Ethical Alternatives to Old Navy: 15 Better Brands

ethical alternatives to old navy

Is Old Navy Ethical?

What is it about the family friendly, fast fashion brand that encourages so much brand loyalty? As a kid and young adult, I was obsessed with Old Navy. It all started when I was in middle school and my best friend started wearing their clothes. I was still too small to fit into women’s clothes – but I was way too cool to wear the kids’ line – so I pined away for their stuff until I grew a little larger later in high school.

I came of age in the GAP age, but my family couldn’t afford GAP. Old Navy was an affordable alternative, and I was grateful. Even when I switched to ethical clothing, I was under the impression that Old Navy and GAP products were made with high labor standards due to their Corporate Social Responsibility statement, which I later learned was merely aspirational.

GAP Inc. (the parent company for GAP, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta) has committed some of the worst and most public labor violations, including being linked to Rana Plaza, which collapsed, killing 1,129 people in 2013. They’ve also gotten in trouble for child labor. You can read more on this question here.

So, reluctantly, I decided to make a clean break with Old Navy a few years ago. It’s been a great decision for a number of ethical reasons, of course, but it also helped me break free from a single style and experiment a bit more.

There were also a few ethical brands that aided me in my transition. They’re necessarily more expensive than conventional retailers because they use eco-friendly materials and pay fair wages, but I think you’ll find that they hold up longer than anything you can buy at Old Navy.

A note: Price accessibility is a really important issue to me, and I understand that those shopping Old Navy often do so for financial reasons. While the below options may not work for you, please know that this is not a place for shame. “Ethical” purchases do not equate to ethical people, because people are not their purchases. Wage stagnation and un/underemployment are systemic issues on a global scale, products of extraordinary disregard for equity and flourishing. That includes those of us living in the US and other imperializing nations. I have included a list of posts on this topic at the end of this blog post.

When considering the style profile of Old Navy, I came away with three main descriptors: 1. family friendly, 2. trend-driven, 3. inexpensive. I tried to select brands that loosely fit the demographic of Old Navy, but the fact of the matter is that ethical fashion can’t compete with Old Navy’s price points. That’s why I recommend shopping secondhand for kids’ clothing and more trend-driven women’s clothing.

Contains affiliate links

Ethical Alternatives to Old Navy

STRONG ETHICAL AND/OR SUSTAINABILITY STANDARDS

ethical alternatives to old navy

1. ABLE

Contemporary, fashion-forward clothing, shoes, and accessories with lots of color.

SHOP HERE.

2. Known Supply

Tees and knit cotton pieces for women and men with customizable options

SHOP HERE.

ethical alternatives to old navy

3. PACT Apparel

Organic cotton, fair trade basics. Shop undies, socks, tights, and flattering clothing made with quality materials. I recommend their cotton tights, a comfortable and thick alternative to standard tights.

SHOP HERE.

4. Everlane

Everyday clothing with a decisive point of view made with factory transparency, better-than-average wages, and an increasing number of recycled and organic textile options.

SHOP HERE.

ethical alternatives to old navy

5. KOTN

Classic and flattering t-shirts, blouses, pants, and more for any gender.

SHOP HERE.

6. Entireworld

Sweats and separates in a range of colors for any gender.

SHOP HERE.

ethical alternatives to old navy

7. EcoVibe Apparel

Trend-driven clothing made with eco-friendly and vegan materials, and/or produced in the USA.

SHOP HERE.

ethical alternatives to old navy

8. Krochet Kids

Fashion forward cotton tees, jumpsuits, dresses, and knitwear.

SHOP HERE.

9. Thought

A diverse line of classic and printed clothing, socks, and loungewear for women and men, made ethically with eco-friendly practices.

SHOP HERE.

10. Miakoda

Modern lounge and athletic wear made with eco-friendly fabrics, made in NYC.

SHOP HERE.

More ethical alternatives here.

FAIR TRADE AT BIG BOX STORES

11. Free Assembly

Wal-Mart’s more sustainable line (the denim is fair trade certified).

12. Universal Thread

Fair trade certified denim and more sustainable knits at Target.

13. Madewell

A selection of Madewell’s clothing is fair trade certified.

BETTER SIZE ACCESSIBILITY + some ethical initiatives

14. American Eagle

Some denim made with more sustainable practices. Offers curvy fit, plus size, tall, and petite sizes.

