Something I’m always asked when I speak out against fast fashion is “where can I find affordable ethical clothing options?”. There’s no secret that ethical/sustainable fashion isn’t the most affordable, or the most inclusive. I’ve spoken about it previously in my “What I Want From the Sustainable Fashion Industry” post last year, where I addressed the downsides of trying to shop sustainable fashion pieces.
But it can be done – and I’m going to tell you how in 3 easy steps.
*For a full list of affordable ethical clothing brands, keep scrolling to the end of this post.*
Yes, it may seem like a non-option because you’re not really shopping, but it’s the best option available. Not only that, it’s completely free to rummage through a few items you already own and maybe don’t wear that often. I like putting everything I don’t really wear to one side of my wardrobe, where I can easily find it later on and challenge myself to either wear, donate, or upcycle it.
Fellow sustainability blogger Teresa Maria recently did a ‘shop your wardrobe’ challenge over on Instagram, with handy prompts for each day. Getting involved with something like this, or starting a challenge of your own could be a very handy way to start re-wearing your old garments.
When buying new items, check the quality thoroughly. Is the material durable? Will it stand the test of time? Is the stitching likely to fall apart at a moment’s notice? Could it be easily repaired if need be? If the answer is no, consider putting it back. Sometimes we simply need to face up to the fact that we just don’t need things. Especially if the quality is sub-par. When you invest in good quality pieces (which doesn’t necessarily mean expensive pieces) they will last you a lifetime.
2019 was the year I finally let go of my second-hand shopping woes. I used to think that the quality wasn’t as good as buying new, or that there wouldn’t be anything I liked on second-hand marketplaces. I was so very wrong. I’ve found some of my favourite pieces scrolling through Depop or bargain hunting on Ebay.
If you’re still new to shopping second-hand and need a few tips on how to find things you’ll love on what can be a very confusing platform, check out my top 10 tips for shopping on Depop.
This type of shopping also allows you to find pieces from your once-favourite fast fashion brands. So not only are you saving the money in your pockets, but also saving fast fashion pieces from ending up in landfill.
While the high price tag on a lot of ethical items can be frustrating, it’s important to remember the reason why. These items are produce to a much higher standard than your average fast fashion piece. From the sourcing of the raw materials, down to the production methods. Not to mention their workers are often all paid a fair living wage, or above.
It’s also important to remember that you shouldn’t be shopping ethical fashion in the same way you would with fast fashion. The design model isn’t intended for people to do vast clothing hauls every week, or to buy a new outfit for each event. If that’s what you’re hoping for, then you’ll never be able to commit to sustainable or ethical fashion.
This A-Z list consists of brands with prices starting as low as £10 (GBP). Fast fashion brands with ‘sustainable’ or ‘ethical’ clothing collections haven’t been included for reasons you can read here.
Armed Angels // Beyond Retro // Ebay // Ethical Market // Everlane // Depop // Lotties Eco // Noisy May // Nude Ethics // Karen Kane // Know the Origin // Krochet Kids // Pact // Patagonia // Project Pico // Sanchos // Tala // Thought Clothing //ThredUP // Threads 4 Thought
Another way to affordably shop ethical fashion is to sign up to an ethical fashion brand mailing list. That way, you’ll be notified first when they launch a sale or discount selected items.
Just remember that there’s no shame in using fast fashion as a last resort. For example, I’m unable to find underwired bras in my size with any ethical brands (that I’m able to afford), therefore I still purchase them from a fast fashion retailer. But the importance lies in buying what you need, when you need it.
I'm Elen Mai, the brains behind Welsh Wanderer and 20-something human biology student from (you guessed it) Wales! Welsh Wanderer is designed with the eco-conscious adventurer in mind. So stick around for tips & tricks on living sustainably.