We all want to do our best for the planet but we all have a budget to manage.
It's all well and good to want to buy from ethical fashion brands but when their “sustainable clothing” costs a fortune, it's simply not practical.
That's why we wanted to take a deep dive into the world of less expensive sustainable fashion.
These cheap brands operate in a price range that allows us mere mortals to afford building a wardrobe of sustainable brands without going broke.
Why Does Sustainable Fashion Get So Expensive At Times?
There's no doubt that many a sustainable clothing brand can justify their high price range for their clothing.
They'll point out that researching recycled materials isn't cheap and that fair labor practices and fair trade certified factories drive up costs too. They'll say that cheap equals fast fashion.
And it's true, ethical manufacturing can incur more costs particularly for the certified b corporation determined to live up to global recycling standards and to be certified as carbon neutral but it doesn't have to be like that.
Responsible clothing brands can manage the clothing supply chain more effectively to create sustainable practices which result in affordable ethical clothing brands.
Sustainable Materials Such As Organic Cotton Vs Greenwashing
Sustainable materials like organic cotton are important when it comes to sustainable clothing because it can't ethical clothing if you're destroying the planet to make it.
However, you'll find nonsense on the shelves of many fashion retailers trying to pretend that “conscious cotton” is the same as organic cotton. It's not. It's greenwashing.
That's the idea that you can make things “green” by using buzzwords rather than recycled materials or natural materials, paying fair wages, etc.
These brands tend to operate in the mid-high price range too. So, it's worth examining those companies claiming to be sustainable clothing brands and paying heavy attention to what they're actually selling.
The Fashion Industry And Affordability
The simpler a garment is, the more likely it is to be affordable. An organic cotton t-shirt or pair of fair trade underpants are more likely to fall within your ethical fashion budget than a designer suit is.
Our Favorite Affordable Sustainable Clothes Brands
The first of our favorite sustainable clothing brands is For Days. They are all about using kind materials such as organic cotton or recycled polyester in their clothing and they focus on zero waste as well as fair trade in their business practices.
Everything they sell can be recycled and they ship everything in reusable packaging.
One thing we absolutely love about them is their SWAP program which allows you to swap anything that you've ever bought from them – no matter how beaten up it is!
They then recycle all the materials and make new clothes from the old ones!
This is one of Canada's best-loved sustainable clothing brands. We love their choices of eco-friendly materials for their clothes and their use of fabrics from Tencel to recycled polyester is inspired.
Their supply chain is going zero waste by 2023 too!
Their name comes from the fact that every time you buy anything from them – they plant 10 trees.
This turns affordable sustainable clothing into a slow fashion brand that is rebuilding the world's forests! Yay!
All The Wild Roses
Sustainable clothing typically uses clever concepts to create eco-friendly garments and this pick from our affordable brands works by incorporating vintage pieces in their line up as well as upcycled materials.
All The Wild Roses is the brainchild of Hang Osment-Le a Vietnamese immigrant to Australia and she works with her sources back in her active land to ensure that her fair trade fashion benefits some of the poorest workers in the world.
This is way better than fast fashion, right?
Organic cotton clothing that's made from Egyptian cotton? Count us in. And that's where we find Kotn which has been making amazing eco-friendly designs since 2015.
Their women's clothing, in particular, is amazing and they are one of many ethical clothing companies that are working directly with farmers to pay guaranteed prices for their cotton, in turn for fair and equal pay for their workers. Paying living wages make a huge difference in poorer nations.
This is a sustainable alternative that everyone should be able to get behind – and yes, they use GOTS certified organic cotton.
You may also like these sustainable dress brands if you like this brand as much as we do.
If you want to find affordable sustainable clothing with a twist, then this ethical brand might be just what you're looking for. They work with nothing but sustainably produced materials and they try to keep waste to an absolute minimum.
But what sets them apart is a women's sustainable fashion brand that seeks to use menswear as inspiration for more comfortable and harder wearing female garments.
Every woman looks great and at ease when wearing Tradlands and wee can't tell you how much we enjoy using their products.
We love the eco-friendly program that Toad&Co runs with the help of The Renewal Workshop. It's what makes them a truly sustainable brand. Not only do they use ethical production but when you've finished with your t-shirts and other garments you can send them back and they will clean, repair, and resell each item so that it has another happy life.
We think that it's initiatives like this as much as using things like recycled packaging materials that will eventually put an end to fast fashion. It's easier to get excited about clothing that lasts forever than recycled plastic bottles (even though everyone should recycle plastic bottles).
Looking forward, they intend to move to 100% recycled synthetic fabrics by 2025 and expect to achieve the Responsible Wool Standard by 2024 too!
Eco-friendly fabrics are at the heart of this simple range of sustainable garments. You'll find t-shirts, button-downs, hoodies, socks, etc. and they all have something else in common this eco-friendly clothing is all treated with Filium.
Filium is a unique eco-technology that turns fabrics into water-resistant, stain-resistant, and odor-impermeable fabrics.
And it doesn't have any impact on the softness or breathability of the fabric either! That's an awesome way to make cotton or silk even more versatile than they already are!
The idea behind Vetta is simple, people get more out of their wardrobe if every garment is easy to accessorize with every other garment.
This makes it simple to build a “capsule wardrobe” and they create a single collection each month of 5 garments that does just that.
They use fair-trade factories in NYC and Los Angeles to keep their carbon footprint to a minimum and ensure that there is a completely transparent supply chain involved in creating their organic fabrics and other textiles.
OK, not everything on Made Trade is completely affordable but there are plenty of wonderful pieces here using recycled fibers from textile waste and recycled cotton and natural fibers that are affordable too.
This is the eco-materials equivalent to that well-loved and hugely successful brand – Anthropologie and it's a fair trade company too!
You simply can't go wrong with this approach to fashion.
We love Nau's ability to blend the sustainable with the high-tech and deliver a unique style that's instantly recognizable.
And that doesn't mean that they have stinted on the quality of their textiles either, though they are all natural or recycled.
They also give part of the money from each purchase to an environmental organization, so you can be metaphorically planting trees with each purchase too.
We love a good pun and for their name alone that would mean Taylor Stitch got a place in our lists but their use of durable upcycled fabrics is awesome and they combine this with organic and natural cloth to deliver garments that absolutely rock.
They've been using fewer shipping materials too and that means less waste.
We'd also note that if you really want to save money – you get a good discount when you pre-order new releases at Taylor Stitch.
Kings Of Indigo
Kings of Indigo as the name might suggest are all about creating denim that's kind to you and to the planet and they use recycled cloth and natural dyes to create jeans, jackets, and more that absolutely rock.
This is one affordable ethical brand that you can easily compare to other denim brands and see that you're not being charged extra to stay sustainable.
Final Thoughts On Affordable Fashion
You don't have to convert all your wardrobe to sustainable clothing and ethical clothing overnight, all of these ethical brands above are more affordable but if you want truly affordable clothing then you should seek to replace things only when you have used them up.
The best sustainable clothing brands aren't going anywhere, there's no hurry. Take your time and insist on natural materials and sustainable fabrics when you do go shopping. Enjoy!