The best ethical and sustainable brands to shop – that won’t break the bank!
Affordable Ethical and Sustainable Brands
Hey friends! This post took me a little bit longer to put together than I thought it would, but OMG I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT IT! As most of you know, there has been some disappointing news about 2 of my favorite brands (you can read here and here), so I’ve been trying to find other sustainable brands while they work to win me back as a customer. I was finding some really gorgeous brands, but they were pricey and I know I’m not the only one who is trying to watch my budget right now. Luckily, when I asked you guys to help me out, you totally came through for me!
I broke down my favorites, your suggestions, and a few other brands I discovered into 4 categories for you: basics, activewear, shoes/accessories, and swim/dresses. Also, since affordability is a subjective term, I tried to call out when some brands are more expensive than others… but even the brands that I haven’t tried look like they are super high quality. Let’s dive in!
Sustainable Brands: Basics
Let’s start with one of my favorite sustainable brands! I’ve been a fan of Madewell for a long time – and it was very dangerous when I used to live within walking distance of the store 😂 That’s where I got my favorite boyjeans (seen here), the black shoulder bag I wear in nearly every post (specifically here and here), and a ton of items from my Fall Capsule Wardrobe last year. They also have a bunch of items in petite sizing which I always appreciate. You can read about their Social Responsibility here, as well as their 2020 sustainability efforts here!
OMG I am SO EXCITED about this discovery. Kotn has tons of affordable basics made from soft and breathable Egyptian cotton. They also work directly with farmers and pay fair prices for cotton, as well as helping their suppliers switch to organic. But the best part? Most of which are $20, $25, or $30! Yes, please!! Also, this cropped sweatshirt is a little bit more, but it’s calling my name.
Not only does Able have a commitment to quality – but they also have a commitment to quality of life by creating economic opportunities for women to provide for themselves. That means that all of their gorgeous clothing, shoes, and bags are made by fairly paid women that they have invested in training and educating so that they can earn a living and break the cycle of poverty.
Are you a fan of capsule wardrobes?! Then, you are going to LOVE THIS COMPANY. They have a collection called The Core 10 that includes the 10 items women rely on most. This is because they believe that one of the most sustainable things we can do is wear our clothes often and wash them less. All of their clothing is designed with that in mind using quality fabrics that can be worn a lot without falling apart and can be washed right at home.
Pact has soft organic clothing for you… and everyone else in the family. Their clothes are also GOTS Certified and fair trade. I’m especially excited about their affordable tanks and tees (most around $25 to $35) – and they also have underwear, too!
Mate’s basics are a definitely more expensive than Pact, but they come very highly recommended! Everything is made ethically in Lost Angeles with GOTS Certified Organic Cotton and non toxic, low impact dyes. I really want this “Give A Damn” tee…
I haven’t ever purchased anything from Marine Layer, but my brother and Adam both own and LOVE this pullover. If all of their other clothes are as high quality as that, I definitely recommend giving them a shot! They also have a ton of information about their sustainability efforts, including the fact that 75% of their fabrics developed in 2019 use sustainable materials and 81% of their fabrics developed in 2020 have or will use sustainable materials.
Sustainable Brands: Activewear
I have been trying to buy their bike shorts and paloma bra all summer, but they keep selling out! I would be upset, but I’m so excited that a company like this is thriving that it’s okay! Girlfriend Collective is not only sustainable, but it’s also inclusive, with sizes ranging from XXS to 6XL! Their activewear includes bras, shorts, leggings, tees, and underwear made out of recycled materials like water bottles and fishing nets. So. Cool.
If you’ve been following a while, you know that I looove Outdoor Voices (evidence here, here, and here!). I always say that they are the best when you are going to be working out in front of other people because the material they use is a lot thicker than other brands, therefore, you don’t have to worry about being on display at all 😉 They source sustainable textiles, including sustainably sourced merino wool and recycled polyester made from water bottles. They also prioritize fair working conditions and ethical labor practices. Just make sure you size up, their stuff runs small!
Did you know that 60% of Athleta’s materials are made with sustainable fibers?! I didn’t! I also love that they have inclusive sizing, too. I’m currently eyeing this crop tank and these are great running shorts!
Sustainable Brands: Shoes and Accessories
I’m pretty sure my Allbirds skippers are the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever owned. I like to call them “my dog walking shoes” because I can walk as long as Luna wants to in those babies. Not only are Allbirds shoes insanely comfortable, but they are also committed to eliminating their products’ carbon footprint. They are doing this by incorporating things like natural and recycled materials into their products, as well as offsetting any emissions… with a goal to emit no carbon in the first place. So cool, right? Next time I need new fitness sneakers, I’m getting these cute ones FOR SURE.
Okay, I know Cuyana has more than just accessories – but I’m putting them in this category because their clothes are a little pricey, but their bags are AMAZING (and very comparable in price compared to other leather bags out there!). I own two of their bags, both of which aren’t available anymore, but I gifted my sister this saddle bag that will never go out of style. As for sustainability, their whole motto is Fewer, Better. They aim to produce responsibly from raw material to finished good. All of their items are also thoughtfully designed to inspire you to rewear over and over, reducing your need for anything new.
This is my friend’s handbag and jewelry company and I can’t recommend her stuff enough. I actually designed a little capsule collection of jewelry with her last winter, and you can still get the necklace! I also own and love this black leather bag and these octagon earrings. You can also use code LAKESHORELADY for a discount!
Rothy’s has transformed 45+ million plastic water bottles into their signature flexible durable thread material. All of their bags and shoes are also 3D knit into their shapes which results in less waste than typical manufacturing. I have TONS of friends (including my Mom!) who are obsessed with their sneakers. I also really want to try their masks!
I’ve been eyeing Nisolo shoes for a long time because they’re gorgeous, but I also love that they are extremely committed to both sustainable and ethical practices. They have a blog with tons of articles diving into different aspects of that, along with their Ethical Marketplace, which they created to lift up other brands with similar standards.
Sustainable Brands: Swim, Dresses, and more!
I’ve been hearing great things about Summersalt for a while, but I had no idea they were sustainable! They are committed to ongoing development, research, and trials for sustainable fabrics, as well as making sure their operations and products are as eco-friendly as possible. My sister in law has this one piece and it is the cutest. A new swimsuit might be in order this year!
I know, I’m surprised that I’m listing Abercrombie here too… but last year, they became a signatory of the United Nations Global Impact. Who knew?! This is the world’s largest corporate citizenship and sustainability initiative and it means that Abercrombie has committed to principles around human rights, labor, environmental impacts, and anti-corruption.
I discovered Amour Vert when I took a very quick trip to San Francisco a few years ago, but I’ve never purchased anything. That being said, researching for this post made me want to change that! Depending on what you’re looking for, it isn’t the most affordable – but there are lots of tops under $60 and I looove this versatile dress for $128. They also have a TON of sustainability efforts, including planting a tree for every tee purchased. So cool, right?
Boden has been around for over 25 years, but they are always innovating to make sustainable and affordable clothes for the whole family. They even ship your order in recycled and recyclable packing! Basics are usually under $50, but their dresses are typically between $100 and $200. Someone taller than me, please buy this midi skirt – I’m in love!
Need new undies? Parade uses a fabric called Replay, which is made of 85% recycled polyamide. All of their materials are also Oeko-Tex certified which means they are free from harmful chemicals!
This gorgeous French brand isn’t as affordable as some of the other brands featured here, but holy moly, their clothes are beautiful. They are also working with environmental experts to obtain certifications, alternative production methods, and searching for new eco-friendly materials.
Did I miss any of your favorite sustainable brands?
Let me know in the comments!