Is J Crew ethical?
J. Crew has long been a staple for people who work in offices, schools, and other settings that enforce a slightly more composed dress code. The brand projects a sophistication and attention-to-detail that could fool anyone into thinking their clothes are thoughtfully made. But the reality is they’re not as buttoned-up as they look; thus, ethical alternatives to J. Crew.
J. Crew has actually been in decline for the last several years. They just exited bankruptcy in 2020. A combination of design mistakes and declining fabric and production quality have contributed to turning away dedicated fans of the brand.
But there really is a need for J. Crew’s products: reasonable quality, work-appropriate 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. In fact, workers in the Philippines planned to sue one of J. Crew’s factories for dismissals and union-busting just this past February.
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.
For the last couple of years, J. Crew offered Fair Trade Certified Denim. Remarkably, J. Crew actually paid for a factory to be certified, revealing at least an acknowledgement of fair trade’s marketing value if not a growing commitment to ethics themselves.
However, as of fall 2022, J. Crew no longer has a designated fair trade section on their site and a site search reveals a 404 error message.
In this post, I’m sharing alternatives. to J. Crew that offer better transparency and quality…
Ethical Alternatives to J Crew
This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase, at no additional charge to you.
Using a manufacturer-to-consumer model, Quince can keep prices low on their selection of cashmere, washable silk, and other luxury staples.
This French brand offers elegant clothing, shoes, and accessories with numerous ethical and sustainable credentials, all clearly noted on each product listing.
Everlane has come under fire for under-performing on ethics, but their “more sustainable” collection offers organic cotton, tencel, and recycled knits that are still a better choice than J. Crew.
4. People Tree
Fair trade, organic cotton separates with classic lines and wearable colorways.
5. Amour Vert
With feminine prints and high-end finishing, Amour Vert offers sustainable clothing that works well in any setting.
6. Eileen Fisher
A classic for a reason, Eileen Fisher has been making organic, ethical clothes for working women for decades. Plus size line available.
7. M.M. LaFleur
M.M. LaFleur recently completed a sustainability analysis to ensure that they build their business with sustainable goals in mind. To that end, they prioritize gender equality, nontoxic fabrics, and high quality. They also sell pre-loved items!
8. Grammar NYC
Home of fashion-forward, crisp white shirts designed sustainably and ethically.
Classic and elegant shoes that incorporate Palestinian tatreez embroidery. Hand crafted and fair trade.
Minimalist, ethical leather shoes and accessories in classic, business-appropriate cuts.
11. Ponto Footwear
Using recycled leather and biodegradable materials, Ponto produces a wear-everywhere shoe that is better for the planet.
12. Ten Thousand Villages
The original fair trade company, Ten Thousand Villages’ focuses on artisan goods and direct trade to better support the makers. The best place to find ethical, handcrafted jewelry.
13. Made Trade
With a beautiful selection of classic and statement jewelry from curated ethical and sustainable brands, Made Trade’s aesthetic captures the J. Crew look well.
See other posts in the Ethical Alternatives series
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.
Sunday 6th of November 2022
I do not see petite clothes in these offerings. I agree that with JCrew, one has to be selective because of quality issues, but they do offer products in petite sizing. (I’m 4’11’ ~100 pounds.). — If you know of alternatives that offer petite clothing, I would be appreciative of the information. Thanks.
Sunday 6th of November 2022
I can't think of too many off the top of my head, unfortunately. I have this issue with some things because I need "curvy" proportioned pants. I always recommend buying the thing that fits you best because then you know you'll wear it for a long time, which is one way of being sustainable.
Thursday 29th of July 2021
I wonder if the author uses sweat shop made iPhones? Hipocrit
Friday 30th of July 2021
First of all, there is no way to shop perfectly sustainably and still live "on the grid" of civilization, and I would never claim that as a goal of my personal consumption.
That being said, I purchase my technology secondhand, if possible. And I always buy my phones secondhand. This reduces the environmental impact and does not contribute to firsthand labor abuses. You can learn more about sustainable tech here: https://stylewise-blog.com/how-ethical-is-your-tech-sustainable-alternatives/