The rising demand for ethical clothing has led to some amazing new brands. Here are our six favourite sustainable British fashion brands, all founded by women.
The awareness of sustainability and eco-conscious ways of living is ever-growing. With more and more people attempting to reduce their footprint, it has resulted in a growing number of sustainable and ethical brands to emerge in all industries. In addition to this, March hosts International Women’s day; so as tribute, we’ve put together some sustainable and ethical brands that have been founded by women in the UK.
What is an ethical brand?
In recent years, there has been a huge increase of brands within the fashion industry claiming to be ethical and sustainable. However, it can seem overwhelming to understand which of these are genuine and are actually creating a good impact, and not just an impression. Greenwashing has become more common for brands to compete with competition and keep up with the pressures of sustainability.
In summary, an ethical brand creates a positive impact on people, animals and the planet. They ensure their workers are treated correctly and fairly across the whole supply chain, are considerate of the resources and energy that they use, and they do not use any animal products or materials.
Birdsong is a boutique label creating clothing for women who dress in protest against the fast-paced, trend driven fashion industry. The business is built on a philosophy of fairness and authenticity, promising customers “no sweatshop, no photoshop”.
The brand was founded in 2014 by Sophie Slater, who has a strong background in activism, retail and women’s organisation. Their clothes are handmade in London by knitters and seamstresses, in combination with local artists, painters and printmakers, who are all paid above the London living wage.
In addition to all of the above, Birdsong’s products are inclusively sized from 2XS-3XL
Grace Beverley founded We Are TALA at the age of 23 in 2019. Starting of as a fitness social media influencer who became a sustainable fashion entrepreneur, the brand makes affordable athletic wear from upcycled materials and recycled water bottles. The pieces are designed to make everyone feel empowered and comfortable, whatever body you have.
TALA uses high quantities of certified recycled materials causing their footprint to be significantly lower than other brands. In addition to this, their packaging is recyclable, with all their garment packaging being made from 100% recycled plastic. The clothing tags are plantable, being filled with seasonal seeds. This means you will get a different plant with each tag you grow, and they are bound with hemp twine making them fully biodegradable.
Pico designs soft, organic and fair-trade cotton underwear for both men and women.
The brand was founded by Phoebe Hunter-McIlveen and Isobel Williams-Ellis, after whose names the brand are named (PICO = Phoebe and Isobel’s Company), in October 2016.
The pair have known each other since the age of 12 and became close friends when they both went to University in London; Phoebe going to Goldsmiths to read History and Isobel to London College of Fashion to study Tailoring. It was at this point that they started to talk about the idea of creating a clothing business that would allow the consumer to understand exactly how their clothes are made – from the sowing of seeds to the sewing of fabric.
Pico is now rated the number one brand for ethical underwear. With each release, a project is created allowing the brand to explore materials and their sources varying from Indian farmers and the British fibre industry.
ELV Denim is a zero-waste denim brand founded by fashion stylist, Anna Foster. The brand sources vintage jeans and transforms them into modern styles that are a bespoke fit. With denim having a notoriously bad reputation with the amount of water that is used when creating a pair of jeans, ELV Denim proves that there is no excuse when creating denim clothing.
The brand only uses 8litres of water to wash the jeans after they arrive from the vintage supplier, compared to the 10,000 litres of water that is made to make one pair of jeans. The brand works on the idea that one woman’s trash is another’s treasure and we are here for it.
Noctu was launched in 2009 as a family company by two sisters and is inspired by Scandinavian simplicity and minimalist design. The organic cotton that is used in their designs is approved by the Global Organic Textiles Standard. This certification ensures that the cotton is 100% organic and therefore pesticide free, with no nasty chemicals used in any of the process, avoiding water, soil and environmental damage. It also ensures that workers under GOTS approved farming have strict guidelines for fair trade, including workers’ rights and unions, no child labour, fair wages and good working conditions.
In addition to this, the brand supports the World Land Trust. For every single purchase, money is donated to save 10 square metres of endangered wildlife across the planet.
Alighieri is a collection of jewellery inspired by Dante Aligheri’s ‘Divine Comedy’, with each piece corresponding to one of the poet’s 100 poems. Founded by Rosh Mahtani after graduating, she was inspired to create a brand that is firmly rooted in literature and travel that tells a story, with each piece of jewellery being unique and imperfect.
The brand continues to be interested in collaborating with other writers, designers and artists. At Aligheri, they believe the key to being sustainable is loving and taking care of the things we own, whist supporting local trade, prioritising environmental care and being kind and fair to others.
Hopefully you now feel a little more inspired to shop a more sustainably and ethically, all while celebrating and supporting women this International Women’s Day!
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