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Fashion, Life & Style

Building An Ethical Wardrobe From Scratch

ethical wardrobe

ethical wardrobe

Let’s talk about clothes today.  Specifically some advice on building an ethical wardrobe from scratch.

I appreciate it can be difficult knowing where to start in making your own wardrobe more ethical.  Making the switch to shopping more ethically can be challenging.  From where to shop, to the potential cost involved, I can see how it can be a difficult part of your life to alter.

In order to help you to build your own ethical wardrobe, I wanted to offer a manageable approach on how to build an ethical wardrobe from scratch.   So, I hereby present the first post in this ethical wardrobe mini series.

If you’re not a shopper, don’t worry – this series is not going to be all to be about shopping.  As much as I am a fan of a pretty dress, or a nice coat, I am not the world’s biggest fan of clothes shopping.  But more than that – I personally think the biggest barrier to shopping ethically is the fast fashion machine.  So as part of this series we’ll talk about how to remove yourself from the clutches of fast fashion.

But first things first, lets start from the beginning.  The foundations of your ethical wardrobe if you will:

Building An Ethical Wardrobe #1

Step One: Decluttering & Taking Stock

The first step in building an ethical wardrobe is to look carefully at your existing wardrobe.  As I’ve said countless times before, and probably will forever more: the most ethical clothes are the clothes you already own.

 Taking stock of your existing wardrobe and removing anything you don’t wear or don’t like is an important first step.  Shopping ethically isn’t necessarily the cheapest, so learning from previous mistakes is imperative to help you get the most for your money and help you to avoid rash impulse purchases.

Does the world need more decluttering advice?  Probably not.  I’ll aim to keep it brief for anyone interested in how I manage my wardrobe.  Admittedly, I’ve never been a big shopper so my own wardrobe was never particularly large in the first place, but a regular declutter (perhaps twice a year) helps me keep on top of things and allows me to re-evaluate my wardrobe to see what is and isn’t working.

I’m a firm advocate of setting aside an afternoon to empty everything out of your drawers and wardrobe on to your bed.  I like the four piles systems myself:

1) clothes you no longer wear, are worn out, no longer fit, no longer suit, or you don’t like.

2)  clothes that need repairing or modifying (and you will actually repair/modify rather than leave them there for 2 years at the back of your cupboard!)

3) clothes that you love and wear on a regular basis.

4)  clothes that you love but wear on a less regular basis – e.g. formal wear, party wear, etc.

You also have my blessing to add a fifth maybe pile to revisit another day.  Some people argue against that additional pile, saying it adds more work at a later date.  I say if you’re worried about rash decision making and that pile makes you less nervous then by all means give it a go.  I have done this in the past, only to a couple of months later cart the whole ‘maybe’ pile to the charity shop.  Needless to say now I just trust my instincts.

If you’re swithering over whether to keep an item or not, then I ask myself “if I was out shopping right now would I buy this item?“.  If I wouldn’t then it goes in pile one.

Whilst decluttering I try to bear in mind seasonality, so for example I would give my summer items of clothing a reprieve until the end of summer.  Anything I hadn’t worn that summer would be out.  Decluttering summer clothes in the middle of winter might otherwise see some useful clothes inadvertently discarded, and vice versa.

Taking Stock

Before you discard pile one, have a good look at what you’re discarding, and why you’re discarding the items.  Was it the fit, or was it the style that didn’t suit?  Perhaps the colour?  Was it something you bought on a whim or because it was on sale?  Perhaps it didn’t go with anything else in your wardrobe?  Was it something you bought because you were feeling low that particular day and needed a retail boost?

Whatever the reasons, keep them in the front of your mind next time you’re clothes shopping.  The aim here with this is not to repeat these mistaken purchasing decisions again.  This will help save you money and save resources too.

Place the third pile (and the second mended pile) back in your wardrobe and keep in mind the reasons that you’re keeping those items.  Are there particular colours that you’re drawn to, or particular cuts or styles?  Make a mental note about precisely what it is about the items that you love so that in future, when you’re adding to your wardrobe, you know exactly what you’re looking for and exactly what suits you.

Now your clothes are back in the wardrobe, carefully analyse the gaps.  What items of clothing do you need to bridge those gaps?  Make a written list of the items you legitimately need.  Be really specific.  So rather than just writing down ‘trousers’, write down the specific style and colour of trousers you need.

