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Wearwell Finds Ethical, Sustainable Fashion for You

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It’s hard to know where to start when you’re looking for ethical, sustainable fashion, because there are so many clothing brands out there. Wearwell can help you find clothes and accessories that are ethically made by companies with clear mission statements. Their goal is to help customers fill their clothes with closets made by companies that have a positive impact on the world. Wearwell does all the work of researching and vetting companies, and they recommend specific items for you. Through your stylist’s monthly picks, you can get to know plenty of trustworthy ethical brands.

My Wearwell stylist selected six items for me: a navy blue patterned wrap top, a floral light blue faux wrap top, a bone and brass necklace, gold hoops with Carnelian stones, a drapey blue top, and a botanical print lavender cardigan. I chose a pair of mid-size sterling silver hoops from the Product of the Moment selection, because they’re simple enough to go with lots of different outfits. My least favorite item was the floral faux wrap top, because I didn’t like the colors or the style.

What We Like About Wearwell

Currently, Wearwell is offering a promotion that lets you try their service without paying a styling fee for the first month. I took advantage of their offer when I tried them out this month.

Most styling services center around a model that lets customers try items before committing to a purchase. When Wearwell was first founded, they did the same. As they evolved, they decided that sending out bulky packages to every customer would go against their sustainability goals, because of all the packaging waste and gas used to transport packages.

If you’re considering buying something but not entirely sure, you can always order it to see it in person, though. Returns are free, and the company allows exchanges, if they’re approved. The main difference is that Wearwell’s system isn’t designed with returns as part of the process, by including return labels in each box. You’ll need to specifically request a return label within 30 days of when they shipped your item.

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My package came in this recycled and recyclable poly mailer. It came in a cardboard box, and the only virgin plastic was in the bubble wrap.

Wearwell carries some fairly unique pieces. I wasn’t able to find all of them elsewhere online, which gives me a sense that the company is connecting customers to pieces they wouldn’t be able to find otherwise.

The pieces on Wearwell were all within the normal range of items sold through subscription boxes. Nothing was cheap, but the highest price was $99 for a gold-filled, gem-studded set of hoop earrings, which I consider reasonable. When you remember these brands are all paying their workers a living wage, it’s easy to justify the prices.

What We Don’t Like About Wearwell

Wearwell doesn’t send items unless you intend to buy them, which is an intentional, environmental choice. Some potential customers might be disappointed by this, though.

When you view items on Wearwell, the product pages don’t list the brand names of items you’re looking at. I was curious about the brands they feature, but in some cases I was only able to find out with some serious Googling, including reverse image search. Wearwell seems proud of the brands they carry, and I wish they’d make it easier to find more information about them.

As of right now, product pages include information on each company’s mission statement, and some info on how pieces are made, and who makes them. As I read about each piece, I found myself wanting more details about each company’s practices.

I would love to see more size options from Wearwell, and maybe some items for men, too. Their current model focuses on women sizes XS to XL.

Finally, the styling didn’t impress me. I answered their style survey as best I could, and even included a Pinterest board, but I didn’t feel my style was reflected at all in my selections. I’m willing to cut the company some slack, since they’re working with just a few brands, but I was still disappointed. I wish Wearwell would let subscribers check out other products besides stylist selections.

Here’s an overview of their selected items for me:

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Silver Sofie Hoops by Ethic Goods

This was my favorite item out of the pieces available to me on Wearwell. It wasn’t part of my stylist’s suggestions, but it was a featured Product of the Moment.

I like the simple silver style with the added interest of the unique rope-like texture. These earrings are made from sterling silver, and the posts are stainless steel, so they’re hypoallergenic. At 1.25 inches in diameter, they’re big enough to make an impact but not enormous. They cost $30, which isn’t too unusual for a pair of silver earrings of this size.

These are part of Ethic Goods’ China line. The company aims to provide jobs and resources for women who have survived human trafficking and modern-day slavery. The employees contribute to the design process of the pieces they make, so they have a real connection to their work. Ethic Goods makes pieces that are wearable in daily life, like these hoops. I’m glad to be able to support a company like that while buying jewelry at a reasonable price.

