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THIS not THAT: Ethical + Sustainable Fashion Brands

We all know the dilemma of walking into your local mall or outlet center and freaking out when you see that Forever 21 and H&M are having a sale, with hundreds of items being sold for less than $20 apiece. I am so guilty of jumping at any opportunity to get trendy clothing items for a bargain, but the sad reality we face is that discounted prices like these have a significant cost on the well-being of our environment. 

We all are aware that ethical and sustainable fashion brands are on the rise, and that shopping from these companies is way better for the environment. While the thought of paying quadruple the price for an item of clothing that we could easily buy for $15 is daunting, even small choices like these can have a significant impact on our environmental footprint. 

So, to make your life a little easier, I did the research and compiled a list of some adorable, amazingly ethical, and sustainable companies to replace some of our crowd favorites. Yes, giving up our favorite stores like Nike and Urban Outfitters seem like an impossible task, but you won’t be disappointed with these progressive yet trendy companies whose sole mission is to provide clothing that fits in with the trends and to use the most ethical processes to produce them. 

UNDERGARMENTS: Swap Out Victoria’s Secret for The Nude Label


Victoria’s Secret got out: they are one of the major contributors to unethical and unsustainable fashion in the US. Rather than running to your local retailer to get your own Bombshell bra, opt to shop at The Nude Label instead. Pricing isn’t that much different than Victoria’s Secret, with their items ranging from $24-60. Better yet, all of their products are made out of organic cotton and they are chemical free. That means there’s no harmful toxins or pesticides used, the dyes are non-toxic, and their products are hypo-allergenic. Their items match the trends you see on Victoria’s Secret and Aerie’s websites too. 

SNEAKERS/SHOES: Swap out Nike for Allbirds


Sadly, the crowd-favorite sneaker brand is considered to be one of the biggest users of child labor overseas. While I have always considered Nike to be my holy grail, next time I need a good pair of running shoes, I am definitely going to shop at Allbirds. Their shoes are made from the wool of Merino sheep, and their farming process uses 60% less energy than competing sneaker brands. If it couldn’t get better, most of their sneakers are made out of recycled materials like cardboard and plastic water bottles. Their pricing is also very comparable to the prices of sneakers from Nike or Adidas, and the various shoe styles look just as trendy as the ones you would see on Steve Madden’s website. 

EVERYDAY CLOTHING: Swap out Forever 21 for Reformation


One of the most up-and-coming ethical clothing brands is Reformation. My Instagram feeds have been filled with influencers modeling their styles, so I couldn’t help but check out the brand myself. I will admit that their clothing tends to be a little more on the pricey side, but their company mission and commitment to sustainability makes the prices worth it. Most of their clothing is made from eucalyptus trees and organic cotton as a result of their ethical fiber standards. Additionally, many of their items are made out of recycled textiles and donated clothing. 

WORKOUT CLOTHES: Swap out GymShark for Athleta


I have dabbled in my share of high-quality athletic wear, ranging from GymShark, to LuluLemon, and even Athleta. However, Athleta takes the cake for being the most sustainable and high-quality. GymShark is an unethical contributor, while Athleta claims that 75% of the material in their clothes is made from sustainable materials. Aside from just athletic-wear, they also sell loungewear, undergarments, and swimwear. Better yet, their prices are lower than LuluLemon, and only slightly more expensive than GymShark.

JEWELRY: Swap out Urban Outfitters and Zara for Mejuri


Jewelry is definitely the most difficult category for me to splurge on, and I have definitely tried to do my research on jewelry companies that are worth the money. One of the first I found was Mejuri, an adorable jewelry store with the least expensive jewelry options, but the best quality items. In addition to being ethical and sustainable, they are all about diversity and inclusion. What’s better than that? Sixty percent of their production partners are world-renowned suppliers certified by Responsible Jewelry Council, the international standard bearer for ensuring supply chain sustainability, labor rights and integrity across the jewelry industry. Their products are a mix of recycled and locally mined gold, as well as ethically sourced diamonds and gemstones, and their designs are SO cute.

Cassie Smith is a current Psychology major with a minor in Rhetoric & Composition at Holy Cross. When she'd not spending her time working for HerCampus, she's catching up with friends, graphic designing on her iPad, or perfectly organizing her Pinterest boards and Spotify playlists.
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