Ah, affordable ethical fashion. It’s what we’re all on the hunt for these days, isn’t it? After all, how feasible is making the switch to ethical fashion if you’re suddenly paying double or triple the price then you’re used to? While $5 t-shirts will probably never exist ethically, there are still plenty of ways to make sure that you can afford ethical fashion. Here are 7 tips for finding those great deals that will let you build the wardrobe of your dreams.
1. Visit Thrift Stores + Clothing Swaps
This is your cheapest option, of course, and if you’re thinking “I’m not really a thrift store kind of person” then, well, think again. I’ll be honest, it took me over a year after adopting ethical fashion to actually start taking thrift stores more seriously (mostly because I was doing a 1 year shopping fast), but also because of the overall stereotype associated with them. Dirty, smelly, gross, or just plain ugly, whatever your reason, I encourage you to put those thoughts aside and give it an honest shot. Sure, it may require some more digging, but if I’m going to get like-new $8 sweaters out of it – true story, by the way – then I’m all in!
Clothing swaps are another option, so make sure you take a look and see if there are any happening in your community. If not, you could always organize one yourself, and make it as big or small of a project as you want. Even if you’re just inviting some friends over for some drinks and swapping, it’s a great way to both find your old clothes a new home and also find some great new-to-you pieces, for free!
2. Shop the Sales
I did this even before switching to slow fashion, probably because I was raised by a mom who rarely ever paid full price for anything, and it remains a great strategy for saving some money. However, it does require some careful planning and thinking ahead, since you’ll often be buying things at the end of a season, likely to be worn only a few times until the weather changes for good and then you have to wait until the season rolls around again. It’s also important to remember that items at smaller clothing retailers (and many ethical clothing brands are) tend to sell out faster since they’re not as mass-produced as your typical fast fashion brand, so you need to keep an eye out and be ready for the sales when they come, because your size may be gone by the time you go to purchase!
3. Check out Love Justly
I discovered Love Justly a few months ago and absolutely love the whole idea behind it. It’s a online store with discounted ethical fashion, with some items getting up to even 50% off! From clothing to shoes to jewelry and accessories, it’s worth a browse to see if your next perfect piece is there.
4. Look at “Good on You” Discounts
Good On You is an app (downloadable on both iOS and Android) with many purposes. It’s main feature is that it rates brands across three ethical categories – environment, labour rights, and animal protection, and then allows you to search for whatever clothing piece or accessory you’re looking for, so that you can find brands that carry what you need and make it in an ethical way. They also have an “Offers” tab where high-rated brands have discount codes, so it’s always great to check it out and see if you can find what you’re looking for, and save money as well.
5. Check out Garmentory
While not exclusively full of ethical brands, Garmentory is an online marketplace that carries many indie boutiques and emerging designers. I’ve had some pretty good luck finding ethically-made shoes (from Nisolo and Veja) on Garmentory which ended up being my cheapest option, since they ship to Canada and the US for free. FashionKind also has a boutique on Garmentory, and carries brands like Kowtow and Maiyet. You can also get $20 off your first order by using this link here!
6. Sign up for Brand Email Lists
In case you haven’t noticed by now, many ethical and non-ethical retailers alike have started to offer 10-20% off to people who sign up to their newsletter. While I wouldn’t necessarily go around signing up for every list in existence, if you already know that you will be making a purchase from somewhere, do a quick check to see if their email subscribers get a discount or not. There’s also no obligation to stay subscribed – get your discount code, buy your product, and free yourself of the other mail they send you (unless you’re enjoying it!).
7. Buy Less
This probably should’ve been #1 on this list, but I wanted to give some more practical advice before asking you to change your lifestyle 😉 Now that you’ve read through all the rest, it’s time to be honest with you: nothing will save you more money than not shopping at all! You may want to start by trying out a no-shopping year (read about mine here) or even a no-shopping month, as it’s a great way to kick any shopping habits to the curb, and you’ll quickly realize how easy this lifestyle switch can be, even if it sounds intimidating at first. Letting go of our cheap, impulsive buys means our money can be better spent on quality pieces that will last you years. If you’re buying items you truly love, the cost-per-wear will also be lower, meaning you are getting so much more out of what you own! Sustainability and affordability go hand in hand.