Sona Necklace, White

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This bone and brass necklace fits into the current delicate, minimalist jewelry trends. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the pendant style. It’s low maintenance, though, and all it needs in the way of care is the occasional polish.

The materials for this necklace are upcycled and turned into jewelry by women in India working in a safe environment and earning fair wages. The Mata Traders brand avoids assembly line-style production that can be dehumanizing for workers. Instead, they have their employees craft pieces in their entirety at company workshops or in their own homes.

Francesca Wrap Top, Navy

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This botanical print wrap top has contrasting white and navy coloring. The screenprinting on this 100% cotton fabric was done by hand. Each piece is crafted as a whole, instead of through a grueling assembly line-style production. The result is an artisanal product. Unfortunately, I just don’t like wrap tops, so I wasn’t thrilled to see two different wrap tops in my selection.

This piece is from Mata Traders, a company that is connected to 5 fair trade co-ops throughout Nepal and India. This piece was made by a women’s cooperative, by employees who are paid fairly and have safe working conditions.

Winona Gemstone Hoops, Orange

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This is a set of gold-filled hoops studded with Carnelian gemstones. This piece is gorgeous and eye-catching, but not quite the kind of jewelry I would normally wear. This is my favorite piece out of my stylist selections, though, and I love the ornate look.

These hoops are from the brand Penh Lenh, which is led by BIPOC women. THe company is based in Cambodia and empowers its workers with fair wages up to 40% higher than industry standards and a 5-day workweek. The company also offers benefits and weekly English classes for its full-time workers.

Navy Maly Top by Tonle

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This top is a basic garment with balloon sleeves that take it from a basic piece to something more elegant. I can see it dressed up or down, depending on the situation. I passed on this top because I’m not a fan of navy blue.

The Maly top is made by the zero waste brand Tonle. Tonle uses scraps from mainstream fashion brands to create sustainable pieces. Their methods save huge amounts of fabric from the landfill and give it a second life in our closets. This piece was made in Cambodia under ethical work conditions.

Alyssa Top, Blue Floral

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This is a faux wrap top in a fun, feminine print. I personally didn’t like the pastel tones, and I was surprised to get this as one of my suggested items. The full sleeves are gathered at the bottom to add shape. The fabric is a blend of organic cotton and recycled polyester, colored with low-impact dyes that are safer for the environment.

This piece is from Synergy Organic Clothing. It was made by men and women in Nepal who are paid a fair wage, as per the brand’s commitment to ethical employment practices. The brand’s design vision is influenced by traditional Nepalese textiles.

Gertie Cardigan, Lavender Print

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This open-knit cardigan has a leafy, botanical print in lavender and blue. It’s made from organic cotton and wool, which presumably gives it a soft and comfortable feel. I wasn’t sure about this piece, so I didn’t order it, but looking at it now I wish I’d given it a chance. It looks very comfortable, even though it’s not quite my typical style.

I wasn’t able to find the brand for this cardigan, even with extensive Googling. According to Wearwell, it’s a company that uses sustainable, natural fibers that aren’t treated with pesticides or harsh dyes. Their employees are paid a fair wage and the company aims to have long-term relationships with their workers. Their factories are carcinogen-free, making things safer both for customers and employees.

Final Thoughts

Wearwell is the only fashion subscription box that I’ve heard of in the ethical fashion niche. They carry brands with ethical employment practices, and most of them also use sustainable practices. The company forms partnerships with ethical brands and does research into their business practices, so you don’t have to. It’s nice to have a curated list of options for fashion that supports good causes.

I didn’t love all the items that they styled for me, but I found a pair of silver hoops that are versatile enough to go with lots of different outfits.

Through Wearwell, you can find new ethical styles that are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere online. I think this service is a great way for women to easily add sustainable and ethical clothing to their closets without breaking the bank.

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