? Groceries? Please let me know in the comments.