Building a sustainable wardrobe encourages consumers to be aware of how their fashion choices impact the environment, workers, and animals. Why don’t more people jump on the sustainable fashion train? Price may be one thing holding people back! Ethical and eco-friendly clothing has a reputation for being more expensive. Yet, in order for the sustainable fashion movement to continue growing, it needs to be inclusive of all budgets. Now, more and more affordable sustainable fashion options are emerging.
When I first discovered sustainable fashion, I was a sophomore in college. Living on a college budget and trying to keep up with fashion trends is challenging enough; adding eco-consciousness to the mix leaves you with pretty limited options.
So, how can consumers on a budget find affordable eco-friendly clothing brands? First, let’s look at why sustainable clothing tends to be more expensive in the first place.
Why is sustainable clothing typically more pricey?
Sustainable fashion is typically more expensive for a number of reasons. A notable example is the higher quality of materials being used in garments. For example, when comparing materials such as organic cotton and conventional cotton, consumers learn that organic cotton is grown without harmful pesticides. Since organic cotton uses less chemicals, this crop requires more up-keep. On top of the high quality of materials being used, ethical brands pay their farmers and employees a living wage, which has to be factored into the price of the garment.
When shopping for affordable ethical fashion, beware of cheap fast fashion brands greenwashing
When looking for affordable sustainable fashion brands, it’s important to keep your eyes open to greenwashing. Fast fashion giants such as H&M have come out with “conscious” clothing lines. While these affordable brands might be using more eco-friendly materials for a few items, their business model does not support sustainability. Fast fashion brands rely on consumers viewing clothes as disposable and continuously buying into the latest trends. While the fast fashion brand’s eco-conscious claims lead consumers to believe they’re making a sustainable choice, this mass production ultimately still causes harm to the environment.
How to find affordable sustainable fashion
When kickstarting a conscious wardrobe, try starting with the basics. Simple swaps such as t-shirts and underwear are typically a more budget friendly place to start. Another wonderful way to celebrate eco-friendly fashion on a budget is by shopping second hand or hosting clothing swaps. With the recent pandemic, many local thrift stores are closed, meaning that this is not an option for everyone.
Luckily, there is another solution for when you must buy new. Below are 16 of the most affordable sustainable fashion brands rated ‘Good’ or ‘Great’ with a $-$$ price point in the Good On You Directory!