10 sustainable fashion brands that don’t cost the earth
I’m not the first person to mention the seismic change to the retail landscape over the last 12 months… Many high street behemoths, already teetering on the brink, haven’t made it through the pandemic; while smaller, more nimble online brands are successfully emerging. As consumers we are spending smarter, taking greater responsibility. We want to know how and where our clothes are made and who made them. And the good news is that an increasing number of sustainable labels are on a mission to make eco-friendly options widely accessible, without compromising on ethics or aesthetics.
We all know that the most planet-friendly thing to do is to make the most of the clothes you already own, wear second-hand/vintage and repair and mend. But if you’re looking for new eco-friendly fashion, these pioneering labels (together with a few old favourites) prove that looking good doesn’t have to cost the earth:
There is much to like about Aligne. Committed to sustainability and creating ‘effortless, versatile pieces that are built from planet-friendly foundations and democratic decisions’, this is an excellent place to pick up elevated, not-so-basic-basics. The aesthetic is a blend of clean-cut tailoring with relaxed silhouettes, and softer separates in muted tones with an attention to detail. Aligne uses low-impact fabrics like: linen, organic cotton, recycled polyester, Ecovero, Tencel and Lenzing, throughout its collections. Prices are similar to Cos or Arket, and start at £28 for jersey t-shirts, around £80- £90 for blouses and £100 for jackets. FYI the sale section is well worth a look, too.
Ethical brand Aspiga has been supporting artisanal techniques and craftspeople since 2005, and is on a mission to minimise the impact it has on people and the planet. Expect a warm-weather, holiday vibe, with linen blouses, wafty dresses and leather sandals in seaside colours and soft pastels. Prices are higher than high street, averaging at £140 for dresses, £40 for t-shirts and from £58 for sandals.
Gather & See
This is a fantastic one-stop shop for beautiful clothes and sustainable accessories, natural beauty products and scented candles. Featuring a carefully selected range of designers, from Hamaji’s gorgeous linen collection, made in Kenya by local artisans with a focus on female empowerment, to United Change Makers organic jeans (check out the high waist Skater style, £80) and Carolina de Barros’ gold-plated, sculptural jewellery, handcrafted in London. Most items come in at a slightly higher price point, around the £100 mark.
Lucy & Yak
Several friends swear by Lucy & Yak’s colourful dungarees – and I have to admit I’ve been eyeing up the 1970s-inspired floral print jumpsuit. Everything is designed for pure comfort dressing, made from organic fibres and produced in a factory in north India where workers are paid nearly four times the state minimum wage. The founders, Lucy and Chris, care deeply that workers are treated and paid fairly – and recently built a new large air-conditioned factory with solar panels so that a large percentage of the energy being used is renewable. For a brand with such amazing ethics, the prices are fantastic – twill dungarees are £48, trousers from £28 and sweatshirts £45. Probably the most cheerful ethical brand out there, all garments are bright and bold, and it’s much more size inclusive than its competitors.
Monsoon’s S.E.W. Sustainable Collection
Hanging on in there…high street store Monsoon’s S.E.W. Sustainable Collection is created using responsibly-sourced fabrics, including: organic cotton, Lenzing and Ecovero (an earth-friendly alternative to viscose) and considerately-produced denim. I wouldn’t ordinarily class myself as a Monsoon customer, but a few clicks in and I’ve found a lovely navy linen trouser suit, an eco-viscose khaki blouse reduced to £14 in the sale. Monsoon’s ability to produce at a large scale means that prices are very reasonable, jackets around £50, skirts, £45 and dresses £60.
Mother of Pearl x John Lewis
I’ve mentioned this brilliant collaboration on TNMA before, but wanted to flag it up again, as Mother of Pearl and John Lewis are just about to release a new spring collection. Designer Amy Powney champions sustainable fabrics and eco-friendly production methods to create her easy-going co-ords, striking prints and over-sized shirts, an infinitely wearable mixture of quirky and classic.
To keep waste at a minimum, conscious label Nobody’s Child create small capsule collections made using certified sustainable fabrics. The brand recently collaborated with Marks & Spencer on a spring range, and though the vibe is slightly younger, it’s definitely worth a look if you’re after a breezy midi dress, new knitwear or a pair of joggers. Prices are very affordable at £30-£50 for dresses and £35 for knitwear.
A recent discovery, Omnes, was launched in answer to the increasing demand for sustainable fashion at lower prices. With a focus on technological innovations, the label uses renewable fabrics like FSC (The Forest Stewardship Council) certified viscose, fibres made from wood pulp and printed with low impact dyes. There are also detailed instructions on the website on how best to look after your clothes. Again, Omnes has a slightly younger look, but look beyond the cami straps and seek out the chic printed midi dresses, lovely shirts, blouses and wide leg trousers. Prices range from £40 for tops to £85 for dresses.
Seventy + Mochi
Denim is one of the biggest polluters in the fashion industry but thankfully more and more brands seem to be trying to lower the impact of denim production on the environment. On my radar is Seventy + Mochi, a ‘consciously kind’ label specialising in cool denim pieces made using recycled material. It’s also a vegan brand, committed to never using products derived from animals. I like the Iris jumpsuit, Bailey jean and the Victoria blouse. Prices are £95 for jeans, £90 for blouses and £140 for jumpsuits.
Another new find, Thought is on mission to champion a more responsible and thoughtful approach to shopping and slow down the cycle of throwaway fashion. With a focus on natural fabrics, it excels in simple, fluid designs. Each part of the supply train is scrutinised to avoid waste, so manufacture is small scale, scrap fabrics are turned into headbands and leftover yarns turned into socks. The vibe is Seasalt meets Toast, so you can expect artful prints and easy-to-wear pieces. Prices are around £50-£60 for a blouse, £25 for a t-shirt and £80 for organic cotton and Tencel skirts and trousers. Again, there’s a brilliant sale section if you want to pick up a bargain