What do you think of when you hear the words ‘ethical fashion’? Perhaps shades of muddy brown, green and khaki come to mind, or perhaps you’re conjuring up images of sack-like dresses and ubiquitous ‘drug rug’ Baja hoodies. Well, think again, because ethical fashion is having a moment and, even more excitingly, the UK is loving it. We’re finally reaching a point where ethical fashion brands’ output is finally looking fresh, fun, fashion-forward and (relatively) inexpensive. So, which brands do you need to know about? Here are some to get you started.
For basics: The White T-Shirt Co.
When your brand makes the front page of The Times, with then-fashion editor Lisa Armstrong saying you make ‘the perfect white t-shirt’, you know you’re on to something. This is what happened to The White T-Shirt Co., which, founded in 2004 but then relaunched in 2013, has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity and is now known for making exactly what Armstrong described: perfect white t-shirts. All of the company’s products are made from organic cotton, packaged sustainably and priced very fairly – definitely one to keep in mind once you’ve exhausted your GAP basics.
For lingerie: Iris London
Iris London sources the finest fabrics in the UK, including Chantilly lace and a variety of silks, to produce underwear that delivers Agent Provocateur-level glamour for a fraction of the price. Understandably, the brand has won the fashion industry’s approval, with endorsements from the likes of Elle, Dazed & Confused and InStyle meaning that Iris London, which initially started out as a mother-daughter passion project, is now stocked in Urban Outfitters among various other international outlets. Despite going global, Iris sticks to its roots, with all of its stock still being produced in either London or Derby.
For sportswear: Asquith London
Over the last few years, the business of wellness has gone from niche to mainstream, meaning we’re more likely than ever to be giving up after-work drinks for an after-work spin class. This means that, when it comes to getting dressed for your workout, we’ve more options than ever and, in certain circles, wearing bog-standard Nike or Adidas just doesn’t cut it. If you’re looking for something a bit more glam to work out in, try Asquith London for size. The brand specialises in yoga and pilates clothes, made in the UK from organic cotton and bamboo, but you’ll probably want to wear them 24/7 given how comfy they are.
For everything else: Birdsong London
Birdsong London sources its clothing, jewellery and accessories from various all-female communities dotted around the world, and the result is an eclectic one-stop shop of ethical, vegan, handmade goods. From scarves knitted by members of a Kingston-based community centre for over-50s, to glorious printed bomber jackets handmade by a group of women in Malawi, there really is something for everyone.