Let’s face it: fast fashion exploits both humans and the environment. It’s is the second-most polluting industry in the world (right behind oil), and most fashion workers don’t earn enough money to provide for their basic needs. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
Many people around the world are leaving behind the ever-changing trends of fast fashion, and switching to a more thoughtful and sustainable way of dressing. Start the revolution in your own closet with these ethical brands making a difference in the world!
1. Orenda Tribe
Orenda Tribe is a collective of independent artisans, most of whom are Indigenous, who create breathtaking new pieces from reclaimed and vintage materials. From jumpsuits to jewelry, hats to home furnishings, you’re going to fall in love with the unique character and artistry of each Orenda Tribe piece.
Orenda Tribe is also doing some incredible work to give back and uplift communities on Dinétah (Navajo ancestral land), which have been heavily impacted by the pandemic this year. You can help the cause and get yourself some cool stuff by buying from their ongoing Spread Love + Shine Light auction; 100% of the proceeds will go toward providing critical aid to Diné communities.
For every item you buy, TenTree will plant ten trees. Their clothes are super cute, sustainably & ethically-made, and each item even comes with it’s own tree code tag, so you can track where your trees are planted. The more codes you register, the more information you’ll receive about the impact your purchase has made!
3. b.Yellowtail Collective
b.Yellowtail is a collective of Native American and First Nations artisans and entrepreneurs. They sell “heirloom quality” jewelry, clothing, shoes, and even beauty care products, all of which are thoughtfully handmade using time-honored traditional methods.
“With tradition and culture at the heart of what we do, we’ve set out to share authentic indigenous creations with the world, while providing an empowering, entrepreneurial platform for native peoples.” –b.Yellowtail Collective
4. Aliya Wanek
Sometimes you just need something simple. With comfortable daywear made from all natural fibers in timeless, Japanese-influenced silhouettes, therapist and designer Aliya Wanek is making soft, neutral favorites everyone will love.
Ethically and sustainably made in the United States, often by Wanek’s own hand, this size-inclusive clothing brand is focused on exploring the relationship between identity and style through comfortable clothing for all body types.
Symbology makes clothes that are designed to remind us of our common humanity. Each piece is handcrafted by women artisans from marginalized communities, using their traditional crafts methods to create meaningful pieces with motifs that are found in cultures across the world. In addition to prints that celebrate unity in diversity, Symbology specializes in gorgeous, size-inclusive silhouettes that compliment every body type.
Symbology is committed to fair trade, eliminating poverty by employing and empowering women artisans in developing countries, paying them a liveable wage and keeping traditional artisan crafts alive.
6. The Lonely Kids Club
If you’re looking for unique casual clothes you can wear everyday, you’re going to love The Lonely Kids Club. Made by hand from locally sourced fabrics in Sydney, Australia, The Lonely Kids Club is a quirky, affordable brand that believes in individuality, mental health advocacy, and ethical slow fashion.
7. Kirrin Firch
As a woman who loves menswear-inspired fashion, it can be really hard to find clothes that both my aesthetic and my body. The founders and designers at Kirrin Firch had the same frustrations, so they created their own brand of menswear for women and nonbinary people.
Their clothes are ethically and sustainably manufactured using all-natural, eco-friendly materials. Say goodbye to ill-fitting shirts from the men’s section and flimsy approximations from the women’s, and say hello to the dapper clothing of your dreams!
8. Origami Customs
If you ever have trouble finding bras and underwear that fit your body, your style, and your conscience, you’re not alone. Many consumers have been looking for alternatives to brands like Victoria’s Secret, which is notorious for its use of sweatshops, environmentally unsustainable practices, and discouragement of diversity. Instead of cookie-cutter undergarments that push an outdated idea of beauty, you deserve underwear that’s as unique and well-made as you are.
That’s where Origami Customs comes in. This size-inclusive brand makes affordable, customized undergarments, swimsuits, and other essentials for people of all genders. Whether you’re looking for a bralette or a binder, Origami Customs will custom make exactly what you need to fit your awesome body at no additional cost to you. Their clothes are affordable, affirming, and adored by their customers ( just look at their reviews!).
Origami Customs is committed to ethical labor practices and closed-loop sustainable manufacturing. More than 5% of their total earnings go to supporting grassroots initiatives and NGOs combating racism, supporting Indigenous sovereignty, helping fight climate catastrophe, and more. They even offer free undergarments for transfeminine customers who face significant financial barriers to the affirming clothes they need!
