The thing I love most about fashion is the fact it is constantly evolving. Trends, styles, eras and movements illustrate so much more than just clothes; they reflect (among many things) politics, music, social change and current attitudes.
A few years ago, Ethical Fashion became “The Next Big Thing”. It was the ultimate buzz word used by the fashion media and head buyers at every fashion house HQ. You could not shop at any store without noticing a new selection of rails shouting ‘I’m an ethical T-shirt, buy me!’ – complete with a shiny new swing ticket and logo to proudly distinguish said range as from a sustainable source, fair trade, 100% organic, made in the UK, or all of the above.
Thanks to the instantaneous, media sharing and savvy age we find ourselves in, each day the world becomes a smaller place. The emergence of documentaries around this time told the story of the unglamorous origins of our bargain clobber. Channel 4’s ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secret’ and BBC Three’s ‘Blood, Sweat and T-shirts’ shone a light on the underbelly of the industry, and perhaps made for uneasy viewing for millions of us curled up on the sofa in Primark slippers and a GAP hoodie.
The obvious and serious flaws in the manufacture of garments aside, as we are all aware of these issues whether it changes our consumer behaviour or not, is it right for brands to label a range as ‘ethical’? Was the sudden burst of angelic ‘people and planet friendly’ designs a step toward change, or a marketing strategy to entice even the most informed and sympathetic shopper?
I have to admit walking past the (rather ironic) ‘ethical range’ in Primark a few years ago left me utterly incredulous, but after the eco trend fizzled, that range was never to be seen again. The simple fact of the matter is no high street garment which is mass produced and in line with company profit margins can ever be truly ethical. The varying labour conditions, heavy use of dyes and pollutants, the mass volume produced and the air miles our clothes rack up make a mockery of the short lived ethical craze.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Ethical Fashion’s brief spell in the limelight inspired some designers to launch new brands, with a fresh approach and innovative ideas. These seedling brands have been slowly growing over the last few years, while the high street has dropped their ethical lines and reverted back to business as usual. I’m not saying ditch the high street, this article merely aims to celebrate these unsung hero brands, who go to every effort to create truly ethical pieces whilst remaining fabulous. There was a time this genre of clothing was for the blind members of Green Peace only. Times have changed. What’s more, they do some amazing original home ware stuff too, so be saintly and start spending!
Vegan Mock Snakeskin Bowling Bag – £49
Eco Sustainable Felt Satchel – £60
Cat DIY Recycled Paper Lampshade – £39
Cardboard Safari – £14
Blah Print Tee – £21