Where can I buy affordable, fashionable USA or EU made clothing?
August 3, 2011 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Where can I buy fashionable clothes made in the USA or EU that don't cost $/£200? I live in the UK.

I refuse to believe that a pair of USA made jeans from Levi's or Lucky Brand that cost $200 are my only options. I'm trying to buy clothes from ethical sources and am really struggling to find clothes that are affordable / made in the US or EU / are relatively fashionable. I can tick some of the boxes but not all three.

I'm a mid 20s Graphic Designer that wants to look good, but I don't want to buy clothes made in poor conditions. I started buying from Howies who are completely transparent with their supplier information. I want to find more companies like that. I also buy from American Apparel where possible.

I did search on here but most questions were made in 2005-6 and a lot has changed since then.
posted by stackhaus23 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Instead of focusing on US/EU, why not look at companies that not use child labor or whatever your particular political bent on it is? I'm not saying that you're wrong, but you might extend your choices.
posted by k8t at 5:09 PM on August 3, 2011

I think its going to be hard to tick all three boxes. Fashionable/ethical/reasonably priced is a really difficult combination.

I think one avenue would be looking at local designers and then aggressively shopping sales. The fabric may have been un-ethically made but the clothes would probably have been designed/sewn locally and you'd be supporting small businesses.

Maybe if you update with your location people could make specific suggestions.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 5:17 PM on August 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies so far. I live in the UK, regularly visit Germany, visiting the United States for a month in October.
posted by stackhaus23 at 5:20 PM on August 3, 2011

Just because something is made in Asia or Africa or Latin America doesn't inherently mean that its unethical. If workers in a developing country are paid a good living wage for the country they live in, that might actually be more ethical than buying something made in the USA by workers who are paid a minimum wage that they can't actually live on.

I don't actually have an answer to your question as far as recommending a brand or a store, but i wanted to flag that your search for both 'reasonable price' and 'ethical' may be able to be met by products made outside the EU or USA.

(in fact, if someone in vietnam makes your jeans in a legal factory, they may be the only breadwinner in their family, the only reason they can afford to send their kids to school, and they only reason their family isn't begging on the streets, or doing subsistence farming to survive. Providing humane employment in poor countries is a good deed. Remember also that a wage of $3 a day makes you 'upper middle class' in much of the world, so don't look at things like wages from an exclusively western-centric lens.)
posted by Kololo at 5:35 PM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: In which case, are there any companies that are proud or particularly transparent about their labour laws / wages etc? Regardless of continent they are manufactured.
posted by stackhaus23 at 5:43 PM on August 3, 2011

The child-labor derails aside, it depends on what you mean by "fashionable"...

If you want something that will simply pass as in-style and doesn't look like you just fell off the turnip truck, Gap has decent, reasonably fashionable clothes for waaaay under $200 (and Old Navy has basically the same stuff with a different logo on it for even less).

If you want to catch eyes in Milan/Paris/NYC, though, you pay for it, period.
posted by pla at 5:50 PM on August 3, 2011

Okay, so after i gave you my lecturing non-answer, i started to wonder what the real answer was. So i googled "affordable ethical fashion"! This is what i've found:

Alternative Apparel
A bunch of companies listed in this blog post

(I'd also try going to affordable boutiques in the sort of hippie-esque areas of your city and ask the owners of the store - there's a good chance they'll know the origin of the stuff they sell.)
posted by Kololo at 6:06 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think Cora Kemperman is responsibly produced, but it is not made in the US or EU (although she retails in EU). I've gotten some really nice things on sale at good prices there.
posted by cestmoi15 at 6:34 PM on August 3, 2011

posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:36 PM on August 3, 2011

Why not focus on vintage? You could even stay relatively local. I have saved eBay searches for old Jaeger, Aquascutum, Pringle, &c, and while some of it is stodgy and costume-like, some of it is hella nice, and it is almost all wayyyy under $/£200.

...looking at Howies, I think the Canadian equivalent is possibly MEC.

Of possible interest is this "Oeko-Tex 100plus" certification.
posted by kmennie at 6:42 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

What about looking locally for a young fashion student/tailor? A friend of mine (sadly in the US) does freelance sewing; she copied a couple of shirts for me and made two suits for another friend - I bet you could find someone like that in the UK. You might try asking at a vintage shop (but you'd have to buy something first, I bet) for the name of the person who does their repairs, or you could look around for little indie boutiques that sell local fashion and contact some of the people who sell there. Also, anyone who can do good quality sewing can copy a garment or make something from a pattern - they needed be especially fashionable themselves. There's got to be people doing freelance sewing who advertise on Craigslist or at high-end fabric stores. Or you could just go into a high-end fabric store and ask at the counter, since they probably either sew themselves or have connections. Also, I bet if you googled around for some sewing blogs based near where you are, you could find someone to email and ask - if someone sews a lot for him or herself, he or she might be willing to take commissions. Or what about asking at trendy sewing/fabric shops - the sort of places that sell "witty" vintage reproduction fabrics, teach people how to knit Daleks, etc etc? There are two just here in Minneapolis, so there's got to be more in any city that supports fashionable young graphic designers.

You wouldn't be able to have up to the minute trendy fashion this way, it's true, but you could easily have current styles and unique fabrics.
posted by Frowner at 7:00 PM on August 3, 2011

Look for the brands that are too expensive in a resale store or consignment shop.
posted by Joleta at 7:12 PM on August 3, 2011

posted by mdonley at 11:48 PM on August 3, 2011

In london, you might try albam - their prices have been rising recently because they have become more successful, but they are a great, very stylish, ethical label that is not extortionate (especially on sale).
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 1:36 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

People Tree?
posted by bibliophibianj at 3:34 AM on August 4, 2011

Best answer: The Guardian did an Ethical Menswear directory- have you seen it? Many of the suggestions people have made above are on it.
posted by rmless at 7:01 AM on August 4, 2011

Response by poster: The last three suggestions have been completely fantastic. Exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. Thanks everyone else too : )
posted by stackhaus23 at 9:14 AM on August 4, 2011

posted by noella at 9:18 PM on August 9, 2011

perhaps also YMC, although I am not perfectly clear on their sourcing.
posted by noella at 9:24 PM on August 9, 2011

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