So here’s the thing about ethical fashion – I love it, but I can never afford to buy BLOODY. ANY OF IT. Unless there’s a sale, and even then it’s stretching it right to the top of my price range. SO what to do for those of us out there who think we can’t afford to buy ethical? Well, we write a list – a list of all the fashion that is out there and is affordable but is made with morals in mind. Welcome to 10. Affordable Ethical Fashion Brands That You’re Going To Love…
Likemary are my personal favourite go-to for affordable ethical shopping. I own so many dresses from these guys I’ve kind of lost count! Likemary are “driven by our love for fairly traded, beautiful and natural fabrics with a story to tell. We respect our suppliers, listen to our customers and believe in exceptional customer service.” Their blanket scarves, such as the one in the picture above, are still handwoven using traditional weaving techniques and all knitted items are handmade and fairly traded by women in the Himalayas. Their dresses and many other designs are also crafted from excess fabric – saving it from landfill and giving it a new lease of life! Go Likemary! Read more about their story here.
Dedicated is an independent fashion brand who work closely with their partners to provide safe, clean and fair working conditions for everyone involved in the production process. They work solely with Fairtrade standards and only use organic cotton in order to mitigate the social and environmental damage that the fashion industry is so often associated with. Scroll down to learn more about their partners here. Their quirky off-beat style had me from the get-go and they also do Menswear.
Thought Clothing are arguably one of the most conscientious ethical fashion brands on the market for both womens and menswear. Their in-house design team in London craft clothing to last – from classic silhouettes to the type of material they use, Thought believe in slow fashion opposed to a constant churning out of new styles. From bamboo, organic cotton, recycled polyester, rayon (recycled tree pulp), wool and hemp, Thought lovingly weave their beautiful designs. They also have the most incredible bamboo sock collection I have ever seen. The dress above reminds me of my childhood! ↑ Read more about their choice of material and slow fashion values here.
From the moment I received my signed copy of Safia Minney’s Naked Fashion, I was hooked on People Tree. This iconic company has gone from strength to strength since its founding in 1991. They are one of the only affordable ethical fashion brands I know of to have been awarded the Soil Association certification for ‘the first integrated organic supply chain in fashion’ and the World Fair Trade Organisation’s Fair Trade product mark. People Tree use ‘closed-loop’ fabrics, such as Lenzing certified TENCEL – a sustainable material that turns wood pulp into cellulosic fibres – and Global Organic Textile Standards certified organic cotton. As well as this, this brand is committed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of the people who make our clothes. They have worked with small groups of people in Bangladesh and Nepal for over 15 years who are skilled artisans making clothes with handwoven fabrics, hand embroidery, hand dyeing techniques and hand knitting. What all this means is guaranteed transparency at all stages of the supply chain. AND the clothes are to dye for (excuse the pun!). Take a look…
Even by my standards, Nobody’s Child is cheap. Its catchy, eclectic style and amazing prices have me wondering – can this be ethical fashion? But Nobody’s Child assures us on their About page that they do care about tackling throwaway fashion and that they are committed to providing safe and fair working conditions and wages – their designs are made from what is called ‘deadstock’ or excess fabric from other companies and factories, which they re-use and re-craft to save it from landfill and tackle fashion industry wastage. Going one step further, they also donate any fabric that they don’t use to fashion colleges – “because why would we waste a good thing?” I like the sound of that.
RAANDI MULTI STRIPES
Top and skirt made of Organic Cotton
I have this really awkward moment whenever I visit the ARMEDANGELS site where I realise I’ve bookmarked almost everything that I’ve seen thus far – I just love so many of their pieces! These guys gravitate towards the very top of my price range but the quality and style is worth it. They believe in slow fashion rather than a throwaway culture, are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, and only use sustainable materials to craft their designs, such as organic cotton, organic linen, organic wool, recycled polyester and new eco-friendly fabrics Lenzing Modal® and Tencel®. ARMEDANGELS also care deeply about the conditions and pay of the people who make their clothes – ‘no matter if they are a cotton farmer in India [or] a sewer in Turkey’ – so they work hand-in-hand with the Fair Wear Foundation and Fairtrade. These are both organisations who working to redress the imbalance for workers and producers in the fashion industry. You can read more about their philosophy here. Their denim range is also really worth a look and they cater for both womenswear and menswear.
High Waist Denim – €109.90
Skinny Fit High Waist – €99.90
Mom Fit High Waist – €109.90
The first time I stumbled across Lucy & Yak I initially fell in love with their beautiful, fun and quirky dungarees, of which they make many styles, such as the one above ↑. However, I then read their About us page and quickly fell even more in love.
These guys travelled to China, India and Thailand to find the perfect small business to help craft their designs, going in search specifically for someone who shared their ethos – fair pay and comfortable working conditions.
