Sustainable and Ethical Shorts: 12 Better Brands

Sustainable and Ethical Shorts

It’s cut-off season.

I don’t wear shorts to work, but having a couple sturdy and sporty pairs to wear on hikes, lazy weekends, and summer retreats makes the summer run smoother.

We’ve been experiencing a heat wave in New Haven, so I’ve already had a chance to take my shorts for a spin.

To be honest, my favorite thing to do is make my own cut-offs from full-length jeans. It means I can get the length just right.

To make your own cutoffs:

  • I recommend buying a pair of jeans in a size up from what you normally wear
  • Make sure there’s enough wiggle room in the thigh to be comfortable as shorts
  • Carefully cut across each leg 1/4″ below your ideal length (As the shorts fray, they’ll get a little shorter)
  • Wash and dry them, then cut off the longest threads and you’re good to go!

If DIY isn’t your thing, I have compiled a list of ethical and sustainable brands that carry excellent shorts. In the interest of accessibility, I have included some more cost-effective options, as well as size inclusive ones. If you know of others or see a gap in options, please let me know!

Where to Shop for Sustainable and Ethical Shorts

$ – Under $50 | $$ – $Under 100 | $$$ – Under $150
This post contains affiliate links

1 | Toad & Co.

With an emphasis on sustainable fibers and manufacturing practices, Toad & Co. offers a good selection of casual shorts.

  • Price Range: $-$$
  • Size Range: 0-14

2 | Sezane

The dressiest of the bunch, Sezane shares specific manufacturing information on each listing.

  • Size Range: 2-14
  • Price Range: $$-$$$
sustainable and ethical shorts

3 | Everlane

Everlane sells a variety of styles, with denim produced in a low waste, fair trade certified factory. I mention them first because my very favorite thing to do is take a pair of their Curvy Cheeky Jeans and cut them into shorts (you can find them secondhand, too).

  • Price Range: $-$$
  • Size Range: 23-33

4 | Madewell Fair Trade Line

Madewell has a continually-expanding fair trade line that includes a range of shorts, from bermuda cut-offs to more sophisticated paper-bag waist styles.

  • Price Range: $$
  • Size Range: XXS-XXL
sustainable and ethical shorts

5 | ABLE

Made with transparency and a long term commitment to publish factory wages, ABLE always gets fit and style just right.

  • Price Range: $$
  • Size Range: 24-32 (ABLE is expanding their sizing this year)
sustainable and ethical shorts

6 | Eileen Fisher

A fixture in the sustainability world, Eileen Fisher has been making natural fiber clothing for many shapes and sizes for decades.

  • Price Range: $$-$$$
  • Size Range: XXS-3X

7 | Big Bud Press

Ethically produced with natural fibers in size accessible and extremely fun styles and colors.

  • Price Range: $$
  • Size Range: XXS-7XL

8 | Patagonia

Technical and true outdoor styles made with a deep commitment to the earth and preserving its resources. You can also shop secondhand on the site.

  • Price Range: $-$$
  • Size Range: 0-18
sustainable and ethical shorts

9 | Target Fair Trade Denim Line

At accessible price points and with more expansive size options, some of Target’s denim is fair trade certified. Note: they don’t currently offer shorts online, but some of these would make great cut-offs.

  • Price Range: $
  • Size Range: 00-26
sustainable and ethical shorts - People Tree

10 | People Tree

One of the original fair trade fashion companies, People Tree makes several classic shorts in textiles ranging from denim to khaki poplin.

  • Price Range: $$
  • Size Range: US 2-14

11 | Hackwith Design House

Made in Minnesota, HDH makes one simple short, available in soft and sustainable lyocell or linen.

  • Price Range: $$-$$$
  • Size Range: 25-59.5” waist

12 | Sotela

Minimalist and feminine shapes made with sustainable fabrics and a specific mission toward size accessibility.

  • Price Range: $$-$$$
  • Size Range: 26-55” waist

More shopping guides

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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