As a member of the cruelty-free community, I’m well versed in ensuring that my lifestyle – in particular, my dietary choices and cosmetic routine – causes little to no suffering. I know where to look to make sure that the brand I’m buying from has an animal testing policy, and know the tell-tale signs of whether or not that policy can be trusted. My compassion for animals extends to my wardrobe – I avoid all animal-derived materials, and promote vegan-friendly alternatives wherever possible.
But when it comes to how ethical my clothes are – whether or not they were made under fair, or even safe, conditions; if they have been made using sustainable and environmentally friendly materials, etc. – I have struggled. I’ve found charity shop clothing to not suit my style. I’ve found credible information on high street stores’ practices hard to find and navigate. I’ve found UK-based ethical fashion to be out of my price range, and have been stung by customs fees when ordering from abroad. This is a struggle, I think, that a lot of us share.
At the end of 2016, after years of dipping in and out of the fast and ethical fashion worlds and struggling to navigate their choppy seas, I resolved to only purchase my clothing from ethical sources going forward. For me, this means brands who fit as many of the following criteria as possible:
- Non-animal materials
- Non-toxic materials with low environmental damage
- Sustainable and long-lasting materials
- Sweatshop free or made by artisans/independently
- Fairly traded (i.e. manufacturers paid fairly)
- Support charitable causes
To get started, I gave away a bunch of clothes that no longer made me feel good or fit my style (minimal, dark or muted colours). If you’re unsure of your personal style, I’d definitely recommend spending time defining it – there are some resources to help with that at the foot of the post. I resolved to buy less clothing; this, in itself, is ethical – even if you are buying from fast fashion companies, buying less frequently will lessen your impact on the planet and the people working in the textile industry. Lastly, I worked on educating myself; as I said, proper information on bad practices and what to look out for can be difficult to find, but is out there if you do a little digging.
Ethical fashion is a subject on which I think there is a lot to say and consider, from whether or not it is accessible for those earning lower incomes, to if big brands are doing enough to abide by laws protecting the people who produce their clothes. I want to explore these topics in more detail, but for now I thought I’d share 4 outfit ideas made up entirely of vegan-friendly, ethical clothing made by companies who support charitable initiatives or otherwise promote positive causes. I’ll be including the full cost of each garment and outfit, as well as some information about some of the brands featured. Scroll down for the outfits, and some helpful resources at the end of the post!
0 0 1 • C A S U A L M O O N D A Y
Neon Moon Tactac Bra £45 | Neon Moon High Waisted Knicker £30 | Tomoto Moonwax tee £35 | Nudie Jeans Long John Grey Ocean jeans £115 | Plantfaced CLothing Dad Hat £21 | Gunas New York Naomi Tote Bag in Gray $145* | Fashion Conscience Vegan Faux Snakeskin Pumps in White £17.50 | FULL COST OF OUTFIT £379.05 (inc rough currency exchange)
Neon Moon is a body-positive, feminist lingerie brand that I’ve been following ever since I donated to their Kickstarter back in 2015. I adore the way the brand stands up against restrictive beauty ideals; their models illustrate these values by flaunting their body hair and cellulite, and the lack of numerical sizes (they’re instead named things like “Lovely” and “Stunning”) encourages us to love ourselves just as we are.
0 0 2 • P L A N T P O W E R
L-R Woron Move Bra £35 | Neon Moon Coucou Knicker £20 | Plantfaced Clothing Plant Life Long Sleeve £36 | People Tree Tasha Trousers £42 | Just Trade UK Geo Tagua Two Necklace £15.00 | Fjäll Räven Re-Kånken Backpack £75 | Fashion Conscience Vegan Zip Front Chunky Ankle Boots £45.50 | FULL COST OF OUTFIT £268.50
It was love at first sight for me when I recently stumbled across Berlin streetwear brand, Plantfaced Clothing. A Peta-certified brand, they’re not only vegan-friendly but also place humane manufacturing conditions and environmental sustainability at the top of their priorities. Plantfaced are vocal about their ethics, and their casual and uber-cool designs definitely strike a style chord with me.
0 0 3 • B U S I N E S S O R P L E A S U R E
L-R Neon Moon Non Bra £55 | Neon Moon Thong £18 | Kowtow Scenic Crew $190 | People Tree Tammy Pencil Skirt £42 | Mata Traders New Fairtrade Hexagon Pendant Necklace £18 | Gunas New York Pelican Shoulder Bag $149* | Matt and Nat Verdun Shoe £60 | FULL COST OF OUTFIT £462 (inc rough currency exchange)
It’s easy enough to find vegan-friendly bags, but they’re so often made of materials which are damaging to the environment. This is far from the case with Gunas New York, whose wide range of bags in varying styles and colours are also ethical produced and made from eco-friendly materials. The Pelican bag, featured in this outfit, is made from eco polyurethane, with a lining made out of recycled plastic bottles. Stylish and impressive!
0 0 4 • O F G A L A C T I C P R O P O R T I O N S
L-R Anek Valentina Set €110 | We Are Hairy People Hand Painted Signature Galaxy Sweater in Light Grey £32 | People Tree Selby Trousers £17.85 | Edge of Ember Myla Ring £65 | Fashion Conscience Vegan Zippered Minimal Backpack £34.30 | Beyond Skin Pewter Delta Monks £89 | FULL COST OF OUTFIT £331.15 (inc. rough currency exchange)
I hadn’t planned on including a 4th outfit idea in this post, but simply had to when I stumbled upon Bristol-based fashion brand We Are Hairy People. Run entirely by artist Sarah Caulfield, We Are Hairy People aims to promote unity and embrace imperfections. The beautiful garments are all hand-painted to order from Sarah’s home studio, which also operates as a safe space where young people suffering with eating disorders, negative self image and other mental health issues can go to paint and make friends.
There’s no denying that the products I’ve included in these outfits are pricier than what you might find on the high street. The fact of the matter is that the cheaper an item of clothing is, the less likely it is that any care has gone into ensuring that the person who made it was paid fairly and treated well. It is hard to see how we might be afford to pay £50 for a bra or up to £100 for a top or a pair of shoes, but truly this is how much it costs to ensure that what you’re wearing hasn’t had a detrimental effect on the planet or on the person who manufactured it. Of course, you won’t need 4 different bags or pairs of shoes, and you might not need to rush out at once to buy an entire new wardrobe. These are simply some ideas to show that ethical clothing can be stylish, modern and accessible.
Do you have any tips for shopping more ethically? Or any recommendations of eco-friendly fashion brands?
- Anuschka Rees – a great blog promoting a minimalist approach to ethical fashion with lots of tips on defining your personal style.
- Kristen Leo’s YouTube Channels (Kristen Leo and Kristen etc.) – a channel with lots of discussion of ethical fashion, as well as thrifting tips and look books. This video on Zara’s many malpractices was very eye-opening.
- Clothes, Cameras, and Coffee – delve into Rosalind Jana’s blog, featuring her fabulous writing accompanied by plenty of fashion inspiration for all things charity shop and vintage.
- Fashion Conscience – an ecommerce site featuring several ethical brands, many of whom are on the more affordable side.
- Gather & See – an ecommerce site offering higher-end ethical fashion, with a focus on minimal elegance.
*This post contains affiliate links – thank you for supporting not so QUIET grrl