Fashion Without the Guilt


Halina Dreger

We live in a world that is constantly being filled with waste and pollution, and it seems as though we have to make a conscious effort in every part of our lives to protect the environment—and that includes our fashion choices. “Fast fashion” consumes our closets, with stores like Forever 21, American Eagle, Shein, Fashion Nova and PrettyLittleThing producing cheap clothing items that do not last long, failing to reduce their impact on the environment and/or refusing to pay their workers a living wage.

“Ethical” clothing brands, on the other hand, are those that strive to empower their workers and suppliers, use sustainable and long-lasting materials, and avoid using animal products, especially exotic skins and furs. Here are a few brands with cute clothing that will keep you looking great, without the guilt.

1. tonlé (women’s clothing)

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According to their website, tonlé is a clothing label dedicated to producing clothing with zero waste and ethical policies. Their products are all handmade (without any machines) and are created using small fabric scraps from companies that would typically dump their waste in a landfill. The scraps are reconstructed into a yarn-like material that is then used to create larger pieces of fabric from which clothes can be made. They use natural dyes and are currently aiming to plant over 1,000 trees in Cambodian rainforests with funds from two special products.

2. adidas (athletic wear)

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You don’t always have to go far to find ethical clothing; Adidas is a popular brand of athletic wear that can be found in nearly any sports and shoe store. Good on You (a site dedicated to rating fashion labels based on sustainability) reports that adidas uses “a medium proportion of eco-friendly materials including recycled materials.” They also have plans to lower their greenhouse gas emissions and trace most of their supply chain, though they still have work to do when it comes to paying a living wage.

3. Groceries Apparel (men’s & women’s clothing)

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Produced in the United States, Groceries Apparel traces all steps of their fabric production and is committed to using “100% GMO-free, Pesticide & Herbicide-free, Recycled & Fair-traded Ingredients” in their materials as reported by their website. Many of their clothing is created using organic cotton, recycled plastic and recycled cotton. They pay well above California’s minimum wage and operate their own factory to ensure that their own ethical standards are met.

4. Pansy (underwear)

Pansy creates underwear, bras, robes, t-shirts, leggings, shorts and socks from organic cotton grown in the United States, as stated on their website. They dye and manufacture their clothes in California, without the use of sweatshops and with the use low impact, fiber-reactive dyes. Their packaging consists of recycled paper and a cotton bag made of their own clothing scraps, so you don’t even have to feel guilty about the shipping process!

5. Pact (men’s, women’s & kids’ clothing)

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Pact produces men’s, women’s and kid’s clothing as well as bed and bath goods using organic cotton in Fair Trade Certified Factories. They utilize zero animal products and, according to their website, “offer conscious, valued and versatile clothing and home goods that are sustainable, essential and organic.” They have so many products, it’s impossible not to find something in your size and style!