When I first started conceptualizing my blog, I initially wanted to focus on petite fashion because of my struggles as a 4’11’’ Filipina here in the US. However, I felt that concentrating on petite styling does not fully encompass who I am as an advocate and a creative. Thus, I decided to also write about one of the social issues that I am most passionate about – sustainability. For this post, I will be writing about my journey as an environmental advocate and my favorite affordable sustainable fashion brands.
Did you know that besides drying up water resources, the fashion industry is also responsible for 10% of humanity’s carbon emission (World Economic Forum, 2020)? Not only that, but have you ever wondered where all our old clothes get dumped? That’s right, 85% of textiles go to waste every year. Needless to say, fashion, particularly fast fashion, contributes to a huge chunk of water and land pollution.
To address these issues, the fashion industry considers these five criteria in classifying an item of clothing or a brand as “sustainable”: a) short lifecycle; b) waste production; c) resources used; d) water usage; and e) hazardous chemicals. I delved into these five criteria and what they mean, along with the disastrous effects of fast fashion, here: 10 Reasons Why We Should Limit our Fast Fashion Purchases + Tips on How to be More Sustainably Stylish.
When I started shopping for sustainable, ethical, and fair-trade fashion brands, I noticed how expensive most of them are! This is understandable because the value of sustainable harvesting and the cost of labor for this niche industry are much higher than regular clothing and retail brands. Anyway, after years of researching and discovering my preferences, I’ve narrowed my favorite affordable sustainable fashion brands into the following.
- Pact. Pact leads this list because of its comfortable, stylish, and inexpensive items made exclusively from organic cotton. This ethical fashion brand is also a certified B corporation that guarantees cleanliness and sustainability every step of the way. What’s more, Pact also offers a decent array of sizes from XS to XL. Perfect for petite women like me!
2. Alternative Apparel. Alternative Apparel practices sustainability from the harvesting process all the way to its oxo-biodegradable packaging. It uses pure organic and recyclable materials, low-impact dyes, and water-conserving washes. Alternative Apparel also makes sure that it practices the Fair Labor Association guidelines. Whenever I am looking for comfy, cute, and sustainable lounge wear and active wear, Alternative Apparel is my go-to!
3. Levi’s. Of course, Levi’s has to be on this list! This classic brand is not only known as the face of denim all over the world, but it is also one of the best known sustainable fashion brands on the planet. The denim brand boasts of sustainable practices like recycling denim and ethically-harvested cotton. Plus, it has also designed systems in reducing water use. Not only are its products stylish, timeless, and affordable, its sizes also range from XXS to XXL.
4. Fair Indigo. Fair Indigo is another favorite of mine because of its mission to create timeless, great quality, and sustainable clothing. Despite its high quality and premium Peruvian cotton, Fair Indigo remains affordable for regular consumers like me. Because of its use of premium fabric, each piece lasts longer than items bought from fast fashion brands! What’s more, the Fair Indigo Foundation also makes a difference in teachers and students’ lives by providing books, building improvements, and computers. You have the option to donate and help the brand’s initiative during checkout.
5. Thought Clothing. This London-based affordable sustainable fashion brand is committed to creating beautiful pieces while preserving the environment. While deliveries may take longer to arrive for customers in the US, the brand’s pretty and guilt-free pieces make the wait worthwhile. As part of its mantra, Thought Clothing also ensures that its team members are compensated fairly and respectfully.
6. Kotn. If you’re looking for affordable, quality, and sustainable basic clothing pieces, I highly recommend checking out Kotn! The brand boasts of using raw Egyptian cotton bought straight from farmers. Like many other sustainable fashion brands on this list, Kotn is also a certified B Corporation that practices sustainable harvesting and manufacturing process. Not only are Kotn’s pieces extremely cozy and timelessly chic, but they can even last for decades! If you are like me, a fan of basic and clean designs that you can wear a hundred different ways, then Kotn is the way to go.
7. People Tree. Many of us know that People Tree has been part of the sustainable fashion revolution for a long time. This UK-based brand has been partnering with fair-trade suppliers in producing a wide range and diverse clothing line. The brand applies traditional artisan skills such as hand knitting, hand embroidery, hand block printing, and hand weaving to create sustainable and playful designs. People Tree is also the first fashion company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organization product label. If you are dipping your toe in sustainable and vegan fashion, People Tree is an excellent place to start.
8. Encircled. Not gonna lie, Encircled is one of the pricier brands on this list – but its lightweight and travel-friendly line makes the price well worth it. Unlike many brands, Encircled is cautious with the amount of clothes it produces. The brand not only uses recyclable packaging, but even upcycles leftover fabric to ensure that it produces zero waste. This sustainable brand is also vocal about its support for various causes, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
9. Lacausa. Created here in California, Lacausa is close to my heart spiritually and physically! The brand boasts of stylish and modern design that genuinely embodies California Chic while guaranteeing that its pieces are sourced and sewn under the ethical and sustainable conditions. This affordable sustainable fashion brand is also extremely cautious in its waste production while observing strict adherence to human and environmental rights.
10. Tonle. Tonlé is on a mission not just to make clothes, but to ignite a movement. The brand is proud of its philosophy of working towards a restorative, regenerative, and just fashion industry. Not only does Tonlé produce sustainable and beautiful clothing through a zero waste manufacturing process, it also fights for climate justice and fair labor practices. Going to Tonlé’s website is a treat not just because of its chic pieces, but also because of its informative and inspiring blog that shares stories about its philosophies.
Did I miss other affordable, sustainable fashion brands that you would like to see on the list? Do you have any questions about this post? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment, contact me or slide into my DM’s on Instagram.