One of my favorite things to do is window shop, but if I do that in the well-known high street stores like H&M and Zara, I become tempted to start purchasing. And many of those high street stores do not adhere to my values of ethical manufacturing and environmentally-friendly materials and practices.
Unfortunately, if you’re not willing or able to spend a little extra time doing research, it might seem like all of the fair trade and eco-friendly clothing options out there involve lots of rope sandals and patchwork and rainbows. If you want those features in your wardrobe, that is wonderful. Love what you love! 🙂 But my own style aspirations skew in a different direction.
So, for those of you who are in my boat and would like to have some more contemporary and ethical styles to fawn over (and perhaps purchase), I’ve done some of the legwork for you and bookmarked a few conscientious companies that have a killer fashion sense. Now, when I feel the need to window shop, I’ll navigate to those websites instead. And if I decide I want to actually buy something, I don’t need to worry about my purchase having a huge negative impact on the environment or on another human being.
Below are some ethical and eco-friendly fashion companies that have quite the eye candy in their inventory:
Clothing, Accessories, Shoes:
- Ethica. This online boutique gathers conscientious contemporary designers into one well-designed, easily navigable website. Each item listing has details on why the product is environmentally friendly or ethically produced. Most full-priced pieces run well over $200, so this is more of an aspirational website for me, but check out the sale section for some significant markdowns. Speaking of aspirational, I’m currently crushing on the AwaveAwake apron maxi dress; that beautiful pink-orange color is partially the result of mangoes! Mangoes! Delicious in more ways than one.
- Reformation. So many of their clothes make me want to swoon, and everything is beautifully photographed and copywritten. I love how they are upfront about the amount of boob coverage (or lack thereof) given by each item. They are also very transparent about the resources each product uses up in its manufacturing. You can find pieces in the $100 or less range here, which is great for whenever browsing isn’t enough of a fashion fix.
- Osborn Shoes. These shoes often feature recycled materials and are made by artisans in weaving cooperatives. Their website could be better designed (who am I to criticize though…), but the product is what matters. I love the almond toe and high vamp of Osborn’s style of flat.
- Modavanti. A bit of a one-stop shop for all things conscientiously produced. The website aesthetic occasionally irks me here too (it looks just a tad too outdated, I can’t make sense of the typeface choices on the front page), but I’ve discovered enough interesting brands through here that I’ll keep returning. I’m really loving the upcycled jewelry by Soko right now. Modavanti is also one of the few websites I’ve found that carry stylish eco-friendly and ethical clothing geared towards men as well as women.
- Proud Mary. The focus of this brand is beautifully woven fabrics, and beautiful they are. The store carries a variety of items, from pillows to shoes to bags, all made from the aforementioned textiles.
- Only Hearts. Everything revolves around lingerie here. While I’m not usually a fan of lacey underthings (too high maintenance), I subscribe to the notion that underwear can also serve as outerwear; it’s all about the styling. 😉 Everything is made in New York City and they have an organic cotton collection.
- Brother Vellies. These are beautifully made shoes for men, women, and children. Most of them are on the extremely pricey side (yet another site that I use only for aspirational browsing…), but they look made to last and use byproducts from government-mandated culling or from the food industry. While leather is certainly not the most environmentally-friendly product, I have not quite weaned myself off of it yet; and if I’m going to buy new leather, I might as well buy an investment piece that will give me many years of wear.
- Groceries Apparel. This brand manufactures clothes with simple, stylish silhouettes using eco-friendly materials at a California factory. I really appreciate how they’ve installed pockets into their skirts and dresses (why don’t big name clothing manufacturers understand my need for pockets?!). Their site could be a bit more user-friendly though; the navigation doesn’t feel intuitive and the font is a bit too small. It feels like they dove into the deepest end of the “beautiful website” spectrum and sacrificed a lot of practicality. (Hmm, I guess I’ve become a web design critic now….) Hopefully they’ll do a little site renovation soon because I think Groceries’s designs are worth keeping track of.
- ALAS. If you’re looking for pretty and adorable pajamas, or you like beautiful color combinations, or both, I think you’ll enjoy scrolling through Alas’s collection of organic cotton clothing. Almost all of the items are marketed as sleep or loungewear, but I think many of them could work as part of one’s daily wardrobe too (like the Mountain Stripe Raglan Tee). There’s a (small) men’s selection too! Unfortunately for me, this brand is based in Australia, and the prospect of heavy shipping fees is preventing me from clicking that checkout button.
- Nudie Jeans. Organic and fair trade denim, yay! It looks like most, if not all, of the clothes currently produced by Nudie Jeans are tailored for the stereotypical male figure, so I guess I’ll have to do a little more hunting for ethical denim that can accommodate my hips. Doesn’t mean I can’t ogle the organic denim deliciousness though. And the Brandon Seaweed Shirt is quite beautiful; if it ever goes on sale, I might have to purchase it for myself. M. actually owns a pair of Nudie Jeans and he really likes them, plus they are very flattering to his lower half, so they’re doing great in my book!
- Rituel de Fille. I don’t usually wear makeup, and when I do I only use lipstick and a smidge of eyeshadow. And this brand has beautiful colors of both, which are all 99% natural. I’m particularly pining after the Viscera eyeshadow, it’s so wonderfully dramatic. They also have a great brand cohesiveness: the names, the names! And their model photos are gorgeously shot.
- Proud Mary. Pom pom pillows, yesss! (Also in the Clothing, Accessories, Shoes category).
- Modavanti. Vases, candles, and other miscellany. (Also in the Clothing, Accessories, Shoes category).
- Bambeco. If I ever manage to afford my own property and settle down somewhere, I’d want one of Bambeco’s canopy beds to grace my bedroom. Made from reclaimed wood here in the U.S.A., I can just picture it decked out in thrifted linens that flutter in a soft breeze. In the meantime I’ll settle with some of their kitchenware. M. gifted me their recycled stainless steel cocktail shaker at the end of last year and it’s a beautiful, sturdy piece. Which reminds me, I need to find more excuses to use it!
I’m going to set up a simpler version of this list as an easy to find link at the top of my homepage, which will be updated as I encounter more interesting brands or boutiques on the great wide web. If I order from any of these sites, I’ll also be sure to let you know how it goes. In the meantime, if you have experience with any of these companies or have your own list of favorite swoon-worthy conscientious brands, I’d love to read your comments below!
—S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)
P.S: Some of the above websites were first mentioned in this post on ethical holiday shopping.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to write about the businesses I have mentioned. This post expresses my honest opinions.