Fast fashion may offer a way to indulge in trends, but it’s ultimately bad for the environment, bad for factory workers, and bad for your wallet to buy cheap, flimsy clothes only to have to throw them away within a year or so.
That’s why we’ve rounded up 10 retailers that offer clothes, shoes and accessories built to last. Each of these brands combines high-quality materials with thoughtful craftsmanship, making them more likely to hold a permanent place in your closet for years to come.
From white tees and Chelsea boots to silk camis and denim, these retailers have options to help you dress better while shopping less — and keeping more clothes from ending up in a landfill.
Check out our picks for quality basics that you’ll only need to buy once.
The last time I visited Everlane’s NYC showroom, there was a line of shoppers out the door. That’s not a knock on the company; it’s a testament to how beloved its clothes are. Everlane makes modern basics for men and women at affordable prices, and its goods are designed to last. And luckily, you don’t have to visit the store in person to shop. In fact, Everlane is primarily an online retailer, which is part of the way the company is able to use high-quality materials while keeping costs down.
Whether it’s the perfectly simple 100% cotton box-cut tee ($18; everlane.com) or the thoughtfully constructed denim — the kick crop style ($78; everlane.com) are the best-fitting jeans I’ve ever owned — these are clothes that look and feel great. The color palette is relatively neutral, making it easy to mix and match closet staples. There are a few pops of color here and there, though: we love this poppy red leather heel ($145; everlane.com) and sage green short-sleeved Oxford shirt ($55; everlane.com). The company also offers a variety of versatile totes and backpacks to cart around all your new clothes.
Everlane also values ethical manufacturing processes and provides refreshing transparency in pricing — clearly laying out how much each item costs to produce, so you know exactly what you’re paying for.
Nisolo is committed to making leather shoes that will keep your feet happy and won’t wear out, no matter how often they hit the pavement.
The handwoven huarache sandals ($118; nisolo.com) mold to your feet, making a perfect lightweight shoe for summer strolls. Sturdy Chelsea boots ($171, originally $228; nisolo.com) are an excellent investment for pretty much every other season, while men should check out the brand’s selection of chukkas, loafers, and Oxfords ($128 to $198; nisolo.com). Nisolo also offers leather duffels, totes, wallets and belts, all of which are handmade at the company’s factory in Peru.
Nearly every product gets raves on the company’s website. And, like Everlane, Nisolo takes care to work only with manufacturers that offer their workers fair wages and health care. It sources the leather for its shoes from tanneries that treat animals humanely. Nisolo details its exact supply chain on its website, giving consumers an insight into where their money is actually going.
Cuyana’s motto is “fewer, better things.” The company creates elevated women’s basics with top-end fabrics in feminine silhouettes that won’t go out of style quickly, so you can invest in pieces that will be in your wardrobe for years to come.
Check out the best-selling silk tee ($155; cuyana.com), a versatile top for casual and classy outings alike, made in the US from 100% three-ply silk. The baby alpaca square edge cape ($215; cuyana.com) is another great option to top off your look, as is the comfy yet uber-flattering ponte legging pant ($145; cuyana.com). For chillier days, the classic trench ($395; cuyana.com), made of 95% cotton with a bit of viscose for stretch, will add a chic finishing touch to any outfit.
Cuyana also makes gorgeous bags, belts, clutches, and accessories. The classic leather zipper tote ($195; cuyana.com), made from pebbled Argentinian leather, is ideal for carting around the city.
4. Universal Standard
For wardrobe staples built to fit any body, check out Universal Standard. The company stocks basics in sizes 00 to 40, and uses fit models to ensure that its clothes drape well on women of all shapes and sizes. Universal Standard uses high-quality fabrics — including premium Peruvian cotton, Italian merino wool, and French satin-back crepe — that should stand up to many wears and washings.
True to its name, the Foundation V-neck short-sleeve tee ($35; nordstrom.com) is a solid base for any outfit, as is the long-sleeve V-Rex tee ($60; nordstrom.com) on cooler days. The Seine high-waist skinny jeans ($90; nordstrom.com) were designed with curvier figures in mind, while the top-rated Geneva dress ($120; nordstrom.com) can be dressed up or down to suit pretty much any occasion.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of Patagonia, purveyor of top-tier gear for outdoor enthusiasts. But Patagonia’s clothes can be used for so much more than rugged adventures. The down sweater jacket (men’s $229; patagonia.com, women’s also $229; patagonia.com) is perhaps the perfect warm yet lightweight coat for city strolls and mountain hikes alike.
The organic cotton tees (men’s $39; patagonia.com, women’s also $39; patagonia.com) are an everyday staple, while the Capilene base layers (men’s $45; patagonia.com, women’s also $45; patagonia.com) are simple enough to wear both in the woods and après-ski. And the classic Synchilla Snap-T fleece pullovers (men’s from $59 to $119; patagonia.com, women’s also from $59 to $119; patagonia.com) are versatile and comfy enough that you can wear them on and off the trail.
