5 Ethical Clothing Brands with Clothes You'll Actually Want to Buy

We all feel it: That twinge of guilt when you’re in the check-out line of Forever 21, Primark, or whatever other fast-fashion-ridiculously-cheap-but-really-cute outlet that’s closest to campus. You love the glittery black crop-top and the acid wash high-waisted shorts, but you don’t love the horrid environmental impact you know they have on our planet.

In an article from The Independent titled “The Environmental Costs of Fast Fashion”, Patsy Perry stated that “criticisms of fast fashion include its negative environmental impact, water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals and increasing levels of textile waste.”

Not to mention that when you spend $4 on a tee-shirt, often you get what you pay for; three wears and then it falls apart, or simply goes out of style.

And trust us, we've heard the complaints about ethical clothing brands: They’re expensive, they’re hard to find, and more often than not the clothes just aren’t cute.

But fear not! Here is a list of the best ethical brands! Whether you’re looking for a new pair of mom jeans or the perfect fall bomber, these brands have you covered (minus the pollution and deforestation–woohoo!). 

Scale:

$= Cheap enough to get jeans and the boots.

$$= Maybe just the jeans.

$$$= Save up, and then get the jeans.

1. Reformation 

The Reformation

$$$ Perfect for: Special occasions, and dresses that you’re going to wear forever.

This feminine online boutique boats the slogan, “Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. Reformation is #2,” and designs beautifully fitted clothes using sustainable fabrics.

You can read about their dedication to sustainability on their website, where they list the fabrics they use, the factories where their clothes are made, and what they’re doing to make sure their brand keeps women and the planet looking fabulous.

Their pieces are a little pricier, but if you’re in the market for something a little fancier (think: a kick-ass dress for sorority recruitment, moonlit date night, or that wedding you have to go to in the Spring) then Reformation is the place for you.

My favorite pieces right now:

 The Cashmere Crew                 

The Maya Dress 

The Gretel Dress

 

2. Everlane   

Everlane 

$$ Perfect for: A killer blazer to nail that interview.

If you’re looking for trendy, glittery, wear-once-and-throw-away articles of clothing, Everlane is not the place for you. This brand’s claim to fame is “modern essentials” that you’ll wear again and again.

With the motto, “Exceptional quality, Ethical Factories, Radical Transparency,” Everlane is committed to making sure you know where your clothes are coming from. On their website you can read about the factories their clothes are made in, the materials they’re made with, and even exactly how much each item costs to make so you know you’re not being charged sky-high markups.

Everlane even has a “Choose What You Pay” option for some of their clothes to avoid overproduction. They state, “Sometimes we love a design so much that we overproduce it. We’re getting better at predicting demand, but to move overstock on selected items, we’re letting you choose what you pay. Enjoy.”

So if you’re looking for a sleek, well-made, timeless piece that was produced ethically by a brand that cares (a lot) about what they’re doing, Everlane is the place for you.

My favorite pieces right now:

The Cashmere Turtleneck Dress   

The Italien GoWeave Classic Blazer

The Day Heel

3. Urban Outfitters: Urban Renewal 

Urban Outfitters: Urban Renewal

$$ Perfect for: A quirky vintage flannel or a fun oversized jacket. (a.k.a. standout pieces you’ll get tons of compliments on)

Urban Outfitters has always been a go-to for bold, it-girl pieces, but did you know they have a whole section of their store with made-in-America, sustainably up-cycled garments made from sourced remnant materials?

Find the collection online under the ‘vintage’ tab, and be treated to a plethora of fun, throwback styles like 90s A-line dresses and 80s trucker jackets, all made sustainably.

While Urban Renewal might not be a transparent as Everlane or The Reformation, it’s a huge step for a brand as large-scale and influential as Urban Outfitters to promote more ethically-made clothes. Show the collection some love, and hopefully, it will encourage other brands to make the same commitment.

My favorite pieces right now: 

Button-Down Flannel Shirt              

Menswear Plaid Mini Dress      

Patterned Cropped Sweater                 

4. H&M Conscious

H&M Conscious  

$ Perfect for: Everything from a lacy maroon blouse to a plain black tank top. H&M has it all.

Like Urban Outfitters, H&M introduced a “Conscious” collection a few years ago to help curb their environmental impact. The pieces are still H&M cheap and trendy, but with a sustainable backing that makes you feel like you’re doing good for the planet.

Their brand new “Conscious Exclusive” Collection was just released for Fall 2018 boasting, “a wonderful range of sustainable fabrics in [the] collection, like recycled cashmere, the new velvet made from recycled polyester as well as the use of leftover ECONYL® from the previous collection,” according to Cecilia Brännsten, the Environmental Sustainability Manager at H&M group.

Again, a mega-brand like H&M promoting environmental awareness is a great way to encourage other brands to do the same (We’re looking at you, Forever 21.) Plus, the clothes tend to be made a little better than traditional H&M clothes as well, so you can keep wearing your conscious sweaters with pride long after the cheaper ones would have unraveled.

My favorite pieces right now: 

V-neck Cashmere Sweater  

Cotton Blouse With Lace  

Wool-blend Cape

5. Known Supply 

Known Supply

$ Perfect for: Pretty, on-trend basics that you won’t be able to get enough of.

“Creating jobs. Changing Lives” is the motto for this put-a-smile-on-your-face brand. The company works to end help break the cycle of poverty for women in need across the globe.

Ever wonder who makes the clothes you buy online? With Known Supply, you don’t have to wonder. With each purchase, the brand introduces you to the woman who made the product. Each woman has an online profile that tells you where they’re from, what their hobbies are, and what their hopes are for the future.

Bonus: There’s even an option to send a thank you to the woman who made your clothes. With Known Supply, you get affordable clothes made with love that you’ll feel proud of wearing.

My favorite pieces right now: 

Louise Top                            

She is We Tank by Dazey LA   

Hollie Dress

So, before you throw away more money on a crop top that will fall apart in a month, check out the brands that are actually doing something good for the planet! Trust us, you’ll feel a lot better about clearing a paycheck on clothes that you feel good about.

 

Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!