Where to Shop
Finding clothing and shoes that are ethically made isn’t easy. There are a few brick and mortar stores scattered across America, but my guess is that most of you don’t live near one. I don’t. I had to rely on online shopping. I like and don’t like online shopping. I like that I don’t have to go anywhere. I like that I don’t have to try to shop with my three children “helping me.” I don’t like that you often have to order several sizes and deal with sending things back. I also don’t like all the packaging that they sometimes ship things in. It’s not very eco-friendly so that bugs the part of me that is striving to be a zero-waste home.
For the sake of everyone being able to benefit from this post, I’ve only included online stores. I’ve spent a lot of time the past month sifting through online stores trying to find ethical companies that carry clothes and shoes in a style (and price range) that I like. I’m sharing my favorites with you today.
Remember, I decided to go with a capsule-type wardrobe. I have a very minimal amount of clothing which works great for my personality and style. To read more about how I got to it, you can check out this post.
The photos you see in this post are my clothes. The ones in my closet are about 1/2 items I previously owned and 1/2 new ethical items I’ve purchased. My wardrobe is a bit more than what’s in the picture. Tomorrow is laundry day so I’ve got quite a few dirty things waiting for a good wash! So yes, my wardrobe is minimal, but it’s not quite as tiny as the pictures show.
My Favorite Clothing Companies
1 | Indigenous: This is probably my favorite company, and one I will definitely purchase from again. Their prices are a little higher than I’d normally spend, but the clothing is high quality. I know they will last. I ordered several things from them but ended up only keeping this sweater. I LOVE it. I can already tell it will get worn at least once a week all fall and winter. I love that it’s undyed, and it’s also a great weight. Thick enough to be warm but not too thick. I tried this sweater, but it was too chunky for me. I felt like it made me look big. I got the grey and really loved the color. I wish it had looked better on me! I also bought a pair of their leggings. Sadly, their smallest size was still to large on my legs so I had to return them. The quality did seem good though.
2 | Everlane: Not all of their clothing is made from eco friendly textiles (they have some synthetics), but they are ethically sourced and made. Everlane has a very classic and long lasting style. Some of their stuff is not my style, but I was able to pick a couple good classy items I liked. I ended up getting this shirt and can tell it will be worn every week. I might even order another color I like it so much. I also got these lounge pants. Yes, the price is a bit high, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend it on something I would just wear around the house. But after having them for two months, I am so glad I bought them. I hardly ever take them off. They are so comfortable, and because they are partially wool, I know they will hold up. They aren’t too hot but also keep me warm. Everlane also has shoes and accessories.
3 | People Tree: I haven’t bought anything from them yet, but they are featured on The True Cost documentary. I’ve checked out their website several times and will probably be buying from them at some point.
4 | Pact: I bought underwear, a dress, and leggings from this company. I’m not sure if they use eco friendly dyes, but everything is organic cotton and most of them are certified fair trade and/or made in factories that are sweat-shop-free and child-labor-free. This is a great company to buy for basics such as camis, leggings, t-shirts, etc.
5 | Zady: I really liked a lot of the items by this company, but they were above my budget. So if you have a little extra money to spend or want to invest in 1-2 high quality items, check them out.
6 | Synergy: One of the more reasonably priced companies out there. They are worth looking at. I didn’t end up buying anything from them, but I probably will in the future.
7 | Patagonia: I have been so impressed with this company. They do make quite a few of their jackets from synthetics, but a lot of the time they are 100% recycled. They also source their down (feathers) from places that don’t do live-plucking. Yes, that’s a thing, and it’s very sad. When I need to buy a winter coat for myself or the kids, this is where I get it from.
My Favorite Shoe Companies
Shoes was the most difficult wardrobe item to find that was ethically and responsibly sourced. Either, the shoes are really expensive or the shoes weren’t my style. I don’t want to go as far as to say they are ugly, but they would definitely stand out and not necessarily in the best way. Here are a few companies I found that are reasonably priced and my style.
I actually have only bought two pairs. One eco-friendly pair off eBay and one bootie (from a non eco-friendly company) off eBay. I couldn’t find any booties I liked in my size from one of the companies below. I ended up reasoning that if I bought a used pair, at least I wasn’t buying brand new. I’d save some money, and it is a more eco-friendly option. In the future, as I need to replace shoes, I’ll shop at the companies below.
Right now, my shoes consist of rain boots (barn pair), Sperry rain boots (a nicer pair), leather barn/work boots, booties (from eBay), sneakers (Veju – see below), tall brown boots (still haven’t purchased it), and a pair of casual Tom’s boots. Again, I kept what shoes I had. When they wear out, I’ll start replacing them with shoes from the companies below.
1 | Veju: This company has some great sneakers for men, women, and children. I ended up finding mine (see the photo below) on eBay. They were brand new and still in the box but about half the price. I’ve only worn them a few times, and they are still a bit uncomfortable. I can tell they are the kind of shoe that takes time to break in. I am very impressed with the quality though.
2 | Nisolo: I haven’t ordered from them, but they have a great classic style. They also have a great deal going on right now called the 5 for $500. For $500, you get two pairs of shoes from them each year for the next 5 years.
3 | Po-zu: This company’s style is a bit different, but I did like some of their boots.
4 | The Root Collective: Really love this company’s style. I was going to get their bootie, but they didn’t have my size.
5 | Fortress of Inca: Almost bought booties from this company too, but they didn’t have my size. Their shoes are more than I would usually spend. But since I’m doing the capsule wardrobe with minimal pairs of shoes, I wouldn’t mind spending more if I knew I would wear them a lot. I’ll definitely check this company out in the future when I need to buy shoes.
There are so many other items in our wardrobe that aren’t necessarily clothes or shoes. I’ve decided to go with 1 scarf, 1 necklace, 1 purse, and 1 tote bag (used as a diaper and computer bag).
Everlane has my favorite scarf that is simple, goes with a lot of outfits, is made from wool, and is most likely undyed due to the color. I’m so happy with it.
I got my purse from Live Fashionable. I’m not sure the leather is eco-friendly or what the dye is made from, but it is made ethically. I had a really hard time finding a purse I loved that was in my price range that was eco-friendly (from a materials and dye standpoint) and ethically sewn/made. This was the best I could do. I love that it’s small, simple, and goes with all my outfits.
My large tote bag I got for Christmas last year. My mom got it from United by Blue. Another really great company. All of their clothing and accessories are more casual, but I really love the look. I got this bag. It’s great as a diaper bag, and I also use it as a carry on for my computer and stuff when I travel. They don’t carry my exact bag anymore, but this one is similar.
I haven’t found a necklace yet. I’m hoping to find one from recycled metal that is handmade from a fair trade company. I’m also still shopping for tall leather boots and a pair of jeans. I got burned out last week shopping online. I needed a bit of a break, and then I’ll start researching these last few items I need for my responsible and capsule wardrobe.
I hope all this information has helped you! I highly suggest you take it one item at a time. As you need an item, check out some of these companies and see if they have anything you like. Start thinking in terms of classy and long lasting rather than cheap and fast fashion. And do the best you can! Sometimes budgets can be restricting and that is okay! We are a debt free family (except for our home) so I am always looking for ways to save money. I don’t mind spending more money on less (but high quality) clothes, but sometimes I just can’t do it as perfectly as I’d like. My $98 purse wasn’t perfect, in my mind, but it was the best I could do. I don’t want to, nor could afford, to spend anything more than $100. So with the money I had, I did the best I could to meet all of my eco-friendly and ethical shopping goals. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do exactly what you want. Take it one step at a time, and do the best with what you have.
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