A college student’s experience of shopping from the ethical clothing brand Everlane 

It’s not exactly a secret that shopping ethically is — well, the ethical thing to do. We know brands such as Forever 21 make their profits by offering cheap clothing at the expense of the environment and low wage workers. This retail system is known as “fast fashion,” which is defined as “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.”

The solution to combating fast fashion is shopping ethically through companies that are transparent about their manufacturing process and are making an effort to be more environmentally conscious. While shopping from fair trade, sustainable companies seems like an easy solution, it does come at a price. No, really, shopping ethically means consumers have to spend more money to support honest practices. And that’s what keeps people, especially college students, from making a greater effort to shop ethically: the cost. 

I get it. I too am a college student, looking to cut financial corners when available. However, as I’ve learned more about the fashion industry and the consequences that power purchasing has, I’ve become more conscious about shopping sustainably. With that said, I’m by no means a perfect, ethical shopper. But, I am here to tell you that it is possible to shop ethically while not spending your entire paycheck on a white t-shirt. 

About three months ago, I started noticing my Instagram feed being continuously interrupted with ads from the same company: Everlane. When I first started seeing their ads, my initial impression was that their clothes were cute, classic pieces that fit my style. However, I didn’t do any further investigation into the brand. As the ads kept showing up, I finally looked into the company. I learned they were a sustainable company, and their prices were reasonable as well. 

After about a month of debating if I should buy from Everlane, I finally gave in and made a purchase: a terracotta Henley waffle tee. The shirt is listed at $38, which, I’ll admit, was a lot for me to pay for a t-shirt. But as I scrolled through to read reviews, I noticed a graphic Everlane had at the bottom of the page which gave a direct breakdown of how the shirt was priced. It revealed exactly how much the shirt’s materials cost and the cost of labor to make it. The graphic also showed how more traditional retailers would move the price of the shirt up to around $80. I appreciated Everlane’s transparency about the cost of the shirt and could already feel myself becoming a fan of the brand. 

Everlane gives customers a breakdown of how each item is priced.

As I placed my order, I became excited about the arrival of my purchase. I had shopped ethically before from brands such as Patagonia, but the apparel I bought was more athletic. I was intrigued to see what my experience would be like to buy from an ethical company for an everyday wardrobe staple. 

After three days, I got the email that my package had been delivered and I raced to the Azusa Pacific mailroom to pick my shirt up. The first thing I noticed was the packaging. I only ordered the shirt, but it came packaged in a large manilla-like envelope. At first, I was confused about this, but then I noticed that the packaging was made from recycled material and was meant to also be recycled. The company was already showing how they are trying to make the brand more sustainable with every opportunity. 

Once I opened the package, I also noticed two other small details Everlane incorporated to be less wasteful. First, the shirt was not wrapped in any sort of plastic, which I didn’t miss at all. The other detail I noticed was that the extra button the company gave me was sewn into the side label of the shirt. I thought this was genius because I’ve never been fond of hoarding extra buttons in those small ziplock bags. Sewing the button into the shirt meant I didn’t have to worry about storing it (and possibly losing it) and saved a little bit of plastic. 

In regards to the actual shirt, I am more than satisfied with my purchase. The material is comfortable, lightweight and looks just as it did in the online picture. The shirt itself is slightly cropped, and since I prefer my clothes to have a looser fit, I ordered a size up. However, from what I can tell, their clothes are true to size. 

Everlane specializes in quality, everyday wardrobe pieces and overall, I was quite happy with my shopping experience with them. I will admit that the shirt cost more than I would usually pay. But to me, knowing my purchase was made ethically and sustainably is worth the extra cost. Everlane is a great company to build a capsule wardrobe of quality, staple pieces. I plan on continuing to shop at Everlane to create a more sustainable and classic wardrobe. 

Even though it does cost more to shop at ethical companies, it’s certainly possible and worth it when you know your purchase is empowering others rather than creating more harm.