Ethical Alternatives to J Crew: 12 Better Brands

Photo by Anna Shvets on

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.


ethical alternatives to j crew - quince

1. Quince

Using a manufacturer-to-consumer model, Quince can keep prices low on their selection of cashmere, washable silk, and other luxury staples.


2. Sezane

This French brand offers elegant clothing, shoes, and accessories with numerous ethical and sustainable credentials, all clearly noted on each product listing.


ethical alternatives to j crew - Everlane

3. Everlane

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.


ethical alternatives to j. crew - amour vert

5. Amour Vert

With feminine prints and high-end finishing, Amour Vert offers sustainable clothing that works well in any setting.


ethical alternatives to j crew - Eileen Fisher

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.


MM LaFleur outfit featuring woman wearing beige shirt and tan slacks with white background

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!

Sizes XS-XXL

Shop M.M. LaFleur

ethical alternatives to j crew - Grammar NYC

8. Grammar NYC

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



black woven mules from darzah

9. Darzah

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


beige cross strap heels on gray background from nisolo

10. Nisolo

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


ponto leather shoes in blue

11. Ponto Footwear

Using recycled leather and biodegradable materials, Ponto produces a wear-everywhere shoe that is better for the planet.



sari wrapped earrings on white background

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.

Shop Ten Thousand Villages

closeup shot of woman wearing two chunky gold rings

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.

Shop Made Trade

ethical alternatives to j. crew pinterest pin
ethical alternatives to j. crew pinterest pin

See other posts in the Ethical Alternatives series

Leah Wise

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.

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  1. How can leather possibly be “ethical”? Maybe the people working in the factories that produce leather products are treated ethically, but the animals whose skin was used weren’t treated ethically. Leather, whether recycled or vintage is in no way, shape or form “ethical”, it’s skin ripped off an animal’s body. If someone chooses to wear leather that is their own business. Unless it’s leather produced from a found animal that died of natural causes it’s not ethical.

    1. I have written numerous posts on this topic, which I encourage you to search and find. Leather is understood as a byproduct of the meat industry. As such, the animals are not killed FOR their skin. The ethics of leather beyond that is rather nuanced, but we don’t have very durable or sustainable alternatives. Faux leathers are produced with fossil fuel-derived synthetics that are not biodegradable and natural fibers don’t hold up for shoes.

  2. Precious Elizabeth Francis

    I do appreciate the time you put into compiling this list, but please keep in mind that the reason so many people turn to fast fashion and unethically made clothing is because of the outrageous pricing that so many of these brands display. In looking through these brands, I felt that $250+ for a dress from one of the sites is just outrageous. I respect the time and quality that goes into these clothes, but some of them just feel extremely overpriced and I can’t respect that either. It feels wrong for companies like these to make such insane profit margins because they know their buyers want to be sustainable and want the materials to be ethically sourced and environmentally friendly.

    1. Thank you for your comment. The vast majority of sustainable fashion brands do not make a margin even close to the industry standard of 70%. In fact, during the pandemic, several companies I’ve promoted for years had to close down for good because increases in shipping costs and decreases in sales made continuing to operate untenable. While some brands use sustainable language to justify unreasonable mark-ups, many are reflecting the real increased costs of using better fabrics and paying a living wage. We have become increasingly accustomed to clothing making up very little of our budget, but historically, this has not been the case. That being said, low wages in the U.S. make it difficult for many of us to afford a closet full of sustainable goods. I always advocate for compromise. Do the best you can with what you have, even if that means buying from fast fashion brands. Reducing our total consumption and aiming for items that will last are more important goals than simply buying from purported ethical or sustainable brands.

    2. I concur. What teacher could possibly afford any of these lovely but overpriced items on a teacher’s salary? What school districts would pay them enough to afford these clothes? Sustainability is a noble and worthwhile goal, but is unrealistic at these price points.

      1. Did you read my reply? I make less than public school teachers in my district and still manage to purchase some sustainable clothing items as part of my wardrobe. I don’t advocate for a total overhaul because we live in the system we live in, with lots of barriers to affordability and other factors to consider like fit, style, and quality. It is incredibly annoying to get these comments because the assumption is that *I* am living in a vastly different socioeconomic category than my readers. That’s never been true! And, until recently, I was making less than most of them. It’s about awareness, balance, and systemic change. If you’re not ready to get on board, that’s fine.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. I wonder if the author uses sweat shop made iPhones? Hipocrit

    1. 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:

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