This post was originally published in March 2016.
You've done the research, talked to some friends about it, and decided it's time to quit fast fashion once and for all. Like any obsession (yes, those too-cheap prices and fast-moving trends can be addicting), it's not going to be easy to stop cold turkey. But, it
will be worth it.
But where do you begin when walking into Forever 21 and buying a selection of shoes, jewelry, and clothing on a whim is no longer an option? And how do you find a brand you can trust — one that's ethical, sustainable,
and fashion-forward, too? The selection of retailers ahead will help get your green shopping plan off the ground, proving that it's possible to buy everything from underwear to swimsuits to workout gear without compromising the quality of clothing, and the living and working conditions of the people making it. Remember, ethical fashion doesn't necessarily equate to off-trend and unattractive items — and these stores prove just that.
What: New-Meets-Vintage With A Cool Twist Where: Either, AndWhy choose new or vintage when you can get both in one place? We'll be checking this new site on the regular for a mix of one-of-a-kind gems and indie brands. Either, And Vintage Slingbacks, $128, available at Either, And.
What: Cool-Girl Workwear That Looks Just As Cool After Work Where: Exhibit We were shocked by the affordable pricing at this super-chic online store, because the pieces are so on trend and high-quality that they look like a million bucks. Needless to say, we're stocking up ASAP. Exhibit Army Green Utility Dress, $129.90, available at Exhibit.
What: On-Trend Petites Where: Petite Studio Designed specifically by and for petite girls, Petite Studio gives smaller frames perfectly fitting and on-trend wardrobe staples that are sure to get you compliments left and right. Petite Studio Poppy Dress, $139, available at Petite Studio.
What: Things You'll Actually Reach For In Your Closet Where: Grana If you love Everlane, you'll love this Hong Kong-based, direct-to-consumer brand stocked with the kind of pieces you'll wear again and again (and again). Grana Trapese Dress, $79, available at Grana.
What: Major Statement-Makers Worth The Splurge Where: Maggie Marilyn This New Zealand-based brand launched just last year, so you can guarantee you won't show up to a party where someone's wearing the same piece you are. The statement sleeves and silhouettes give us major Ellery vibes — oh, and the designer's practically fresh out of college. Talk about supporting young talent. Maggie Marilyn George Denim Jacket II, $578 $323, available at Maggie Marilyn.
What: Lived-In Basics Where: Lacausa Once you get your hands on some of Lacausa's perfectly soft essentials, we can almost guarantee you won't want to take them off. The pieces are polished enough to wear in public, but comfortable enough to feel like you're wearing pajamas all day long. A win-win. Lacausa Uniform Trouser, $150, available at Lacausa.
What: Vintage That's Actually Cool Where: Petra Von Kant You could rummage through the bins at your local Salvation Army, or you could just start shopping at Petra Von Kant, where the work's done for you. Expect silk tanks that look like they're straight from Reformation and vintage gems from top (and no-name) brands alike. Plus, everything's reasonably priced. Petra Von Kant Bronze Silk Tank, $38, available at Petra Von Kant.
What: Minimalist Go-Tos Where: Siizu For Siizu, sustainability is not merely a promise — it's a driving force behind every decision, and it all begins with the fabric. The brand is dedicated to exclusively using textiles that are 100% organic and eco-friendly (even the packaging is completely recyclable!). You can count on this site for no-fuss, streamlined pieces that can still be styled to suit your vibe. Siizu Shirt Dress, $138 $75, available at Siizu.
What: Basics That Won't Break The Bank Where: Everlane Spending more than $100 on an item that's considered a "basic" can be tough to swallow, but at Everlane, all your basics needs are sorted. Plus, you always know exactly what you're paying for, thanks to the site's transparent pricing promise on each product. You get to see the item's retail price, along with a complete breakdown of what it actually costs to make. Everlane The Silk Tank, $65, available at Everlane.
What: Soft Silk Staples & Leather Goods Where: Cuyana If you're shifting to a less-is-more lifestyle, San Francisco-based label Cuyana should be on your radar. It's a brand that believes in having fewer, better things, with a selection of silk tops and minimalist leather accessories that will complete your grown-up wardrobe once and for all. Cuyana Silk Open-back Top, $195, available at Cuyana.
