Is Aerie Ethical? Brand Breakdown and 4 Alternatives

Aerie is an underwear, activewear, swimwear, and apparel brand. The brand focuses on creating body-positive products for women. Aerie is owned by the parent company American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), which also owns the clothing brand American Eagle.

In the following article, we’ll discuss the question Is Aerie ethical? We will evaluate all brand components, including their environmental and social impact.

Let’s jump in.

Ecothes Opinion: Sustainability Score

Is Aerie Ethical
We give a poor score of 1.5/5 for overall sustainability and ethical practices.

This rating is due to a lack of sustainable or recycled materials used and a lack of transparency around the factories and working environments, wages, and livelihood of its garment workers.

Is Aerie Fast Fashion?

Yes, we would classify Aerie as a fast-fashion brand. Aerie and parent company AEO designs vast quantities of garments, based on quickly changing trends. These garments are then sold at low prices and often end up in end-of-season clearances.

What Materials Does Aerie Use?

In a deep dive into Aerie products, we found the primary materials used are:

  • Nylon
  • Elastane
  • Cotton
  • Polyester

We found very little indication of the brand choosing to use sustainable alternatives to create its products, for example, recycled polyester, organic cotton, or other lower-impact materials.

On Aeries parent company AEO’s website, we found statements that include the goals to source 100% more sustainable cotton by 2023 and use 50% more sustainable polyester.

There are no indicators or information into the progression of these goals, so until there is proof, both are currently empty statements on the brand’s website.

Is Aerie Carbon Neutral?

No. Aerie is not a Carbon Neutral Brand. Its parent company AEO has the goal to sustainability to be carbon neutral by 2030 – again, however, there is no information around how they are progressing with this goal.

Does Aerie Use Sweatshops?

Whilst American Eagle Outfitters, partners with manufacturers that operate more than 300 factories in more than 20 countries worldwide, the brand does not disclose a list of these factories. AEO fails to provide factory-specific information around pay, working environments, or other important attributes for workers’ safety and treatment in each factory.

Parent company AEO achieved a poor 16% overall score in the Fashion Transparency Index 2021.

Aerie and AEO have codes of conduct that their suppliers must be audited on before they work together and then yearly by internal and external auditors. However, AEO does not disclose the complete audit scores for each factory.

While transparency does not automatically equal ethical or sustainable practices, it promotes and allows people to scrutinize a brand’s policies, therefore holding them accountable for their claims and advocating for positive change.

Where are Aerie’s Underwear and Apparel Made?

Unfortunately, no clear information is disclosed on where Aerie products are manufactured due to a lack of brand transparency.

We also couldn’t find any indication, any of AEOs partner factories have been audited or verified by any labor standard governing bodies e.g. ILO.

Is Aerie Cruelty-Free?

Aerie and parent company AEO opposes the inhumane treatment of animals; they do not permit the use of any of the following:

  1. Fur, including mink, fox, rabbit, and beaver;
  2. Skins from endangered exotic animals;
  3. Muleseed wool;
  4. Angora (rabbit hair);
  5. Vicugna pacos (alpaca)
  6. Animal testing

However, Down and Leather are permitted and used in Aerie and AEO products.

Sustainable Alternatives to Aerie

Below, we showcase some of our favorite ethical and sustainable brands, we think make a great alternative to Aerie. We’ve covered activewear, loungewear, swimwear and undies.

1. Mate The Label

Mate the Label loungewear alternative to aerie

Best For: Organic cotton loungewear, sweatshirts and sweatpants

Sustainability: Climate Neutral Certified company creating ethical apparel from natural and organic materials

Mate is a great sustainable and ethical alternative to Aerie apparel.

Based in Los Angeles, the brand focuses on creating minimalist essentials from natural and organic materials, including organic cotton.

Their products are made within 15 miles of Mate’s Los Angeles office. The close proximity of Mate’s manufacturing facility allows the brand to have meaningful brand relationships with its makers. In addition, it enables the brand to create safe and fair working environments while reducing emissions.

Mate the Label loungewear alternative to aerie

2. Subset

Knickey organic cotton underwear

Best For: Organic cotton bras, pants, and nightwear.

Sustainability: Sustainable and organic materials, ethical and certified organic factories and suppliers.

Subset is on a mission to make every woman feel confident in their underwear while protecting the environment at the same time.

Subset creates inclusive, supportive bralettes, pants, and more, all from certified organic cotton.

The brand has full supply chain disclosure, from field to factory, and only works with certified organic farms and factories. You can read Subset’s full impact disclosure here, where the band discusses its social and environmental impact in depth.

Knickey organic cotton underwear


Girlfriend Collective activewear

Best For: Chic and sustainable activewear sets in dreamy colors.

Sustainability: Activewear made from recycled plastic bottles.

Look no further than Girlfriend Collective as the perfect alternative to Aerie activewear.

The on-trend brand is growing in popularity and creates stylish yet practical activewear from recycled plastic bottles. Girlfriends’ sustainable leggings and support crop tops are designed to be worn and loved by everybody’s shape and size.

Girlfriend works with a core factory in Hanoi, Vietnam, SA8000 certified, guarantees fair wages, safe and healthy conditions, and zero forced or child labor.

Sustainable Yoga Clothes

4. Kitty and Vibe

Best For: Sustainable swimwear in playful prints and vibrant colors.

Sustainability: Swimwear from recycled materials.

For an ethical swimwear alternative to Aerie, check out Kitty and Vibe. This sustainable swimwear company creates fun, playful swimwear sets in inclusive sizing.

Around half of Kitty and Vibes swimwear line is made using sustainable fabric with 82% recycled polyester.

We spoke to Kitty and Vibe’s founder Cameron, who told us that its swimwear is produced in a small family-owned factory in Bogota, Colombia. Every worker is paid a fair wage and offered health insurance coverage and a retirement plan in the factory. In addition, Kitty and Vibes products are produced in small batches to reduce waste.

Kitty and Vibe sustainable swimwear

Wrapping Up: Is Aerie Ethical?

If you’re still looking for other similar ethical alternatives to Aerie, we recommend checking out our guides on activewear, and organic underwear.

If you have any feedback, please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!


Bethany Worthington BSc (Hons) (she/her) is the Sustainable Fashion Editor and Co-founder of Ecothes. She has a passion for the environment, and a long love of all things clothing, and combines those two interests with Ecothes. In her free time she loves dancing, hiking in the countryside, and laughing with friends.

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