10 Amazingly Affordable Ethical Brands

Affordable ethical clothing on a rack

Are you always on the prowl for ethical brands, but shy away from the excessive price tags that accompany so many niche ethical clothing brands? We're here to help you discover (other) brands that have achieved the holy trinity: ethical, sustainable, affordable. That's right, we're putting our money where our mouth is and recommending OTHER affordable and sustainable brands.

Gone are the days of browsing Etsy for over-priced limited run bespoke dresses that look like they jumped out of a Kiera Knightley period piece. Follow our guide and you'll be on your way to affordable ethical clothing.

1 | Everlane

Ethics | Ethical Factories, Transparent Factories and Pricing

Price Range | $ - $$

Product Range | Women's and Men's Essentials

Takeaway | Everlane has achieved enormous popularity for their success in marrying cheap, ethical clothing with a modern simplicity that would make Steve Jobs jealous. Everlane is on the cheaper end of our list, outsourcing all of their manufacturing but tee shirts overseas, but they do understated basics like nobody's business.

Everlane sustainability points of emphasis:

  • Radical transparency in manufacturing and pricing
  • Mandatory compliance audits given to manufacturers
  • Global network of suppliers allows costs to remain low for minimalist styles
  • Frequently hosts "pay what you can" sales
  • Makes use of some recycled cotton in several styles

Website | Everlane

 

2 | Patagonia

Ethics | Ethical Factories, Sustainable Fabrics, Fair Trade Certified

Price Range | $$ - $$$ (unless you're in the market for a $600 cold weather surfing bodysuit)

Product Range | Women's and Men's Outerwear and Activewear

Takeaway | Before they were banning finance bros from wearing their sweater vests, Patagonia was best known for its high-quality outerwear and industry-leading commitment to sustainability. Unsurprisingly, the pioneer in affordable ethical and sustainable clothing has a utilitarian flare to it, but if that's your style then it's hard to go wrong with Patagonia. Patagonia's honesty is refreshing, even when it's hard - like the unfortunate fact that most of the workers in their factories do not earn a living wage.

Patagonia sustainability points of emphasis:

  • Works with fair trade factories across a global network of partners
  • Originally targeted outerwear before moving into everyday apparel
  • Releases an annual sustainability report
  • Fair Labor Association does random audits of their factories for workers' rights
  • Publishes a list of its factories online
  • Uses many recycled fabrics and exclusively organic cotton

Website | Patagonia

 

3 | The Reformation

Ethics | Ethical Factories, Transparent Business Practices

Price Range | $$ - $$$

Product Range | Women's Apparel, Bridal

Takeaway | Reformation is pricey, but one of the few sustainable clothing brands (besides us!) that manufactures mostly in the United States. They came to the same conclusion we did: that manufacturing overseas is just too problematic when it comes to being absolutely sure that everything is ethically made and above board. While the price tag on some of their more expensive garments might break the bank, they have a simpler line of basics that is more accessible for those looking to shop ethical on a budget.

The Reformation sustainability points of emphasis:

  • Upcycles the fabric scraps from their Los Angeles factory
  • Requires all factories to adhere to a code of conduct
  • Over half of all production is based in LA
  • Tests clothing for substances on the Restricted Substances List (RSL)
  • Uses relatively little cotton (outside of denim)

Website | The Reformation

 

4 | Amour Vert

Ethics | Sustainable Fabrics, Ethical Factories

Price Range | $$ - $$$

Product Range | Women's, Men's Apparel and Accessories

Takeaway | Buy some clothes, plant a tree. Amour Vert has an interesting spin on sustainability, in which they plant a tree for every purchase made. Another thing that sets Amour Vert apart from other affordable ethical clothing brands (besides us!) is that almost all of their clothes are made in the USA. While stylistically one of the trendier brands on the list, Amour Vert doesn't shy away from using some sustainable fabrics like modal in their designs.

Amour Vert sustainability points of emphasis:

  • Plants a tree for every purchase made (over 220,000 trees so far!)
  • Almost 100% made in America
  • Uses sustainable fabrics like modal, beechwood, and organic cotton

Website | Amour Vert

 

5 | People Tree

Ethics | Fair Trade Certification, Global Organic Textile Standard, PETA Approved Vegan

Price Range | $ - $$

Product Range | Women's Apparel, Accessories

Takeaway | People Tree was founded in 1991 in Tokyo, Japan with a core mission to ensure that every product they produce comes into existence as conscientiously as possible. The ethical brand partners with fair trade artisans around the world to produce eco-friendly clothing for women at very affordable prices. People Tree uses ecologically sound fabrics like modal, organic cotton, and TENCELLyocell to craft their humane garments that appeal to the trendier portion of the ethical fashion market.

