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Fashion, Life & Style

Ethical Socks and Tights Guide

ethical socks tights uk

On the lookout for ethical socks and ethical tights?  I’ve got you covered with this handy guide.

Socks and tights are as much of an autumn and winter staple as cups of tea, blankets, and nice woolly jumpers.  I’m never without a pair of socks.  So, as a wardrobe essential, I’ve been hunting down ethical socks for men and women to feature here.  I’ve also thrown in some ethical tights for good measure too.

Listed below are a few of my favourite brands in 2020, and I’m always on the lookout for more to feature here:

ethical socks uk
Ethical socks from Thought

Guide to Ethical Socks & Tights

To help support the running costs of the blog any links marked with a * after them are affiliate links, which means I may get a very tiny percentage of the sale price if you buy anything using the links below.  This doesn’t affect the price you pay for items or your consumer rights, such as your right to return items.

Ethical Socks Guide

Bam: Bamboo

Bam: Bamboo* sells soft socks from sustainably sourced bamboo.  Packs of four cost around £18, and if you buy any 3 selected mix and match garments from Bam Bamboo – these don’t have to be socks – you will receive 20% off.

Heist

Heist*, who has a strong commitment to sustainability, sell lightweight pop socks that despite their thinness, are designed to last, with reinforced toes and heels.  Their stay-up ankle band means no digging or your socks rolling down, which is great because this is always a problem with this type of sock.  Each pair is £7.

Jollies

Jollies sell colourful organic cotton socks that are made in England.  What’s more, for every pair sold, one pair of Jollies socks is donated to local homeless shelters.  So far thousands of pairs of socks have been donated to over 50 shelters nation-wide.  Prices start from £9.

Leiho

Leiho’s* sustainably sourced & vegan-friendly bamboo socks are not only fun but charitable too.  For every pair of socks sold, a pair is donated to homeless shelters.  Prices are around £12 per pair.

Organic Basics

Organic Basics* sell soft and durable socks ethically and sustainably made in Turkey and Portugal from organic cotton. Prices start at £12 for a pack of two, and take 10% off your order with discount code WENDYOBC at the checkout.

People Tree

Ethical stalwarts People Tree* sell super soft organic cotton socks in a wide range of colours, prints, and designs.  Their ethical socks start from £7 per pair.

Ethical Tights Guide

ethical socks and tights uk
Ethical Tights from Heist

The market for ethical tights is small, but I have found some gems for you:

Heist

Heist’s* specialty is their Italian made tights.  From their range of nude tights in seven representative shades; to their thicker 80 denier tights; to fishnets made from sustainable pre-consumer recycled waste – all of their tights come in inclusive sizes from a UK size 4 to a UK size 22.   

Swedish Stockings

Swedish Stockings* sustainable hosiery range is made from pre- and post-consumer nylon waste that is non-biodegradable. They recycle this waste nylon to create their range of tights, socks, and leggings, reducing water consumption and energy. They also run a great tights recycling scheme, where you can recycle your old tights.

Another option in autumn and winter, if you’re wearing boots, is to wear leggings with socks.  Ok, it’s not so attractive when you take off your boots, but I like wearing leggings as they are nice and cosy and don’t snag or run like tights do, making them much more durable.  I don’t mind spending a bit more on something that I know is going to last and are as versatile as leggings.  My favourite ethical leggings come from People Tree* and Organic Basics*.

PS: while you are here, you might find this post on ethical underwear useful too!

Fashion, Life & Style

Fast Fashion and Modern Slavery in the UK

Today I have a post from Paul McShane of the Immigration Advice Service on the links between fast fashion and modern slavery in the UK.

Earlier in July, a Sunday Times story broke regarding a garment factory in Leicester that was paying workers as little as £3.50 an hour. As the story unfolded, it explained how this garment factory made clothes for popular online fashion label Boohoo while underpaying its workers substantially.

The article was a result of an undercover reporter working at the factory and witnessing first hand not just the lack of social distancing measures but the exploitation at hand, noting a blatant disregard for paying workers the minimum wage and upholding a safe working environment.

The story rightly caused consternation – Standard Life Aberdeen sold most of its shares in the company as a result and highlighted that Boohoo’s response to the revelations was wholly inadequate.

But this is not an isolated tale by any means. For many years, fashion labels have had concerning links to workers who are forced to work for low pay, providing the clothing that we wear almost every day. In fact, recently the Guardian reported on how the fast-fashion industry is complicit in the forced labour of Uighur people in China who are working to produce cotton used for labels as diverse as Adidas, Gap and Calvin Klein.

Fast fashion, which describes the quick turnover of designs from catwalk to cheaper high street alternatives, has meant that the general public can access replicas of luxury apparel at prices they can afford. Yet the consequence of such low prices and a consistent cycle of new collections sees an estimated £30 billion worth of clothes unworn and hanging in many wardrobes across the UK. The industry reached £32bn in 2017; an increase of 5.4% on 2016.

One of the most exploitive techniques employed within some fast-fashion supply chains – typically by the raw material provider of cotton or garments that then make the items of clothing – is to take on board both undocumented migrants and international students who often accept the low pay and precarious working conditions simply to have some form of income.

To know that 100,000 children in London alone do not have secure immigration status is deeply concerning – half of those were born here in the UK and yet will not be treated as British citizens when it comes to employment. This is of paramount concern as undocumented individuals are forced into such exploitative work due to being deemed ‘illegal’.

The Unseen Workforce

During Covid-19, the plight of exploited workers within the fast-fashion industry has become increasingly apparent with the Boohoo scandal clearly highlighting that many of its supply-chain workers based in a Leicester factory were paid just £3.50 an hour for grueling work.

The garment factory has additionally continued to operate throughout the pandemic, against government guidelines. Fast-fashion retailers can no longer fail to take accountability for those working to provide the very items they reap profit from. Similarly, consumers must recognise the role they play in this – no longer can the British public claim ignorance nor pretend that this is an issue occurring outside of our control: it is happening here, in the UK.

These illicit factories are not vying for the furlough scheme because it is of no benefit to them. Instead, they rely on workers who are in desperate circumstances to work for less than the national living wage.

What Can We Do?

It is essential that brands lead from the front. This means questioning their garment suppliers and investigating the conditions that their workers toil under. Already, Boohoo has seen their value drop by £500M, particularly as Standard Life Aberdeen questioned their approach to championing workers’ rights. But this change also requires pressure from consumers; often the only thing those with a mind on profit will listen to.

One of the reasons these premises can thrive are due to workers operating in a climate of fear. As the UK has become more hostile to migrants – with its ‘hostile environment’ policy specifically targeting those who lack the required documentation – concerns of deportation drive these vulnerable individuals to accept such low wages and dire working conditions. This includes those who have been trafficked into the UK – such a deeply embedded fear of deportation and local authorities increases the likelihood of accepting anything their employer dictates, no matter the wage or working conditions.

It is only through exposing these unacceptable conditions that brands are forced to address this, yet undocumented migrants recognise that they will be offered no protection from the UK government and will instead likely face punishment – this makes it inevitable that exploited workers remain silent, allowing such practices to thrive.

The government may have made noise regarding how abhorrent such working practices are and yet they fail to address the very immigration policies which feed this vicious cycle. To make real, substantive change, the hostile environment policy must be scrapped and fast-fashion retailers must be held to account.