So you’ve realised that your favourite fast fashion brand is inflicting serious social and environmental pain, and in an effort to try and salvage the relationship, you’ve emailed the brand seeking them to right their wrongs. You’ve also tweeted them, Facebook messaged them and even directly approached them on Instagram. Still, after all of this, you’re hearing crickets. They’re evasive, dodging your questions, unresponsive or just unwilling to change their deplorable fashion manufacturing ways.
That’s ok, at least you’ve tried to help them become more conscious! You’ve done as much as you can and it’s their loss. Here’s what we propose you do: hang on to your ethics and take your good, honest money elsewhere!
But now you’re feeling stuck and concerned that you won’t be able to afford ethical clothing. Don’t panic, we’re here to help!
While ethical clothing prices will never be as cheap as fast fashion clothing (remember, the true cost of fast fashion…!) the brands below are still affordable for budget-conscious fashion lovers, students, frugality-practitioners and penny-pinchers. Plus conscious shopping means investing in pieces you’ll love and purchasing clothes for maximum usage.
If you’re not keen on thrift shopping, or prefer to avoid the time-investment of having to trawl through mountains of clothes to find that amazing ‘treasure’ piece, then here are some affordable, conscious fashion brands if you don’t have much cash to splash.
For affordable, ethically-made basic t-shirts:
Creating super stylish eco-friendly, fair-trade, vegan-friendly t-shirts for men and women, ARMEDANGELS is a German brand that prioritises ethics and sustainability. It holds a fair-trade certification and its sustainable fabrics are GOTS-certified as well. They manufacture tees in an assortment of styles, fits, prints and colours. But they don’t just stop there. They also produce a range of pants, tops, dresses, jackets and skirts.
Prices: T-shirts priced from €24.90 (AUD $39.70) for women and €29.90 (AUD $47.68) for men.
Shipping: Domestic (European Union) and international shipping available. Delivery costs vary.
Online shop: armedangels.de
For women’s and men’s t-shirts made from GOTS-certified organic and fair-trade certified cotton, you can’t go past Fairtees. Comes in a variety of styles, colours and sizes and they also wrap packages in Australian sourced, post-consumer recycled paper to avoid plastic packaging waste.
Prices: Starting price AUD $26 for a women’s classic tee and $37 for a men’s tee.
Shipping: Based in Australia and ships only to Australia and New Zealand to minimise shipping footprint.
Online shop: fairtees.com.au
Eco-conscious label Know The Origin produces t-shirts for men and women in India through fairtrade cooperatives and made from organic cotton. Comes in a variety of styles, colours and sizes. We love that the business has even published the precise address details of their producers – supply chain transparency eat your heart out!
Prices: Starting price is the same for men’s and women’s tees, £22.00 (AUD $40.44)
Shipping: Based in the UK, standard delivery is £3.00 (3-4 working days) to anywhere in the country. Delivery to Europe is £12 and elsewhere in the world £14.
Online shop: knowtheorigin.com
For affordable, ethically-made tops, jumpers and sweaters:
Known for its contemporary, timeless garments, this brand has been around since 1995, formerly known as Braintree Clothing when it was based in Australia, it underwent a name change in 2017. It has called the UK home since early 2000s. The brand produces a women’s and men’s range of ethical clothing including jackets, pants, cardigans, socks, knitwear and much more. As a pioneer in the ethical fashion industry, Thought Clothing is known for its conscious design, use of sustainable fabrics such as hemp, bamboo, organic cotton and recycled materials and responsible manufacture including its strict supplier code of conduct. Thought Clothing is also an approved Fellowship 500 member of the Ethical Fashion Forum.
Prices: Prices start from £29.90 (AUD $55) but SALE section prices start at £25 (AUD $46)
Shipping: FREE delivery in the UK on orders £60 and over £3.00 for orders under £60. Worldwide shipping available. Check out delivery costs here.
Online shop: wearethought.com
For affordable, ethically-made jeans:
Everlane is the poster child for modern ethical fashion, having built its reputation on supply chain transparency and one of the few conscious brands known for raising enough seed funding from investors to be able to scale quickly. Its classic, minimalist pieces, well-styled and appealing photo shoots, in addition to its affordable prices, attract female and male shoppers from around the world. We’ve covered this brand in great detail on the site, so if you’re keen to learn more, read this post. Its ethical denim jeans collections were only released last year and have hit cult status already. Its the only range they’ve gone to the trouble of at least manufacturing at what it touts as the “world’s cleanest denim factory”.
Prices: Denim jeans start at USD $68 (AUD $87.51)
Shipping: Worldwide shipping available. Check here for exact shipping costs.
Online shop: everlane.com
We’re cheating here a bit because new collections of Monkee Genes are usually priced between £70 –£ 99 threshold, however, as this ethical jeans brand regularly holds clearance sales, many of their jeans prices are routinely slashed in the process – we’re talking £70 (AUD$129) down to £30 (AUD $55). This UK-based ethical denim label produces jeans from organically-grown cotton and is responsibly-made in Indonesia.
Prices: Check out the SALE section as jeans prices start at £25.
Shipping: Worldwide shipping is available at additional cost.
Online shop: monkeegenes.com
For affordable, ethically-made dresses:
The brand that put Fair-Trade fashion on the map more than 20 years ago, People Tree produces a range of fair-trade certified, ethically-made, GOTS certified organic clothing including dresses, tops, pants, skirts, sleepwear, coats, activewear and even socks!
Prices: Check out the SALE section as dress prices start from as little as USD $30.80!
Shipping: Based in the UK, the brand ships worldwide. Shipping costs apply.