They found this special someone in India – Ismail from Rajasthan. Every single person involved in the production process of Lucy & Yak earns the Living Wage or above, as appropriate to their country. As Lucy & Yak say themselves: “It’s so important that all of our staff are treated with respect, no matter how big or small their role is. Whatever country they are in, they will always be looked after.”
They have just built a new, larger factory in India -“clean, bright, and with air-conditioning for those 45 degree summers”. It also has solar panels fitted on the roof so soon the factory will be running off 100% renewable energy – go Lucy & Yak!
Their designs come delivered to you in a 100% recycled bag and 100% biodegradable packaging, which includes ‘Thank You’ cards and returns slips made from recycled card.
Oh, and did I mention their dungarees are made from organic cotton? Even better.
Two things really struck me about WARP + WEFT –
- Their commitment to minimising the environmental impact of denim production
- Their inclusivity – this brand stocks jeans right from Petite and Size 00 through to Size 24
With Kids, Mens and Womens jeans all averaging out under $100, I’d say this is guilt-free shopping without the hefty price tag.
Ararose are an inspiration to the fashion world. Not only are they committed to slow fashion – creating timeless pieces rather than wasted collections – they also care deeply about every person at each stage of the production process, from factory workers to models. They work with a small scale factory in Bangladesh, which is committed to providing for and empowering their employees with “fair wages, fair working hours, opportunities for bonuses, family care and a high standard working environment”.
One of the ways they reduce wastage is via their Conscious Outlet, which sees clothes discounted with small flaws or those that have previously been used on a shoot that are still perfectly wearable.
Ararose are also all about empowering women to be their natural, beautiful selves, particularly online where social media has taken its toll on people’s perception of beauty and of themselves. One of the ways Ararose does this is by creating an online community of empowered women – their models – who each have stories and messages to share with other women via interviews with Ararose here.
This is a brand that truly cares with affordable, beautiful clothes. Shop more here.
Beyond Retro LABEL is the sister brand of vintage clothing giant Beyond Retro. They are on a serious mission to reduce the number of clothes that end up in landfill every year. Beyond Retro LABEL sees clothes that don’t make the cut to be sold in Beyond Retro stores in London and Sweden being turned into new fashion items and given a new lease of life. LABEL’s candid About page, which is really worth a read to do the Factory Tour as well, tells us that only 1 in every 1,000 vintage pieces end up on the shop shelves. Beyond Retro LABEL is ‘their answer to the other 999’.
These new pieces are lovingly crafted from reclaimed materials in Beyond Retro’s very own factory located in western India, where much of the world’s vintage clothing comes to be sorted.
They have 85 full-time employees, who are paid fair wages, work normal working hours and in comfortable, clean working conditions that are well-maintained. The factory was intended to be ‘a more meaningful investment in the local community’.
LABEL also operates a ‘closed loop’ policy – this means that “we can return any fabric that doesn’t pass the prototype phase, and all scraps are recycled back through the facility to be cut or shredded for use as industrial rags, fillers and more.” Money (usually pennies) found in the pockets of their clothes that arrive at the facility are stamped with the Beyond Retro anchor and used to decorate the re-crafted clothes. Pretty cool, huh?
Monkee Genes are probably my answer to affordable ethically made jeans. These guys have been on my radar from the very beginning and I already own a pair by them. These jeans are made with only GOTS certified Organic Cotton, meaning that the pollutants and harmful toxins that are used in non-organic cotton are cut out of the process. This means less environmental damage and also saves up to 46% in CO2 emissions. Monkee Genes also work closely with their factories to ensure safe working conditions and fair wages. When the brand launched back in 2006, founder Phil Wildbore wanted to create something that was fashionable whilst supporting sustainability – and Monkee Genes was born!
As a child I always had a fascination with evolution and a yearning for mankind to recognise its humble beginnings. Monkee Genes celebrates where we came from, and is committed to respecting this planet we share. Our name pays tribute to our jeans that have evolved organically, consciously made to fit the natural rhythm of life. During my travels, one of our factories shared their ethos of ‘Respect for Individual’, which went on to become our brand mantra for values we have always had – respecting individuals, regardless of faith, race or creed.
Phil Wildbore, Owner and designer of Monkee Genes
Above: Sudarmi works on the sewing line in our factory and is an important part of creating Monkee Genes.
Monkee Genes’ new ‘Eco Wash’ collection uses GOTS Certified Cotton – this is cotton grown without the use of harmful pesticides – and is produced using 80% less water. Considering that one pair of jeans takes up to 7,600 litres of water in the production process, I’d say that’s a pretty big saving! And they come in high-waisted too which is perfect for my high hips!
To shop the full collection, please click here.
In Love&Light, FS XOX