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Ethical Alternatives to J Crew: 13 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.

The one exception to this is J. Crew’s recently added Fair Trade Certified Denim. Remarkably, J. Crew actually paid for the factory they use to be certified, revealing at least an acknowledgement of fair trade’s marketing value if not a growing commitment to ethics themselves. Let’s hope they expand!


In this post, I’m sharing alternatives. to J. Crew that offer better transparency and quality…

Ethical Alternatives to J Crew

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 - Italic

3. Italic

Italic uses a subscription model that allows customers to shop designer-quality goods at close to wholesale prices. From cashmere to shoes to home goods, Italic is more forthright about sourcing and fits well into a slow fashion wardrobe.


ethical alternatives to j crew - Everlane

4. 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.


5. People Tree

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


ethical alternatives to j. crew - amour vert

6. 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

7. Eileen Fisher

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


ethical alternatives to j crew - maven women

8. Maven Women

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


ethical alternatives to j crew - Grammar NYC

9. Grammar NYC

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


10. VETTA Capsule

Prioritizing versatile clothing, VETTA offers several capsule collections intended to work together, from lounge to glam to business. They use ethical and sustainable business practices, as well.



11. Darzah

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


12. Nisolo

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


13. Ponto Footwear

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


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

See other posts in the Ethical Alternatives series

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Thursday 29th of July 2021

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

Leah Wise

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:

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