Fair Trade & Ethical Clothing Brands Betting Against Fast Fashion

Ethical & Sustainable Fashion Brands

On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza tragedy killed over 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh and wounded over 2,200 more. The incident left consumers all over the world questioning who makes the clothes we wear every day and in what kind of conditions? Documentaries like The True Cost shine a light on how the fast fashion industry depletes the earth’s resources and leverages slave labor to pass on a “cheap” cost to the end consumer.

Who makes the clothing we wear and in what conditions?

As consumers, we have become increasingly conscious about our purchases, channeling the power of our vocalized objections to make a positive difference for the people involved in the making of our clothes and goods.

Now over six years after the Rana Plaza tragedy, dozens of slow fashion brands have emerged dedicated to ethical and sustainable practices. The 35 companies we have listed below are some of our favorite ethical alternatives to fast fashion companies. Each one has made it a central part of their mission to approach fashion in an ethical and transparent way that considers both people and the planet.

If you’re making the shift to a completely ethical wardrobe check out our guides to responsibly-made shoes and fair trade jewelry. If you are located in the UK, here are fair trade fashion brands in the UK. Are you looking for secondhand and vintage instead? Check out our guide to affordable places to shop secondhand clothing!


1. Everlane

Based In | California, USA
Ethics | Ethical production process, radical transparency
Best For | Affordable ethical clothing
Product Range | Women’s & men’s apparel, accessories, shoes
Size Range | XXS–XL; up to US 16
Price Range | $–$$

Everlane is all about transparency. They spend months finding the best factories around the world—the very same ones that produce our favorite designer labels—and then they build strong personal relationships with factory owners to ensure their factory’s integrity and to maintain ethical production practices at every step of the process. They believe customers have the right to know what their products cost to make and where they were made. They reveal their true costs and share the factory and production stories behind each piece of clothing. Their minimal, modern aesthetic makes them a personal favorite!


2. Reformation

Based In | California, USA
Ethics | Made in USA, uses sustainable fabrics, purchases carbon offsets, pays living wages, plus size line
Best For | On-trend eco-friendly clothing
Product Range | Women’s apparel, outerwear, bridal
Size Range | XXS–3X; up to US 24
Price Range | $$$

For the sustainable fashionista, Reformation offers on-trend pieces that will still be stylish well after the season is over. This Los Angeles-based brand creates products only from sustainable and upcycled materials in a fair wage environment. Reformation’s dedication to sustainable production is extensively explained on their website in their signature bold and unabashed style, plus each item comes with a description of its environmental footprint. We especially love that they’ve added extended sizing to their permanent collection!

3. ABLE

Based In | Tennessee, USA
Ethics | Female artisan-made in Peru, fair labor practices, B Corp
Best For | Feminist brand supporting women
Product Range | Women’s apparel, shoes, accessories
Size Range | XS-XL; up to US 14
Price Range | $–$$

ABLE believes that to end generational poverty, you must create economic opportunities for people, especially women, to provide for themselves. Their beautiful bags and wardrobe staples like denim and basics are made all over the world by fairly-paid women who have overcome extraordinary circumstances. If you don’t pick the right size or color the first time, ABLE also offers free unlimited US shipping back and forth until you find the perfect fit on your apparel, denim, or shoes.

4. Outdoor Voices 

Based In | Texas, USA
Ethics | Uses recycled materials, ethical production
Best For | Sustainable athletic wear
Product Range | Women’s & men’s activewear
Size Range | XS–XL
Price Range | $$

Outdoor Voices make clothes for sweating in—interchangeable layers that play nice in any season or activity. From dog jogs to dodgeball, their pieces span gym-life and life-life without sweating the small stuff. The brand sources textiles with sustainability top-of-mind, including their sustainably-sourced merino wool and recycled polyester made from water bottles. Outdoor Voices takes great care in the selection of their stateside and overseas factory partners, keeping working conditions and ethical practices a forefront priority.

5. Thought Clothing

Based In | London, UK
Ethics | Organic cotton & sustainable fabrics
Best For | Affordable organic clothing
Product Range | Women’s & men’s apparel, accessories
Size Range | XS–XL; up to US 14
Price Range | $–$$

Thought is an all-natural clothing company with a simple philosophy: to design and make beautiful, timeless fashion while caring for our environment. The brand has developed long-lasting relationships with their factories and suppliers and the company works to ensure that every person who touches their clothing is treated respectfully with fair wages and working conditions. We love their commitment to using organic cotton and natural materials, helping us clean up our wardrobe one piece at a time.


6. PACT

Based In | Colorado, USA
Ethics | Fair Trade Certified, organic cotton, B Corp
Best For | Fair trade organic cotton basics
Product Range | Women’s, men’s, & children’s basics, activewear
Size Range | XS–XL
Price Range | $

PACT is pretty obsessed with making clothes that make the world a better place. This certified B Corp goes to great lengths to make sure their entire supply chain, from the growing and harvesting of the organic cotton to the final sewing and all the processes in between, are as clean and responsible as possible. Their super soft tees, dresses and underwear are 100% cotton. Their non-GMO cotton is great for you and the farmers growing it.