I’m not necessarily a proponent of capsule wardrobes or minimalist wardrobes so I’m not going to offer a specific list of clothing you need.  Your own list will be specific to you, your lifestyle, and your existing wardrobe, so think carefully and honestly about what you need.

Bear in mind there’s no need to replace everything you’ve discarded with ethical options like for like.  You only need to purchase the things you really need to make your existing wardrobe work better for you.  Owning fewer clothes is really rather liberating and does make it much easier to get dressed of a morning.

Another pertinent point is that decluttering your wardrobe is not a code word for going on a massive shopping spree.  Building an ethical wardrobe takes time, and it should come together slowly and organically.  There is no rush.

More to come soon!

ethical wardrobe

Fashion, Life & Style

35 Ethical Clothing Brands For Women

This post contains affiliate links 

Let’s chat ethical clothing brands.

The ethical fashion market is growing – in fact it’s never been bigger thanks to increasing demands from customers wanting more ethical and fair clothing.  In saying that though, it can be daunting knowing where to start looking for clothing.

To help you out I’ve listed some UK ethical clothing brands catering for women that you might love.  Some you might know, others you may not.  All adhere to the Moral Fibres ethos of hip, not hippie!

I’ve stuck to UK based women’s ethical clothing brands because I’m UK based and that’s what I know.  With over 30 ethical clothing brands listed here, I also had to draw the line somewhere, and geographical boundaries seemed like the most practical place to start! I’ve updated this article for 2020, so it’s bang up to date.

If you’re after men’s ethical clothing then do click here for that as I’ve got you covered!

Ethical Clothing Brands Directory 2020

Antiform – ££

Fashion-forward Antiform source all of their materials and workmanship within the UK, and local to their Bristol-based studio if possible.  They are big on the use of reclaimed materials with many items made from 100% reclaimed material.

Beaumont Organic – ££ – £££

ethical clothing brands - beaumont organic

Working only with factories that are within the EU, pay fair wages, and provide good working conditions, Beaumont Organic’s range of GOTS certified clothing is perfect for casual wear.

Bibico – ££

ethical clothing directory

Laidback fairtrade fashion that’s simple yet stylish, and very wearable.  All of Bibico’s items are made from natural materials so you won’t find any synthetics in their online shop, or in their bricks and mortar shop in Bath.  They even have a lovely range of organic cotton clothing.  Sign up to their newsletter and you’ll even get 10% off your first order.  They also run regular sales which are worth keeping your eye out for.

Braintree Clothing (now Thought Clothing) – ££

Easy to wear fairtrade clothing made from bamboo, hemp, and/or organic cotton, often in beautiful prints.  Keep your eye out for regular sales.

Celtic & Co – ££-£££

Based in Great Britain, Celtic & Co specialise in shoes and clothing made from ethically sourced natural fibres.  Focusing on quality and design, rather than seasonal trends, Celtic & Co pieces are designed to last a long time.

Earth Kind Originals – ££

This ethical clothing brand specialises in fairly made laid back leisure ware.

Finisterre – ££ – £££

An ethically made and sustainable outdoor clothing, which even offers a repair service for your Finisterre jacket.

Greenfibres – ££

Ethically sourced and responsibly made organic cotton basics

Gudrun Sjoden – ££

eco friendly fashion brands

Colourful eclectic clothing made ethically, and often organically.  I also appreciate their use of older models – it’s such a refreshing change.

Howies – ££

High quality organic and recycled outdoor clothing designed to last.

Kemi Telford – ££ – £££

black ethical clothing brands uk

Kemi Telford design and sell beautifully bold Nigerian influenced clothing, with a western twist, with sustainability at the heard of the brand.

Conscious of waste, remnants from the clothing are made into colourful hair bows or gift bags.

Kitty Ferreira – £££

The Kitty Ferreira brand makes stylish sustainable clothes perfect for work or special occasions, all of which are made in London.  Clothes are dyed using natural dyes, the silk they use is organic and cruelty-free, and where possible they use British made upcycled fabrics.  And in a very welcome move, the clothes go up to a size 26 – which is good news for customers looking for plus size ethical clothing.

Komodo – ££

komodo fashion

Ethically sourced, organic, and natural fibre fashion that’s every bit as stylish as ethical.

Lost Shapes – ££

Lost Shapes sell organic cotton Earth Positive t-shirts hand-printed with water-based inks. The quality is second to none and from experience, I can personally attest that each item washes really well.