What: Workout Clothing Where: Outdoor Voices When a brand is a favorite of Lena Dunham and Man Repeller's Leandra Medine, you pretty much know it's going to be good. So, it's no surprise that we've fallen for Outdoor Voices' minimalist (and flattering!) athletic wear. It's designed here in New York City and produced responsibly in carefully selected factories. You won't find these lust-worthy fabrics and color palettes anywhere else (especially in the fitness realm), and speaking from my own experience, the quality is top-notch. Outdoor Voices Tri-tone Kneecap Legging, $75, available at Outdoor Voices.
What: Contemporary Separates Where: Yooxygen Did you know that Yoox (the online retailer that recently merged with Net-a-Porter) had its own environmental sustainability program? Yooxygen, which launched in 2009, is stocked with tops, dresses, skirts, and more from a selection of sustainable-minded, moderately priced brands that can be mixed and matched into a cohesive, slow-fashion wardrobe. Annie & Jade Shirt, $345 $250, available at Yooxygen.
What: Special Occasion Dresses Where: Reformation Reformation has already been our go-to for date-night and wedding-appropriate dresses for a while now, and it's just the cherry on top that it's a business founded on the idea of fashion and sustainability co-existing. Every limited-edition collection is manufactured at the brand's factory in Los Angeles — plus, it uses all recycled hangers and packaging. Don't forget to check out the "RefScale," either, which breaks down and tracks the environmental impact of every garment for sale on the site. Reformation Adriana Dress, $198, available at Reformation.
What: Under-$100 Finds Where: Ethica While this site is a great one-stop shop for ethical fashion and emerging designers across categories, we specifically like hunting for all of the awesome under-$100 steals, like this striped skirt that will carry us from summer to fall. Dolorez Haze Marsha Skirt, $87 available at Ethica.
What: Wear-Everyday Jewelry Where: Melissa Joy Manning Forget $2.90 necklaces and rings that turn your fingers green after one wear. For exceptional, high-quality, handmade jewels that suit every personality, Melissa Joy Manning has become our mainstay. The designer offers everything, from a simple pair of earrings you never have to take off, to unique, one-of-a-kind splurges perfect for special occasions. Melissa Joy Manning Herkimer Diamond Hug Hoops, $200, available at Melissa Joy Manning.
What: On-Trend Pieces Where: H&M Conscious Collection We know, we know. H&M and the term "fast fashion" tend to go hand in hand. But, have you checked out its Conscious line? This section of H&M promises to be good for people, the planet, and your wallet, and is built on seven sustainability and ethics-related commitments. Plus, it's still stocked with the on-point trend items you've grown to love the brand for (and a solid set of basics, too). H&M Conscious Ribbed Turtleneck Top, $24.99 $9.99, available at H&M.
What: Plus-Size Staples Where: Hackwith Design House Options for plus-size clothing are already limited, and when you cut fast fashion out of the picture, the selection of clothing becomes even smaller (and the styles can become, well, not so cute). Hackwith, on the other hand, is the total opposite — this made-in-America, boutiquey brand has a clean and simple aesthetic that, most importantly, flatters everyone, regardless of shape or size. Hackwith Design House Amelia Jacket, $275 $132, available at Hackwith Design House.
What: Technical Wears Where: Patagonia Should the weather (or your wardrobe) require a parka or winter gear, look no further than Patagonia, a cold-weather company that's been a favorite of eco-friendly shoppers since the beginning. From its anti-Black Friday move, to allowing all of its products to be recycled, this brand is consistently taking action to be more socially responsible. Patagonia Women's Down With It Parka, $299, available at Patagonia.
What: Going-Out Clothes Where: ASOS Green Room Similar to H&M's Conscious collection, ASOS (another huge fast-fashion retailer) has also built a separate edit of eco-friendly everything, from handmade jewelry to vintage gems. It's filled with easy skirts and dresses for events and going out, so this site should be added to your bookmarks if you're easing out of the world of fast fashion — but still need a spot to score trendy and affordable pieces. ASOS Cropped Rib With Long Sleeve, $23, available at ASOS.
