It used to be a select few of the luxury fashion houses who assumed the shade of green. However, now an increasing number of brands are making ethics and sustainability a new priority in a bid to stay legitimate in the consumer world. High-end brands are catching on to the importance of sustainable fashion to their customers, that whispering green nothings is a thing of the past. Luxury fashion brands are now held to account for their ethical practice. And whether it’s saving coral reefs or using recycled material, this positive luxury, socially conscious movement marks a new era for the industry.
Here are 11 ethical and/or sustainable fashion brands leading the charge, in style.
Vivienne Westwood uses her collections and catwalk shows as a platform for positive activism. Her resilient campaigning on climate change and overconsumption has underpinned the brand’s identity, as has her ecological crusades. Vivienne Westwood is a Trustee of human rights organisation, Liberty and Patron of Reprieve and a campaigner for Amnesty International. Her green campaign support includes Cool Earth, in their efforts to save rainforests and stop climate change. In collaboration with the UN’s Ethical Fashion Initiative Vivienne Westwood began producing bags in 2015 supporting thousands of women from marginalised African communities. The collections are created using recycled materials from slums and landfill and the income helps to stop the need to continue deforestation in the area.
Italian fashion brand Marni has combined its creative panache and commitment to children’s charities for over a decade. The proceeds from various projects, notably the iconic charity baskets, entirely hand-woven by Colombian artisans and farmers, and the more recent ‘Happy Birds’ collection of wooden and metal birds, goes towards children’s charities across the world. ‘Marni Market’ curates these special projects of limited edition charity pieces available to buy both online and at their Mount Street Store.
Stella McCartney was one of the first luxury fashion brands to advocate environmentally friendly production, still with a chic, understated aesthetic that appeals to the fashion-conscious customer. Partnering with the ethical fashion initiative since 2011, the designer has banned fur and leather in her collections and continues to inspire other fashion brands to embrace a more sustainable business model.
are committed to ethical trade and upholding Indian artisan practices in the production of their beautiful new line. Founders Sally and Paul work closely with local Indian communities on their line, developing strong relationships with the groups of women that they work with to ensure that they collaborate with organisations that socially and economically empower the artisans that craft their pieces. Their kaftans and embroidered dresses and jackets are made with love, and absolutely beautiful.
Ethics and sustainability are quite literally woven into US fashion label Eileen Fisher’s minimalist fashion offering. The brand publicly shared its commitments in their 2020 vision that looks at improving social and environmental impacts of their supply chain. Their initiative, Green Eileen, has seen the fashion label collect and recycle previously worn Eileen Fisher clothing, supporting women, girls and the environment. What’s more, the brand offers free repairs on all their clothing.
Tome’s sustainability and ethical fashion impetus began with the launch of their first capsule for the White Shirt Project in 2014. The White Shirt Project supports Katie Ford’s foundation, ‘Freedom For All’ that fights human trafficking and slavery. Katie’s enquiries raised internal questions for Tome itself: ‘is everyone involved in producing the clothes paid well?’ Tome took a fine-tooth comb to their process and visited the factories, working on reducing waste and using local and renewable sources. They see periodic check-ins of factories as the best way to monitor their supply chain practice and safeguard the women who work for them. Emma Watson was also spotted in Tome during her Press Tour for Beauty and The Beast where she only wore ethical and sustainable clothing.
Beulah is a British fashion brand renowned for its social integrity. Their ready-to-wear collection is made in London, a proportion of the silks from the SS17 collection hand screen printed by a charity called , based in Kolkata, in association with (see dress above, £595). These women have been rehabilitated and reintegrated into society and provided with a sustainable livelihood. They are given the possibility of a new life through the enterprise that would otherwise have not been an option.
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This Pakistani brand’s fabrics are all handwoven and ethically produced. Nadya Shah’s small workshop of skilled embroiderers and weavers make it their resolve to produce an ethically sustainable label. The company teaches new skills, providing long term employment opportunity, and crucially creating an economy for artisans in Pakistan. The brand describes their team as an ‘extended family.’
Chinti & Parker, renowned for their ‘quality basics’ started in 2009 as a joint venture between cousins Anna Singh and Rachael Wood. They began with ethical cashmere clothing for children, soon venturing into womenswear, creating simple and versatile pieces. The brand is committed to sustainability and better living, justifying the cost of the products with the ethical process behind them. For example, each of the Chinti & Parker factories is handpicked for its relevant expertise and high-quality credentials. What’s more, in places where production involves long travel, Chinti & Parker actively offsets carbon emissions as outlined by the Carbon Neutral Company. Gwyneth Paltrow even designed a jumper to champion the brand’s approach to ethics and sustainability.
Online luxury fashion retailer, Yoox has joined forces with We Are Handsome and The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, creating colourful swimwear to support the preservation and restoration of the otherworldly Great Barrier Reef in Australia. YOOX Loves the Reef charity project is one of the several ethical moves for the company, with YOOXYGEN their socially and environmentally responsible destination.
People Tree truly pioneered the idea of ethical and environmentally sustainable fashion in its entirety as opposed to an external campaign or side note. They were the first international clothing company to be awarded the World Fair Trade product label – evidence of their dedication to covering fair wages working conditions, transparency, capacity building, environmental best practice, gender equality and setting standards for conventional fashion companies to improve their supply chains. And still, their stylish designs are affordable, proving that ethics don’t need to be expensive.
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