I recently went into a roomy & Other Stories store in Coal Drop yard, King’s Cross, London. & Other Stories was my favourite shopping destination before I committed to a year of buying secondhand clothes exclusively. I’d almost forgotten how much I love this brand – they just get everything so right. The knitwear with interesting details and in gorgeous colours! Probably the best range of denim on the high street!
On this visit there was a lot more evidence that the brand is taking action on sustainability: earrings made from recycled glass and brass, jeans made from a mix of recycled and organic cotton, and jumpers made from Responsible Wool Standard Wool. So, is & Other Stories now a sustainable fashion brand? I was really hoping the answer to that question is ‘yes’ as quite honestly I’d love an excuse to go back to shopping there …
- & Other Stories has committed to becoming ‘climate positive’ by 2040. Along with many other environmental terms, this doesn’t have a formal definition but it is generally accepted to mean that not only will the business no longer contribute to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions, it will actually help counteract climate change, presumably through paying for tree-planting or another carbon capture technology, in addition to cutting emissions from its supply chains, e.g., by switching to renewable energy. This commitment exceeds the UN Fashion Charter’s call for the industry to go carbon neutral by 2050.
- Moving away from virgin materials and instead adopting recycled materials is absolutely essential for the fashion industry, since a high proportion of the greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and other environmental impacts of clothing comes from the production of new textiles. & Other Stories now offers a broad selection of clothes and accessories made from recycled, organic and otherwise sustainable materials.
- The brand is a member of Canopy Planet, a not-for-profit that exists to protect forests. Alarmingly, Canopy’s website states that more than 200 million trees are logged every year and turned into cellulosic fabric such as viscose. If placed end-to-end those trees would circle the Earth seven times. Currently, forests in Indonesia, Canada’s Boreal, and Brazil are being logged for next season’s fashion and apparel. & Other Stories and parent brand H&M are part of the Canopy Style partnership that ensures clothes don’t come from endangered or ancient forests.
- I have found that the brand’s clothes do last. By coincidence, I’m typing this in an & Other Stories cardigan I’ve had for 3 years; it’s still in mint condition (scroll to the bottom for a photo of me in the cardigan).
What’s not so good
- Lots of the clothes contain some sustainable fabric but in combination with plastic-based and non-sustainable fabrics. I am in love with this green top. It contains RWS-certified wool – yay! But it’s also made from virgin polyamide and elastane, both plastics-based synthetic materials with a high carbon footprint – hmm. I consider labelling clothes which are only partly made from environmentally preferable textiles with sustainability claims to be a form of greenwashing, as it can lead me to think I’m buying something sustainable when I’m not.
- As with other brands, only part of & Other Stories range is sustainable, and at the moment that’s a minority of their offering. There is a danger of a ‘halo effect’ whereby it’s implied that a brand is sustainable on the basis of some of its clothes being made from low-impact materials when the business still mostly sells fashion made from virgin synthetics.
- According to Good On You, almost none of Other Stories’ supply chain is certified by labour standards which ensure worker health and safety, living wages or other labour rights.
I bought these jeans, which are 99% recycled and organic cotton, and 1% elastane. This is my first purchase of new-new jeans since 2019. (The cardigan I bought from Indi & Cold, a Spanish brand.) These were the most sustainable I found in the store. There are even better options available from other brands – and I’ll be publishing an edit of sustainable denim soon! – but I decided they’re good enough.
& Other Stories has improved its sustainability performance significantly over the past three years or so – which is great – but it’s got a long way to go. A fraction of their range is sustainable so I might buy the occasional brand new & Other Stories item, but it requires scrutinising the product information details of each piece. I’ve picked up a couple of Other Stories jumpers on Depop that I adore, and will continue to buy the brand secondhand.