What: Office Attire Where: Svilu This higher-end sustainable label is reliable for work-ready items — especially easy, throw-on-and-go dresses that still look super-polished. The prices aren't necessarily the most affordable, but keeping the cost-per-wear in mind, you'll likely be getting your money's worth. Svilu Windowpane Slip Dress, $345 $190, available at Svilu.
What: Swimwear Where: Vitamin A Aside from selling great suits, Vitamin A is taking innovative strides toward sustainability with its creation of EcoLux, a swim fabric produced in California using recycled nylon fiber; as well as its use of special technologies that extend the life of swim products. You can read more about its efforts here. Vitamin A Neutra Bralette Top, $106, available at Vitamin A.
What: Undergarments Where: Base Range Considering we wear them everyday, we shouldn't overlook the quality or origin of our undergarments. Using high-quality, organic fabrics, and making efforts to minimize environmental impact, Base Range offers everything you need for your underwear drawer and beyond in soft, easy silhouettes anyone would be crazy not to love. Base Range Triangle Bra in Plie, $36, available at Base Range.
What: Shoes Where: Brother Vellies Paint-splattered loafers? Furry slides and crazy gladiator sandals? You can find all of these and more from Brother Vellies, which handmakes shoes in South Africa, Kenya, and Morocco, while focusing on sustainable processes with its leather, dyes, and overall carbon footprint. Brother Vellies Saffron Burkina Slide, $285, available at Brother Vellies.
What: Loungewear and Basics Where: kowtow These days, it feels like every brand has expanded into loungewear. But kowtow is doing it right. Promising "certified fair trade organic clothing that is ethically and sustainably made from seed to garment," there's no excuse to not stock up on tees and joggers this year. kowtow Denim Turnaround Pant, $173, available at kowtow.
What: Denim Where: Levi's If you're a denim maven, you likely already own a pair of Levi's. Now you can know for sure that they were a guilt-free purchase. Over the years, the company has made positive strides toward minimizing its environmental impact by using less water, better cotton, and committing to sustainable factory practices, to name a few. Levi's Wedgie Fit Jeans, $88, available at Levi's.
What: Occasional Splurges Where: Maiyet For a sustainable brand with a real luxury, high-end feel, shop Maiyet and its abundance of artisan-made collections. The clothes are made in places like India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mongolia, Peru, Bolivia, Japan, and Thailand. And you'd be hard-pressed to find pieces as special as the ones from this environmentally sustainable retailer. Maiyet Asher Fringe Slip On Sneaker, $295, available at Maiyet.
What: Cozy Sweaters and Winter Layers Where: Zady Zady is all about the slow-fashion movement, from environmental and social, to economic sustainability. In fact, you can get a pretty in-depth breakdown of each item's creation right on its product page. We particularly look to the brand for great, cozy layerables that we can wear a million different ways all winter long. Zady .09 Natural Chunky Knit Sweater, $230, available at Zady.
What: Zany Prints in Trendy Silhouettes Where: Gorman If Dusen Dusen had a funky UK cousin, Gorman would be it. Shop Gorman if you’ve made a resolution to yourself to inject more color into your wardrobe, or if you need a fun gift for a fashion loving BFF’s birthday. Gorman Garden Tee, $99, available at Gorman.
What: Simplistic Work Staples Where: One By One This Los Angeles brand produces its items, yep, one by one. It takes the time to produce the best product possible with local manufacturers, so sustainability is at the heart of everything it does. One By One Hidden Button Shirtdress, $192, available at One By One.
What: Pieces You Can Wear To Work, Play, And Everywhere In Between Where: Aday This New York-based company first went viral for its consistently sold-out leggings, but the brand's ethos is much larger than that: Aday, which was founded by two finance-employees-turned-fashion-entrepreneurs, is built around the idea that clothing should have more than a single job — so, all of its collections are crafted out of technical, fitness-grade, sustainably-sourced fabrics into silhouettes that are versatile enough to wear to work, gym, and beyond. Aday Something Borrowed Shirt, $125, available at Aday.