Online shop: peopletree.com
This ethical fashion label from Africa oozes cheekiness and fun. An ode to African culture, all garments are handmade, designed with bright colours and cotton prints and batiks that are hand-dyed by a local Malawai cooperative of women entrepreneurs. Some fabrics used are discarded by local sources and others are ethically-sourced. The brand also follows the zero waste philosophy, ensuring efficient garment design and pattern cutting techniques, so that no more than 10 percent of fabric is unused at the time of cutting (offcuts are never wasted, making its way into other products). You can also shop trousers, jackets, yoga wear, accessories, bags, scarves and so much more.
Prices: Prices start at £21.00 (AUD $38.69) in the OUTLET section.
Shipping: Worldwide shipping available. View this page for shipping costs.
Online shop: mayamiko.com
For affordable, ethically-made pants:
This eco-friendly brand uses remnants from Cambodia’s garment industry to produce its collections. Ethically-manufactured in-house, the conscious designs are minimalist and classic, surpassing trends and season. Collections are produced in small batches and pieces are limited – given the restrictions of sourcing leftover materials. The brand stays true to its sustainable business model by focussing on people, planet and intentionally designing for longevity and creating clothes to be worn again and again. To learn more about this brand, check out this feature of them here.
Prices: Starting price for pants AUD $60.
Shipping: Free shipping to Australia and New Zealand for orders over $100, and international for orders over $150. For more information, click here.
Online shop: dorsu.org
For affordable, ethically-made activewear:
We’ve featured them before, and we’ll feature them again because we just love what this label stands for! Girlfriend Collective yoga and activewear is made from recycled water bottles (79 percent precisely) and is ethically-made in Vietnam in a SA8000 certified factory (high ethical standards of garment manufacturing). Its inclusive marketing and branding incorporate diverse models and sizes range from XXS – XXXL which we likey! Packaging is also 100 percent recycled and recyclable, and the recycled plastic fibres in their garments are also BPA-free!
Prices: Starting price for tank tops USD $28 (AUD $36) and leggings USD $58 (AUD $74.66)
Shipping: Girlfriend Collective ships to US, UK, Australia and Canada. Delivery costs vary. To learn more, this page sets it out clearly.
Online shop: girlfriend.com
American ethical brand Threads 4 Thought creates a range of clothing for men and women, including pants, hoodies, sweatshirts, tops, dresses, as well as activewear. The label was given a kickstart when celebrities Don Cheadle, Jamie Foxx and Gavin Rossdale wore some shirts, providing the brand with much-needed publicity.
Thought 4 Threads garments are made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled polyester, organic cotton and modal and ethically manufactured in several factors in China, Kenya and Haiti.
Prices: Starting price for sports bra USD $44 (AUD $56.58) and sale items start at USD $46.80 (AUD $60.17)
Shipping: Worldwide shipping available at extra cost. Quote available at check out.
Online shop: threadsforthought.com
Related Post: 9 Sustainable Sleepwear Brands for Your Ethical Wardrobe
For affordable, ethically-made nightwear and sleepwear:
Driven by sustainability and Fair-Trade, Noctu produces comfortable, low-tox, minimalist nightwear and sleepwear collections that are made using 100% certified organic jersey cotton and Fair-Trade certified cotton. Its latest collection features pyjama tops and shorts, harem pyjama pants, boat neck tops, loose-fitting nighties, button-down nightshirts and comfy tank tops.
Prices: Starts at £25 (AUD $46)
Shipping: Standard delivery to UK £3.95. Worldwide shipping standard delivery cost £10. calculate.
Online shop: noctu.co.uk
For affordable, ethically-made basic underwear:
American sustainable label PACT Apparel produces a collection of garments for ladies, gents and kids including underwear, loungewear, yoga wear and much more. Garments are made from GOTS certified organic cotton in Fair-Trade certified™ factories.
Prices: Price for women’s underwear USD $15. Men’s eco-friendly underwear is $16.
Shipping: Standard delivery to continental USA free of charge for orders over $59. As of today, no shipping available worldwide but the business hopes to restore this soon.
Online shop: wearpact.com
Australian-owned Indian-made ethical underwear brand Mighty Good Undies produces fair-trade certified, GOTS-certified organic cotton undies (note: five percent is made from elastane for stretch) for men and women in three basic colours, sand, black and white. There are seven styles for women to choose from and two styles for men. Women’s sizes range from 6 – 20 and men’s sizes range from XXS-XL It’s also packaged in a reusable drawstring bag.
Prices: Starting price AUD $24.50 for women’s underwear, $28.95 for men’s. You can save money by buying underwear packs too.
Shipping: Standard delivery to Australian postal addresses $6.20. Delivers to Europe and UK at extra cost (you will need to calculate). Will soon deliver to USA and Canada.
Online shop: mightygoodundies.com.au
This Scandinavian, Copenhagen-based brand creates well-fitting, feminine knickers and underwear basics made from OEKO-TEX®-certified sustainable materials such as modal (10 percent elastane). You’ll find a range of simple, yet stylish low-rise hipster briefs, comfortable high-rise undies, boy short undies, Brazilian-cut panties along with bras, leggings and a range of other undergarments. All garments are ethically-made in Europe.
Prices: Underwear prices start at 179.00 kr (AUD $38.25)
Shipping: Delivery charges apply. Extra shipping costs to USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. This page provides more details.
Online shop: woronstore.com
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The curated list is based on the writer’s research and does not fully take into account all ethical considerations that are unique to each individual. Before making a purchase, we encourage you to do your own research paying particular attention to the supply chain and your own particular set of ethics. You can also check out online tools and apps that provide product reviews and brand ratings here.
Title image credit everlane.com