Seven new sustainable and ethical fashion brands to shop now
Sustainable clothing has improved quite dramatically over the last decade; it’s much more stylish, less (dare I say it) worthy. As we shift towards more considerate shopping habits and embrace the use of low-impact fibres, there’s been an explosion of new, directional fashion labels who are trying to put people and the planet, first. Obviously, the most eco-friendly thing we can all do is to shop our own wardrobes or opt for second-hand, but if you are buying something new, it’s worth considering the companies that are striving to do better. Where you spend your money is key to propelling the success and growth of the sustainable market because nothing changes corporate exploitation like consumer demand. Plus, these brands need our support if they are to survive, and thrive, in the challenging world of fashion retail.
Here are seven low-impact fashion labels I’m into right now:
New label Mirla Beane considers sustainability at every stage of the design process, from the use of organic fibres and non-plastic buttons, to the biodegradable FSC-approved packaging. Nothing gets wasted and nothing goes to landfill. The chic, colourful collection – think bright tailoring and graphic patterns and prints – is produced in limited quantities by local makers based in the UK. This keeps transportation to a minimum and reduces the brand’s CO2 footprint. Makers are paid a genuine living wage.
Prices from £75 for a knitted vest top – to £350 for a coat.
If you’re looking for quality basics that are both sustainable and traceable, Riley Studio is an excellent place to shop. The gender neutral collection is made from natural fibres and repurposed materials including: recycled cashmere, cotton and nylon and low impact wool. Head here for seriously lovely jumpers, cardigans, flannel shirts and jackets, created in a soft palette of navy, grey, beige, brown and cream. Keeping it simple is always a good idea.
Prices: recycled cashmere jumpers are £285, socks are £50 and outerwear starts at £295.
If your aesthetic is more Hill House Vintage than Scandi minimalism, fashion brand Palava is well worth a look. Palava started life in 1894 as a small department store in Yorkshire called Strickland & Holt, and has passed through various generations of the family (and had several name changes), since. It is now run by Bryony Richardson who draws inspiration for the collection from the storybooks she read as a child. Behind the playful motifs, unique prints and retro-coloured pairings lies a passion for slow and sustainable manufacture. Collections are produced on a limited production run to minimise textile waste and made using eco-friendly fabrics including GOTS-certified cotton. The age-inclusive photography on the site also gets a big thumbs up from me.
Prices: trousers are approx £100, dresses £145 and knitwear is from £60-£80.
Recognising that cost is often a barrier to shopping sustainably, Albaray was launched by three ex-Warehouse fashion executives who set out to prove that it is possible to create eco-friendly fashion at affordable prices. The result is a range of easy-to-wear, everyday clothing made using low-impact fibres. Including: Ecovero viscose (derived from sustainable wood and pulp),100 per cent organic cotton, Tencel Lyocell (a more environmentally friendly type of rayon), linen blends and deadstock fabrics.
Beautiful bags made entirely from recycled materials. Been London manufactures in East London to to minimise its carbon footprint and create the highest level of transparency. The materials used include everything from discarded leather trimmings and recycled plastics to repurposed pineapple leaves and apple peel (transformed into vegan leather). The chic-not-shouty bags are just the kind of style I like: minimal, clean and faff-free.
Prices: totes from £100, cross body bags from £139 and smaller accessories from £38.
Most of you are probably aware of this Cornish label’s excellent eco-credentials, but I just wanted take a minute to give Finisterre a shout-out on That’s Not My Age. I recently visited the Covent Garden shop and was really impressed by the high quality knitwear, cool boiler suits and stompy Blundstone boots. It’s one of the few fashion brand’s to have been awarded B-corp certification – AKA the gold standard in people and planet-friendly production. The clothing is durable and functional with an outdoorsy focus, which is what we’re all wearing this winter on the London streets…
Prices: pull-on wool beanie hats are £30, long sleeved linen t-shirts are from £45 and canvas trousers from £85.
My picks: if you’re still looking for the perfect boiler-suit Finisterre have nailed it with their Pennan style. I also like the cool Selvedge jeans, the cord Fawkes trousers and the Blundstone x Finisterre boots.
If I lived in the US, I’d be shopping at ABLE. A brand devoted to empowering and educating women, ABLE pays a fair wage and trains workers to help foster upward social mobility. And to ensure accountability, all wages are published online. The aesthetic of the clothing and accessories reminds me of Madewell; expect to find pared-down, hard-working basics, like long-sleeved tees, cotton shirts and a range of denim. Look out for the leather bags and chic ankle boots.
Prices: leather tote bags are approx $200 and clothing starts at around $40 for simple tees.
P.S With many so-called sustainable fashion brands and eco-conscious lines popping up, it’s not always clear who’s actually committed to being socially and environmentally responsible and who’s enjoying the halo effect. If you want to check on eco-credentials, I recommend using the Good On You directory, which rates companies based on their impact on the planet, on workers across the supply chain and on animals. I’ve been using it more and more recently, and I must say it’s been quite eye-opening…
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