We think it’s fair to say that we’d all like our wardrobes to be a more sustainable place, but aside from vintage, a lot of people are under the impression that eco-friendly fashion comes with a not-so-friendly price tag. If you were to look at some ethical brands, such as Mother of Pearl and Mara Hoffman, as gorgeous as they are, that would indeed be the case. However, there’s a new wave of more affordable conscious brands emerging that are making it easier for those of us with less-than-flush bank accounts to change the way we shop.
The word “affordable,” however, is difficult to cookie-cut and is completely dependant on individual circumstances. One blatantly clear thing is that the pieces, which you’ll find via the brands we’ve handpicked below, will never appear “affordable” when you compare them to their high street counterparts—the retail giants that can (and do) sell dresses for £15 and coats for £25. Instead, we need to change our shopping mindsets.
The first stepping stone to making your wardrobe more considered is to spend less frivolously. By cutting back on items bought a whim (which, let’s face it, you’ll likely only wear a handful of times before relegating them to the back of your closet instead of investing in high-quality, timeless pieces that you’ll wear for years to come), you’ll find these pieces to be significantly more “affordable” in the long run.
With this in mind, keep scrolling to see our edit of some of our favourite affordable sustainable brands—a list we plan on updating on the regular when we discover more labels of the same sustainable ilk.
Born in Tokyo in 1991, People Tree prides itself on creating sustainable clothes that don’t scrimp on style. Every product is made to the highest ethical and environmental standards from start to finish. Fabric-wise, you can expect organic cotton, Tencel, Lyocell and responsible wool—all of which are made using traditional artisan skills. People Tree is also known in the industry for its excellent collaborations; our favourite being its capsule with the V&A.
With “dress to protest” serving as this Brit brand’s mantra, Birdsong is on a mission to give women who expect more from their wardrobes the staples they so crave—all of which are ethical, sustainable, and made by women who are paid a London living wage. Its fast-becoming known for its on-point slogan tops, but we’re privy to these grown-up separates.
Pouring its energy into creating chic knitwear with a conscience, all of Diarte’s designs are created with a local, small-scale production chain in its native Spain. The brand has also been OEKO Tex certified, which means all the materials used to manufacture Diarte’s designs are free from harmful levels of more than 100 substances known to be damaging to human health.
Having been given the seal of approval from the likes of PETA, Fairtrade, Fashion Revolution and Global Organic Textile Standard, ArmedAngels should be a feature in every sustainable dresser’s wardrobe. What impresses us most, however, is its DextoDenim range, which features classic and trend-led jeans which use 91% less water, 61% less energy and 46% less carbon dioxide than typical, non-sustainable styles.
Former high-street designer Frankie Steed founded her namesake label after being inspired to create sustainable pieces influenced by bygone eras. Having only launched in autumn 2019, the collection is made in London and production runs which have been limited to 30 pieces per style to limit waste. The garments are made from recycled fabrics and are delivered to customers in gift bags made from fabric scraps to eliminate plastic waste.
Coined “the original ethical brand,” Komodo has been creating sustainable clothing that doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment since 1988. Using premium quality organic, natural and eco fibres and breaking new ground with innovative fabrics such as green PU coating and recycled PET (a resin found in many plastic bottles), Komodo is at the forefront of the conscious fashion movement.
Since its launch in 2008, Manchester-born brand Beaumont Organic has been helping the British fashion industry move towards a sustainable future. From promoting the use of organic cotton and “end of roll” fabrics to ensuring its product are being produced ethically (which can mean longer lead times to ensure staff are never overworked), Beaumont Organic also plans to bring full traceability to each and every product in spring 2020.
It may be inspired by heritage and tradition, but Lowie’s ethos is as forward-thinking as they come. Founded in 2002 in South London, Lowie is fully transparent about how and where its pieces are made. What’s more is the brand also offers free lifetime repairs on its clothing, encouraging its customers to love and re-wear their garments instead of contributing to the colossal 300,000 tonnes of clothing that finds its way to the landfill each year.