Finding a unique style that’s trendy, affordable, and represents your personality can be a struggle. Especially when you’ve become accustomed to following brands on social media way beyond your price range and you can’t help but be picky when it comes to quality. Fashion is such a big industry and it’s impossible to see everything there is out there; think of your last trip to Forever 21…remember how overwhelming that was?
One way that I’ve learned to narrow my style, stay trendy, and open up my wardrobe to the bigger picture is by purchasing ethically, locally, and by brands who actually give a f*ck about their clothes as well as the purchaser’s power to make a greater impact. A few causes that I happily support are animal rights, environmental sustainability, serious illnesses (many of which specifically run in my family), and poverty support in developing countries. At first I thought it was going to be crazy expensive and limiting when I wanted to start shopping smarter, and the only brand I had ever really heard of was Ten Tree (great place to support the planting of trees) but it turned out to be easy, fun, well priced, and rewarding! I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite ethical shopping brands, so you don’t have to:
Since elephants are my all time favorite animal, I was thrilled when I came across this amazing boho brand. They sell comfy boho-chic harem pants, leggings, shorts, tapestries, jewelry, and even have mystery boxes where you can get a bit of everything for a great price. Their pants are only $24 each and support a fight against elephant poaching by educating, supplying park rangers the resources they need, and paying land owners in Africa to keep the land open and to refrain from selling it to developers.
Great for some basics, jewelry, shoes, etc. Thread Harvest is your one stop, trusted shop. Their 7 pillars focus on fair trade conditions, employing marginalized individuals, empowering women, upcycling, creating eco-friendly products, the use of organic cotton, and cause supporting. They search the globe and curate inspiring stories along with every item on their line of high quality clothing. They encourage their buyers to ‘drive the change they want to see.’
Now you may be thinking – woah woah woah, H&M? I already shop there! Well, although largely successful and found in most malls, H&M has gone to great lengths to end corporate irresponsibility with the environment. Through H&M Conscious, you can take your old, unwanted clothes to any location and each bag you bring in will exchange for a coupon! They’re working to close the loophole and have a self-sufficient fashion brand that recycles all of it’s materials with an aim to make conscious fashion attractive, available, and affordable. H&M is the number one user of certified organic cotton in the world.
Perfect for modern basics without the corporate takeover. This brand gives you a fair price for how much the products cost to make, instead of going through a chain of business people who take profits into their own hands. In traditional retail, things are marked up 8x before it reaches the consumer, but by being online only, they’re able to be conscious of and transparent with their impact.
What started with a few buds, a hook, and yarn turned into a huge movement. Today, over 150 people in Uganda and Peru are working, receiving education, and being mentored toward a brighter future because of this awesome brand. The products created abroad and the collaboration of staff and beneficiaries around the globe have created a sustainable cycle of employment and empowerment. They’ve expanded into an awesome brand that sells apparel, hats, bags, etc.
This brand supplies footwear, bags and accessories, and supports sending girls to college in East Africa. Aside from the fact that Sophia Bush (#wcw) advocates strongly for this brand, it is also full of extremely trendy, unique pieces that support a really powerful women’s movement. Go girl power!
Urban Renewal curates one-of-a-kind vintage pieces using deadstock and surplus textiles from around the world. Vintage, chic, and recycled! This brand is reforming trends and creating groundbreaking availability to show your personality through whatever you wear. They give old and used clothing a complete rebirth.
This site is really cool because each product you scroll over it tells you how many fair wage hours were paid, how much water was saved and how many yards of sustainable material were used to create it! Project impact is how they pay 2000% higher factory wages, save 99% more water, and use earth-loving fabrics. This is a great place to be educated and find transparency with the clothes you put on your back.
Pact has some of your necessities with environmentally conscious pieces of intimates, socks, pjs, underwear, and tights alongside hoodies and other awesome items. They support the notion ‘robots don’t make your clothes, people do’ and fight to ensure nobody is ever getting hurt through the means of their production.
One of my favourites with ‘a progressive mind and a simple tee,’ Be Good is taking over sustainable fashion. They know organic fabrics are stronger and softer so they provide us with affordable, fashionable basics that will blow your mind with quality. They have quirky and loveable marketing that’ll be sure to make you fall hard and fast for this brand.
This watch brand is absolutely amazing. If you’re looking for a chic, minimalist timepiece, you’re in luck. With great prices, this Melbourne company will donate $5 from every watch purchase to The Cancer Research Foundation of Australia. The contemporary brand is offering you 15% with my code ‘RAECONNELL.’ As their slogan reminds us, your time is valuable, so this is definitely a great cause to support.
This company is a certified B Corporation which is a growing industry of brands that want to use business for good. They know that fashion has historically been the dirtiest industry of all and they want to change that by providing some of the trendiest clothing I’ve ever seen for really reasonable prices!
You’re given the choice to shop by ingredient or style and support this amazing brand that is redefining transparency and human responsibility in fashion. They support family farms, local manufacturing, fair living wages, and GMO-free/organic materials – or as they like to call them, ingredients. Operating their own factory ensures not only full transparency across the entire chain, but also a super unique twist on their brand. Check them out for anything from crop tops to leggings, dresses, etc.
Aside from their adorable Instagram, Love Your Melon is a hat company that focuses on the mission to put a hat on every child’s head who is battling cancer. With a buy one, give one program as well as supporting Love Your Melon’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit partners fighting against pediatric cancer, this brand is on the rise. Their Campus Crew program gives college and university students a chance to get involved in the hype as well!
Check out Fibre Athletics if you’re looking for athletic wear, or Bluer Denim if you’re on the hunt for jeans. If any of these options feel a bit out of your price range, try out an ambassador program! Many of these sites offer awesome opportunities to help get their name out with social media marketing and you can get yourself some sweet discounts while you’re at it. You can also save a few bucks by signing up to newsletters which will email you a welcome coupon and in many cases, let you know when there’s members-only promotions. And don’t be fooled that it stops here; smart purchasing is huge and can support a variety of different places in need no matter what your activist interests.
The coolest part of all of this is that most of these companies were start-ups of some young dreamers right out of college, right around your age, and they proved it was possible. If you’ve got a soft spot for a certain place in the world, animal or any cause really, hit up a few quick google searches – I think you’ll be surprised how much is out there and how ready the world is to help others.
Featured image via Rocky Barnes