Shop Swap: Fast Fashion Alternatives

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If you’re struggling to move away from fast fashion, you might want to try a bahn mi.

Let me explain.

When I was a sophomore in college, I decided to give veganism a try. I was independent, preparing my own food, and living in Denton, an amazing Texas college town rife with vegan and vegetarian joints. It was going to be easy- right? I made a plant-based Pinterest board, stocked up on hummus, and got to it.

A mere two weeks in, I was ready to call it quits. There was something essential about food, something I hadn’t bothered to factor into my meal planning, green smoothies, and cauliflower steaks. Food is more than nourishment. It’s emotional. I was missing the experiences I used to have as an omnivore, like diving into a bowl of my favorite pistachio ice cream after a train wreck of a day. I missed the salty, savory, greasy first bite of a burger. I missed my favorite foods, like the roasted Israeli chicken thighs my boyfriend took a month to master, or cheesy, homemade pizza on a movie night. Nothing felt like a good alternative for those flavors and textures and experiences.

Don’t get me wrong- the majority of the food that I ate hadn’t even changed. I’ve always loved a sheet pan of roasted veggies, or a massive, colorful salad. It was the alternatives to my favorite foods that were the hardest. I missed the food that felt like me, but reducing my carbon emissions and not eating animal products also… felt like me. So I was stuck.

The Missing Piece

Out with friends one night, I hopped in line at a Vietnamese truck everyone was raving about. I scanned the menu, ordered something I could eat, and didn’t expect much.

Then it arrived- my tofu bahn mi. Believe me when I say that first bite brought tears to my eyes. It was so. good. Everything I’d been missing was there in that salty, savory, greasy first bite. It was a substitute on par with the original. (Maybe even better!) This spicy, crunchy, faux-meaty sandwich filled that omnivore void. Then, I knew that I could do it.

Any time we make a conscious decision to avoid something we used to love, be it meat, cheese, sugar, (or exes!), we miss it. We can’t help it. There’s a reason you see dozens of recipes for eggplant based queso and black bean burgers. A good substitute can stop a craving for a guilty pleasure right in its tracks.

Forgoing fast fashion feels the same way. Even if we’re ready to make a leap into ethical shopping, we can’t help but look back lovingly at the brands that used to fill our closets. Because clothing isn’t just a necessity. It’s emotional. It’s art. It’s our style. And that is deeply personal.

That’s why I want to help you find your style bahn mi- the brand that checks your conscious clothing boxes, but also… feels like you.

I’ve researched ethical and sustainable brands and found some with comparable styles and prices to a variety of fast fashion brands, each with wildly different aesthetics. Whether you’re a chic J. Crew queen, or a West coast AE babe, I’ve found your new favorite (conscious!) brands. Click on the images to take you right to the source.

Amour Vert: So Fresh, So Clean

Amour Vert is a US based company committed to cleaning up fashion’s act. (Their name means Green Love in French!) They use low-impact, non-toxic dyes, manufacture their garments in America, and try to adhere to a zero-waste policy. Additionally, they’re incredibly picky about their fabrics: their cotton is 100% organic, their Merino wool is from Woolmark approved stations, their polyester is from 100% recycled materials, and they use carbon neutral lyocell. In partnership with the US Forest Service, the brand pledges one planted tree for every purchased tee.

Aesthetically, Amour Vert will make the hearts of die-hard J. Crew fans beat a little faster. Classic stripes, feminine silhouettes, dainty florals, and crisp linens give this ethical brand its timeless, preppy feel.

Amour Vert

ethical fashion
Amour Vert dress- $158
fast fashion
Amour Vert dress- $178
fast fashion
Amour Vert jumpsuit- $188

J. Crew

ethical-alternative
J Crew dress- $138
ethical-alternative
J Crew dress- $148
ethical-alternatives
J. Crew Jumpsuit- $148

Style Saint: Sexy Staples with Saintly Stats

Style Saint rewards shoppers with feel good figures: gallons of water saved, ethical hours paid, and yards of sustainable fabric used. They use natural fibers like silk, flax, and wool that biodegrade much more quickly than synthetic fibers. Also, they boast wages 2000% higher on average than fast fashion brands are offering their garment workers. A seamstress myself, I’m especially grateful to Style Saint for educating consumers on just how long it takes to construct that breezy lace dress or boxy tee.

