10 Ethical Brands That Are Better Than J Crew

Is J. Crew ethical?

One of my “hobbies” is to catch up on J. Crew business news on fashionista.com.

I’m not sure why I find it so gripping – maybe it’s because J. Crew is a real fixture among academics, and most of my peer-aged friends are either graduate students or professors. J. Crew, if you were wondering, has actually been in decline for the last several years. A combination of design mistakes (mostly former creative director Jenna Lyons’ fault) and declining fabric and production quality has contributed to turning away dedicated fans of the brand.

But there really is a need for J. Crew’s products: reasonable quality, business-y goods with an eye toward contemporary cuts, colors, and styles.

The problem is that J. Crew produces most of its goods in sweatshops in some of the world’s poorest countries. Paired with increasing quality issues (their cashmere, for instance, simply does not hold up), it’s no longer a viable choice for discerning consumers, whether their primary interest is labor ethics or simply long-lasting goods.

1. Everlane

Destined to make this list. Dozens of business appropriate blouses, blazer, and pants produced with relative transparency. Look for natural fibers for a more sustainable choice.

My Pick: The Work Pant

2. People Tree

Fair trade, organic cotton separates with classic lines and wearable colorways.

My Pick: Trisha Top

3. Eileen Fisher

A classic for a reason, Eileen Fisher has been making organic, ethical clothes for working women for decades.

My Pick: Tencel Stretch Jacket

4. Maven Women

Dedicated to women’s rights, restorative justice, and fair trade principles. Makes business-appropriate attire. Sizes XS-XL.

My Pick: Amira Dress

5. Grammar NYC

Home of fashion-forward, crisp white shirts designed sustainably and ethically.

My Pick: The Conjunction Shirt

6. Ode to Sunday

Classic, work appropriate tops, pants, and dresses in linen and other natural fibers. Sizes XS-XL.

My Pick: Hanna Pants

7. Language of the Birds

A little more out-there than other brands in this list, Language of the Birds nevertheless creates some classic shift dresses in muted patterns suitable for an academic or creative work environment.

My Pick: Westbeth Paper Bag Dress

8. MATTER Prints

MATTER recently introduced an oversized blazer and wrap skirt, which are quite work appropriate without being stuffy.

My Pick: The Classic Blazer

Bonus! Footwear

9. Darzah

Classic and elegant shoes that incorporate Palestinian tatreez embroidery. Hand crafted and fair trade.

10. Nisolo

Minimalist, ethical leather shoes and accessories in classic, business-appropriate cuts.

See other Ethical Alternatives series


Looking for more? Shop 100+ sustainable and ethical brands with my Sustainable Brand Directory.
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