Ethical clothing UK: the best sustainable fashion brands from eco to vegan

Ethical clothing UK: the best sustainable fashion brands from eco to vegan

The UK brands doing it right

Sustainable fashion and ethical clothing are hot topics in 2019. And this is good thing; it doesn’t take long to pull at the threads of the fashion industry to unravel a story of pollution, exploitation and waste. Cotton sucks the water out of the land in developing countries where water is scarce. Pesticides used to protect the plants pollute the local environment. Toxic wastewater is dumped into rivers during manufacturing and synthetic fabrics release microfibres the oceans. All this before we get to the issue of waste: millions of items of clothing in the UK ending up in landfill every year. 

Thankfully, the fashion industry is in the midst of change, with a growing consciousness of the importance of sustainable fashion, whether that’s using eco-cotton, vegan materials, or recycling leftover fabric. While major brands are re-thinking their approach, much of the energy to do things differently has been driven by small, independent, ethical and sustainable fashion brands and designers, with many based right here in the UK.

If you’re looking for a new look – and want to feel good about it – we’ve rounded up some of the best sustainable fashion brands coming out of the UK showing the world how it can be done.

Ethical clothing UK: the best sustainable fashion brands from eco to vegan

Beaumont Organic

Beaumont’s simple, airy designs are made from bamboo, linen and organic cotton, to ensure that no nasty pesticides pollute local rivers or environments. Some clothes are created from “end of rolls” of fabric to make limited edition items. They are made in Europe and England so there is less transportation pollution.

Beyond Skin

With statement high heels, shapely brogues and elegant stiletto boots, Beyond Skin is proving that vegan shoes do not have to be frumpy. The shoes are made in a factory in Spain from polyurethane synthetic leather, which looks like PVC but doesn’t contain chlorine which pollutes the environment during manufacturing.

Billygoats & Raincoats

Making children’s raincoats from tents leftover at festivals was Beth Cosmos’ genius idea. The designs are bright and playful and she also sells waterproof tote bag from the same material. They are all made in the UK so well as preventing the tents from ending up in landfill, the transportation miles are minimal compared to other brands.

Birdsong

Birdsong promise “no sweatshop and no photoshop” by working with women’s groups in the UK affected by funding cuts to employ women who face barriers to employment. The label sells political statement T’shirts made from organic cotton and knickers made from bamboo. It it against “the obsessive pursuit of trends and the systematic abuse of women in the production line”.

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Birdsong is becoming more remarkable by the day. Make sure you're signed up to our newsletter to be the first to see our limited edition new drop, and our exciting new look and features.⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣Imagery by photographer @rachel_manns Creative Direction by @novel_beings Hair and makeup by @khandiz Styling @alicewilby Model Aoise, founder of Supply Change ⁣ *⁣ *⁣ *⁣ *⁣ *⁣ *⁣ *⁣ #fashionrevolution #Whomademyclothes #bodypositive #bodyposi #feminism #feminist #ecofriendly #organic #BirdsongLoves #fashrev #recycle #activism #sustainablefashion #sustainable #ethicalfashion #whomademyclothes #fashion #ethical #london #fairtrade #socialenterprise #slowfashion #Style #OnlineShopping #styleinspiration #Shop #Trend #conscious #design

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Cossac

The designer of Cossac, Agatka Kozak, says she wants to transcend seasons with a timeless capsule wardrobe. After graduating from fashion school in Barcelona and Istanbul, she witness the destructive effect of the fast fashion industry firsthand while working for high profile brands in London. Clothes for the feminine form made from organic cotton, tencel (fabric made from eucalyptus trees) and modal (processed beech tree fibre).

Elvis and Kresse

In 2005, Elvis and Kresse started to recycle London Fire Brigade’s old hoses to make bags and wallets. Since then none of London’s old hoses have gone into landfill and they say that the have reclaimed over 175 tons of material. The company is now working with the Burberry Foundation to tackle the global problem of leather waste, by using Burberry’s offcuts to create new items. Elvis and Kresse also use old parachute silk and coffee sacks in its products.

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Today was such a gorgeous spring day in Kent I had to take a walk through the orchards across our workshop. The swan we had visit is still here so it looks like she will be staying. We have slowly started to introduce Monty to her so they can both live a stress free life at the pond ☮️ Our team have also finished replenishing our Fire & Hide Tooley Tote bags once again. I do love this colour 💜 You can now find all 11 colour variations on our website. #tongepark #orchards #springinkent • • • #gardenofengland #almosttheweekend #greenliving #springishere #tongepond #burberryleather #burberryfoundation #decommissionedfirehose #rescuedleather #leatheroffcuts #totebag #leathertotebag #magentaleather #magentatote #purpletote #ethicalchoices #sustainablechoices #handmadeluxury #thisisluxury #reclaimedmaterial #rescuedmaterials #lovenotlandfill #rescuedfromlandfill #leathertote #womensleatherbag #sustainableluxury #ethicalluxury

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Finisterre

Surf-brand Finisterre is driven by a love of the sea. Starting in 2003 with a fleece designed to keep out wind and rain, it sells practical clothes and shoes for an outdoor lifestyle. The company offer a repair service from their workshop in St Agnes, Cornwall, are working on recycling wetsuits and recently engineered their own lightweight insulating material made from recycled fabric.

