Transform Your Wardrobe: Top 10 H&M Ethical Alternatives for a More Sustainable Style

Top 10 H&M Ethical Alternatives

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Regardless of its efforts to introduce new sustainable initiatives and transparency of their production processes, H&M has faced intense criticism regarding its environmental and ethical practices in recent years, placing it as one the main global fast fashion brands of this time. 

Green actions such as their pre-loved collection, a rental service in-store, or their ongoing Garment Collecting programme to recycle clothes, are a start but are insufficient for real change.

Why is H&M not sustainable?

The Swedish brand has been the subject of several controversial accusations in the past years, including a greenwashing lawsuit for making false green claims. This was one of the most scandalous greenwashing examples of the fashion industry in recent years.

With 3 billion garments produced a year, the mass production of low-quality clothes with minimal or no eco-friendly materials, position H&M on the top of the list of fast fashion retailers worldwide. In addition, there is no hard evidence that they pay fair wages to their workers or that the labor conditions are improving through their supply chain, despite allegedly having done so in 67% of their factories. 

Although H&M’s clothing collection campaign has been in place since 2013, most of the pieces they produce will end up in a landfill or being incinerated, and only around 35% of the donations will be actually recycled or used for other purposes.

The sustainable claims on their website are still vague and they lack public information from across their chain of production. One study found that 96% of H&M’s sustainability claims are misleading or false. 

In other words, as long as the making of huge volumes of clothes remains cheaper and easier, they will be far from turning into an actual sustainable fashion enterprise.

Choose Sustainable Brands Over Fast Fashion

Choose sustainable clothes

Fortunately, awareness about the negative impact and consequences of fast fashion is rising among both the industry and consumers, and ethical fashion presents an opportunity to transform our wardrobe choices.

Sustainable alternatives to fast fashion brands like H&M strive to offer transparent information about their supply chain, manufacturing processes and labor conditions. All these efforts result in the creation of high quality and long-lasting clothes for your wardrobe, and more sustainable and ethical practices for the fashion industry overall.

You can also be part of this movement towards a more ethical and environmentally friendly industry and an easy step to do this is to start shopping for clothes from brands that are committed to the best practices. 

Top 10 H&M Ethical Alternatives

We have selected 10 of these brands that you are going to love if you want to keep the H&M style but without regrets of supporting fast fashion.

1. Pact

Ethical Brand Pact

This is an eco-conscious brand that makes its clothes out of organic cotton (certified to Global Organic Textile Standard) and is committed to making affordable clothes with a clean and transparent supply chain.

With a wide variety of underwear, tops, pants, sleepwear, home items and more, Pact offers an alternative to those who look for a more durable, comfortable, and a better option for the environment.

Pact’s clothing does not use any toxic dyes or chemicals, and they also calculate the CO2 emissions of every single Pact product, thanks to a partnership with SimpliZero, an organization that helps eco-friendly brands to calculate their impact on the environment.

Additionally, they manufacture with Fair Trade-certified factories, which means that their garment workers receive fair pay and work under dignified working conditions. They also have a donation program, The Give Back Box, where you send them your used clothing, and they will deliver it to nonprofits.

2. Asket

Sustainable Clothing Asket

Asket focuses on timeless pieces and pushes for transparency throughout the entire production process. In 2018 they launched Full Traceability, which allows you to trace your clothes back to their origin, going through the manufacturing process, and providing solutions for your garments when you do not want them anymore.

At Asket you can find everything from wardrobe essentials to smart pieces designed to easily layer or interchange with basic items all year around. They also offer variations to classic pieces to adapt them with the changes of the weather going from light linen in summer to chunky knits for the winter. Everything you need to build your all year capsule wardrobe.

Materials like organic cotton, recycled wool, traceable merino, TENCEL™ Lyocell, and linen, are the materials used to create a permanent collection on the standard of lasting durability with the main purpose of helping people to make the most of their garments and consume less.

3. Kotn

Fair Trade Brand Kotn

If you are after the most comfortable but stylish pieces to complement your wardrobe, Kotn has timeless and versatile bottoms, tops, dresses, and suits for your day to day working from home or for a chill night out with your friends.

Kotn fabric is sourced directly from Egyptian cotton farmers, which helps the brand to build a close relationship with them and have a better understanding of the communities. By buying the raw material straight from the farmers, Kotn guarantees fair prices and quality, provides better wages and business practices to the farmers, and offers transparency into how their partners conduct their business.

They started working with smallholder organic cotton farmers in Egypt and have expanded to working with 2390 farmers in the region. But Kotn is not only supporting the fashion industry with better practices. They also donate a portion of their profits to fund and build primary schools in the Nile Delta and Faiyum, Egypt.

4. Outerknown

Eco-friendly Brand Outerknown

This brand is known for its surf-inspired, eco-friendly apparel. They use organic, recycled and/or regenerated materials throughout their entire product line. Their commitment is reflected in tangible actions to protect the environment and support fair labor practices.

For example, their collaboration with Bergam Rivera has resulted in 10 tons of Regenerative Organic Certified Cotton and 28 acres of farmland being converted to regenerative processes. Outerknown has also kept more than 1800 pieces out of landfills with their resale platform and repurposed materials, like 300 lbs. of denim reused to make bags. 

You can buy from a vast selection of jeans, pants, dresses, swimwear, activewear, and other high-quality items with the certainty that you will support a brand aiming to make 100% of their product circular by 2030 and keep protecting more workers in their supply chain.

