ethical fashion

My Top 8 Favorite Retailers for a Stylish + Thoughtfully Curated Wardrobe

Just like there’s no such thing as a perfect person (or LITERALLY anything), obviously there’s no such thing as a perfect company. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my handful of total favorites that come pretty damn close.

As a college student (aka poor) and a consumer who *tries* to actively pursue a more thoughtfully curated capsule wardrobe, I would say my “dream retailer” would have these three characteristics:

  • Emphasis on lasting style as opposed to fashion/fads
  • Transparency and social responsibility efforts
  • Moderately priced

For each company, I’ll be describing WHY they make my list and including a screen shot of their Instagram feed so you can get an idea of company vibe and product offering. Also y’all just know I’m biased and love social media marketing, ok.

And yes, I should charge my phone.


1. Everlane

Everlane is characterized by their minimalistic, almost uniform-esque style and–more importantly–their radical transparency throughout the supply chain. This even carries on to pricing: When you shop from Everlane, you can see what it cost to make your product and what the company markups are. Added plus: Everlane is pretty cheap (examples: I own a 100% human t-shirt, something like 20ish dollars, and a t-shirt dress (30ish dollars). Shop here.


2. Reformation

How could you NOT be obsessed with Reformation? With a slogan like “Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We’re #2,” honestly you know you’re in for a good time. They’ve got ultra-cute pieces to choose from and are committed to sustainability, sharing a whole bunch of stats on how their practices make them different from the rest of the textile/retail industry. In 2017, they saved 163 million gallons of water, 390,000 pounds of waste, and 7 million pounds of carbon dioxide. The numbers come from what *would* have been emitted/wasted/what have you had consumers shopped the typical retailer. Shop Reformation here.


3. PANSY

PANSY is like, actually one of the cutest companies I’ve ever seen. They make ethical undies! Their product is simply constructed and comes in a variety of colors. Their product is 100% organic cotton, grown in the US and made in California. Shop here.


4. Pamut Apparel 

Pamut Apparel is a local, Raleigh based sustainable + ethical fashion brand who I obviously had to include because DUH, MAJOR Raleigh love here! They make all their products with organic cotton and work with local NC mills and workshops to create ethically produced, stylish designs. Shop Pamut Apparel here.


5. Know The Origin

Know The Origin is a UK based company that focuses on ethical labor conditions and sustainability in their supply chain. They actually started up after the horrible garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. They have GREAT mens and womens products that you can feel good buying at relatively cheap prices. Read more about their sustainability efforts hereShop Know The Origin.


6. Your local thrift store.

Duh, this one was going to be on there. I’m a sucker for some good thrift store finds. Not only is it cheap as anything, it’s also a great way to give new life to someone else’s discarded textiles (and furniture! Ask my roomies, I’m ALWAYS trying to buy cute thrifted furniture from my favorite Raleigh thrift stores. Ughhhh I can’t resist, I want my house to be cute, ok?). Even if you don’t really like the “hunt” of true thrift shopping at places like Goodwill, there are EASY collaborative consumption options for you out there. Poshmark, Depop, and other apps are some peoples cup of tea for cheap finds. And of course, I’m working part time at an Uptown Cheapskate while I’m in school, and I *know* we get in some really cute stuff. So look around! See what you like! There is no shame in buying from thrift stores– it’s actually ultra ethical and a lot of fun.


7. GAP

As I’m sure you all know, GAP is quintessential American style, with a focus on denim (they started selling records and Levis, you know!). The company doesn’t center themselves position-wise around their social responsibility, but a quick look at their sustainability page shows the very respectable contributions they attempt to make as a major fashion retailer. Actually, GAP actually has an entire website dedicated to their sustainability efforts, and even if they aren’t “perfect” right now (rated as “It’s a Start” by GoodOnYou.Eco), in my opinion they’re a great example of a major corporation looking to make a difference in the retail/textile industry. They’ve got plans to make all of their cotton more sustainably sourced by 2021, they track most of their supply chains, and are a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. (And you can totally find classically stylish capsule wardrobe basics here!) Shop GAP here.


8. Madewell

Madewell is a J.Crew company that I (and like, everyone else in Textiles) have been super obsessed with recently. Their product is a lot of staple pieces that would be great for building a capsule wardrobe, and the scarves they offer are some of my favorite accessories. On her blog The Pea Hen, ethical blogger Kasi talked about her love for J. Crew + why she can’t “quit” it, despite the fact it’s not a company rooted in sustainability or social responsibility. Like GAP, I see Madewell and J. Crew as long-lasting styles and clothing that is a kind of fast fashion, but likely won’t be thrown out after a few wears. Their website talks about their social responsibility/sustainability efforts–which Kasi rated as a D in 2016— and leaves an email curious consumers can use to get in touch about supply chain + sustainability. (It’s socialresponsibility@jcrew.com, if you were wondering). Shop Madewell here.


What are your favorite retailers for a ~thoughtful~ wardrobe?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *