Ethical Alternatives to Everlane: 15 Better Brands

ethical alternatives to everlane
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Ethical Alternatives to Everlane

My top picks for sustainable, ethical, and transparent brands that have similar vibes to Everlane. This post contains affiliate links. If you’re curious why I’ve created this guide, scroll all the way down for more information on what’s been going on at Everlane recently.

Clothes

ethical alternatives to everlane

1 | Backbeat Co. (POC-owned)

Casual, modern pieces in organic, natural textiles.

SHOP BACKBEAT CO.

2 | Entireworld

Vintage-fit tees, sweats, and more.

SHOP ENTIREWORLD

3 | ABLE

Ethically-made separates and denim.

SHOP ABLE

ethical alternatives to everlane

4 | KOTN

Ethically sourced cotton separates from farm to factory

SHOP KOTN

5 | PACT Apparel

Organic cotton separates, socks, and underwear.

SHOP PACT APPAREL

ethical alternatives to everlane

6 | Organic Basics

Organic, ethical athletic, lounge, and underwear.

SHOP ORGANIC BASICS

ethical alternatives to everlane

7 | American Giant

Ethically-made tees, leggings, denim, and more in a large color selection.

SHOP AMERICAN GIANT

ethical alternatives to everlane

8 | Tradlands

Tailored shirts, swingy dresses, and cotton separates.

SHOP TRADLANDS


Shoes

9 | Zoux Xou (Black-Owned)

Vintage-inspired shoes.

SHOP ZOUX XOU

10 | Nisolo

Boots, sandals, mules, and more.

SHOP NISOLO

11 | ABLE

Trend-forward, feminine shoes.

SHOP ABLE

12 | Fortress of Inca

Soft leather shoes, boots, and more.

SHOP FORTRESS OF INCA

13 | Allbirds

Sneakers, flats, and skippers made with natural, low-waste processes (including running shoes!)

SHOP ALLBIRDS


Bags

14 | Tree Fairfax (Black-Owned)

Bag belts, woven leathers, and more.

SHOP TREE FAIRFAX

15 | Parker Clay

Soft and sturdy leather goods.

SHOP PARKER CLAY

16 | ABLE

Large selection of ethically-sourced leather goods.

SHOP ABLE


Why Ethical Alternatives to Everlane?

In March of this year, I decided to stop formally working with Everlane. While I didn’t pull all mentions of Everlane from the site – after all, I had been an early adopter, sharing about their “radical transparency” and factory audits as early as 2014 – I did stop working with them directly and pulled them from my Ethical Alternative shopping guides.

I finally had to put my foot down after it became clear that recent unionization efforts among customer service staff had been squelched under the guise of Covid-19 layoffs. While it is true that fashion brands across the board have had to make budget and staff cuts in the face of one of the worst economic disasters in U.S. history, the layoff didn’t make sense.

Everlane had just launched a big online sale, and e-commerce was going to be more important than ever, which meant customer service employees would need to be ready to assist. One can scroll through their Instagram page and see that customer service snafus have resulted in uniform rage from customers. Add to that Everlane’s hiring of an attorney known for his union-busting success and it’s not a pretty picture.

A Company Culture of Racism

A couple months later, a group of Black women using the name Ex Wives Club began to publish firsthand accounts of racist hiring practices, comments, and behaviors among upper-level staff. The stories reveal both ignorance and overt malice toward dozens of Black women who worked for Everlane, and even attempts to steal or undermine their creative labor. You can follow them on social media here.

Put together, these cases bring to light corporation-wide behaviors that do not align with Everlane’s slogan of “radical transparency” or the implication that they strive for ethics. Read the NYT response to Everlane.

As someone who has followed Everlane for nearly the whole duration of this blog’s existence, this continues to burden me. But I can’t say I’m surprised. Everlane is venture-capitalist backed, a product of the Silicon Valley. It’s original premise was to “cut out the middle man” in order to save customers money. It pivoted as a result of a growing desire among consumers to purchase ethically and sustainably.

What now?

I don’t think it’s impossible for Everlane to make dramatic improvements to their supply chain, including how they treat US employees. I certainly hope that they commit to do the work. There are calls to boycott Everlane in the meantime, and I support this, while also acknowledging that Everlane is bearing the brunt of critique specifically because they claimed they were better than the average mid-level fashion brand.

What do I mean by this? I think it’s important to keep in mind that simply pivoting to another brand that hasn’t said as much about their ethical criteria doesn’t make the problem go away. I think of brands like Madewell, Loft, and J. Crew – how they, by avoiding branding themselves as ethical, manage to avoid a lot of scrutiny from ethical influencers and their followers.

If you’re going to support Madewell in defiance of Everlane, just realize that you’re making a choice that isn’t necessarily indicative of systems change. It might not make anything different or better. Everlane’s radical transparency claim is ultimately good, because it provided an avenue for marginalized and mistreated employees to say, “You’re not good enough.”

We as individuals must do similarly, seeing our mission ahead of us even as we make mistakes. We can get so caught up in calls of hypocrisy that we lower our standards from the get-go to avoid critique. But this isn’t how people grow. The difference is that we have the immediate power to make the better choice. Let’s hope Everlane does the same.

6 thoughts on “Ethical Alternatives to Everlane: 15 Better Brands

  1. I’m going to apologize in advance for being that person critiquing a list of ethical manufacturers. I know you do your homework and the label ethical means different things to different people—and it’s impossible for a company to be perfect in all aspects. I don’t consider myself an ethical hardliner, either. It’s also easy to critique such a list, harder to put one together.

    But why is Tradlands considered an ethical company? As far as I can tell they are even less transparent than Everlane. They used to manufacture in the US, then Mexico, now China. Which is fine, but their button downs are still at the same. Exact. Price. In fact, they are slightly more expensive than Power of My People, which manufacture button downs in Canada. How high quality can these shirts possibly be to cost so much? I get that there are details and fabrics that make them more durable, but other companies make quality shirts as well. Also, and this is a personal complaint, but the buttons are absurdly, cartoonishly thick, as a supposed indicator of “quality.” I’ve had one button break in my entire life, it’s not really a problem, and the thick Tradlands buttons are actually kind of hard to pass through the button hole. As far as I can tell they have an aggressive and successful influencer campaign, and that is pretty much why they are considered “ethical.” I’m sorry to write all this on your blog, which is the least deserving of such a rant. It is the result of pent-up frustration with seeing this brand featured again and again. And probably at myself for having bought into them!

    1. First of all, I looooove this rant. Thank you for targeting the problem rather than me as a person. You’re right – standards are murky and then change, but because their reputation precedes them, they just keep being thought of as ethical. I’m going to email my contact there and see if I can get some specific information. I do think their fabric quality is luxurious, but the price point is still rather high.

    2. I want to echo Leah’s comment here to say I like this rant! I don’t think you need to apologize for being “that person” – you expressed a critique in a very respectful way without slamming Leah as a person. I also think you bring up a very good point about being cognizant of ethics/green-washing and how companies can change (for the worse) over time, so we need to stay informed.

      I’ve also bought a Tradlands shirt (a couple of years ago now). I like it, yes, but does it deserve the hype? Eh. I agree they just have a very well-run marketing campaign and probably get a *lot* of goodwill from gifting to influencers.

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