Gung-ho

Gung-ho goes a step beyond sustainability practices to have environmental campaigning built into its clothes. Each collection is centred around a “talking point”. This season’s is called Food for Thought and looks at the impact food supply chains have on the environment. When you buy an item such as the fruity shirt below you get a fact book about the issue and a donation to a relevant charity is included.

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As part of #fashionrevolutionweek we think the most important thing is to try and engage with new audiences. The sustainable community is fabulous and is wonderfully supportive but with these people we are already preaching to the converted (You lot are truly inspiring, keep it up!). One of the biggest "inconveniences" when switching over to shopping sustainably is the research, it can be very overwhelming! To all those out there making these steps, share them with your friends and talk about it – the power of conversation is really amazing, and makes it much more appealing for those on the fence. Lets create a movement baby! #whomademyclothes #letsgetinspiring #onamission Beautiful shot in @caboodlemagazine of our #wonkyandwonderful blouse promoting the issues surrounding aesthetics in produce and food wastage. Photography – @kaytipeschke Styling – @sophiebenson Set design – @jadelblood Hair and Makeup – @byalicelindsay Model – @ursh_ @jadoremodelsmcr

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House of Wabi Sabi

Inspired by ancient Japan, House of Wabi Sabi makes small quantities of garments in its in-house studio in Leicester from organic cotton and upcycled military material. The aesthetic is practical muted tones with a stylish twist (open backs, tight collars).

Komodo

Veteran ethical clothing brand Komodo has been producing affordable alternative fashion for over 30 years. The current collection uses fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, raylon (which is not synthetic) and tencel. It is a member of the Ethical Fashion Forum committed to improve sustainability and reduce the environmental damage of the fashion industry.

Kitty Ferreira

Described as suitable for “boardroom activists”, Kitty Ferreira produces silky sexy clothes “for the office or your best friend’s wedding”, manufactured in the UK (including the silk from what she believes is the country’s only silk farm). Herbal dyes, like pomegranate and onion skins (see silk shorts below), prevent toxins getting into our water system and mean that each item is patterned in an unique way.

Lara Intimates

Lara Intimates say they are part of a “lingerie revolution” to provide bras that are comfortable and supportive by encouraging accurate bra fitting and refusing to use underwires that poke into sensitive places. They are also made from reclaimed fabric in a studio in east London, where they promise to never throw any fabric cuttings away. 

Lucy and Yak

Starting out two years ago with dungarees made in a factory in Rajasthan, India, Lucy and Yak now sell a range of brightly coloured durable clothes. As well as unisex wearables, the company products to help avoid throwing away wasteful packaging such as reusable beeswax sandwich bags and soap made with natural ingredients.

Po-Zu

With a name coming from the Japanese word “to pause”, Po-Zu wants to return to the shoemaking craftmanship of the past using sustainable materials such as pinatex made from pineapple leaf fibres and coir made from coconut husks and natural latex. The London-based company recently partnered with Star Wars to produce a collection inspired by the characters from the George Lucas movie franchise.

Punks and Chancers

Producing PETA-approved vegan, Soil-Association-approved organic cotton T’shirts and sweatshirts made in Fair-Wear-approved factories, Punk and Chancers say there’s one major rule in life “don’t be a dick”. The slogans such as “Vegan Punk” are screen-printed in the UK with vegan ink in a studio run on renewable energy.

Rapanui

Starting in 2008 from a garden shed on the Isle of Wight, Rapanui offers a range of organic cotton T’shirts and bamboo socks, among other items. Its main supplier of organic cotton has its own wind farm and to promote the circular economy, customers can send their old products back to get store credit.

Sophie Hawkins

Designer Sophie Hawkins has a passion for “functional beauty”. Her utilitarian collection is made in the north of England using leftover rolls of 100% cotton, so cuts out the pollution from transportation and manufacturing in most clothing supply chains. Her mission is to make “useful garments for practical people” that are meant to endure, be repaired and be passed on.

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney recently launched the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action which aligns with the Paris agreement to reduce emissions to zero by 2050, so her sustainable fashion credentials are pretty high. Her designs don’t use leather or fur and she believes the future of fashion is for a circular economy which designs out waste, recycles products and materials and regenerates nature.

THTC

Hemp is a much less thirsty crop than cotton and grows without pesticides or fertilisers, plus the fibre is longer lasting than cotton. THTC (The Hemp Trading Company) has been selling eco-conscious T’shirts and hoodies for men, women and children made from hemp since 1999.

Valentina Karellas

Using surplus yarn from factories that would have gone to waste, London College of Fashion educated Valentina Karellas, creates unique knitwear. The effect is that jumpers are asymmetrical and sometimes odd-shaped, but the design ensures the look is east-London-cool rather than mis-shapen granny wardrobe.

Vildnis

After 16 years in the fashion industry, Ulla Vitting Richards decided she wanted to be part of the change that she wanted to see and left a leading activewear brand to found a sustainable fashion brand. The style of Vildnis reflects her Danish roots with practical and elegant designs.

Want to print on organic and eco cotton apparel? ICON Printing offer a range of organic cotton blanks for printing – get in touch with our team to find out more. 

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