10 ETHICAL BRANDS I LOVE
FINDING LIFE’S DELIGHTS
Hey! I’m Sara: Canada-based conscious shopper & new homeowner on a journey to intentional living. On here you’ll find my experiences in seeking balance and joy in the form of food, home, poetry and the story of makers around the world.
A little while into my adventure of shopping consciously, I realized that I’d need a quick reference list of brands and what they sell. That way, any time something got worn out, I could replace it without too much hunting online.
I haven’t bought from all of these brands yet – some are based on reviews, style, and what I would eventually purchase from them. I really encourage you to go read their stories – it’s so inspiring to fall deep into what makes each brand’s clothing unique. The reason I haven’t bought from all of them is obviously financial, for one thing. And the other reason:
Getting rid of everything in my wardrobe just to repopulate it consciously would be just as destructive as fast fashion.
Discarded clothes have a huge environmental impact, so the best thing that I can do is appreciate and re-wear my existing clothes in creative ways. Slowly accumulating pieces I love has been super rewarding (if a bit hard on the wallet). It’s SO tough to do when you know there are options out there that cost $8 instead of $50. Or, a shirt that’s $40 instead of $120.
Having to make choices when dealing with this kind of money just made my choices that much more meaningful. It meant I REALLY, really had to feel good about my purchase. I had to be focused on timeless styles, not quick trends.
Now enough talk – here’s the list!
This is my all-time favourite brand. When I first started following them, they sold handmade leather goods and jewellery. Since then, they’ve expanded to denim, apparel and shoes – making it possible to shop and wear consciously, head to toe. I own four of their leather pieces (Mini Tigist Crossbody, Martha Pouch, and two wallets: Hailu and Debre, which I use for different occasions as clutches since they even fit a phone!)
I’ve also bought their white crop tee – it’s sort of see-through, which is a bit of a shame. I’d like to buy more of their apparel and I’ve heard from reviews that it’s only the white that has some issues. I’m sure before long I’ll add more ABLE to my wardrobe!
Check them out at livefashionable.com
2. ALTERNATIVE APPAREL
If you’re looking for a 1-stop-shop for all things ethical, pop on over here. They pull together an enormous collection of brands under one site, so it’s easy to get a variety of things at once, especially casual wear. Plus, they sell my fave brand of jeans, Agolde. When I was in LA for work, I visited their shop in Venice and UGH. How I want to go back just so I can shop there again. Obsessed.
I bought a denim skirt and a pair of AGOLDE mom jeans that are literally my everything right now.
Check them out at alternativeapparel.com
3. NISOLO SHOES
I have never fallen as hard in love with a shoe company as this one. Their designs are refined. The lines are gorgeous. The leather is so comfortable it needs no breaking in. I have a pair of sandals that I basically wore all summer, with no shame. I’m still as in love with them now as when I bought them. If I were rich… oh man. Let me just say I have a wishlist of Nisolo shoes.
Check them out at nisolo.com
Image from Nisolo Shoes
4. AMOUR VERT
If you’re looking for great office or date night clothes, this brand is it. Beautiful materials like organic cotton and silk, and quite a bit of it made in the USA. Their photography is soft and meditative with a touch of faded whimsy. I haven’t bought anything from them yet, but they top the list of many conscious shoppers and even have their fair share of weekend outfits. Oh. And they also happen to carry AGOLDE jeans, so they’re instantly on my good list.
Check them out at amourvert.com
Image from Amour Vert
5. SWEDISH STOCKINGS
Okay, this isn’t something you’d normally think about buying. But when you live in Canada in the winter, wearing skirts and dresses year-round can really help vary things up. Good tights are essential. When every single one of mine got holes in the toes, I was super stumped. Not sure how I came across Swedish Stockings, but they’re made in zero-waste factories in Italy with sustainable materials, and have a recycling program for old stockings (even ones that aren’t theirs). If you send yours in, you get a discount on your next purchase.
I ordered a few pairs, and they’re amazing. Loving how comfortable and secure they are. Careful, though – you need to stretch them quite a bit on the first wear.
Check them out at swedishstockings.com
CANNOT. SAY. ENOUGH. I think I have creative jealousy over this brand and their marketing. If I was the type of person to pack up everything and move to a job in another country, I’d do that for Everlane. The greatest thing about them is that their prices are so damn good. Ethical denim for $68??? Excuse me??? Depending on what you are looking for, Everlane can be the most luxurious for the most reasonable price. And their brand voice is honest and radical and feminine and strong all at once.
You won’t regret checking them out at everlane.com
Image from Everlane
7. NAJA LINGERIE
Another one I haven’t purchased from yet, but I really wanted to go head-to-toe. Naja is a lingerie company that focuses on female empowerment, employing single moms and paying a wage above average to ensure that they can provide for their children. So when the time comes to stock up on bras and underwear, at least I know where to start. What I like the most from them? Their bralettes and unlined bras are super pretty.
Check them out at naja.co
Image from Naja
I discovered these guys right before Black Friday. On Black Friday, instead of going on sale, they put 100% their profits towards building a school in the Nile Delta (and reached their goal). They’re a Toronto-based Canadian/Egyptian brand, so I’m particularly passionate about supporting them. Their clothes are made from organic Egyptian cotton. I’m not sure how they do it, but their clothes are warm and breathable all at the same time. Even working in a suffocatingly overheated winter office can’t get me down when I’m in their cotton turtleneck.
I have their cropped sweatshirt, fitted crew, and fitted turtleneck. I wear them VERY often in a whole bang of different ways.
Check them out at kotn.ca or on Queen Street West if you’re downtown.
Image from Kotn
9. MIMI & AUGUST
Ever want to buy a cute bathing suit and beauty little jewellery dish all in one place? Okay, I never thought about it either. Until Mimi & August. Based in Montreal, they’re super honest in their photography and do casting calls for their wearers to be their models. Can it be summer already so I can get one of these polka-dot bathers?
Check them out at mimiandaugust.com
10. MATTER PRINTS
For when neutrals and essentials become too neutral and essential, there’s Matter Prints. Based in Singapore, their patterns are bold and powerful. Their asymmetrical silhouettes command attention and go from globetrotting to cocktail parties without breaking a sweat. And when you’ve built up your wardrobe staples, it’s time to have some fun and get something that’ll turn heads.
Check out their hand-loomed, block-printed textiles at matterprints.com
For everything else – there’s thrifting!