No more fashion victims!
Thanks to high-profile incidents such as last year’s horrendous Bangladesh factory collapse and the recent scandal in which a woman from Ireland discovered a note from a Chinese slave labourer hidden in a pair of Primark trousers, ethical fashion has shouldered its way out of the homespun ghetto and taken a prominent – hopefully permanent – position on both the catwalk and the high street.
Fashion Revolution Day back in April was a huge success, and the ethical fashion offering has only got better and better over the subsequent months. British designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney have always been pioneers in the field, but this summer has seen an explosion of sustainable offerings at all price points.
Here are five ethical British brands currently nailing it.
People Tree is a soul-nourishing staple, having been producing ethical and eco fashion with Fair Trade artisans and farmers for over 20 years. By using organic cotton, natural dyes, recycled products, weaving by hand and shipping by sea in order to reduce their carbon footprint, and collaborating with designers and celebrities, this brand proves that ethical policies can work for the consumer and worker alike.
ASOS The Green Room features an extensive range of mainly conscience free reclaimed vintage, but ASOS Africa – in association with SOKO – is the collection to take note of. With pieces designed and produced in Kenya where the workers (who are mainly women) get free lunch and childcare, and proceeds from the sales go directly back into boosting jobs. The clothes this season are true to the collection’s Kenyan roots, with beautiful lightweight tribal printed kimonos and duster jackets.
Who Made Your Pants? was set up in Southampton by Becky John, who was inspired when counselling at a local rape crisis centre to create a business that could support the UK’s huge female refugee population, both financially and emotionally. Now 65 women work for the ever expanding Industrial & Provident Society, meaning that the workers have a say in their working lives. The lacy and colourful knickers have tags attached stating the makers names so you will know exactly who made your pants.
Vivienne Westwood is a long term and outspoken figurehead of ethical fashion. Her African Collection was produced in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative of the International Trade Centre. Produced in one of Nairobi’s biggest slums using recycled material, leather off-cuts and melted down padlocks, it proves incredible fashion can be both creative and resourceful.
Annie Greenabelle for Topshop is a step in the right direction for the Arcadia group. The collection features pieces which share the aesthetic of standard Topshop, featuring multiple prints and vivid colours in the form of crop tops and summer dresses – but the Annie Greenabelle pieces all use fair trade cotton. It’s not going to change the world, but it’s another way that we’re seeing the big chains start to shift the dial.
Words: Sarah Eve