7. United By Blue

Based In | Pennsylvania, USA
Ethics | Environmental preservation, B Corp, uses recycled and organic materials
Best For | Eco-friendly outdoor clothing
Product Range | Men’s, women’s, & children’s apparel, accessories, outdoor gear
Size Range | XS–XL
Price Range | $$

United By Blue is more than just an outdoor and everyday apparel brand: for each product sold, they remove one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through their clean up initiatives. As a B Corp, United By Blue is dedicated to doing what’s best for people and planet before, during, and after production. The whole family can explore the world in their durable, travel-friendly apparel, and you can feel good knowing you’re investing in a business that’s protecting our planet.

8. Nisolo

Based In | Tennessee, USA
Ethics | Artisan-made, beyond fair trade wages, transparent production practices
Best For | Handmade leather shoes
Product Range | Women’s & men’s shoes, accessories
Size Range | Women’s 6–10; men’s 8–13
Price Range | $$–$$$

Nisolo collaborates with local artisans in Peru from the design to the handmade production of their leather shoes, chukka boots, bags, jewelry and accessories. Nisolo provides fair wages and full-time employment to their artisans and each shoe has heart put into it from every person who works at Nisolo. We love their gorgeously-designed, well-made shoes and their fast, free shipping both ways.


9. Kotn

Based In | Toronto, Canada
Ethics | B Corp, organic, safe and fair labor standards, gives back
Best For | Egyptian cotton wardrobe staples
Product Range | Women’s & men’s basics
Size Range | XS–XL
Price Range | $

If you’re looking to add some luxury into your daily wardrobe, look no further than Kotn’s ultra-soft basics made from Egyptian cotton. From their farms to their factories, Kotn creates all of their garments in a fair and safe environment, and are even helping their suppliers make the switch to organic within the next five years. Their team is also dedicated to quality manufacturing, so you know one of their cotton tees will last you thirty wears and beyond—and it’ll be soft and cozy every time.


10. Outerknown

Based In | California, USA
Ethics | Fair Labor Association & Bluesign certified manufacturing, some Fair Trade Certified products, sustainable practices
Best For | Women’s & men’s denim
Product Range | Women’s & men’s apparel
Size Range | XS–L
Price Range | $$–$$$

Looking for durable classics that transcend season? Outerknown has you covered. This sustainability-forward brand knows that a truly conscious brand needs to consider both people and planet before, during, and after production. Outerknown works with many global partners who offer fair wages and practice sustainable production, and they carefully detail each and every partner on their site. Their California-cool aesthetic for both men and women matched with their ethics has us excited to come back for more!


The Daily Good is a 30 second read delivered to your inbox each morning with resources for sustainable fashion and slow living. Join 75,000 women who start their day with something good.✨

11. Vetta

Based In | USA
Ethics | Made in USA, uses sustainable materials, ethical production practices, recycled packaging
Best For | Capsule wardrobe pieces
Product Range | Women’s apparel
Size Range | XS–XL
Price Range | $$$

Vetta is on a mission to help you build a more thoughtful wardrobe with their innovative shopping model: you can buy a long-lasting capsule collection of five pieces that translate into 30+ outfits. Or, shop pieces individually and build a custom timeless wardrobe that you’ll be wearing for years to come. Vetta crafts all of their garments responsibly in the USA from deadstock and sustainable materials, and even goes so far as to source details like buttons and elastic from the US as well.


12. Alternative Apparel

Based In | Georgia, USA
Ethics | Ethical production, Fair Labor Association, 70% sustainable materials, Green Certified
Best For | Sustainable activewear & loungewear
Product Range | Women’s & men’s apparel, activewear
Size Range | XS–XL
Price Range | $

It’s rare to find fashion brands that are both ethical and sustainable, but Alternative Apparel ranks well for both these categories. Alternative respects and values the rights of workers in all countries and believe in the right to fair and safe workplace conditions. Their factories operate in accordance with the Fair Labor Association Workplace Code of Conduct and they make over 70% of their garments with sustainable materials and processes. Alternative is a certified Green Business in LA. We love their modern and casual basics for men and women.


13. Krochet Kids Intl.

Based In | California, USA
Ethics | Fair trade artisan-made apparel
Best For | Knit & crochet hats signed by the artisans who made them
Product Range | Women’s & men’s apparel, accessories
Size Range | XS–L
Price Range | $–$$

Krochet Kids Intl. is one of our all-time favorites for their affordable, on-trend clothing, and for the incredible impact they have on the communities where their artisans live and work. This nonprofit social impact brand empowers their artisans in Uganda and Peru not only through fair wages, but also through education and mentoring programs. Krochet Kids has developed an extensive monitoring and evaluation system that measures a series of empowerment indicators every month, ensuring that every person in their program is impacted for good.


