It’s Black Friday month! Which means one thing; shopping highly promoted sales with discounted prices. However, when it comes to our environment, the fashion industry is to blame for 10% of global emissions, textile waste, carbon emissions and water usage.
According to earth.org, this is estimated to increase by 50% before the end of 2023. The impact fast fashion in particular has on our planet is colossal; society’s sudden need for lower prices and quicker production time of garments, in order to keep up with the latest micro-trends, means crucial environmental corners are more likely to be cut. So, with this climate crisis in mind, more consumers now than ever are becoming aware of the devastating effect the industry has, leading more and more people to shop vintage and retro apparel.
Despite fast-fashion still holding one of the largest shares of the current market, more and more brands are putting in the work to make the shift to sustainable and ethical sourcing.
Here’s a few of our favourites:
Yes Friends is a Bristol based ethical clothing brand, for both men and women. Founded by Sam Mabley, he set out to prove that sustainable clothing can be both affordable and profitable. They ensure they’re using lower direct to customer margins which allows them to charge affordable pricing for ethical clothing such as a £7.99 t.shirt. Their denim cut and sew factory ‘Evolution3’ is the only manufacturer in the world rated 100/100 for their exceptional ethics. Yes Friends are also in partnership with TipMe which gives consumers the opportunity to tip the garment workers in Vietnam directly.
After years of working for high end and high street witnessing fast fashion’s destructive impact on the industry that she loved, Agata Kozak decided it was time for change. Seeing this as an opportunity to fill a crucial gap in the market, COSSAC clothing was launched. Their mission is ‘to create timeless, yet trendy garments; beautiful, yet ethical’. COSSAC celebrates the natural feminine form, as well as proving that design-led fashion can be the conscious choice.
Founded by Tue Deleuran, Colourful Standard is a brand that believes we can be wearing the vibrant colours we love without compromising the planet. They manufacture locally to reduce their carbon footprint as well as reusing and recycling materials for both their garments and packaging. In various interviews, Deleuran has made it clear that following trends or seasons isn’t a priority but rather creating timeless and forever pieces to avoid the downward spiral of over-consumption.
Similar to Agata Kozak, Esther Knight spent over a decade as a buyer witnessing how brands would drive financial profits at the expense of their own garment workers and the planet. Realising she no longer wanted part in such a broken, harmful system, but didn’t want to give up on the industry she loved, Fanfare clothing was made. They make use of second hand clothing to minimise textile waste as well as packaging free of plastic, while also limiting the amount of chemicals, water and wastewater used in production.
Founded in 1991, People tree was a pioneer in fair trade, sustainable fashion. James and Safia Minney made it their mission to create a brand of contemporary, versatile designs as well as playful, exclusive prints made to the highest ethical and environmental standards from start to finish. They accomplished this by using global organic textile standard cotton in their garments as well as low-impact non toxic dye.
When Raeburn clothing was originally founded in 2009 by Christopher Raeburn, his first collection, completely constructed by original military parachutes, was showcased in London fashion week. Since then, Raeburn continued to rework surplus fabrics and garments to create distinctive and functional clothing. They manufacture locally to reduce carbon footprint and all packaging is 100% compostable.
Rapanui clothing was set up after brothers Mark and Rob Drake-Knight after they saw, through surfing, the devastating change in environment and climate at their local beach. They made it their mission to mix eco with trend and prove it could be made fashionable for people to go green. Their entirely wind-powered factory in the Isle of Wight produces their garments in real time, seconds after they’re ordered. This acts as a conscious effort to ensure production is only happening for what people need, when they need it and therefore reducing textile waste.
After Geenia Mineeva spent years as a political journalist where she discovered there was no market for recyclable materials, she spoke to local and international recycling plants, material manufacturers, craftsmen, designers and sustainability experts and came to the same realisation every time - there was so much potential in ‘waste’ that wasn’t being realised. As a result, BEEN London was created. Today, they are an all-female based team taking pride in every bag they produce, proving waste can become beautiful inside and out.
Sisters Georgia, Nina and Sophia Scott founded Groundtruth when they recognised the need for multipurpose, reliable travel bags and accessories that drove positive change. The idea came about when Georgia and Sophia spent over a decade travelling, making documentaries as they went along, and they saw a need for a hybrid product that could fit the journey, no matter where in the world they were. During these years, they also witnessed the impact that the fashion industry had on the growing plastic pollution crisis, especially on people living in refugee camps. This led to them bringing Nina on board, who was already studying textiles and finally, Groundtruth was born.
Presca sportswear was founded by athletes Rob Webbon and Guy Whitby, who saw a gap in the market for sustainable sportswear and with the mindset of ‘if you want a job done, do it yourself’, they created Presca. Together, their mission was to create and offer high-quality clothing targeted at the sports they loved with minimal impact possible; a kit they would look forward to wearing anc competing in but wouldn’t feel guilty for buying it. They achieve this by using a high proportion of eco-friendly, recycled materials and using renewable energy in the construction process as well as limiting the amount of water and chemicals used in production.
Of course, an alternative, yet still sustainable, is to shop vintage and pre-loved clothing! By making the choice to shop vintage or second-hand, the demand for new items is reduced and therefore reducing the environmental impact that garment construction and textile waste has on the environment. Not just is it sustainable, the quality of clothing is substantially better than fast-fashion items which have been mass produced.
Written by Bailey Howard