The vibe of Style Saint lines up with the sexy, modern pieces at Express. For the gal with an edge, this is the one stop shop for workwear, basics, and special pieces.

Style Saint

fast-fashion-alternatives
Style Saint skirt- $88
ethical-alternatives
Style Saint blouse- $98 **currently on sale for $38**

Express

ethical-alternatives
Express skirt- $69.90
ethical-alternatives
Express blouse- $79.90

Pact: For Conscious Cozies

When I was in school, my mom and I used to hit the Old Navy back to school sale to stock up on cute basics. Old Navy has a huge nostalgic place in my heart, and it’s one of the fast fashion brands I’ve missed the most. When my friend showed me Pact, I got that same rush I used to get when I shopped with my mom. All the cute dresses! All the comfy tees! All the cotton undies!

Pact is one of the most affordable conscious brands out there, which is incredible, considering that they’re Fair Trade Certified. They use organic cotton to make every basic a gal (or guy!) could ever need. Patterned sundress? Check. Black leggings? You betcha. A really cute henley that your bf will live in? They’ve got that too. Seriously- check them out.

Pact

fast fashion
Pact dress- $40
fast fashion
Pact dress- $40
fast fashion
Pact dress- $45

Old Navy

ethical-alternatives
Old Navy dress- $36.99
ethical-alternatives
Old Navy dress- $36.99
ethical-alternatives
Old Navy dress- $44.99

Accompany: Statement Pieces with Something to Say

Raise your hand if you, at one point, thought that Anthropologie was Fair Trade or sustainable.

Now raise your hand if you knew that the Certified B Corp (!!!) version of Anthro existed in the form of your new favorite brand, Accompany.

Rather than a fast fashion brand striving for the look alone, this incredible company curates pieces that are either artisan made, Fair Trade certified, or benefitting a philanthropic cause. They also prioritize impeccable design, which is apparent in the intricate details and drool-worthy textiles. Here, you’ll find timeless show-stoppers you’ll cherish (and get plenty of compliments on!) for years to come.

Accompany

ethical-alternatives
Accompany dress- $375
ethical-alternatives
Accompany dress- $148
ethical-alternatives
Accompany dress- $250

Anthropologie

ethical-alternatives
Anthropologie dress- $375
ethical-alternatives
Anthropologie dress- $178
ethical-alternatives
Anthropologie jumpsuit- $258

Marine Layer: Good Never Looked So (Cali) Cool

Beach babes need a clean beach, and Marine Layer is doing their part to avoid waste by utilizing a custom textile that uses a recycled beechwood and sustainable, self-sufficient production. The result, they say, is a tee so soft it feels like one you’ve been wearing it for years. I’m dying to stop by their location in the Domain to see for myself!

Marine Layer also releases a tee each season which benefits a charity with each purchase. In the past, they’ve designed adorable national park tees (still available!), and this season, they have a minimalist Pride shirt. For each tee, $15 goes to the represented national park or to the Trevor Project. (To be fair, AE also has a line of Pride tees this spring, and 100% of proceeds go to LGBT+ charities. Just something good to note!)

Marine Layer

ethical-alternatives
Marine Layer tee- $42
ethical-alternatives
Marine Layer national parks tee- $45
ethical-alternatives
Marine Layer pride tee- $45

American Eagle

ethical-alternatives
American Eagle tee- $19.95
ethical-alternatives
American Eagle tee- $24.95
ethical-alternatives
American Eagle tee- $24.95

Ultimately, finding ethical brands you connect with is a huge part of your conscious fashion journey. I’d love to hear what brands make you feel the most true to your style and self! If you’re still on the lookout, take a look at Kasi’s comprehensive ethical shopping guide to find your perfect fit.

Cheers!

Scout

All images from the retailers’ websites.

amourvert.com
jcrew.com
stylesaint.com
express.com
wearpact.com
oldnavy.com
accompanyus.com
anthropologie.com
marinelayer.com
ae.com

5 Comments

  1. Lisa says:

    I love your take on this, Scout! This probably does not surprise you but I am team Amour Vert forever and ever 🙂

    1. thepeahen says:

      Thanks for reading, Lisa! We love Amour Vert too…especially for how soft their clothes are.

      – Kasi & Scout

  2. Dana says:

    Love it!! So many new places to look into 🙂

    1. thepeahen says:

      Glad you found it useful, Dana. Scout did a great job finding really on-point lookalikes 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and hope you continue to read.

      – Kasi

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