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5 Ethical Fashion Brands That Are Better Than Forever 21

5 Ethical Fashion Brands that are Better than Forever 21
I'm doing a series where I search out ethical alternatives for some of the most popular fast fashion retailers. Read the series here, and let me know what you'd like good alternatives for in the comments.

Forever 21

A fixture of the teen and twenty-something closet. When my college town got a Forever 21, I was there at least once a week, piling $5 t-shirts and $2 accessories into my cart. I bought scarves, jeans, skirts, dresses, blouses, earrings, and pretty much everything I could get my hands on because the prices were low and the fashions were in.

Of course, with a few exceptions, nothing lasted more than a year. My beloved turquoise burnout tee started pilling in 2 months. The vest seams curled. The jeggings started thinning out.

I soon realized that the thing I actually loved about Forever 21 wasn't the clothing - it was the binge. 

And like any binge, it wasn't good for me. Add to that Forever 21's rap sheet. Most recently, Forever 21 was found to be paying employees in the US only $4.00 an hour to produce their clothing (yes, you read that right). They also use sweatshop labor abroad. Additionally, they have been known to take advantage of their high school age workers by withholding wages, have stolen hundreds of designs from independent designers, and refuse to sign an agreement to make their factories safer for employees.

In the words of labor expert, Robert Ross:

Nobody in the world is making a living if a retailer is selling $10 jeans.

Well, no one except the owners.

It's time to pay a bit more for original designs made by people who receive a living wage. 

Instead of offering distinct brands in this lineup, I'm sharing ethical marketplaces. Forever 21 is a vast, multi-aesthetic shopping experience and the only way to mimic that outside of fast fashion is to share large ethical marketplaces that provide access to hundreds of ethical brands, and a good inventory of sale items, as well.

This list contains some affiliate links.

5 ethical brands that are better than forever 21

5 Ethical Fashion Marketplaces That Are Better Than Forever 21


An etsy-like marketplace for ethical companies with distinct shops and prices set by the individual brand. Shop clothes, housewares, body care products, accessories, and more. Fun to shop, but also offers a good education on different ethical premises and the wealth of brands out there.


Bead & Reel

A vegan and fair trade curated shop with both foundational pieces and fashion forward items. Bead & Reel also has a consignment marketplace where you can score ethical goods at reduced prices.


Ash & Rose

One of my longtime favorites, Ash & Rose offers bohemian clothing from a range of ethical and sustainable brands, as well as a small, in house collection. You can shop their Outlet for reduced price items.


ASOS Eco-Edit

A curated marketplace of ethical and sustainable goods within the larger ASOS site. Shop brands like People Tree, Dogeared, and ASOS' upcycled collection in one place.


Love Justly

A new shop that buys last-season clothing and accessories from fair trade brands and sells them at a discount. I like this concept a lot because it gives people access to a small selection of ethical products at a very good introductory price point and ensures that overstock gets sold off to good homes.




Accompany has a higher price point than previous brands mentioned, but carries of-the-moment styles made under fair trade guidelines.


And don't forget to shop secondhand. You can get lots of the precise things you're looking for on the secondhand market at reasonable prices. Try...

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