Like many others, I love clothing. I always have and always will. I am consistently on the hunt for something new and exciting in stores and online. So you can only imagine the way my world came crashing down after I watched Andrew Morgan’s documentary, The True Cost.
The documentary not only changed my view of the fashion industry, but changed the way I want to live my life. If you have not watched it (I highly recommend that you do), here is the gist.
The documentary team dives down the rabbit hole of fast fashion and investigates the human and environmental costs that are swept under the rug in favor of increasingly low prices and rapid turnover. Viewers are educated on the ways that supply chains financially, physically, and emotionally take advantage of workers in underdeveloped countries, along with the effects manufacturing has on the planet.
The topic is very heavy and made me reflect on my own life and shopping habits. I wanted to know how I, a broke college student, could break away from fast fashion without sacrificing style. So I started doing some online browsing.
At first I was discouraged. It seemed every brand that claimed to be sustainable also charged hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a plain white t-shirt. After extensive research, I have created a list of six cool and affordable sustainable brands in the United States.
Based: San Francisco, California
What they sell: Everyday clothes that won’t go out of style
Why they are cool: Everlane goes through the process of hand selecting factories that it works with based on fair wages, reasonable hours, and environmental responsibility. Additionally, the company prides itself in being “radically transparent.” With every product you look at, there is a step-by-step breakdown of the cost from materials to labor. The company then shares what that price looks like with a fair mark-up compared to the standard industry mark-up.
Based: Cleveland, Ohio
What they sell: Leather Goods
Why they are cool: Fount is a company started by husband and wife duo, Phillip and Jackie Wachter, who originally started working with leather as a side project. They were inspired to build a company that deviated from the fast fashion world. The word fount means “an abundant source of desirable quality,” and they create just that. Every bag is made out of ethically sourced leather and hand stitched by local artisans. The leather is free of plastic or vinyl, allowing it to get better with age.
3.) Krochet Kids
Based: Costa Mesa, California
What they sell: On-trend everyday clothing
Why they are cool: This company prides itself in educating and creating job opportunities for women in underdeveloped countries. The products sold are hand made with locally sourced materials from all around the world. One of the coolest parts of the shopping experience is that with every purchase, you are given the profile of the woman who created each piece in your cart.
4.) My Sister
Based: Minneapolis, Minnesota
What they sell: Cool graphic t-shirts
Why they are cool: As Beyonce once said, “girls run the world.” My Sister certainly agrees. The official mission of the company is “to prevent sex trafficking, educate communities, empower the population, provide after care for victims, and offer growth opportunities to at-risk youth and women.” This is achieved through online sale of t-shirts and gifts adorned with empowering words and slogans geared towards women. All of the cotton for the t-shirts are sourced from trusted suppliers who pay fair wages, guarantee no child labor, and protect the environment.
Based: Austin, Texas
What they sell: Sweaters and Knitwear
Why they are cool : Slum Love works directly with artisans in extremely impoverished areas of the world to avoid the middleman. Every purchase made directly supports the artisan and their family. Everything from the materials to the packaging are made out of recyclable and organic materials.