Shopping ethically can sometimes seem impossible, especially when you’re faced with an industry that supports contrasting values, such as fair trade fashion, organic fashion, vegan fashion, minimal waste fashion and local fashion.
But the eco brigade is finally having its heyday, meaning clothing, like everything from candles to concealers, has seen the mass environmental focus shift. The desire for fast-fashion and one-wear-wonders is finally slowing, as labels with a lack of transparency and shoddy supply chains become unacceptable.
While a wash of tie-dye and boxy wrap trousers used to be the extent of the ethical options, now some of the best brands are bringing their ethical ideals to the fore.
Reformation, the American brand everyone loves to hate (because of the high P&P charges), reigns at wedding season, with the limited-edition collections the only thing stopping the congregation all being kitted out in the same linen slip or velvet wrap dress. Plus, with the likes of Kowtow, Zady and Well Made Clothes that you could happily source your whole wardrobe from, and online stores stocking solely sustainable brands, ethical shopping has got a whole lot easier.
One of the few stores where you can shop everything you need in an eco capsule wardrobe, the Kowtow aesthetic is minimal and effortless, meaning it’s ideal for mixing and matching. The collections are made with sustainably and ethically sourced materials, plus purchases come in recycled cardboard boxes. Downside: It currently only ships from New Zealand so be prepared for hefty P&P charges and be considerate of the added air miles.
With a brand focus on quality and minimising environmental and social costs, Zady should be on your radar for simple and timeless pieces, such as trench coats, shirts and knitwear.
Rêve En Vert
Having carved a niche as the online destination for sustainable luxury, Rêve En Vert hosts a well-curated collection of pieces with a uniting focus on the use of organic materials, recycling, appreciating local communities and a fair supply chain. Ticking the style and ethics boxes, it stocks everything from sportswear to sunglasses.
Known for knitwear, Madkhai creates sustainable cashmere pieces, while educating consumers about its truly transparent supply chain from Mongolia to the UK.
Another contender for best sustainable online store, Almasanta hosts a comprehensive range of ethical fashion brands. Low stock levels, high quality, recycled carbon neutral packaging and a transparent supply chain means it’s somewhere you could source your whole wardrobe without compromising on your ethics.
Solely ‘swimwear (for the conscious fashionista)’, Barcelona-based brand All Sisters will be your new favourite holiday shop or place for perusing when you want to pretend it’s summer. With its brand ethos based on respecting the planet, while catering to the modern, eco-conscious women, the styles are sustainable, simple and genuinely stylish. Bonus: it’s so affordable.
Reformation is our eco go-to for wedding and party season. And, crucially, for limited-edition pieces we can wear for years to come without anyone noticing – unless, of course, they’d eyed up the same slip dress or striped pyjamas back when it was in stock. Since its launch in 2009, it continues to fulfil its brand mission, to ‘lead and inspire a sustainable way to be fashionable’.
As well as supporting conservation campaigns, eyewear label Neubau’s focus is on creating chic urban designs with the minimal environmental impact – aka ‘see and do good’. From the material of the frames to the cleaning cloths, it aims to keep the supply chain maximally eco-friendly.
Well Made Clothes
Addressing the conscious consumer issue of having too many battles to pick, Well Made Clothes has the option of categorising by ‘value’, including vegan, minimal waste and gender equality. As well as a vast and easily navigated collection, it hosts lesser-known designers so it’s a good place to find new brands for your eco-radar. The ‘sustainable underwear’ section is particularly worth a peruse.