Is ModCloth ethical?
In the years since this post was originally published, ModCloth has changed owners several times. In 2017, they were sold to WalMart. Then, to a company called Go Global Retail. As of 2021, they are owned by a tech company called Nogin. When they were a WalMart subsidiary, it seemed that there was no way to say ModCloth was ethical and sustainable.
Given their reputation for promoting body positivity, gender equality, and inclusion, being owned by WalMart was a disappointing move for longtime fans. I couldn’t find any information about the new parent company. But most likely, ModCloth has not improved their supply chain, because they haven’t overhauled their products.
More recent research into the company from Good on You argues that ModCloth’s total lack of transparency makes it impossible to give them high marks for anything.
So, while ModCloth leans heavily on its commitment to photoshop-free images and size diversity as a marketing strategy, it isn’t accounting for its supply chain at all.
And, I would argue that true inclusion would take into account the wellbeing of the primarily female workforce that makes up the garment industry as well as the end consumer.
I quit shopping at ModCloth due to a poor experience with customer service a few years ago, but I still have a handful of friends who have been very brand loyal up to this point. So ModCloth is still a go-to shop for playful, vintage-inspired, and professional clothing.
The companies listed below prioritize sweatshop-free labor, ecofriendly practices, and diversity.
I’ve included links to both brands that produce new clothing and my favorite vintage shops. Because why buy “vintage inspired” when you can buy authentic vintage?
Ethical and Sustainable Alternatives to ModCloth
1. Mata Traders
Fair trade certified | Women owned, designed, and produced | Sizes XS-2X
Feminine block printed woven and jersey cotton dresses, skirts, and blouses, plus a selection of jewelry. ModCloth actually sells Mata Traders already, but you might as well go straight to the source!
2. People Tree
Fair trade certified | Women owned and produced | Sizes UK 8-16
Knit cotton separates in a variety of feminine and menswear-inspired styles, plus accessories. ModCloth used to sell People Tree.
3. National Picnic
Ecofriendly | Made in USA | Women owned, designed, and produced | Sizes XS-XL with some Plus Size offerings and custom options
Betsy, owner and chief maker at National Picnic, makes wearable and slightly quirky garments from eco-friendly fabrics in the USA. See my features on National picnic here.
Eco-friendly | Low waste | Made in USA | Woman owned | Sizes 0-12, Petites, Plus 1X-3X
Sexy, minimalist, and vintage-inspired pieces made with deadstock and ecofriendly fabrics.
5. Pinup Girl Clothing
Woman owned | Many items made in USA | Sizes XS-4X
This is the closet match to ModCloth’s in-house collection, featuring vintage-inspired silhouettes in a range of sizes. Check the listing for “made in USA” credentials, as not everything was produced domestically.
6. Thought Clothing
Ecofriendly | Ethical production | Sizes XS-XL (6-18 UK)
Thought Clothing has a laid-back, British vibe that aligns pretty well with the ModCloth aesthetic. Items are made with ecofriendly fibers and produced with fair labor standards.
Ecofriendly | Zero Waste | Fair Trade | Women owned and designed | XS-3XL
Tonle produces their collection of edgy, inclusive, and collaborative designs in Cambodia. Artisans are fairly paid. Tonle is also committed to zero waste practices, so many of their designs incorporate scraps from others designs. They use factory remnant fabric for their collection.
8. Lisa Says Gah
Independent brands | Woman owned | Made in US | Ecofriendly practices | Sizing varies
Lisa Says Gah is a multi-brand online clothing store offering funky, bright, and colorful clothing. They also have an in-house line. Clothing is produced in regulated US factories and shoes are produced in an audited factory in China.
9. Alice Alexander
Woman owned | Small batch | Ecofriendly | Audited factories | Sizes 0-30
Alice Alexander is a size-inclusive brand that offers curated seasonal collections of fashion-forward clothing. They make everything in small batches to make sure they don’t overproduce.
10. Big Bud Press
Ecofriendly | Audited factories | Sizes XXS-6XL
Big Bud Press is a size-inclusive brand that offers vibrant and fun clothing in unisex sizing. They use primarily natural fibers in their collection. They are sweatshop-free.
11. Thief & Bandit
Ecofriendly | Made in Canada | Woman owned, designed, and produced | Sizes XS-4X
Screen printed blouses, dresses, skirts, and more in stunning floral and natural motifs.
12. Smart Glamour
Woman owned and designed | Ethically produced | Sizes XXS-15X
Fun, fashion forward, size-inclusive clothing produced in NYC at accessible price points.
Vintage & Upcycled
13. The Kissing Tree Vintage
A longtime favorite, The Kissing Tree offers a huge selection of high quality vintage pieces for women.
14. Smockwalker Vintage
Fun, wearable vintage at reasonable prices.
15. Fortress Shoes
Beautiful leather shoes made with hides from the cattle industry. Fair trade and low waste.
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.