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Fashion, Life & Style

Where to Buy Ethically Made Plus Size Clothing in 2021

Are you looking to buy sustainably and ethically made plus-size clothing? Here are ethical clothing brands that cater for women up to a UK size 38.

Moral Fibres readers first asked me about sustainable and ethical plus-size clothing about seven years ago. At the time, I planned to write a blog post, similar to my guide to ethically made clothing. However, after doing some fairly intensive research, it seemed there were only a handful of US brands and nothing UK-based. It was a woeful picture.

The average woman in the UK is a size 16, but for a long time, the UK ethical clothing scene was not representative of this at all. Make no mistake, ethical fashion still has a long way to go in terms of representation. However, things are slowly changing. Now there are more sustainable brands catering to the ethical plus-size clothing market.

Where to Buy Ethically Made Plus Size Clothing

Here are nine brands producing ethically made and beautiful plus size clothing, and that cater for up to a size 38. Some will even create clothing for you at any size, and won’t charge you any more for this.

In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

The price range key for this guide is:

 £ = Under £50 | ££ = £50 – 100 | £££ = £100+

The Emperor’s Old Clothes

Emperor's Old Clothes for plus-size ethical clothing

Caters up to UK size 28

Price range ££ – £££

All of The Emperor’s Old Clothes ethical clothing is handmade in Brighton, plus they cater for sizes up to size 24.

Here you’ll find one of a kind clothing, created from vintage and dead-stock fabric by people paid a living wage. The Emperor’s Old Clothes also invest in their local community with free sewing traineeships to encourage the continuation of their craft.

They have a strict zero fabric waste policy in their Brighton studio. This means that all of their garments are made from the end of roll fabrics. What’s more, the remnants created during the cutting of their garments go to making their accessories. Any leftover scraps from this are then either donated to local craft projects, textile recycled or made into scrap kits so you can get crafty at home.

The Emperor’s Old Clothes are also working to make their products as financially accessible as possible for their customers without compromising on their living wage ethos or the quality of their products. As such, they have introduced payment plans. Now customers can spread the cost of their ready to wear and design your own garments across 2 to 6 months rather than having to pay in full upfront.

Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective ethical clothing

Caters up to UK size 26

Price range ££ – £££

If you are looking for inclusively sized and ethically made activewear, then look no further than Girlfriend Collective. Catering for up to a UK size 26, and available via Sancho’s, their activewear is made from recycled plastic. Meanwhile, their t-shirts and tops are made from Cupro. This is a fibre made from waste the cotton industry leaves behind. What’s more, all of their clothing is made in SA8000 certified factories. What this certification means is that it guarantees fair wages, safe and healthy conditions, and zero forced labour or child labour.

What’s more, through their ReGirlfriend Scheme, Girlfriend Collective takes back your old Girlfriend Collective pieces. Here they are recycled and turned into brand new Girlfriend Collective pieces, rather than being downcycled into insulation products. And if the warm glow of doing something good wasn’t enough, then by way of thanks, you receive $15 USD towards a future purchase.

Gudrun Sjoden

Caters up to UK size 24

Price range ££

Ethical clothing can sometimes be a little monochrome. If you like brightly coloured and/or brightly patterned clothing, then worry not – this can still be bought ethically up to a UK size 24 at Gudrun Sjoden. Here you’ll find colourful eclectic clothing made ethically, and often organically.  If pattern isn’t your thing, then you’ll also find solid coloured ethical basics.

To be honest, I was at loggerheads of including Gudrun Sjoden in this article, because at the time of putting this article together (July 2021) I couldn’t find a single model above a size 10 modelling their clothes. I questioned Gudrun Sjoden about this via email and they told me:

We have several different seasonal collections per year and we use models of all sizes and backgrounds but unfortunately in this new Autumn collection, the models used are of a smaller size. Please be assured that if you purchase a garment that turns out to be totally unsuitable you can return it to us for exchange or refund.”

I don’t think that this is good enough, and Gudrun Sjoden can and should do better in terms of representation. However, I don’t want to not include Gudrun Sjoden in this article because options for plus-size ethical clothing are more limited.

Kitty Ferreira

Caters up to UK size 26

Price range: £££

Kitty Ferreira is a Black-owned brand that makes stylish ethical and sustainable clothes perfect for work or for special occasions.  Catering for up to a UK size 26, all of their clothing is made in London using upcycled and hand-dyed fabrics. Here, they use natural dyes, created using pomegranate and onions skins for a low environmental footprint. 

