Nine months ago, I never thought I would take fashion advice from my middle-aged, cargo-pants-wearing religion teacher. Today, however, I realize how much he has transformed my buying habits. Since he introduced my class to fair trade and sustainable consumerism last year, I have made an effort to buy from ethical and sustainable fashion brands whenever I can.
While a Google search of sustainable fashion will bring up an assortment of brands, most are geared toward the style of my high school religion teacher (neutral and loose-fitting basics), not my own. Finding gems of sustainable and ethical brands that fit into my wardrobe has been a challenge, and because of the lack of brands that fit into my style, I haven’t been able to transition to strictly sustainable buying habits.
However, I have been blown away by a few pieces and brands that I have encountered since my introduction to sustainable and ethical fashion. If you’re in the market for the following items, consider buying sustainable. By using recycled materials, paying their workers fair wages and creating a worker-friendly production environment, these brands meet ethical standards and style standards. Now, sustainable doesn’t have to mean a sacrifice in style.
If you’re in the market for basic tees and sweaters, try Everlane.
Everlane t-shirts will be the softest in your closet, guaranteed. With similar cuts and colors to J. Crew, Everlane covers the basics with sophistication. Wool and cashmere sweaters run less than $150 and t-shirts are around $30, making it a similar investment to J. Crew. While their leather goods are priced higher, they do offer sustainable leather shoes and bags, a rarity in sustainable fashion. Everlane also provides factory information and price breakdown of each item, making its processes transparent, while J. Crew offers little transparency in its supply chain, according to Project Just.
And if you’re lusting after Adidas’ Stan Smith sneakers, try Veja.
Veja provides all of the versatility and style of Stan Smith sneakers without the monotony of buying something everyone already has. At around $110, they run $30 more than Stan Smith’s. While they survive long walks across campus and seem durable (I’ve had mine for six weeks so far), you may need to insert your own arch supports. Although the leather used is not 100 percent sustainable, Veja preserves the dignity of its workers and employs workers through Atelier Sans Frontières, an organization that helps people facing social exclusion find work.
Searching for a silk shirt or standout dress? Try Reformation.
Reformation offers more variety than most sustainable brands, with lace shirts, silk dresses and bodysuits. On top of basics for daily wear, Reformation has gorgeous statement dresses for formals or weddings, coats and jackets and high-end trendy pieces. Seen on the likes of Leandra Medine and Emma Watson regularly, Reformation is the chicest of sustainable ready-to-wear brands. Although it has more of a cohesive collection than Free People or Urban Outfitters, you will undoubtedly find something to splurge on if you usually shop at those stores. Instead of buying three lower-quality shirts at Urban Outfitters, I buy one top I love from Reformation and never regret it.