15 Affordable Ethical Clothing Brands to Shop [2020 Worldwide Review]

Ethical Clothing Brands image

Ethical clothing is on trend! And we’re happy to see these brands and retailers finally entering mainstream fashion despite the rise of fast fashion.

But, how can we save the planet while saving money? And where are all the affordable ethical brands?

As a result of this change in behaviour, we noticed that there are many opportunities for certain brands to capitalise on environmentally conscious shoppers by charging high prices. Therefore, we decided to put together this list of 15 affordable ethical clothing brands to shop in 2020 in UK, Australia, Canada and the US.

What defines an ethical clothing brand these days?

Ethical fashion generally covers a wide range of criteria and is an umbrella term for what usually involves the following practices and philosophies:

  • Traceable or local sources of raw materials (e.g. organic cotton or hemp)
  • Man-made textiles using sustainable fibres such as wood pulp
  • Factories and supply chains that are free from exploitation and child labour
  • Transparency in workplace safety
  • Fair living wages for all factory workers
  • Fair Trade commitments
  • Community upliftment
  • Supporting the empowerment of women
  • Hand-made goods
  • Material that is free from animal cruelty
  • Production methods that are water-wise
  • Use of natural dyes and biodegradable chemicals
  • Production processes and logistics that reduce carbon emissions

Do you still need a push towards making the change to ethical brands? Well, consider the fact that globally, we have decreased the number of times a garment is worn by 36% compared to just 15 years ago. In other words, people are just not wearing clothes often enough, leading to the huge waste problem currently putting pressure on the environment. That’s why it’s a good reason to start shopping for fewer, consciously made items that can be re-worn over many years.

We know it can be challenging to find great ethical clothing brands that are also affordable so this guide should be your starting point to a becoming an eco-friendly fashionista!

ethical clothing in UK

People Tree

People Tree - Ethical Clothing UK

People Tree is an ethical clothing company founded in 1991 by Safia Minney. In addition to meeting the Global Organic Textile Standards, they were the first fashion company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organisation product label, making them a true pioneer.

To complement to their wide range of basics, active-wear and party-wear, People Tree also has fabulous jewellery, and accessories. They describe their style as contemporary, versatile, playful, exclusive, stylish, and affordable. Plus, their sale prices are an absolute steal!

Prices range: $20 – $150

Why they’re a good ethical clothing choice:

  • Organic cotton
  • Responsible wool
  • Artisan-made
  • TENCEL™ Lyocell – an ethical fabric made from the pulp of trees
  • Low impact dyes
  • Fair Trade
  • Transparency
  • Gender equality

H&M conscious

H&M - Ethical Clothing UK

Yes, we’re sure you’re a bit surprised to see a traditionally known “Fast Fashion” brand here. However, H&M is actually making some big moves in the affordable ethical clothing space.

As part of their move towards ethical fashion, H&M is also growing their Garment Collecting Program. This recycling program allows shoppers get a 15% discount for dropping off bags of unwanted used clothing in recycling boxes in stores around the world. In addition to garments, they accept any textile, any brand and even accept old sheets!

Read: H&M’s latest sustainability report

Price range: $20 – $150

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Recycled textiles
  • Sustainable cotton
  • Phasing out single use plastics in packaging
  • Artisan-made items
  • Fair living wages
  • Commitment to transparency and fair working conditions

Thought Clothing

Thought Clothing

Thought started as a small capsule collection by two friends in Australia, and then a few pop-up shops in the UK. These days, they are best known as a global network of ethical clothing boutiques. The style of Thought clothing is effortless, contemporary, sustainably made, and “love-forever classics”.

Price range: $70 – $100

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Organic cotton
  • Naturally grown bamboo and hemp
  • Consciously-crafted
  • Vegan
  • Sustainable supply chain

As consumerswe have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy. “

~ Emma Watson, actress and activist

Ethical clothing in Australia

From Farm to Hanger

From Farm to Hanger - Ethical Clothing Australia

From Farm to Hanger – kind of says it all doesn’t it? This Australian ethical clothing company sources raw materials from a local farm where it is made into fabric and then sent directly to a local factory. They have a small but thoughtful range which covers basic t-shirts, activewear, and eco underwear for both men and women.

Price range: $30 – $60

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) certification
  • Free from exploitation
  • Locally sourced and produced fabric
  • Off-grid factories
  • Biodegradable elastic blends
  • Closed loop system
  • Fair trade
  • Low carbon footprint

Vege Threads

Vege Threads - Ethical Clothing Australia

Vege Threads is a great option for casual, sustainable everyday wear if you’re in Australia and looking for ethical clothing brands to support. Because their aim is to “tread lightly” and keep things simple and local, 100% of their clothing is made in Australia. In addition to their collection of casual essentials, Vege Threads has beautiful yoga wear, swimwear, and intimate wear.

