One of the strongest responses we’ve ever gotten on our social media accounts is when we addressed the myriad problems facing the fast fashion industry – from copycat designs to massive contributions to environmental damage. Clearly, it seems, we had touched a nerve. We witnessed our readers passionately debating the merits (or lack thereof) in the comments section of Facebook, and realized that there is a huge desire for consumers to have access to clothes that are ethically made, environmentally sustainable, and that one can wear free of a guilty conscience. Sure, there are luxury brands like Gabriela Hearst and Stella McCartney who are doing awesome things with their companies, but if you really want to ditch fast fashion, your replacement has to be, well, affordable.
After lots of research, we landed on the following 13 modestly priced retail brands. We picked them because they are really doing something special in the realm of ethical fashion – from transparent business practices and committing to a circular economy to paying all of their workers a living wage (especially those that make the clothes!). Plus, their stylish products mean your wardrobe won’t miss a beat when it comes to stocking up on fashion-forward looks. If you’re committed to ditching Zara, H&M, and other fast-fashion brands that are responsible for overflowing landfills, sweatshop labor, and flooding drinkable water with toxic substances, you’ll love every brand. Remember, an informed shopper is an empowered shopper.
Full disclosure? There is one brand on the list offering amazing products that are slightly more expensive (think: AED 1,000 or less), but nothing is too unattainable, and some of it is downright bargain-worthy.
Reformation is likely an ethical fashion brand that you’re already familiar with, given its popularity among A-list celebrities and style influencers. Its clothes are totally on-trend all the time, and sustainability is at the core of its business model. Win-win. All products are manufactured in the brand’s downtown LA headquarters or produced by ethical manufacturing partners using sustainable methods and materials. The company’s mission is to “lead and inspire a sustainable way to be fashionable”. This year, it also announced that it would extend its covetable offerings to plus sizes, and now offers an extended range up to 3X.
Shop Reformation here.
Sakai, a little-known Swedish, vegan, ethically produced clothing line, has been flying under the radar for too long. Its aesthetic is very on-brand (think Swedish minimalism), and its fabrics are as soft as clouds and beautifully crafted. You definitely won’t feel guilty after investing in pieces from this brand.
Shop Sakai here.
If you’re shopping for fashion that’s entirely organic, but still progressive and vibrant, you’ll love Gorman. Its passion for increasing environmental awareness means the brand never compromises on the integrity of materials used. All of the clothing in the organic range is certified, sustainable, and made without pesticides or chemical processing. Gorman also focuses on strong partnerships with independent illustrators and artists to create its whimsical prints.
Shop Gorman here.
Modern Citizen offers refined style at affordable price points, with even its most luxurious products topping off around AED 700. From chic jumpsuits and sculptural jewelry to minimalist leather totes, its offerings are just what the sophisticated woman wants to wear.
Shop Modern Citizen here.
For classic, long-lasting basics that are ethically made, sustainably sourced, and affordable, look no further than SiiZU. Not only is the brand incredibly transparent with its business practices, but the beautiful quality of its clothes proves that organic materials and ethical practices make for great partners.
Shop SiiZU here.
Feminine textiles, nature-inspired prints, and striped knitwear can all be found in Komodo Fashion’s ethically crafted collections. This brand has been around since 1988 and was one of the early pioneers in creating clothes from 100 percent organic, all-natural fiber materials.
Shop Komodo Fashion here.
Although the majority of ethical-fashion brands on this list are also incredibly affordable, Either And falls on the more expensive side. However, that’s hardly a deterrent when you catch an eyeful of the brilliantly designed, on-trend, minimalist, and sustainably sourced clothing and accessories.
Shop Either And here.
The radical transparency of Everlane is reflected in the brand’s motto: “Know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why.” And we couldn’t love the concept more. Everlane’s products are made only in ethical factories that have been thoroughly vetted by a team of experts, and the costs are never marked up.
Shop Everlane here.
Operating out of Kolkata, India, Kowtow’s clothing is made by workers who are provided dozens of incredible benefits, from clean and comfortable workspaces to education and donation programs for the local village’s farmers. The brand is 100 percent committed not only to the people who manufacture its garments but also to using only Fair Trade, organic materials. Plus, they’ve really stepped up their design game in the past year, and their inspiring message has even found its way to an established brick-and-mortar boutique in Paris.
Shop Kowtow here.
One complaint that shoppers have about ethical, organic fashion is that it tends to be rather plain. Enter: Matter. The brand’s colorful and enticing prints inject flare and flavor into the slow-fashion movement, and its prints “matter” because they’re reinterpretations of heritage textiles made in partnership with artisans.
Shop Matter here.
People Tree is one of the OG ethical fashion brands and was highlighted in the eye-opening documentary The True Cost because of its stringent business practices and methods. The brand not only developed “the first integrated supply chain for organic cotton from farm to final product”, but it was also the first ever to receive the Global Organic Textile Standard certification. Its clothes are made in partnership with artisans in the developing world who are well-trained and make above a living wage.
Shop People Tree here.
Sunad prides itself on providing slow fashion that is accessibly priced. In fact, all of Sunad’s products are made in Spain from 100 percent natural-fiber materials, making the effortlessly chic quality of its clothes that much more inviting.
Shop Sunad here.
If you’re shopping for a special occasion but are committed to ethical fashion, Agaati is your new best friend. This Los Angeles-based company is stocked with gorgeous dresses in a wide variety of styles that won’t break the bank. Plus, all of its clothing is Fair Trade, artisan-made, and ethically sourced. The brand also operates on a “zero waste” philosophy, which means everything gets used or recycled back into production.
Shop Agaati here.