It’s true – most honestly sustainable clothing brands will never be as cheap as fast fashion, and that’s a good thing! After all, paying more for ethically paid staff and quality materials is the whole point of making the choice to wear eco-fashion, right?
It’s a lot easier to find ethical basics, like yoga pants or tee shirts, but that being said, rocking sustainable luxury on a budget isn’t impossible, either – it just needs a bit of effort. Oh, and by ‘luxury’, I mean jewellery and clothing that defies trends; is comprised of high quality fabrics, and boasts superlative design. Find it could involve hunting for vintage or second hand clothing, swapping and swishing with friends, and choosing to invest well in slightly higher priced pieces that easily mix and match with other items in your closet.
Since I began my ethical fashion journey, I’ve gradually learned where to shop sustainable luxury fashion on a budget, and I’m sharing my favourite gems with you today.
Known for their rich-girl casuals like boyfriend shirts, beautifully cut jeans and chic flats, Everlane partners with ethical factories and producers to source the finest natural materials, like cashmere, organic Pima cotton and Tencel. Interestingly, they share the stories behind these materials and factories on Instagram on what they call #transparencytuesday. Each week, their followers can submit ANY question to the brand and get answers immediately. Talk about bringing transparency into the digital age with style!
Average price: $70
It’s easy to fall for Thought Clothing without much…erm, thought! They make an array of great basics for men and women, from tees and pants to socks – in fact, they kind of specialise in these, with a wide range of quirky, stand-out styles. The designers are a collective of creatives who write, design, sketch collections that are made from naturally grown materials like bamboo, cotton, wool and hemp.
Average price: $65
Supporting talented female garment workers in Malawai, Mayamiko delivers boldly beautiful, hand printed African designs on light cotton fabrics that will bring joy and colour to your wardrobe – for a fraction of the price of brands undertaking similar ethical initiatives, like Stella Jean. And an added bonus? They’re 100% vegan friendly and PETA approved!
Average price: $75
Looking for beautiful ethical jewellery that won’t break the bank? MADE is the way to go. Created with the goal of using time-honoured skills, tradition and fashion led design, the brand works with people and communities in Kenya. It’s all hand-made using techniques handed down from generations. Centred around people, the brand employs 60 men and women and is dedicated to training new employees to pass on jewellery making traditions. You may have seen their crazy affordable pieces at John Lewis and ASOS.
Average price: $35
Love high end brands like Vivienne Westwood or Eileen Fisher, but can’t afford the price tag? You’re very likely to find those names in Vestaire Collective – for about 1/10th the price! If you don’t find what you need immediately, you can request alerts for whatever you’re looking for on this secondhand online shop, and the best part? When you grow tired of your designer purchase, you can just sell it back on the site!
Average price: $70, not including designer handbags.
People Tree is the pioneering, ethical fashion brand that broke down boundaries and paved the way for many brands today. Decades after its founding, it remains luxuriously stylish and affordable, and is even a favourite with celebs like Emma Watson. Famously featured in Andrew Morgan’s The True Cost, the brand puts people’s stories and the environment at the forefront. They recently launched a 100% biodegradable Tencel collection that’s not only ultra-eco, but looks incredible, too.
Average price: $40
For a clean, minimalist and quintessentially European look, go for German sustainable brand Armed Angels. This eco and FairTrade brand takes environmental responsibility to another level: their materials include organic wool (which is guaranteed to be mulesing & Chlorine free), Tencel, organic cotton, lenzing modal and organic linen. They implement the Global Organic Textile Standard and work closely with PETA, thus their PETA approved vegan logo. In short, Armed Angels make Euro-styled ethical fashion look easy and very affordable, indeed.
Average price: $50
Looking for ethical sneakers? Look no further! Veja was created by two Frenchmen who, after seeing the horrors of factories in China as auditors, decided to create a brand that builds a universal product in a different way. Their super cute sneakers are made of wild rubber from the Amazonian forest, agro-ecological cotton and B-mesh (recycled bottles). The shoes are manufactured in Porto Alegre, Brazil where factory workers are unionized, well paid and work decent hours. They’re less expensive than a lot of the fast fashion giants like Nike or Adidas – yet their products are better quality, if you ask me.
Average price: $120
It’s quite possible that Matt and Nat is the most stylish vegan bag and shoe brand out around right now. The name stands for Mat(t)erial + Nature and the brand represents their love for natural materials firmly. They use various planet-friendly vegan leathers, cork and rubber to produce original, beautiful products, and all their bag linings are made of 100% recycled bottles. Although their styles are as chic as anything you’d find in the designer section of big department stores, their prices will warm your heart.
Average price: $110