Vege Threads is also a member of 1% for the Planet which uses their membership fees to donate to environmental projects.

Price range: $20 – $200

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) certification
  • Low carbon footprint
  • Local job creation
  • Organic cotton and hemp
  • Natural dyes
  • Transparent supply chain

Homie

HoMie

HoMie is so much more than an ethical clothing brand! This is a streetwear social enterprise that uses 100% of their profits towards providing basic necessities such as new clothing and skills development to uplift young, homeless Australians.

Do check out their HOMIE UPCYCLED range which features uniquely upcycled created t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies and trackpants.

Price range: $30 – $100

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) certification
  • Youth upliftment
  • Transparency
  • Safe working environment
  • Locally manufactured
  • Locally sourced cotton

“If production and consumption of apparel and footwear follow their current trajectories, increasing by another 63%, fashion’s environmental footprint will continue to contribute to the negative impacts on the planet. ”

Pulse of the Fashion Industry, Global Fashion Agenda & The Boston Consulting Group.

ethical clothing in the US

Tradlands

Tradlands - Ethical Clothing US

Sadie and Jeremy Roberts founded Tradlands in 2011 out of a desire to create long-lasting and well-tailored women’s essentials, . This Georgia-based company focusses on small batches of responsibly made sweaters, chinos, knitwear, dresses, and accessories that are all made to last.

Price Range: $30 – $200

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Consciously sourced fabrics
  • Long-lasting clothing
  • Fair living wages
  • Natural fabrics (cotton, silk, Tencel)
  • Artisan-made

Amour Vert

Amour Vert - Ethical Clothing US

“Effortlessly Sustainable” is what Amour Vert is all about, and this California-based ethical clothing company is committed to sustainable and stylish clothing for women and men.

As a result of their commitment to the environment, as part of their Plant a Tree partnership, Amour Vert has planted over 280,00 trees for every t-shirt bought.

Above all, we like that they work with local mills to create signature sustainable fabrics, which is a truly innovative move!

Price Range: $20 – $200

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Sustainable sources
  • Organic, biodegradable fabric
  • Recycled fabric
  • Ethical wool
  • Locally made in California
  • Fair living wages
  • Transparent supply chain

Nisolo

Nisolo - Ethical Clothing US

This Texas-based sustainable shoe brand places a big emphasis on fair working conditions and transparency. If you want to shop for more than shoes at Nisolo, consider checking out their Ethical Marketplace which lists curated items from brands they love. The Nisolo shoe range includes sneakers, boots, loafers, and heels and they also stock bags and accessories.

Nisolo is currently collaborating with Soles4Shoes which is an organisation that empowers micro-entrepreneurs with second-hand shoes to repair and sell in their communities. Like H&M’s collection program, Nisolo customers can drop off used shoes and receive discounts codes in exchange – pretty cool don’t you think?

Price range: $80 – $200

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Circular fashion model (reusing and recycling materials)
  • Transparency in their wages
  • Offsetting carbon emissions by planting trees
  • Safe working conditions
  • Fair Trade / Certified B Corporation

Fair Trade Winds

Fair Trade Winds - Ethical Clothing US

If you’re a dog person and eco-conscious shopper, you’ll love Fair Trade Winds! This ethical clothing company stocks fair trade brands from a network of artisan-led small business and is a member of the Fair Trade Federation. Their range includes gifts, clothing, bags, and jewellery as well as a wholesale option for other businesses who want to sell the items.

Dog-lovers can purchase “Socks that Save Dogs” and each purchase donates to animal shelters through the Best Friends Society.

Price range: $10 – $100

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Organic cotton
  • Upcycled fabrics
  • Fair Trade
  • Women empowerment
  • Free from exploitation
  • Artisan-made
  • Donations to charities

ABLE

Able - Ethical Clothing US

If you’re looking for an ethical clothing brand that is doing the hard work of transforming the fashion industry – ABLE is it. The company sources both local and international items and works directly with entrepreneurs and community leaders to support sustainable economic transformation in those areas.

Their lifestyle range includes everything from trendy clothing to bags and accessories. In addition, you can also choose to personalise certain items such as tote bags and necklaces.

Price range: $30 – $200

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Women empowerment
  • Fair living wages
  • Safe working conditions
  • Dedicated to fashion industry transformation

“Demand quality not just in the products you buy, but in the life of the person who made it.”

