Ethical marketing for clothing should mean affordable prices - find here the cheapest eco brands
Ethical must be the whole package, right? From the supplier to… the consumer, you! That should mean that the prices are fair and affordable and no extra premium should be added.
Ethical marketing may sound like a contradiction to many, but the art of selling does not mean you should do it at all costs.
Strategies like .99 prices and shortage of supply (e.g. “we only have 3 left”) are considered by many as deceiving strategies. We have taken a pledge not to do it.
The 10 principles of the World Fairtrade Organization represent the main guidelines for ethical marketing:
The real costs of ethical fashion are indeed higher than those of fast fashion because materials are more expensive, workers’ salaries are higher and the lower footprint is rarely a cost saver. It HAS to be more expensive, but doesn’t have to be exhorbitantly high.
From the hundreds of ethical brands around, (you can check out the full table below), we researched the most affordable by comparing similar products, not just ranges.
Check out our recommendations after theses guides:
Learn about fabrics
Nowadays, there are so many types of fabrics inundating the market that it is difficult to choose. We created a sustainable fabrics guide to help you with that, so get knowledgable before buying anything. As they say: knowledge is power.
Buy long-lasting clothes
Affordable does not mean bad quality, it just means it’s accessible to the majority of people.
If you want to save money and the environment, buy clothes you know are going to last a long time.
Luckily, there are many brands out there that source high-quality materials and sell their clothes at very good prices.
Everlane is a great example of the best value for money you will find.
Buy from brands that are transparent about the makers
You don’t need to find the name of the person who actually produced the piece of clothing you are going to wear, (although Known Supply does exactly this) but it is important to know that the workers have good working conditions, are fairly paid and receive all the benefits.
Give priority to brands that recycle materials instead of using new ones
Especially in the activewear segment, where you need high-performance materials such as polyester, which unfortunately is made of petroleum, buying from brands that recycle is of great impact.
Summersalt is a good example of a brand with good recycling practices in the production of sophisticated fabrics.
Buy from sustainable brands, not just their products
Try to look for brands that embrace sustainability in all its splendor, that not just do what the market is demanding in terms of supply chain and ethical fabrics.
It is not easy to find information about a company, but B Certification is a good place to start, a company with this badge is sustainable from top to bottom.
Ethical revolution is taking over the second-hand market, too. What used to be only Red Cross or Salvation Army thrift shops, now you can find the trendiest and the most sophisticated shops selling second-hand garments.
And it cannot be more beneficial to the environment than supporting the circular economy and giving a second life to a manufactured product. (check out Poshmark for second-hand products)
Or renting, instead of buying
Have you considered not buying at all? No, this is not a minimalist speech, we’re actually talking about a future (or present) trend: the sharing economy.
The fashion industry is no exception, as you can already find many companies that will not sell but rent their apparel for a subscription or fixed fee, depending on the days. Filipa K is already doing it in some flaghship stores in Europe.
Do your own research
No matter what we say here, do your own research. Check the brands, check the sources and see if the brand and you connect. See if it feels good buying from them.
Check for certifications or seals, anything that shows third-party entities vouch for this company. If a company is B certified that’s as a real as it can get. Later on in this article, we list the main certification programs.
Companies that do good, share that they do good; companies that don’t do good, don’t share. If you follow this rule of thumb, it will help you navigate a company’s website and it will raise flags when you struggle to do research about a brand.
Try to buy directly from a brand
Just like we recommended in our article about travelling with purpose, whenever you buy any ethical product, try to be sure you are buying from the source. The middle man is becoming more and more unnecessary with today’s streamlined supply chains, thanks to technology.
That’s why we recommend only manufacturers, and if possible in-house manufacturers, which don’t outsource all their production.
Fairtrade is another guarantee of fair income to the producers, even if you don’t buy directly from them.
If by any reason you don’t find enough information, and that’s a red flag for sure, don’t be shy and just ask directly. Contact the brands by email or, if possible, through social media.
We personally use a lot Twitter to contact brands directly because of the visibility it brings, and it ensures they answer in the same minute if they have any desire to be accepted in the community.
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Other afordable sustainable clothing brands worth to mention
The top 3 brands above have an average price of less than 40US, but the following four are also on the affordable level, with prices ranging, on average, from 40 to 50US.
We also share below our full database so you can check dozens of affordable brands and their features.
Ethical Feature: Uses recycled materials
Tops (minimum price): 34 US$
Pants (minimum price): 48 US$
Dresses (minimum price): 42 US$
The next step: affordable vegan clothing brands / stores
Veganism can be prompted by many reasons, but the majority of people adopt it because of ethical reasons, either because of the planet or animal’s welfare.
With the exception of the health-motivated ones, a vegan is guided by ethical values so he or she will naturally buy from sustainable and socially-conscious brands.
However, the majority of ethical brands are not vegan and you can easily confirm this if you have a look at our huge ethical brands database below.
Being vegan is going one step further in ethical clothing and it niches down ethical brands.
Unfortunately, the cheapest ethical brands are not vegan so we’ll have to pay extra to be sure we are doing no harm, but I can’t find a better way of spending some extra cash than to protect animals from unnecessary suffering.
Check out our affordable vegan stores suggestions:
Ethical Feature: Uses reycled materials
Tops (minimum price): 28 US$
Pants (minimum price): 78 US$
Dresses (minimum price): 90 US$
Categories: Men/Women’s Apparel & Accessories
Guide to ethical clothing certifications and standards
The same way it has happened in many industries, food being the most notorious, the certifications have proliferated. Even the Fair Trade stamp is now issued by different institutions, although they obey by the same guidelines.
One important distinction you need to know is that the objective of the certifications varies, some are focused on the social and/or economic conditions of the workers, others on the environmental impact of the fabrics, and some are more holistic and consider all at the same time, such as B Corporation.
That’s why we created this table that will help you understand what all the certifications mean and which ethical pillar are they focusing on:
The Future - more brands like Patagonia
If ethical fashion is not new to you, you have probably heard of Patagonia (maybe you have already looked for more brands like Patagonia), even outside ethical circles.
Patagonia is a model that we hope other non-ethical companies will follow as an example – admit past wrongdoings and focus on the future. This is pretty much aligned with our sustainability message and zero waste lifestyle: we are aware we aren’t perfect but we want to strive to do better every day.
Patagonia is an example to follow: from committing millions to help grassroots organisations, to promoting low consumerism by not buying their products if not really needed, to national campaigns to repair their worned out products.
The Patagonia’s founder is a visionary man that infused his vision into the company’s statement: In business to save our home planet.
Can’t get much more committed than that. They are not the most affordable brand, hence we chose not to refer them on our list.
In our vision of a sustainable future, there isn’t yet another alternative better than Patagonia’s way.