15. Universal Standard

With a mission to fit every woman, Universal Standard offers denim, lounge, and more with more thoughtful practices.

This post was originally published in 2016. It was updated in October 2020.

Posts on Affordability and Ethical Fashion:

 

Looking for more? Shop 100+ sustainable and ethical brands with my Sustainable Brand Directory.
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8 thoughts on “Ethical Alternatives to Old Navy: 15 Better Brands

  1. I really think that this click baity and classist title should be changed. You have attracted people that cannot afford these ” alternatives ” to Old Navy. I saw your statement upon not feeling shame when reading this article and figuring out you can’t afford ANY of it. Not only does that fuel shame but also there is Shane that you are not concerned about the environment or unethical labor bI think it comes from very privileged place to tell people that they should not feel shame for their economic situations. Lastly it’s a pandemic and an economic recession and I think it’s in bad taste.

    1. I’m on Medicaid and have never made more than 30,000 per year. I am 32 years old, have a college degree, and have struggled to find gainful employment. Don’t assume you know my social location. How could I have possibly intended to attract anyone other than precisely the people searching for more ethical alternatives to Old Navy? That’s the whole point of the article. I encourage you to read my other think pieces on price accessibility. There is simply NO WAY around price increases when it comes to purchasing more sustainable goods; however, that does NOT MEAN that people who can’t afford these goods are unethical, because people are not their purchases. Additionally, I have included fair trade lines from big box stores, an edit made based on reader feedback like yours. Make whatever decision you need to make for you; I actually mean that.

      1. I apologise for seeming like I was assuming your economic location. And as someone who also makes less than 15,000 a year this article made me feel like the clothes that I buy means that I’m not doing what I should for the environment. I took it personally and shouldn’t have. I was not trying to attack your person, I was trying to bring up a point from a person who has lived in poverty most of my life.

        1. I really appreciate this conversation and know that people who identify themselves as “ethical consumers” can often be really oblivious to a range of inaccessibility issues (I have waffled back and forth on messaging over the years, especially when it comes to size issues), so thanks for your vulnerability in sharing. While I think we can all ask ourselves questions about how we engage in the social and economic systems we live within, the fact that we live in a meritocracy that somehow assumes wealthier people are also more moral is a huge problem. In most cases, the opposite is true. I changed the language in my post to more explicitly call out corrupt systems that affect Americans and other imperializing nations rather than inadvertently putting the onus on low income people to do the work.

  2. Do you have more stores that offer clothing for tall and full figured women? I’ve shopped at Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic since I was a child because they offer tall size clothing and I have been 5’11 since I was 11 yrs old and now wear a size 16/18 in adulthood. I need Tall clothing with long inseams. None of these accommodate my height and size.

    1. I don’t know of any brands that fit the most rigorous criteria and offer adequate tall sizing at this time. I often buy my jeans at American Eagle because they have some sustainability initiatives with their denim. I often need a tall + curvy fit for my proportions. When it comes to these types of fit situations, I always advocate buying what fits you the best.

  3. How can you say these are comparable to Old Navy when the prices are so much higher? You said your family shopped old navy because they couldn’t afford Gap yet sites here have dresses for 150 dollars to old navys 30. I’m sick of being made to feel bad because unlivable wages, high taxes, and insane rent leaves me with only enough money to shop places like old navy, Walmart, target. Instead of sharing the lower class maybe we should focus on providing people a living wage so they can afford to shop more ethical stores.

    1. Thank you so much for chiming in here. Price inaccessibility is a really serious issue, and one that is very much on my radar. While this post is meant to offer one way of thinking about alternatives, I have written several posts on the topic of price barriers, which I have linked to below. The reality of sustainable shopping is that it inherently holds a higher price point, but that is changing some as fair trade scales. I completely agree that we can’t ask people to make choices on behalf of some other person’s living wage if WE aren’t even being paid a living wage! As someone who made far less than a living wage while in the full time workforce and as someone currently on Medicaid, I agree with you. This is a shame-free zone. Not shopping according to the particular standard set forth in this post does not make YOU an unethical person – don’t listen to anyone who tells you that.

      https://stylewise-blog.com/changes-in-ethical-fashion/

      https://stylewise-blog.com/my-rule-of-3-for-ethical-fashion/

      https://stylewise-blog.com/is-ethical-fashion-classist/

      https://stylewise-blog.com/fair-trade-fashion-at-walmart-free-assembly-review/

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