14. Tradlands

Based In | California, USA
Ethics | Ethical production, natural & sustainable materials, recycle remnants
Best For | Ethical blouses
Product Range | Women’s apparel
Size Range | XXS–XXL
Price Range | $$–$$$

Tradlands was created from a simple idea to make high-quality essentials for women, inspired by classic menswear. For the woman who drifts towards the men’s section and thinks, “I wish they made this for me,” Tradlands creates menswear-inspired staples for women with a relentless emphasis on fit, details, and quality. Their rigorous standards ensure that each shirt you purchase is top-notch quality, and has been ethically and sustainably made. They strive to use 98% of their materials and recycle any remnants in order to keep their waste to a minimum. From their button-downs to their linen tees, Tradlands shirts are a staple in any capsule wardrobe.


15. Fair Trade Winds

Based In | USA
Ethics | Fair Trade Federation member
Best For | Wide range of fair trade brands
Product Range | Women’s, men’s, & children’s apparel, accessories
Size Range | XS-XL
Price Range | $–$$ 

Fair Trade Winds carries some of the best fair trade fashion brands committed to creating clothing in an ethical manner. Each piece of their collection represents the hard work of talented women working in cooperatives where they are becoming empowered and improving the livelihood of their families and communities. Fair Trade Winds is a family owned business with seven brick and mortar locations around the country in addition to their online shop.


16. Sézane

Based In | Paris, France
Ethics | Philanthropic initiative, ethical production, natural & sustainable materials
Best For | Dresses & blouses
Product Range | Women’s apparel, denim
Size Range | XS–L; up to US 12
Price Range | $$$

Born in Paris, France, Sézane believes in sustainable production that benefits people and planet. The brand started entirely online as a way to cut out the middleman, focusing on production that’s ethical and as close to zero waste as possible. In 2017, Sézane created a philanthropic initiative, DEMAIN, to help disadvantaged children access education and equal opportunities, giving back with each purchase. We’re eyeing their sheer, delicate blouses and dresses for this summer—ones that are built to last and can be worn every season paired with cardigans and leggings. With leather goods, denim, shoes, swimwear, and jewelry, the collection has something for every ethical consumer who values beauty and quality.


17. Fair Indigo

Based In | Wisconsin, USA
Ethics | Fair Trade, Green America certified, sustainable materials & enduring quality
Best For | Affordable and elevated basics
Product Range | Women’s & men’s apparel, baby apparel, accessories
Size Range | XS–XXL
Price Range | $$

Fair Indigo designs styles that are current—but can also be part of your minimalist capsule wardrobe. They aim to build garments you’ll want to wear for years to come with quality that ensures you can. Many of their pieces are made from organic Peruvian Pima cotton which is spectacularly soft and endures through years of washing and wearing without pilling, shrinking, stretching out of shape. Fair Indigo also supports education through The Fair Indigo Foundation which provides funds for teachers, building improvements, supplies, and books at adopted schools in Peru, where their products are crafted.


18. Encircled

Based In | Toronto, Canada
Ethics | Ethical production, eco-conscious fabrics, upcycling, small batch production
Best For | Convertible clothing for travel
Product Range | Women’s & men’s apparel, multiway garments
Size Range | XS–XXL
Price Range | $$

Encircled is on a mission to help you pack lighter and do more with less. They create clothing that is versatile in design with fabrics that are as comfortable and travel-friendly as they are good for the earth. Encircled takes a mindful and slow approach to design, producing only what is needed. They incorporate sustainable practices into everything they do from the sourcing of eco-fabrics to up-cycling production cuttings, using recyclable shipping materials and printing on only 100% post-consumer recycled paper. We love their how to wear sections with tutorials for how to wear their pieces multiple ways.


19. Cuyana

Based In | California, USA
Ethics | Slow fashion brand, supports craftspeople, give-back program
Best For | Chic minimalist wardrobe essentials
Product Range | Women’s apparel, accessories
Size Range | XS-L
Price Range | $$$–$$$$

Cuyana is an essential brand for the modern woman seeking to build her wardrobe on the “fewer, better” principle—so if you’re looking for elegant and long-lasting capsule pieces, Cuyana has what you’re looking for. This global fashion brand creates each piece with integrity and kindness from the highest-quality materials in Europe, South America and the United States. We love their Lean Closet initiative, where they make it easy for you to donate clothing that no longer serves you to women in need in exchange for credit towards your next Cuyana purchase.


20. EILEEN FISHER

Based In | New York, USA
Ethics | Fair Trade Certified collections, sustainable materials & practices, plus sizes, petite sizes
Best For | Organic linen clothing
Product Range | Women’s apparel, accessories, shoes
Size Range | XXS–3X; 2P through US 24
Price Range | $$$$

EILEEN FISHER is an industry leader in ethical and sustainable fashion. They believe social and environmental injustices are a reason to do business completely differently, and carefully oversee their supply chain to ensure fair working wages. By 2020, their vision is to have 100% organic cotton and linen fibers, responsible dyes, carbon positive operations and a no-waste facility. We love their dedication to size inclusivity—their sizes range from XXS through 3X.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *