The fashion industry has been listed as one which is highly damaging to the environment; with the need to have the latest trend, a new outfit for every event and buying staple items at as much of a bargain as possible. Most of us are likely to be contributing in some way to this fast, easy come, easy go industry.
But rather than focus on how much damage we are causing the earth, let’s instead focus on the fun part – where we can indulge our love of shopping whilst making a positive difference! An increasing number of brands are launching with a key focus on sustainability and ethical conduct around their products and within their workforce.
We start with People Tree – still the only fashion brand credited by the World Fair Trade Organisation. Launching back in 1999, they were one of the first sustainable fashion brands and have had the same mission for the past 3 decades – to have every product made to the highest ethical and environmental standards from start to finish.
The part I love most about their website – the “Makers” section of course ! You can meet the fair trade team behind every stage of their garments. Using traditional techniques such as hand-weaving, hand-knitting, hand block printing and hand-embroidery, they are able to work close to their homes in remote rural areas, where work can otherwise be scarce. They also only use low impact dyes, free from harmful chemicals, which can be found in many clothing factories.
Among their unique designs are prints inspired by the V&A archives – for example the dark floral dress above was inspired by a French textile design dating back to the 1970’s and the green dress inspired by a Japanese print from the early 19th century. They have also collaborated previously with designers such as Orla Kiely and Zandra Rhodes.
So they manage to encompass it all – fashion that offers on-trend designs and designer collaborations, items that have a story with the knowledge that the clothing you are buying is not damaging the planet but is also helping support a workforce of skilled individual labourers all over the world. Throw in some organic cotton and what more could you ask for!
Amur believe that nature is the ultimate luxury.
“The interplay between creativity and the environment is essential to the brand worldview.”
Amur stands for “A Mindful Use of Resources”. They are a brand promoting the idea that mindful living will always be in style. That great style should not have to come at the cost of our environment.
This lies at the heart of the whole design process for Amur and for the materials they use. From organic and natural fabrics, reclaimed fibers that conserve material resources or, trims made by artisan collectives in the developing world, each decision has a pivotal focus on the environment. They have 3 branches to their fabric sourcing – natural fibres, cellulosic fibers and regenerated fibres. Their angle on regenerated fibres takes a new outlook to high end fashion, where materials are saved from landfill and processed into reusable fibres. Clever!
And their collection, season after season, is just heavenly! Such gorgeous strong colours and elegant yet traditional lines. Each collection is designed to bring something “new, special and lasting into the world”. To steer away from fast fashion and disposable clothes and focus on true statement pieces with a strong feminine personality that you will be excited to pull out of wardrobe for years to come.
“What we stand for is what we stand on.”
‘We are Thought’ are strong supporters of promoting and working with slow fashion, which is why they design and make clothes to last. They want to do things right and to feel good with everything that they work with. This means sourcing sustainable fabrics and working ethically every step of the way. They consider every impact that their business has on the environment and strive to minimise their environmental footprint to their utmost best.
It’s about the whole journey for the team behind “ We are Thought.” The more you read about this company the more you see how invested and thorough they are in upholding their beliefs.
In every sense they like to tread as lightly as possible – from both the environment to every person involved in the process.They use ranges of responsibly sourced threads from bamboo, hemp, cotton and wool to newer finds such as tencel and modal to create clothing that is incomparably more durable than the synthetic options.
It is companies like this that show you how sustainability and contemporary fashion can go hand in hand. I urge you, visit their website and feel inspired.
“Wear me, love me, mend me, pass me on.” The mantra that the clothing company, ‘We are Thought’, live by – a reminder to look after what we own.
“Jewellery has the magic to empower and bring immense joy; for something so small that can be held in the palm of your hand, it can hold a world of emotions and memories. An object of art and craftsmanship, beauty and desire that can be worn on the body, close to our hearts.”
For Chan, the immense joy and care taken in their craftsmanship is not just for the benefit of the purchaser but a philosophy for the makers and creators, at each step of the way.
Chan’s interest in developing and working with sustainable and ethical gemstones, stemmed from a conversation she had with a fellow design student who told her of the shocking conditions and risks involved with mining stones and metals. Chan didn’t believe it herself until visiting a mine in Sri Lanka a few years later. All her romantic visions of the sourcing and excavating of gemstones were shattered in one trip and from that moment on she knew that she had to explore the alternatives.
6 years on and Chan has built a brand that is championing laboratory-grown and created gemstones of the highest quality with fantastically bold and unique designs. Despite what many think, laboratory-grown stones withstand wear just as well as all precious and semi-precious gemstones, sometimes even better. So really, where is the downside?
Similar to Chan’s experience above, Lebrusan felt challenged to find sustainable and ethical ways to work with jewellery, when in her student days she asked a London diamond dealer about jewellery ethics and his answer was simply “When you work in this trade you sell your soul to the devil.” That was enough to push Lebrusan to prove him and other companies wrong.
With the belief that you can use the beautiful materials of the earth without causing it harm, Lebrusan set up her own company where simplifying supply chains and sharing knowledge has helped build a brand that can offer 100% traceability on all of it’s materials.
In 2011 Arabel Lebrusan became one of the first Fairtrade Gold Licensees and upholds the belief that by carefully selecting sustainable materials, from metals to stone, they can offer jewellery to their customers that is beautiful both inside and out without exploiting and taking advantage of what the earth has to offer.
Making an effort to move into greater sustainability and making ethical choices is something that we can all do; and at varying degrees. As shown here, there are numerous brands that are just as, if not more, fashionable, trendy, colourful and chic as the less sustainable and ethical brands we all shop at.
As the Dalai Lama said, “we are all visitors on this earth”. We need to do our part in looking after it and the people in it. Now whilst I am sure that the Dalai Lama was not referring to fashion, he does offer wise words, which we can take forward in our daily fashion choices.