Maybe you want a more sustainable wardrobe, but are put off by the cost. During my peak Zara years, I dismissed sustainable fashion because I thought it meant paying 200 quid for a poncho made out of recycled linen, or similar.
As I write about in this article about privilege and sustainable fashion it’s true that many environmentally and socially conscious brands are expensive, and with good reason: It costs more to pay garment workers a fair wage, or to use materials produced by organic farming methods. That said, a sustainable approach to fashion can also save you money, through buying secondhand clothes or by renting a dress instead of buying one.
What’s more, affordable sustainable brands are becoming a thing. Here are three to try:
Nobody’s Child is a UK-based brand who say, “Our message is clear: we believe thoughtfully made clothes can exist at an accessible price point with sustainable materials.”
Their collections include stylish loungewear, dresses in beautiful prints with thoughtful details, and cosy knitwear. Their current sale has lots of choice in the £20 to £40 price bracket. There’s no compromise on style: The clothes remind me of Oliver Bonas at its best.
90% of the brand’s current collection is made with responsible fabric, and they are working towards 100%. These fabrics include organic cotton, Lenzing ™ viscose which uses sustainably harvested wood and less water, and recycled synthetic materials. Importantly, the sustainability credentials of materials are certified independently, including by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard). Nobody’s Child also works to minimise waste. Its clothes are produced in factories whose practices conform with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This includes a promise that workers are paid a living wage, which is a key demand of many activists.
Photo of me in a Nobody’s Child dress (2021):
London-based Thought clothing is “committed to considered design, responsible sourcing, and fostering change”. Their materials are sourced from natural, organic, renewable and recycled sources wherever possible, while farming and harvesting of natural fibre crops to produce the materials they use do not contribute to habitat loss or destruction. Thought brand has partnered with Traid, a charity that turn clothes waste into funds and resources to reduce the environmental and social impacts of clothing.
Just like Nobody’s Child, Thought ensures that working conditions in their supply chain reach the standards set by the International Labour Organisation, and are also a member of the Ethical Trade Initiative.
Style-wise, the brand is aimed at a grown-up audience and being brutally honest, a few of their items lean towards being frumpy, but they have some stylish pieces too. Thought’s prices aren’t super low, but they offer deep discounts in their sales. They currently have an additional 20% off sale prices, meaning that you can pick up some serious bargains. I’ve got my eye on a jumper that’s £39 (minus 20%) and some organic cotton printed leggings at £16 (also minus 20%).
Primark’s sustainable denim collection
It’s true that Primark is the first brand name that come to mind when you think of environmentally damaging and exploitative fast fashion. But credit where it’s due: the Irish retailer has worked with leading circular economy think tank the Ellen McArthur Foundation to create its most sustainable denim collection yet. In this article I explore its pros and cons and conclude that it’s pretty good. Prices are extremely reasonable as you’d expect from Primark, meaning that they’re opening up sustainable options to many more people.
However, be warned that the vast majority of Primark’s clothes are definitely not sustainable!
I hope you find something you like among these suggestions – let me know!
Thanks for reading
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