The latest fashion trend isn’t seasonal colour or print, but rather it’s the concept of ethical and sustainable fashion. As ‘fast fashion’ is cheap and is intended for short term purposes, with the fashion industry emitting more carbon dioxide than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Whereas, ‘sustainable fashion’ is the simply the opposite, it takes into account the full lifecycle of the product – from the design, sourcing, production processes and transport. It aims to look at everyone and everything affected by it, from the environment, to the workers and communities where it’s produced and where it’s bought.
It’s a complex issue and there isn’t one brand that is currently able to tackle everything, but together many brands are beginning to make a big impact.
Whilst many high-street and ‘fast’ fashion brands are investing in social prosperity and transparency surrounding their products and processes, the question still remains of, does it offset the large ecological footprint they are giving off? Yet although now I am more environmentally conscious of the effect the fashion industry has on our society, I still purchase items from some ‘fast fashion’ brands, because let’s face it – it’s cheaper, more readily available, and more well-known.
However, if people gained more knowledge and received greater awareness of the impact the fashion industry has on the environment, I believe more people would consider making the change to sustainable fashion, or like me just trying to be environmentally aware.
Stella McCartney phrases it eloquently as her goal is, “to portray who we want to be and how we carry ourselves; our attitude and collective path. Our man-made constructed environments are disconnected and unaware of other life and the planet which is why there is waste.” The rise of the trend of, “it’s cool to be kind” has meant that many brands have incorporated sustainability, employee rights, FairTrade and great style. Here’s a small roundup of some of my favourites, (links attached to brand name).
The Parisian brand is making an effort to use environmentally friendly materials i.e. those with a truly minimal environmental impact, such as organic cotton. At the Solitaire Paris boutique, they resell pieces leftover from shoots and testing fittings to practice circular fashion, with profits donated to DEMAIN (helping children whose prospects are unfairly disadvantaged). With beautiful broderie tops, midi dresses and fancy belts – it is on the more expensive side but is well worth the cost.
This brand with to-die-for knitwear, skirts and loungewear- also sells ethical products. To help make your clothes last longer, & Other Stories has developed ‘With Care’, a project with oat-based formulations. Through biodegradable formulations with renewable ingredients these products are efficient yet kind to both fabrics and the environment.
The brand currently has 300+ earth-friendly wearable products, and another 300+ clean beauty products available online. With a bohemian inspired style with floating dresses, and long-lasting activewear, Free People continue to change the game.
Established in 2018, Away That Day brings eco-friendly swimwear made with 100% ECONYL fibre which consists of regenerated nylon, ocean plastics and fishing nets. Designed in London and made in Bali, they also aim for wearable and functionality. Supporting one production team in Bali, their swimwear makes you want to go on holiday!
I have been wearing clothes from Mini Boden, Johnnie Boden and now Boden and when I found out there were environmentally conscious it was even better. All of Boden’s clothing is super high quality and they admit that “there’s more to quality products than careful construction and rigorous testing.” Sustainable fashion is a “journey, and we’re learning and improving every step of the way.”
Although not all brands on John Lewis are sustainable, they have a vast section called ‘sustainable fashion’ where you can browse a large variety of sustainable pieces from different brands. A great way to view multiple styles.
Treating yourself to a gorgeous dress from Reformation is not a cheap purchase but is arguably worth it. Many a time I browse through and then remember my poor credit card… They focus on People, Product, Planet and Progress. They calculate the environmental footprint based on the carbon dioxide emissions, water usage and waste to calculate a ‘Refscale’ to understand their impact.
Each item in the Conscious collection has an aspect that lessens its environmental impact, like organic cotton or recycled polyester. The best part is that the styles start at just £10 so you don’t have to spend a fortune on sustainable fashion. The H&M Group parent company says overall it uses 57% recycled or sustainably sourced fibres, with a goal to reach 100% by 2030.
People Tree have had a long-standing relationship with FairTrade since 1991, their core mission is to make products to the highest ethical and environmental standards from start to finish. Contemporary, versatile designs and playful, exclusive prints inspired by the V&A archives create stylish, innovative and affordable fashion.