Affordable ethical clothing from sustainable fashion brands is THE new fashion trend that we believe is here to stay. At the moment it has a bit of a cult following, but fingers crossed that it will become the norm over the next few years.
I do like the idea of slow fashion and buying classic, sustainable styles that you can wear for several seasons. It makes me feel like I’m channelling Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly somehow. In all honesty, I’ve never been a super fan of shopping and have had a few staples that spent time in my wardrobe for 10+ year stints. Perhaps it’s because I am tall with long legs, I’ve come to appreciate finding extra-long trousers and holding on to them for dear life as most pairs come up short – quite literally.
We all have our own body quirks that we have to shop around right? Mass-produced fashion for stereotype shapes isn’t the best way to a great, flattering fit. I’m definitely a fan for less is more – it sounds like less work, don’t you agree?
Now that fast fashion is taking notice, with H&M being the most recent brand to jump on the Sustainable Fashion brands bandwagon it is starting to trickle into the mainstream. Pressure from shoppers and sustainable values from both employees and customers are taking hold throughout the industry. But, I don’t believe that any fast-fashion brand can be part of this movement unless they fundamentally change their business model by reducing excessive sales and growth targets. Pushing customers to buy more stuff made out of more sustainable fabrics isn’t a sustainable model.
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What’re our Criteria for Selecting Affordable Ethical Clothing Brands?
To be truly sustainable it’s important to evaluate the full supply chain and lifecycle of the product from cradle right through to its grave as much as possible. Where does the cotton, rayon or viscose come from, as even though these fabrics are made from natural fibres it might have come from cutting down the rainforest?
Unfortunately, we can’t inspect each brand personally so have to rely on the information they provide, but we do try our best to dig a little deeper into practices.
When it comes to fashion, design and aesthetics are key drivers in making a great brand. Just being sustainable or ethical is not enough to cut through the clutter, great design and more classic lines, that can be fashionable for several seasons are vitally important.
Our 10 Best Affordable Ethical Clothing and Accessory Brands
BAM is an activewear/sustainable athleisure brand made from bamboo fabric, which some people debate for its sustainability because it’s a hard wood-like material to work with. However, BAM tracks their material from a sustainably managed forest right through to the production and manufacturing of the garments.
They were founded from owner David’s garage back in 2006 and believe in creating a viable and environmentally sustainable business – which really is all that we’re asking for right?
If you’re an active lifestyle enthusiast, do yourself a favour and follow these guys on Instagram they tend to post fun adventures and some epic outdoor activity pics. Their handle is @bamboo_clothing.
Elvis & Kresse have been rescuing raw materials and turning them into luxury lifestyle accessories in the UK since 2005. They also donate 50% of their profits to charitable causes.
The bags, homeware and accessories produced by Elvis & Kresse are mainly made from decommissioned fire hoses. Saved from landfill this company makes beautiful products from an unusual material that will last season after season.
The company has been saving London’s fire-hoses for over a decade now, rescuing roughly 200 tons of material from landfill. More recently in 2017, they partnered with the Burberry Foundation to tackle an even bigger global leather waste issue which helped save at least 120 tonnes of Burberry’s leather off-cuts from landfill. So if you’d like accessories that are sustainable and made of decommissioned firehose and Burberry quality leather in a sustainable way Elvis & Kresse is the place to be!
Elvis & Kresse is a luxury brand on the higher end of the price bracket, but their items are absolutely beautifully crafted!
Founded back in 1991 People Tree is a pioneer in sustainable fashion as they’ve been going since before sustainable fashion and ethical clothing was even a thing people worried about. People Tree is one of those companies who consider sustainability practices throughout their supply chain from start to finish. Some of their collections use TENCEL Lyocell which is made from natural sustainable fibres, they also use organic cotton and responsible wool.
They are a contemporary and playful brand and feature exclusive prints that are inspired by the V&A archives. People Tree support the “who made my clothes” movement by providing information about the makers of their items online.
Based in the UK and founded in the UK, Nomads is inspired by Indian culture and design. Products are made from natural fibres using fair trade practices.
Owners Dunkan and Vicky met in Pushkar, Rajasthan where they fell in love with Indian culture. After spending some time travelling they used their last bit of travel money to invest in a selection of fair trade items from Nepal. These were sold at a market stall in Camden, London and that’s where it all started.
Since their humble beginnings, they continue to create affordable ethical clothing that celebrates traditional artisan craftsmanship and natural fibres. Nomads are now available in over 350 shops around the world.
Thought was founded in Australia way back in 1995 as Braintree Clothing and originally used sustainable ramie and hemp fabrics. They have since moved their head office to the UK and expanded their range to include other sustainable fibres.
The founders are passionate about using natural and sustainable fabrics throughout the range, however, note that they do use recycled polyester in some products which is a plastic derivative.
Thought’s range focus on a more simplistic silhouette that brings timeless chic and wearability to their pieces. They are a true slow fashion brand in that sense as their collection is practical, yet flattering and their clothing is designed to last.
Nancy Dee is a pioneering women’s wear label that takes great care in considering the full lifecycle of their products from the source right through to the end of life. Designs are inspired by vintage lines and garments are made to be beautiful and long-lasting.
Nancy Dee was created in 2008 based on a belief that responsible fashion is possible and is exclusively designed and made in Britain.
Their collection is inspired by contemporary classic designs and they specialise in jersey fabrics from renewable natural sources such as bamboo & organic cotton. They also use Modal, originating from beech wood and some fabrics are from up-cycled material that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Synergy is based in Santa Cruz California and is committed to the highest quality organic cotton. Products are manufactured in Nepal and their commitment to sustainability can be traced throughout the supply chain.
Based out of Australia, Shift to Nature carries everything from sought after basics in luxury organic cotton leggings, bamboo essentials, beautifully made organic cotton t-shirts, dresses and activewear for ethical yoga and pilates or just lounging around.
Crafted in California, Amour Vert, address all aspects of their business operations and the full lifecycle of a garment with their sustainability practices. Garments are made from sustainable fabrics in limited quantities to ensure minimum waste.
Alternative Apparel’s garments are crafted with sustainable materials & processes, including organic & recycled materials, low-impact dyes & water-conserving washes. They support the Fashion Revolution movement making it clear who manufactured their product.