Lowie – ££ – £££

Lowie’s exceptionally stylish clothes are fairly made from organic cotton, recycled cotton, or ethically sourced wool, and they even offer a free repair service on all items from their current and past seasons.

Madia & Matilda – ££

Cotswolds made stylish ethical clothing in sizes 8 – 18.  Items are produced from sustainable fibres, and minimising wastage is at their core.  Madia & Matilda say they create clothing that is timeless, great quality, classic, and not trend-focused, so their pieces are ones you can truly invest in.

Mayamiko – ££

Mayamiko clothing is ethically made in Malawi and combines contemporary design with traditional African techniques.  Part of their profits also goes towards the Mayakiko Trust, which helps some of the most disadvantaged people in Malawi by providing skills training, education, nutrition, sanitation, and promoting fairer trade practices.  Prices range from £19 upwards for tops, and £35 upwards for dresses.

Monkee Genes – ££

Purveyors of organic bamboo jeans, made in England, that are beautifully soft.  My only gripe is that Monkee Genes only come in two leg lengths – regular and long.   The regular leg length is 31″, so if you’re on the shorter side you may struggle with the fit.

Nancy Dee Clothing – ££

ethical fashion brands for women

British made fashionable ethical clothing for every occasion that’s made with sustainable eco-friendly fabrics.  Join their mailing list to get 20% off your first order.

Noctu – ££

Ethically made sleepwear and loungewear that’s both fairtrade and made using 100% GOTS certified cotton.

Nomads – ££

Bohemian-inspired ethical clothing in size 8-18 that’s designed in the UK and fairly made in India using GOTS certified cotton.  Use discount code WENDY10 for 10% off your order.

Organic Basics – ££

Organic Basics sell womens (and mens) underwear, activewear, and everyday essentials – think t-shirts, tops, and leggings – made from organic and recycled materials.  Organic Basics say “The fashion industry is dirty – but it can be better. We constantly search for better innovation, we have a visionary use of sustainable materials – and a continued focus on ethical production” and I have to say I’m a big fan.  Use discount code WENDYOBC for 10% off your order.

Outsider Clothing – ££ – £££

Beautiful, timeless clothes ethically made by this ethical clothing brand using sustainable materials, such as hemp, hemp silk, organic cotton, naturally coloured cotton, peace silk, and more.

Palava Clothing – ££ – £££

sustainable clothing brands

Uniquely printed dresses and skirts made from organic cotton in Europe and the UK.  The prints are hand-drawn in their London studio.  These seriously beautiful clothes are high up on my wishlist!  Keep your eye out for sample sales.

Patagonia

Responsibly made outdoor clothing designed to last, and to be repairable.  The website gives advice on how to repair all Patagonia items, which is seriously useful, and for any clothing that can’t be repaired then you can drop it off at a Patagonia store for recycling or repurposing.

People Tree – ££

People Tree sell fairtrade basics, leisurewear, workwear, and occasion wear, often in 100% organic cotton.  They often work in collaboration with designers, such as Orla Kiely and Zandra Rhodes, to produce some original prints.  Quite often this ethical clothing brand is my first stop when looking for ethical clothing.  Keep an eye out for regular sales if you’re shopping on a tight budget.

Riyka – ££ – £££

This ethical clothing brand sells a small collection of fun and colourful wardrobe basics, all designed in the UK and made in a fair-wage, sustainable atelier in Bulgaria.  Riyka says they use reclaimed, organic, and/or British made fabrics where possible, and all of the organic cotton they use is GOTS certified.

Seasalt Cornwall – ££

sustainable clothing brands Seasalt Cornwall

Seasalt specialises in beautiful timeless clothing and stunning prints and is actively increasing the number of products they manufacture locally in the South West, Guernsey and across the UK, through their Locally Made project.

THTC Clothing – ££

Short for The Hemp Trading Company, THTC is an ethical clothing brand that specialises in eco-friendly organic and ethically sourced and produced politically-conscious street-wear.

Totty Rocks – £££

Edinburgh based Totty Rocks produce stylish retro-inspired clothing, all of which are designed and made in Scotland.

The White T-Shirt Co – ££

The White T-Shirt Co produces simple wardrobe basics in 100% GOTS certified organic cotton.  If you’re looking for the perfect ethical white t-shirt then step this way.

Have I missed any?  Please pop your favourite ethical clothing brands in the comments below.

And found this guide to ethical clothing brands useful?  Why not pin it for later!

35 Sustainable and Ethical fashion brands