Looking for sustainable fashion on a budget? We’ve got some great tips!
By Amma Aburam
It’s true – most honestly sustainable clothing brands will never be as cheap as fast fashion, and that’s a good thing! After all, paying more for ethically paid staff and quality materials is the whole point of making the choice to wear eco-fashion, right?
It’s a lot easier to find ethical basics, like yoga pants or tee shirts, but that being said, rocking sustainable luxury on a budget isn’t impossible, either – it just needs a bit of planning and thought. Oh, and by ‘luxury’, I mean jewellery and clothing that defies trends; is comprised of high quality fabrics, and boasts superlative design. Finding it could involve hunting for vintage or second hand clothing, swapping and swishing with friends, and choosing to invest well in slightly higher priced pieces that easily mix and match with other items in your closet.
I’m not saying buying sustainable fashion on a budget is easy, but it can be done with a bit of effort. Here are a few pro-tips to help you get started.
Tips To Find Sustainable Fashion On A Budget
1. Buy Off Season
Bikinis are cheaper in the August sales, and jumpers go down in price after Christmas. Sure, you may not use the clothes you buy in the seasonal sales for another six months or so, but it gives you something to look forward to, right? Just make sure you buy stuff that is classically chic – trendy garments will look tired fast.
2. Look For Discount Sites & Outlets
The hardworking people behind Dontpayfull recommend signing up with discount sites. You may get lucky finding discounts with the most popular sustainable fashion brands, such as Eileen Fisher, Everlane, and Frank and Oak. Also try Last Call from Neiman Marcus, Bluefly or the Outnet – these are online outlet shops with great bargains and a few sustainable brands.
3. Follow The Leaders
Follow a variety of ethical bloggers and magazines. They know all the best brands, and often list the prices of items to give you an idea of what’s cheap – and what’s not. Follow those influencers and mags on social media, and you may also see discount codes and competitions pop up every now and then, too!
4. Remember: Quality Over Quantity!
Which do you think is better: buying 5 cheap shirts for $20, or spending $100 on a gorgeously well made shirt you’ll wear for decades to come? The same goes for handbags: it’s better to drop $300 on a used designer bag that comes with a lifelong guarantee than $100 on a cheap handbag whose straps fray or break after a year of use. As the saying goes: ‘cheap can be expensive’!
5. Get It Second Hand
Second hand fashion IS sustainable fashion! And there are more and more online stores offering bargains on top ethical fashion brands like Amur, Flor et al and Stella McCartney. In fact, big department stores like Selfridges are now selling second hand designer goods in store, too!
6. Know Where To Shop
The truth is, it’s easy to buy sustainable fashion on a budget if you know where to shop! I’ve listed some of my favourite online stores below. Do you know of any others? Let me know in the comments section if so!
Where To Shop Sustainable Fashion On A Budget
Whether you’re looking for a chic, French girl tee, special outfit for a big date night or the jewellery to accompany both, you’ll definitely find something in the ASOS Eco Edit.
Given that the global online retailer carries a plethora of brands, searching for the Eco Edit on their site will narrow it down only to brands that use organic, recycled or vintage materials to create their designs (such as those above, and below). You’ll also find some super cool Exclusives that you’ll never see anywhere else!
Average price: $40
Love high end brands like Vivienne Westwood or Eileen Fisher, but can’t afford the price tag? You’re very likely to find those names in FarFetch’s designer goods consignment store – for about 1/10th the price! If you don’t find what you need immediately, you can request alerts for whatever you’re looking for on this secondhand online shop, and the best part? When you grow tired of your designer purchase, you can just sell it back on the site!
Average price: $200 for say, a Gucci skirt – designer handbags are more $$$
Known for their casuals like boyfriend shirts, beautifully cut jeans and chic flats, Everlane partners with ethical factories and producers to source the finest natural materials, like cashmere, organic Pima cotton and Tencel. Interestingly, they share the stories behind these materials and factories on Instagram on what they call #transparencytuesday. Each week, their followers can submit ANY question to the brand and get answers immediately. Talk about bringing transparency into the digital age with style!
