In the market for a new coat for autumn? The good news is I have been doing some research and I have eight ethical coats and jackets for your perusal today.
The bad news is that, much like the ethical clothing, ethical underwear, ethical nightwear, and ethical swimwear market, the ethical coat and jacket market is small. Teeny tiny small. The other bad news is that ethical coats don’t come cheap. If you get change from £200 then you are doing well.
With ethical fashion, the goal of course isn’t to replace clothing every year as fast fashion would dictate. Instead, invest in quality items that you would be happy to wear year after year. Think cost per wear! I appreciate this isn’t great news when your current coat or jacket is on its last legs and you don’t have £200 spare. However, we’ll come on to more affordable ethical options too.
Guide to Ethical Coats and Jackets
If you’re confused by any of the terminology, such as GOTS Certified, do see my handy guide on what to look for when shopping for ethical clothing. It covers topics such as what fabrics to look for and explains what all the different eco-labels mean.
If your style is outdoorsy then Finisterre offers classic outdoor wear. This Alto jacket (£195) has a recycled polyester outer shell and is insulated with recycled fabrics. It’s wind and water-resistant and will keep you cosy well into winter.
In terms of ethics, Finisterre’s waterproof jackets and coats are made from fully recycled materials. They have also completely eradicated harmful fluorocarbons from our water repellent and waterproofing fabrics. That means that you can expect the highest level of downpour protection without compromising the environment.
Finisterre ensures similarly high sustainability standards with their insulated jackets. These are down-free, and instead of feathers use recycled synthetic fills to ensure high insulating performance even when wet.
Patagonia also have a solid reputation as an ethical retailer. Where to start? Firstly, Patagonia rejects fast fashion by creating high-quality, long-lasting products, and offers a repair and reuse program.
Secondly, all of their cotton is certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and it is bluesign® certified for some of its fabrics.
What’s more, a high proportion of Patagonia’s materials are made from recycled fabrics, including polyester, nylon, and wool. Patagonia also belongs to both the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and 1% For The Planet.
As such, this Radalie Parka (£160) is another good bet for the colder weather ahead. Water repellent, with a 100% recycled nylon outer shell, it’s insulated with 92% recycled polyester.
If you are looking for something cosy and colourful, then do have a browse at Gudrun Sjödén. Their down jackets are ethically made from both recycled polyester and recycled down for a super sustainable and incredibly cosy coat. There are different colour options available if bright isn’t your thing.
If your style is less outdoorsy, then People Tree* always have great ethical offerings. This Yvette fleece coat (£119) for example. This is a transitional piece for autumn and spring, and the snuggly fleece nature of it would be like a perpetual hug.
People Tree is one of the original ethical clothing retailers, and their ethical standards are second to none. They were the first fashion company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organisation product label. These certifications guarantee People Tree’s dedication and compliance to the principles of fair trade, covering fair wages, good working conditions, transparency, environmental best practice, and gender equality.
Thought* is another great place to look for stylish non-outdoorsy ethical coat options. Thet source natural, sustainable yarns that use less water, fewer pesticides, and create less CO2. And then they upcycle their leftover fabric at the source so to reduce waste and create new products.
This Hartley organic jacket (£79.90) is another autumn and spring coat, but it is pretty darned stylish. Also look out for water-resistant jackets, made from recycled PET. These make great options for keeping folded up in your bag for any wet weather emergencies.
Like People Tree, Komodo* are one of the longest-running ethical retailers.
Komodo are committed to the use of premium quality certified organic, natural and eco fibres. They have also expanded into innovative fabrics, such as green PU coating and recycled PET, from plastic bottles, to give performance without comprising the environment. What’s more, most of their products are vegan and all are cruelty-free.
Their ethical coat range is again stylish, rather than outdoorsy.
Finally, again, if style rather than technical perfomance, then Nomads is another place to check out.
This beautiful diamond hand loomed coat (£145) looks stylishly cosy. It also reminds me so much of that Zara coat everyone seemed to be wearing a few years ago!
What if your budget doesn’t allow for an ethical purchase?
Your budget might not stretch as far as one of these coats. I would therefore recommend opting out of the fast fashion model that dictates that you should buy a new coat every year. Instead, find the best quality coat you love at a price you can afford. Look for a style that won’t date, in a dark shade (light coloured coats are stain magnets, trust me!). And then commit to wearing it for as long as possible.
Recently, I needed a good outdoor jacket for braving the school run in all weathers. However, my maternity leave budget didn’t stretch very far. I bought a simple cosy water and windproof (and dark brown!) coat that was 50% off in the sale from an outdoor retailer.
The trouble with outdoor retailers is that ethical ones are few and far between. I’m not going to endorse the specific retailer I bought from as I doubt it was the single most ethical purchase I’ve ever made. What swayed me was that the jacket came with a lifetime warranty. If I’m going to buy something I want it to last a long time. The warranty gave me some reassurance that if it develops a fault the company will fix or replace the coat. It seems sturdy, looks good as new going into it’s second year of wearing, and looks like it will go the distance. Fingers crossed!
Alternatively, if you want to stay resolutely ethical on a small budget then eBay is also a great place to look. My previous coat was one that I’d picked up secondhand on eBay seven years ago. I then wore it for seven consecutive winters. I was quite sad when it came to an irreparable end. It felt like a part of me! See my top eBay buying tips if you’re not sure where to start.
I have less luck with charity shops when it comes to coats, but perhaps you might have better luck than me! Alternatively, try these five places to shop secondhand online.
What Else Can I Do?
To make the ethical fashion movement more inclusive to all, then it’s important to take action beyond your wallet.
Sustainable fashion lacks diverse representation. Particularly in terms of race, gender fluidity, and of the LGBTQ+ community. However, there is also a lack of a range of sizes, and a lack of variety of styles, as well as issues of affordability. These issues are leaving a large swath of potential would-be customers behind.
Things that you can do to help engender change include asking High St brands who make their clothes (see Fashion Revolution for their great resources). This will help press for transparency and sustainability on the High Street. You can also support brands that align with your values. This means purchasing from them if you are able to, but can also mean liking, commenting, and sharing their social media posts to help boost their exposure.