People Tree sustainability points of emphasis:

  • Partners with fair trade artisans around the world
  • Uses ecologically friendly fabrics like TENCELLyocell, modal, and organic cotton
  • Maintains a Fair Trade Certification
  • Fair Labor Organization independently audits for farmers' rights
  • Offers a 15% student discount to help provide students with affordable, sustainable clothing

Website | People Tree

 

6 | Eileen Fisher

Ethics | Fair Trade Certification, Sustainable Fabrics

Price Range | $$$$ - $$$$$

Product Range | Women's Apparel, Accessories

Takeaway | Eileen Fisher was founded in 1984 with a commitment to simple silhouettes and luxurious fabrics. Today, Eileen Fisher continues to exemplify those ideals with their collection of women's basics made from sustainable fabrics. Through their VISION2020 program, they've committed to using 100% organic cotton and linen, safer dyes, and TENCELLyocell, a plant-based substitute for rayon instead of other, more wasteful alternatives.

Eileen Fisher sustainability points of emphasis:

  • Uses organic cotton and organic linen in their clothing
  • Produces a jean that uses 62% less water than their most water intensive jeans
  • Features recycled cashmere, nylon, polyester, and cotton
  • Asks every dying mill to adhere to a list of bluesign® restricted substances
  • Supports artisans in Peru through an alternative supply chain

Website | Eileen Fisher

 

7 | Outdoor Voices

Ethics | Recycled Materials, Ethical Factories

Price Range | $ - $$

Product Range | Women's, Men's Athleticwear

Takeaway | Outdoor Voices is the only sustainable brand on our list that is solely devoted to athleticwear. Outdoor Voices has done a great job committing itself to ethical and sustainable business practices, especially because athleticwear requires more environmentally-harmful technical fabrics. The company sources merino wool and polyester made from recycled water bottles to reduce its carbon footprint. While Outdoor Voices does use some international manufacturing, they require their manufacturing partners to sign a vendor compliance form and make yearly visits to factories.

Outdoor Voices sustainability points of emphasis:

  • Minimizing environmental impact
  • Compliance with worker safety, living wages
  • Enforcing a vendor compliance contract with manufacturers
  • Yearly visits to factories
  • Utilizing recycled fabrics and bluesign® certified fabrics

Website | Outdoor Voices

 

8 | Vetta Capsule

Ethics | Made in the USA, Ethical Factories, Sustainable Production

Price Range | $$ - $$$

Product Range | Women's Capsule Collections

Takeaway | Vetta Capsule is a pioneer in the capsule collection movement, which is a way to reduce your carbon footprint and become more sustainable by wearing fewer pieces of clothing more often. Beyond the capsule collection approach, they promote an ethical and sustainable lifestyle. By using sustainability first factories (one of their factories generates 70% of its power through solar power), they're able to reduce the impact their clothing has on the world. Additionally, all of their clothing is made in the USA (like us!), so they can visit their production partners and ensure that all of the workers are being treated fairly and have good working conditions.

Vetta Capsule sustainability points of emphasis:

  • Solar-powered factories
  • All clothing production is based in America (lace details are from India, however)
  • Produces in capsule collections that emphasize responsible closet sizes
  • Emphasis on convertible clothing

Website | Vetta Capsule


9 | Boden

Ethics | Ethical Factories, Factory Transparency, Modern Slavery Awareness Program, Landfill Reduction Practices

Price Range | $$ - $$$

Product Range | Women's, Men's, Children's Apparel

Takeaway | Boden is a UK-based apparel retailer founded in 1991 with a comprehensive worker's rights program. Right on their website, Boden has a Modern Slavery Statement that outlines their extensive program to identify at-risk populations and avoid working with exploitative factories. In 2008, they joined the Ethical Trade Initiative to work collaboratively with others in the fashion industry to ensure better working conditions. As part of the Ethical Trade Initiative, their suppliers must sign a commitment to Boden's ethical sourcing principles. Boden has also joined the Better Cotton Initiative, with the goal of sourcing 100% more sustianable cotton by 2025.

Boden sustainability points of emphasis:

  • Publishes a list of Tier 1 factories that produce its clothes
  • Created a comprehensive modern anti-slavery program
  • Member of the Ethical Trade Initiative to improve working conditions globally
  • Member of the Better Cotton Initiative to use more sustainable fabrics

Website | Boden

 

10 | Encircled

Ethics | Ethical Factories, Certified B Corporation®, Sustainable Fabrics

Price Range | $$ - $$$

Product Range | Women's and Men's Capsule Collections

Takeaway | Encircled was founded in 2012 by Kristi Soomer, with a vision to help women travel lighter. Over time, the company has expanded to address the fact that women only wear about 50% of their wardrobe on average by introducing a line of capsule collections that are both ethical and sustainable, with eco-friendly looks that are convertible to several styles each. Encircled focuses on two design intentions: modern basics that are wearable multiple ways. The company is also a Certified B Corporation®, committed to ethics and sustainability in business.

Encircled sustainability points of emphasis:

  • 100% sewn in Toronto, Canada
  • Provides labor with fair wages and good working conditions
  • Certified B Corporation®
  • Utilizes Modal, TENCEL Lyocel, and bamboo fabrics for sustainability
  • Uses low-impact dyes to reduce environmental harm
  • Produces in capsule collections that emphasize responsible closet sizes

Website | Encircled