Kitty Ferreira doesn’t photograph their clothing on models, so unfortunately I don’t have any photos to show you!

Lora Gene

Ethically made clothing from Lora Gene

Caters up to UK size 28

Price range ££ – £££

Lora Gene makes beautiful ethically made clothing that caters up to a UK size 28. And as a certified B-Corp, this means that Lora Gene meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. 

Lora Gene’s main priority is to minimise waste in every step of the product life cycle. From the production of sustainably sourced materials, design, manufacturing, storage, transport, marketing, sales, reuse and recycling – Lora Gene takes responsibility for everything that they create. And unlike fast fashion, Lora Gene’s approach involves prioritising quality over quantity at all times.

All of Lora Gene’s garments are made to order, so you need to allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery.

Palava

Ethical and sustainable plus size clothing for women

Caters up to UK size 28

Price range ££ – £££

Palava’s uniquely printed dresses and skirts are made from organic cotton in Europe and the UK and cater for up to a UK size 28. These seriously beautiful ethical clothes are so joyful!  

All of Palava’s dresses, skirts, trousers, tops and coats are ethically made in a small family-run factory on the outskirts of London.  And to minimise waste, all of Palava’s accessories are made from the leftover fabric after their dresses and skirts have been cut. Any scraps too small for their accessories get sold in fabric bundles for crafters and home sewists. What’s more, all of Palava’s packaging is now plastic-free.

Take 10% off your first order by signing up for their newsletter.

Sadie Alys

A guide to ethically made plus-size clothing, including Sadie Alys who will custom make clothing catering to any size.

Caters to any size – Sadie Alys will make custom clothes for any size at no additional cost

Price range: £ – £££

Sadie Alys is a made-to-order, custom-sized, slow fashion brand handmade in North Wales. Their aim is to make a positive impact on the fashion industry by making inclusive slow fashion for everyone. As such, Sadie Alys will cater for any size, at no additional cost. This really is plus size ethical fashion at its most inclusive.

Dungarees and skirts are Sadie Alys’s speciality – from long to short dungarees, as well as dungaree dresses to funky skirts. These are handmade from organic cotton and printed with eco-friendly inks.

As everything is made to order, this allows for less waste and unneeded fabric, helping to lighten the environmental load further. Because of this, please allow up to 5 weeks for your item to be made and dispatched.

Seasalt

Caters up to UK size 28

Price range: £ – ££

Offering inclusive sizing at really reasonable High Street prices, many of Seasalt’s* clothes are made from GOTS certified organic cotton. In fact, Seasalt was the very first fashion company to achieve Soil Association GOTS certification back in 2005. They’ve continued to do great things by bringing sustainability to the high street, whilst catering for a wide range of sizes.

Again, despite catering for up to a UK size 28, I could not find a single model above a size 10 modelling Seasalt’s clothes. This lack of diversity is disappointing from Seasalt. I’d like to see them do better.

Snag Tights

plus size ethical tights from Snag

Caters up to UK size 38

Price range: £

Snag, who are famous for their tights, don’t just sell ethically made tights. Oh no, as well as fun patterned tights and plain tights, here you’ll also find leggings, t-shirts, skirts, swimwear, and chub rub shorts, all ethically made and catering for sizes up to a UK plus size 38. That’s not a typo, that’s a size 38. Did I mention their prices are incredibly reasonable? Oh yes. I couldn’t find a single item over £40. Snag says that they keep a fixed margin, so they are able to pass any savings on to you.

Snag says that they are committed to doing things ethically and sustainably. As such, their entire clothing range is made from materials that are carefully considered, and all of their factories treat their workers fairly and pay living wages.

What’s more, Snag Tights are now fully recyclable. Snag has created a process specifically for their tights that turns your old tights into permanent industrial components. You can post them back to Snag for recycling (only Snag tights are accepted right now). You do have to pay postage for this, but the good news is that Snag is currently working on funding for you to send your tights back to them for free.

How To Make Ethical Clothing More Representative of Plus Size Bodies

Of course, there are many more ethical brands that don’t cater for plus sizes. Brands tell me they cater to perceived demand. If there is a particular brand that you would like to shop from that doesn’t cater for you, do email them and tell them you would shop with them if they made clothes that cater to more representative sizing. I also make a point of asking ethical fashion brands I work with if they have limited sizing options, about their plans to introduce greater size ranges to let them know that this is an important consideration for customers.

