I’m all about second-hand shopping, mostly because it’s affordable and doesn’t require any new resources. However, if all of a sudden we all became avid thrifters, where would the clothes come from? Indeed, boycotting fast fashion can be done by choosing second hand, but it can also be done in another way: by buying new, ethical and sustainably made clothes.
I will be the first to admit that I find ethical / sustainable brands slightly intimidating. Firstly, because the choice of styles, cuts and colours is usually quite limited. Secondly, the price can be quite high for the average Joe. Despite all of that, though, I’ve found that when I pay more money for a piece of clothing, I take care of it. Like literally babysit it. I make sure to wash it properly and hang it well. You’ll never see me eating pasta in a £100 jumper. It may be too much for some of you, but I find that when I pay more, I care more. And as a consequence, I love it and wear it longer. Which is what a sustainable closet means, really!
That’s why today I wanted to show you my top 5 ethical and sustainable fashion brands who, in my opinion, do it right. They’ve got the style and the ethics, which is what I want to support. Full disclosure: I am yet to click the ‘order’ button for any of them, and I’ll share why. But these are my ‘wishlist’ brands and I hope to inspire you to check them out.
You may argue that reformation is overpriced, but I have to admit it was one of the first brands that put sustainable fashion on my radar. It was just so.. stylish. The clothes looked modern, pretty and not basic at all. Plus, there was colour. Based in LA, Reformation embodies the cool Californian spirit and effortless style. I’m mostly lusting after their dresses, skirts and trousers, but I wouldn’t say no to pretty much anything from their website.
Why I haven’t bought anything yet: The prices are up in the hundreds of dollars, and if the sizing is wrong, returns (even exchanges) cost $20. Knowing I’ll have to pay return shipping even if I just want a smaller size makes me feel uneasy to order.
Grana are based in Hong Kong, and have quickly become one of the go-to names for affordable, classic and modern pieces. In terms of colours, they are pretty basic and neutral, with the occasional pop of yellow or burgundy. But it’s the cuts and the fabrics that make their items special. The styles are modern and made to be different rather than basic. And their materials are top notch: Chinese silk, Mongolian cashmere, Peruvian cotton. The best part: by not having physical stores, they’re cutting out the middleman and are able to provide much lower prices that what you’d usually see for sustainable brands.
Why I haven’t ordered yet: Similarly to Reformation, not being able to touch or try on the clothes makes me a bit uneasy. I’ve seen reviews mostly from very skinny or tall people, which I find a bit hard to relate to. It would be awesome to see how the clothes fit on other body types, too!
3. Mud jeans
Image: Mud Jeans
I found about Mud jeans when I heard about their Lease a Jeans programme, which basically means you don’t buy your jeans, but rather rent them from the store for a year. After 12 months, you can keep them, or return them and lease another pair. It’s the concept of ‘circular’ consumption, and I quite like it. It’s sustainable, and you don’t get to keep unwanted items in your closet. At about 7.50 euro / month, it’s not very expensive having in mind the quality is meant to be fantastic.
Why I haven’t ordered yet: I get that the 12-month period is to prevent people falling into the ‘fast fashion’ trap, but I do get bored after 12 months of wearing the same jeans. I guess I would be more inclined to purchase if there was a ‘trial’ month, or a 6-month lease for example.
4. Matt & Nat
Image: Matt and Nat
Short for Materials & Nature (I honestly thought it’s the owners’ names!), Matt and Nat have set to create beautiful yet eco-friendly shoes and bags. There’s a huge for/against debate regarding vegan leather, but no matter where you stand, you just can’t deny their bags got style (just like Dumbledore). People rave about the quality of their goods, and the ‘almost leather’ feel to the shoes and bags. It’s no surprise that they’re so committed to sustainability. Besides using materials such as cork and recycled tires, Matt and Nat commit to using only recycled plastic bottles to make the bags lining.
Why I haven’t ordered yet: While shipping is quick and pretty much free for any order, returns and exchanges are complicated. You have to organise everything yourself, which can be difficult. Plus, there are no physical stores outside Canada, which makes picking a bag to suit your size a bit risky.
Shh, I have a secret. Despite being a self-proclaimed heels lover, in the last year I’ve transitioned into sneakers. Yes, I said it. And I’m not a sporty person, so I wear them with skirts and dresses, too. While for now I’m wearing off my current £20 pair, I’m really willing to invest in a pair of Veja sneakers. They’re eco-friendly, sustainable and all-around pretty shoes, made from materials like lyocell and cork. But unlike your traditional sporty brand, they’re not on everyone’s feet!
Why I haven’t ordered yet: The prices are a bit steep for me (talking about the £120-150 mark) and as I said, I’m currently trying to actively destroy my current pair. But once they’re done (and I spot a sale) I’ll be switching to Veja. Because my feet deserve the best.
Sustainability doesn’t mean compromising style. Neither does it mean paying designer prices. I’m sure you’ll find something to suit you from each of these 5 sustainable fashion brands. Have you tried any of them before? Please let me know below in the comments!