ECO STYLE INNOVATIONS
Oh! the thrill of buying something new! But how do we do it with a clean conscience? A friend last weekend asked me to share information about eco fashion companies. As the serious impact of fashion on the planet invades our consciousness how heartening it is to see more and more companies with innovative eco ideas. It is my hope that consideration of the planet is factored in to all our purchases. In this blog I won’t mention renting, charity shops, recycling, wardrobe editing – all favourite subjects of mine. This time it is all about the new.
If I buy something new, besides being gorgeous, I want that purchase to do at least one, preferably all of the following:
1. come from a brand which treats the chain of people involved in its creation well,
2. be made of a fabric which doesn’t either need vast amounts of water or use harmful chemicals,
3. use recycled materials
4. benefit a local shop or boutique.
This is not cheap, throwaway shopping and I think it takes a change of mindset to acknowledge that, like food, fashion has been too cheap. Although maybe an unpopular idea, if it hurts our pocket a bit we may buy sparingly and treasure what we have bought.
Here are some exciting companies committed to sustainability:
Cotton generally but jeans in particular have had a seriously bad press lately with all 1,800 gallons of water one pair takes to create. Boyish (www.boyish.com) use low-sulphate and plant-based dyes on organic, recycled cotton and the French eco-friendly label Sezane (www.sezane.com) also donate significantly to a charity which supports children’s education all over the world. Lucy and Yak have a by-line: “Start a Revolution from Field-to- Fibre” (https://lucyandyak.com/ ) and profess to know the people involved in making their organic jeans and dungarees by name! Here's Lucy and Yak's Dana Jean:
If you need new knickers, consider Y.O.U. (https://www.youunderwear.com) Not only is their underwear made of organic cotton with ethical treatment of the workers involved in their manufacture but for every one pair of knickers you buy they donate two pairs to “Smalls for All” who give underwear to those in Africa and the UK who have none. You can imagine how this has a substantial impact on the recipients’ mental wellbeing, dignity and personal hygiene. I buy their “boy shorts” and can confirm they feel comfortable and wash well.
Turtle Doves (https://www.turtle-doves.co.uk) are based in Shrewsbury and create gorgeous cashmere wraps, cardigans and accessories from recycled cashmere. The word “recycled” can sound a bit down-market but, having recently bought a neckwarmer and fingerless gloves as gifts I can assure you they are the height of luxury. Perfect for colder weather! See poncho below:
Cambridge Baby (https://www.cambridgebaby.co.uk/) as the name suggests specialise in ethical clothes for babies and children but they also have a range for adults including vests and leggings:
A no-no unless recycled. It is basically plastic made from petrochemicals, not only heavy on CO2 but sheds microfibers when you wash it which find their way into our waterways and oceans. Here’s the good news! There are excellent alternatives e.g. bamboo, tencel, hemp, organic cotton, recycled nylon, all fabrics used by the company Thought Clothing (https://www.wearethought.com/) It is a mid-priced, wide ranging brand covering shoes, clothes and accessories all of which dispel any lingering myth that we need to look all brown rice and sandals to be ethical e.g. this pretty tencel blouse which skims nicely over the tummy area!
The American brand Eileen Fisher (https://www.eileenfisher.com) long committed to sustainability, uses “regenerative wool”. No, I hadn't heard of that either but apparently the sheep have been kept on a regenerative grazing system which naturally removes more CO2 than it produces. Win win! They also use cupro, a fabric made from cotton waste, which has the draping qualities of silk.
For gorgeous, stylish, contemporary fashion, Mother of Pearl (https://motherofpearl.co.uk/) explores every kind of sustainability path and boasts the by-line: "We create without compromise"
95% of my own favourite brand, Margaret Howell's suppliers (www.margarethowell.co.uk) are based in Europe.
"We make a point of supporting traditional crafts and local industries, building long-term partnerships with trusted independent suppliers whom we know share our values."
I love the company's high manufacturing standards (their clothes are made beautifully and definitely last!) and loyalty to suppliers.
This doesn't sound very attractive but it is either leftover fabric or fabric which has either been printed on the wrong material which would otherwise end up in landfill. Some manufacturers are using deadstock fabric for their business e.g. Emma Brunn (https://www.homebrunn.com/) and her pretty Liberty print waistcoats and jackets.
The British designer Phoebe English (www.phoebeenglish.com) not only uses deadstock but also reclaimed silk and linen as in this lovely boxy shirt:
A step too far for me so far but there is an increasing number of companies producing sustainable shoes. I like the look of www.greenshoes.co.uk but I can't speak from any experience.
We are going to be changing our shopping habits profoundly over the next few years and it is great that there are so many new and innovative companies trying to do the right thing by the planet and creating stylish and functional clothes along the way.