Average price: $70
People Tree is the pioneering, ethical fashion brand that broke down boundaries and paved the way for many brands today. Decades after its founding, it remains luxuriously stylish and affordable, and is even a favourite with celebs like Emma Watson. Famously featured in Andrew Morgan’s The True Cost, the brand puts people’s stories and the environment at the forefront. They recently launched a 100% biodegradable Tencel collection that’s not only ultra-eco, but looks incredible, too.
Average price: $40
It’s easy to fall for Thought Clothing without much…erm, thought! They make an array of great basics for men and women, from tees and pants to socks – in fact, they kind of specialise in these, with a wide range of quirky, stand-out styles. The designers are a collective of creatives who write, design, sketch collections that are made from naturally grown materials like bamboo, cotton, wool and hemp.
Thought Clothing is the perfect brand to wear to the office, lunch with friends…or even to bed!
Average price: $65
For a clean, minimalist and quintessentially European look, go for German sustainable brand Armed Angels. This eco and FairTrade brand takes environmental responsibility to another level! Their materials include organic wool (which is guaranteed to be mulesing & Chlorine free), Tencel, organic cotton, lenzing modal and organic linen.
In addition, they implement the Global Organic Textile Standard, and work closely with PETA, thus their PETA approved vegan logo (even though they use wool). In short, Armed Angels make Euro-styled ethical fashion look easy and very affordable, indeed.
Average price: $50
Supporting talented female garment workers in Malawi, Mayamiko delivers boldly beautiful, hand printed African designs on light cotton fabrics that will bring joy and colour to your wardrobe – for a fraction of the price of brands undertaking similar ethical initiatives, like Stella Jean. And an added bonus? They’re 100% vegan friendly and PETA approved!
Average price: $75
Sustainable fashion on a budget doesn’t get much more gorgeous than this! East-African based ethical fashion label SOKO believes that clothing has the power to build futures, and that’s why their collections work to improve local communities in Kenya.
Average price: $50
It’s quite possible that Matt and Nat is the most stylish vegan bag and shoe brand out around right now. The name stands for Mat(t)erial + Nature and the brand represents their love for natural materials firmly. They use various planet-friendly vegan leathers, cork and rubber to produce original, beautiful products, and all their bag linings are made of 100% recycled bottles. Although their styles are as chic as anything you’d find in the designer section of big department stores, their prices will warm your heart.
Average price: $110 – pretty good for a quality handbag!
The key to sustainable fashion on a budget is all about finding lasting styles, and that’s exactly what Jessie Sue provides! Each item in this store has been handpicked for its beauty, quality and versatility to transcend over seasons. This women’s online fashion boutique has a passion for sustainable fabrics and works with labels that share their love for slow fashion.
Choosing to offer great value every day as opposed to flash sales, they have a page dedicated to discount codes for you to save as well as free shipping. You’ll find something for every occasion that will have you feeling good on the inside too, since the store donates $1 from every sale to one of three incredible charities focused on empowering women and girls.
Average price: Around $97
There are a lot of myths behind organic fashion. For example? It’s always expensive. It’s not really necessary. It’s just for privileged white women. And so on.
Pact knows that sustainable fashion is good for everyone and every thing on the planet – animals, plants, and people. They know that organic fabrics are better for your health. They also know how to make garments from organic materials that don’t cost the earth.
Designed for the whole family, Pact makes everything you need, from undies to bedding, The brand is all about practicality merged with comfort. It’s a place where consumers can find alternatives that fit easily with their lifestyle, proving that style, savings and sustainability can all coexist.
Average price: Around $55
In a modern world where clothes are available to us at the click of a button, we love that fashion brands like Mango are making it easier than ever to shop sustainably. Following through with its goal to make 50 per cent of its polyester recycled and 100 per cent of its cotton sustainably sourced by 2025, their range of conscious clothing is only growing bigger.
Mango has recently released its SS21 conscious collection, which has been created with sustainability at its core. The popular high street chain has managed to be both environmentally and fashion-conscious with its latest denim collection. Whether you’re looking for jeans, a jacket or a killer pair of boots, they’ve managed to save 30 million litres of water by using eco-washing processes that don’t drastically deplete natural resources.
Average price: Around $35
Main image: Matt and Nat. All images: courtesy the brands
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