Clothes that don't cost the earth

I know what you’re thinking. Eco-fashion is absolutely NOT fashionable. It’s all ill-fitting khaki kaftans and off-white linen trousers. Quelle horreur. Well, my fickle friend, I’ve got news for you – that is no longer the case. In the designer sphere, Stella McCartney is ringing her green warrior bell. But for mere mortals who can’t afford one Stella sock let alone the Stubbs silk shirt (I wish), you’ll be delighted to know high street shops are catching on too. PHEW.

Still, I'm under no illusions here - ethical fashion ain’t cheap. I think we need to be honest about that. You’re never going to buy an ethically, sustainably produced dress for Primark prices – because, well, there’s a reason Primark is so cheap – and it comes at the cost of our environment and our moral standards.           

I understand that buying sustainably is a luxury not everyone can afford. But those of us who can (don't know why I'm including myself in the 'us' because I am already living a hand-to-mouth existence and I still shop in Zara), should buy less and buy better. It's time we developed a more considerate way to be consumers. Instead of cheap, fast fashion we quickly grow to dislike then bin, it’s about investing in items we’ll truly treasure for a long time. 

As a total Topshop addict, I understand this is hard to hear (queue the violins) but actually, once you’ve taken a look at the below super snazzy ethical fashion outlets, it gets a bit easier.

The Keep

This Brixton based (and very chic) shop offers up myriad eco-friendly brands without ever compromising on style. Set up by Katie Richards, The Keep's mission is to reignite an appreciation of quality, craftsmanship and sustainability – seeking out and promoting brands with integrity, whilst simultaneously ensuring style comes first. CHIC. 


People Tree

Something of an old hand at this Slow Fashion thing, People Tree has been around for around for over 25 years and partners with farmers in developing countries to produce Fair Trade, environmentally sustainable clothing like this CHIC jumpsuit. I want it.


Levi's 'better cotton initiative' encourages farmers to use fewer pesticides, insecticides and less water - and I am SO incredibly glad they made it to this list because I’ve had my eye on a pair of classic bootcut jeans for ages and now I can buy them guilt free!


Founded in Australia by two friends with a desire to wear cool, natural clothing, Thought came to the UK in pop-up form in 2002 and  never left. Garments are made from bamboo, hemp, cotton or wool and no pesticides are used. Avid supporters of Slow Fashion, designs are intended to last and Thought are founding members of the Ethical Fashion Forum. 


Shops don't really get much more fast-fashion than Zara - who churn out new collections by the week. But even the Spanish super-giant is cottoning on and has launched its first sustainable collection; Join Life. With pieces made from organic cotton, Tencel (a fabric made from wood cellulose) and recycled wool, it's a step in the right direction. 

Sarah Barratt