Ethical Clothing For the Broke Student
As a university student myself, my budget is at a negative 100 when it comes to buying new clothes. My number one go to is always thrift stores, because nothing can beat a 2.00$ secondhand t-shirt. However, thrift stores are a definite hit or miss, and if you're looking for a new piece of clothing to add to your wardrobe, it can be frustrating to hunt through racks and racks of clothing.
So, I've rounded up a list of 'basics' that I feel like every student owns: jeans, leggings, t-shirts and sweaters, and all of the items on this list are under 100$! All of these are more expensive than your typical Forever 21, but guess what? You're not exploiting children when purchasing them. So I'd say its a win for humanity. This being said, I do acknowledge the immense privilege that still comes with buying these items. From needing a credit card or PayPal account, to having a physical address to ship to, I understand that even these options aren't feasible for a lot of people. Ethical fashion and clothing still caters to a certain socio-economic class, which unfortunately isn't accessible for a lot of people. If you do have a little wiggle room in your budget however, I think these basics are reasonably priced enough to invest in.
I don't think you can beat Everlane, who just released their denim collection. I'm obsessed. Coming in at 68$, these are extremely affordable while still being ethically made. Compare this to Gap (notorious for child labour and human rights abuses) who charges on average 59-70$.
There are a couple of companies that make classic and soft basic tees. Now, I need you to keep in mind, that a t-shirt ISN'T supposed to cost the same amount as a latte. To make a t-shirt, there are so many steps, from producing cotton, to spinning it into thread, to weaving, to construction and design, to sewing, and then finally to you. I know its tough to wrap our heads around buying a t-shirt that costs more than 5$, but as Lucy Siegel says, fast fashion isn't free. Somewhere, someone is paying. So, I've tried to track down the cheapest, yet fairest tees out there.
- The first is Franc, a Canadian brand that I just recently discovered. While their raglan scoop t-shirts are 47$, I love that they are designed and made in Canada.
- Once again, Everlane coming in with inexpensive options. Their cotton crew shirt is 16$. (Plus you can save on shipping if you're already buying jeans.)
- If you're looking for a graphic tee, I recommend A Beautiful Refuge. I'm in love with their transparency. It was started by Hannah Theisen, who is an incredible ethical blogger who moved to the Philippines, and is now opening her own ethical factory! Their tees start at 24$.
- Mountain Equipment Co-op actually carries Fairtrade USA certified t-shirts. While you need to have a membership to shop there, it's a good option to consider. If you are buying from them, make sure that you look for the Fairtrade logo. MEC also sells shirts that aren't ethical, so you have to keep a close eye on the tags. Their shirts start at 18$
Girlfriend Collective made waves on the internet when they were offering free leggings awhile back as part of their marketing scheme. Who knew they'd actually be an ethical company? Their leggings come in a slew of colours and are only 68$. Plus, they come in high and mid-rise, and have sizes up to 3XL!
- Zero Waste Daniel collects fabric scraps that normally would just be chucked, and transforms them into the most unique sweaters. The fabric that has been rescued from the landfill are then pieced together, and all hand-sewn in New York. The sweaters range from 68$-79$
- Krochet Kids started as a company that sold toques and beanies, but have expanded to include clothing. Their sweaters are ethically made in Peru, and range from 39$-59$
Happy studying my fellow students!
- Emilie Maine