5. Colorful Standard

Ethical Company Colorful Standard

When it comes to basics, Colorful Standard has to be your choice. Add some color to your wardrobe with shorts, tees, hoodies, sweaters, sweatshirts, sweatpants, beanies, and more in 40+ shades. This brand prides itself on creating high-quality, sustainable basics that are colorful and ethically produced in Portugal.

All the dyes used to create their multicolored collection are all Oeko-Tex Certified, meaning that they have been thoroughly tested for harmful chemicals. They also use 100% organic cotton in all their garments, which helps to minimize the use of pesticides and greenhouse emissions by up to 94%.

Colorful Standard has a policy of 0% waste which focuses on minimizing waste as much as possible with their techniques of garment dying, precise laser cutting, and recycling materials. They also ensure that all the employees at their manufacturing center in Portugal work fair hours for fair wages according to the European Labor Law.

6. Girlfriend Collective

Sustainable Fashion Girlfriend Collective

If you are a fitness enthusiast who likes to be the most fashionable person at the gym or simply wants to look good and feel comfortable during your busy days, you can find at Girlfriend Collective a wide range of active wear in sizes XXS to 6XL.

Girlfriend Collective creates inclusive and ethically made activewear using recycled materials, like old plastic water bottles and fishing nets retrieved from the seas. This also means that all their products are made to be recycled with ReGirlfriend, their takeback program.

Their factory is SA8000 certified which promises that their operation adheres to strict regulations that keep factory employees well-paid, safe, and living healthy lives. In addition, their recycled fabric is certified Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex, the world’s leader in testing fabrics to regulate harmful substances. They also use packaging 100% recycled and recyclable.

7.  Frank & Oak

Responsible Fashion Frank & Oak

Frank & Oak is your choice if you love wearing warm and cozy clothes but without losing any bit of style. Neutral colors and cool patterns go hand in hand with the most innovative fabrics from nature to create timeless and durable pieces that you will not stop wearing for a while.

This brand is committed to minimizing its environmental impact by prioritizing recycled materials and ethical practices in their production processes. All their products either contain low-impact, cruelty-free, organic, biodegradable, or recycled fibers, or are manufactured using industry-leading technologies.

All the denim used in Frank & Oak’s clothes is designed to be circular, which means that all their denim styles are easily recycled. They also adhere to the highest standards of fair labor practices and environmental protection as part of their commitment to transparency and accountability, making all their manufacturing partners sign for the same code of conduct.

8. Toad&Co

Ethical Clothing Toad&Co

If you want to show your passion for style and take care of the earth at the same time, Toad&Co is for you. You do not have to sacrifice your love for Mother Nature when shopping for trendy and stylish pieces of clothing. Toad&Co has a wide catalogue of super cozy, practical and lasting options to choose from, and get ready for the adventure.

Toad&Co are committed to sustainability and ethical sourcing, using high-quality and eco-friendly fibers like organic cotton, hemp, TENCEL™ Lyocell, and recycled polyester in every single one of their garments, aiming towards lowering their carbon footprints.

And when it is time to say goodbye to your clothes, they will help you to give new life to your preloved items by reselling them and preventing them from ending up in a landfill. They also give you the option to choose “Reusable Shipper” as a solution to single-use packaging. They will send you a durable mailer with a prepaid return label and, once you get your order, you just have to drop the empty package back in the mail so it can be used again.

9. Whimsy + Row

Stylish Alternative Whimsy Row

Whimsy + Row produces limited-run batches of fashion-forward pieces using upcycled fabrics, favoring ethical production to mass production. They also take pride in lowering their carbon footprint by producing locally in Los Angeles.

So next time you are looking for a limited and unique piece of clothing, we are sure you will find something that you will love at Whimsy + Row. And if they do not have it in stock, do not worry, you can add yourself to their waitlist and they will make it specially for you.

Their office is located just a few blocks away from their factories, meaning that they can visit them and ensure fair wages are given and workers are treated fairly. They also choose low impact fabrics that use less energy, biodegrade faster than synthetic fabrics and use substantially less water to create. Additionally, they recycle their scraps of material turning them into cute bandanas, bucket hats and scrunchies.

10. Taylor Stitch

Sustainable Brand Taylor Stitch

If you are into the rugged look this is the brand to look out for. They use regenerative and recycled fabrics where possible, and develop their own materials when necessary. They also repair and resell your pre-loved Taylor Stich products through their program Re-Stitch.

Taylor Stitch relies heavily on crowdfunding for their collections, which is saving their customers up to 20% off and eliminating waste from their supply chain by preventing overproduction. They share their list of manufacturers and ensure their workers have access to healthcare, clean water, maternity leave, childcare, and vacations.

The brand also has a program called Wild Forever Days, which is a mix of volunteering, education, and community building, where they partner with other companies, customers, and local organizations to do things like blaze trails, clean up trash, or help out on farms.

Looking for more sustainable alternatives to H&M?

Find more sustainable alternatives to H&M

Check out our brand directory for over 100 brands that are doing better for the people and the planet. There you can also check out our brand ratings for any of the above brands. 

The Future of Fashion is Sustainable

By choosing to shop with these brands, not only can you find stylish and trendy outfits, but you can also feel good and be certain that you are supporting an ethical company with a social and environmental commitment, and contributing to a better sustainable fashion industry. 

Adopting an eco-friendly, sustainable wardrobe does not need to break the bank. When you purchase higher quality, organic, or recycled clothing, you are also consciously buying less, taking better care, and disposing more responsibly of your garments. Remember, the essence of ethical fashion shopping is about thoughtful, conscious choices.


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