Orsola de Castro @orsoladecastro

Ethical Clothing in Canada

ANIÁN

ANIAN website screenshot

Human history is woven together by the cloth we have worn.  Our connection with clothing goes deeper than just a shirt, or something to toss on. ANIÁN knows and understands this. It is time to repair the disconnect between consumers and their clothing.  ANIÁN uses recycled textiles to weave the story of positive impactable clothing. With over 60,000 pounds of your old clothing resued from landfills this year, when you purchase ANIAN, you are changing the supply chain of textiles.  

You are picking away at a notoriously wasteful industry, and you are enacting the change this industry needs. ANIAN is weaving a new history into our clothing, a story of evolution, a story of change, a story of rectitude.

price range: $10 – $140

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • 100% locally made
  • Recycled textiles
  • No synthetic fibres
  • Circular fashion model
  • Transparent supply chain
  • Low carbon footprint

Free Label

Free label

This Vancouver-based ethical clothing company is dedicated to supporting the local economy. Whether it’s by setting up their factory close to home or by sourcing natural sustainable fibres for their garments and packaging, they’re all about keeping it 100% Canadian.

Their small batch clothing range features comfortable everyday tops and bottoms as well as reversible bras.

Price range: $40 – $100

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Safe work environment
  • 100% locally made
  • Low carbon footprint
  • Custom fabrics
  • Natural fabrics: cotton, bamboo, lyocell

Franc

Franc

Franc is big on re-usable fashion. Expect timeless designs that can be re-worn in any season such as box t-shirts, hoodies, long sleeved tops and other everyday essentials. This ethical clothing brand from Canada has a factory run by all women just a mere 30 km away from their office, keeping their carbon footprint low and their empowerment high!

Franc garments are made with TENCEL fibres and cotton blends which is a popular choice among eco-friendly clothing manufacturers.

Price range: $30 – $200

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Clothing made to last
  • Fair wages
  • Safe working environment
  • Women-run factory
  • Sustainable fabric (Tencel Cotton Blend)
  • Packaging made from compostable materials
  • Tags made from recycled paper

KOTN

When you hear Egyptian Cotton, you might think of highly priced garments, however KOTN is actually quite affordable and accessible with t-shirts starting at around $30. This is their goal: to make everyday items affordable and sustainable. Their range is comfortable, yet sophisticated with simple well-fitting timeless essentials such as shirt dresses, t-shirts, sweatshirts, pencil skirts, and trousers.

KOTN is a certified B Corporation, and this means that their impact is regularly measured by a global community. As part of this initiative, KOTN gives back to the Nile Delta community in Egypt by building schools and ensuring fair working conditions in their factories and suppliers.

Price range: $20 – $100

Why They’re A Good Ethical Clothing Choice:

  • Certified B Corporation
  • Authentic Egyptian Cotton
  • Transparent supply chain
  • Factory based in Egypt (Low carbon footprint)
  • Free from exploitation

how to shop ethically

Ethical clothing shopping is actually so much easier than you think it is. But if you are struggling to start, just make a few small changes in your everyday fashion habits by remembering the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

Here are a few tips to get you going:

  1. Start by clearing out your cupboard by removing all items you haven’t worn in the last 12 months.
  2. Then donate those items to an ethical clothing company or to family, friends, or needy communities. Check out H&M’s Garment Collection Program.
  3. Turn some garments into accessories such as handbags, totes, or entirely new pieces (think of how much you could with an old pair of jeans).
  4. Then pick a few ethical clothing brands from our list above and purchase long-lasting essentials that you can re-wear often (think of basic tees, shirts, socks, workwear etc.).
  5. Shop for locally-produced garments that have a low carbon footprint.
  6. Always avoid plastic bags and wasteful packaging.
  7. Above all, remember that the investment you make in ethical clothing will be worth it.

Doing your bit

In conclusion, ethical clothing companies are doing a lot for the environment and for the fashion industry as a whole. Your support helps to bring eco-friendly practices into the mainstream. In addition, this keeps their workers employed in fair and safe conditions.

So, do your bit to support ethical fashion by swapping out a few fast fashion brands for one of these fantastic companies on our list. Share this article far and wide and inspire the next person to make the right choice.

References

14 Sustainable Fashion Facts that Will Blow Your Mind – https://www.rubiconglobal.com/blog/14-sustainable-fashion-facts/

A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future – https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/A-New-Textiles-Economy_Full-Report.pdf

12 Crazy Affordable Ethical Clothing Brands – https://thelaurieloo.com/blog/affordable-ethical-clothing-brands

16 Sustainable Clothing Brands – https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/clothing/g27154605/sustainable-fashion-clothing/

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