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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

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