These pieces don’t necessarily come cheap, but you’re paying for both expert craftsmanship and the company’s famed “Iron Clad Guarantee”: if, say, you snag your coat on a branch, Patagonia will fix it. For free. No matter how long ago you bought it. You can also trade in worn gear for store credit.
Don’t ignore the company that made your monogrammed middle school backpack! Yes, things like the (surprisingly comfy) trail pants ($59.95; llbean.com) and snuggly fleece pullover ($69 to $79; llbean.com) are perhaps more suited to nights around the campfire than nights at a bar. But, like Patagonia, L.L.Bean makes its everyday clothes with the same attention to detail and quality as its outdoor gear.
The versatile Pima cotton tee ($22.95; llbean.com) is a solid closet staple that comes in eight colors, ranging from neutral black and white to bright azure and russet orange. And the summer knit dress ($59.95; llbean.com) is not only cute, but also machine-washable. Men also have great options, from lightweight, polished button-ups ($39.95; llbean.com) to “unshrinkable” tees ($22.95; llbean.com). The famous Bean boots ($99 to $245; llbean.com) are perfect for splashing around in puddles yet also add a stylishly rugged touch to any outfit.
L.L.Bean is famous not just for its quality, but also for its stellar customer service that lets you return any product, for any reason, for up to a year. Of course, these are clothes that will last a lot longer than that.
Trends come and go, but not having to shop for jeans again is priceless — and Madewell is known for great denim. With a wide selection of lengths, rises, and stretchiness, the company has jeans in styles to suit all tastes. Petite and Curvy fits are available in many styles as well, and Madewell even offers free in-store hemming if a pair isn’t perfect for you off the rack. High and mid-rise skinnies ($75 to $140; madewell.com) are a go-with-anything staple, while the Perfect Vintage range ($105 to $198; madewell.com) is great for a more relaxed look.
Quality denim can last for years, but even the best jeans won’t last forever. That’s why Madewell accepts donations of old jeans, which the company recycles into housing insulation. You’ll even get $20 off your next pair as a thanks for not adding to a landfill.
Madewell has found many loyal fans with its high-quality pants, but its popular leather totes and accessories are worth checking out as well. The company’s classic leather Transport Tote ($168; madewell.com) is one of those bags that just gets better-looking with time. Those on the shorter end of the spectrum might want to consider the slightly smaller medium Transport Tote ($158; madewell.com); I’ve treated mine less than delicately since I bought it three years ago, and it looks as good as ever.
Cos makes clothes with “modern, functional, considered design.” The brand launched in 2007 and offers high-quality wardrobe staples that combine classic silhouettes with more modern touches.
The knitted organic cotton polo ($89; cosstores.com) is an updated twist on the knit collared shirt. The short cotton linen blazer ($150; cosstores.com) is great for warmer days at the office, and the boxy linen-jersey top ($49; cosstores.com) is a super comfy choice that still manages to drape elegantly. The men’s short-sleeved linen tee ($45; cosstores.com) and ¾-sleeved shirt ($89; cosstores.com), made from a crisp cotton blend, are more excellent warm weather basics.
Shop Pact for loungewear and essential layering pieces. The company works with fair-trade factories and sources 100% organic long-staple cotton to make its basics ultrasoft and ready to withstand repeated washings.
For women, the relaxed fit Eco-Blend tee ($25; wearpact.com) is an ideal mix of slouchy and polished, while the lightweight Eco-Blend wrap cardigan ($40; wearpact.com) is a versatile layering piece for crisp evenings. Pact’s leggings ($25; wearpact.com) are another best-seller, and the company’s variety of undies ($12; wearpact.com) score high marks from customers for flattering cuts and comfort. Men can also shop a great selection of boxers, tees, hoodies, and other duds perfect for casual days at work or lazing around the house.
Many of the companies on our list are new to the game, but Frye has spent more than 150 years building a name for its leather boots. These don’t come cheap, but Frye combines high-quality leather with expert craftsmanship to create boots meant to last a lifetime. The company even outfitted some US troops during World War II!
Frye has of course branched out since then, and now offers everything from trendy mules ($197.95; zappos.com) to strappy sandals ($257.95; zappos.com). Men can choose from rugged laceups ($256.80, originally $428; zappos.com), simple Oxfords ($182.99, originally $228; zappos.com), and chic penny loafers ($222.99, originally $248; zappos.com).
Boots are still the company’s bread and butter, though. The slouchy Veronica booties ($194.99, originally $278; zappos.com) are a comfy yet sturdy pick, while the Carson piping style ($180.99, originally $258; zappos.com) offers a little more polish. Whichever style you go with, these are shoes that should withstand whatever you throw at them.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.