9. Girlfriend Collective
Say goodbye to Lululemon, because we’ve just found your new favorite active-wear brand. Girlfriend Collective’s clothes are adorable, more affordable, and they come in sizes for all bodies and stages of life, including maternity! Girlfriend Collective goes above and beyond to be transparent about their sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing practices. You can rest easy knowing exactly what you’re paying for when you buy your new favorite pair of leggings.
As awesome as their clothes and ethical, sustainable practices are, what real won us over about this brand is how much they care. Far from making empty promises about being “here for you in these troubling times,” this brand really has taken initiative to help the community in 2020.
They created an initiative called Girlfriend to Girlfriend to support small businesses and creators impacted by the pandemic, and have created a whole page of their website to provide suggestions for antiracist learning materials and promote Black-owned businesses. From June 25th until supplies last, 100% of proceeds from their Everyday GF sock & underwear collection will be donated to The Loveland Foundation, The Okra Project, and the NAACP Legal & Defense Fund, at a minimum of $20k each.
We all have those pieces we wonder how we ever managed without, and you’ll find your next one at ABLE. Whether you’re looking for shoes, bags, jewelry, or clothes, ABLE is wear you’re going to find your next favorite thing. From sandals to totes, they specialize in the kind of versatile pieces that will look stylish with pretty much anything you decide to mix and match them with.
ABLE is committed to changing the fashion industry from the inside, both with their fabulous clothing designs and their ethical labor practices. ABLE was created to break the cycle of poverty in struggling communities by providing women with empowering employment at the wages they deserve. ABLE even publishes their lowest wages online, so you can see exactly what they mean by “liveable wage.” It may seem like a common decency thing to do, but in a fashion industry that still relies heavily on slavery, underpaid labor, and child labor, ABLE’s commitment to transparency and accountability is downright brave.
Gracemade is a faith-based, Black-owned brand committed to ethical, sustainable, adorable fashion. Moved by faith to care for creation and workers, Gracemade produces all of their clothes locally in smaller batches to reduce waste, using locally sourced and discarded materials from wasteful fast fashion manufacturers. To ensure fair compensation for their workers, they allow their manufacturers to set the cost of production. Gracemade donates a portion of proceeds from all purchases to Life Impact International, an organization which rescues children from slavery.
12. Arrow + Phoenix
For cute, size-inclusive swimwear, you just can’t beat Arrow + Phoenix. This body-positive brand makes swimsuits from 100% recycled materials and 100% recycled yarn, and are 75% more energy efficient than comparable brands. Their swimsuits are made with sand resistance, chlorine resistance, shape retention, UV protection, and are known for being “one of the softest fabrics on the market.”
If you’ve heard how industries like the diamond trade fuel human suffering, you’re probably looking for a jewelry alternative that uplifts people and communities instead of exploiting and destroying them. SOKO is a women-led B Corp certified ethical jewelry brand that empowers artisan communities in Kenya by providing them access to a global market.
SOKO specializes in sleek, contemporary pieces that are simple, elegant, and timeless. SOKO’s jewelry is sourced and made ethically by artisans who earn five times more than they would at an average workshop, helping these entrepreneurs and their communities achieve economic sovereignty.
14. Sarep + Rose
For creative, unique handbags, you’re going to want to check out Sarep + Rose. This Pan-African brand aims to empower African artisans and promote traditional African craftsmanship countries like Liberia, Kenya, and the Cote D’Ivoire, where the influx of second-hand clothing from America and Europe has endangered previously thriving textile and leather industries.
Each stylish handbag, wallet, and shoe is designed in New York by Liberian entrepreneur Robin Sirleaf and is sourced and produced by entirely by artisans in developing African nations, creating a sustainable source of income for artisan families and communities.
If you’re looking for a new pair of running shoes, Allbirds provides an ethical, sustainable alternative to brands like Nike. This certified B Corp makes all their shoes using sustainable, ethically-sourced materials. Even their boxes are made with recycled cardboard!
Allbirds’ shoes are simple, stylish, and logo-free, which is super refreshing in our brand-dominated sneaker industry. They’re also super comfortable; if you’re unsure, you can try them out for thirty days and if you don’t like them, Allbirds will take them back, no questions asked. They donate these lightly used shoes to Soles4Souls, which provides shoes to people in need around the world.
What are your favorite ethical clothing brands? Share your favorites in the comments below!
Featured Image Source via OrendaTribe.com
A. A. Ford is a writer from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a student majoring in English and Theology at the University of Notre Dame. In addition to her articles for Society 19, Ford is known for her poetry and fiction, which can be found at https://aafordstories.wordpress.com/. In her free time, she loves directing stage theater, spending time with her friends and family, and trying her best to glorify God by her life.