What If I Can’t Afford to Buy Plus Size Ethical Clothing?

I have aimed to cater to a wide range of price points in this article. However, if plus size ethical clothing is still out of your reach, then it’s important to remember that you don’t have to buy ethical clothing to support the ethical fashion movement. From supporting the right’s of garment workers across the globe to pressing brands for greater transparency, and calling out greenwashing when you see it, there’s much that can be done to support the movement, and those most negatively impacted by fast fashion.

As always, do let me know if you come across any more ethically made plus size clothing.

Fashion, Life & Style

How To Support The Ethical Fashion Movement When You’re Broke

Do you want to support the ethical fashion movement, but your bank account says no? Don’t worry, here are seven impactful steps you can take to take action against fast fashion and support garment workers across the globe.

Ethical consumer spending has swelled to over £41bn a year, as UK consumers’ shopping habits increasingly reflect their concerns about the environment, animal welfare, social justice, and human rights.

This ethical market has risen almost fourfold in the past 20 years. The options available to ethical shoppers have kept pace with this growth, with more choices available to sustainably-minded consumers than ever before.

The Barriers to Shopping Ethically

Despite this growth in interest in ethical shopping, shopping ethically can be tricky. Particularly so when it comes to clothing. Whilst there is a growing proliferation of ethical clothing brands that create clothing made responsibly and fairly from sustainable materials, there are a number of barriers in place for would-be ethical shoppers.

As a starter for ten, the ethical clothing market lacks a range of inclusive sizes. If you’ve above a size 16 or 18, your options rapidly diminish. And that’s before the issue of cost is raised. Unless you are shopping for secondhand clothing, sustainable fashion tends to come with a higher price tag compared to its fast-fashion counterparts. It’s often asked why is ethical clothing so expensive?  A better way of looking at it should be asking why fast fashion is so cheap.

How to Support The Ethical Fashion Movement When You’re Broke

How to support the ethical fashion movement when you're broke

While the cost of fast fashion is easily a topic for a whole other blog post, cost remains a significant entry barrier to shopping for ethical clothing for many. The good news is that you don’t have to buy ethical clothing in order to support the ethical fashion movement. There are many other impactful ways to support the ethical fashion movement from the bottom up without denting your budget.  Here are seven to start you off:

Look After The Clothes You Have

The single most sustainable clothes are the ones you already own. When it requires 2700 litres of water to produce a single t-shirt, keeping a garment you already own in use for longer will do far more for the environment than any new purchase you could ever make. And looking after our clothes, and in turn buying less, diminishes the power of the fast fashion industry.

It’s simple to prolong the life of your clothes.  Washing your clothes less is the ultimate lazy way to do so. When you do need to wash them, simply wash and dry your clothes according to their care labels. Treating stains when they arise, rather than letting them set also helps prevent our clothes from becoming unwearable.

Another key aspect is repairing our clothes when rips or tears arise. Nadia Piechestein, the sustainable fashion designer behind TLZ Movement, uses offcuts from her work in alterations and repairs, to create zero-waste patches for people to mend their clothes with. 

Nadia says it’s important to mend the clothes we own because it helps minimise our impact on the planet. Her easy-fix advice is to use patches to cover up holes. Nadia says “it gives a personalized style and you can go out proudly saying that your garments were reworked”.

Be An Outfit Repeater

The rise of social media has seen our thirst for new clothing reach extreme levels. Instagram’s insidious “outfit of the day” hashtag (#OOTD) encourages dysfunctional clothing consumption levels. We’re now at the point where one in six young people say that they don’t feel they can wear an outfit again once it’s been seen on social media. This is according to research by environmental charity Hubbub.

Lianne Bell, author of the book How On Earth Can I Be Eco-Friendly attributes the problem to the cost and availability of fast fashion. Bell says in this article for Moral Fibres: “we’ve come to think of clothing as disposable and easily replaceable. When something is so readily available to us, it devalues the whole item.” 

Rewearing the clothes we have seems hardly revolutionary, but it’s a key way to help halt the rise of fast fashion. Simply committing to re-wearing the clothes you already own for as long as possible can disrupt the fast fashion industry, an industry that relies on people buying new clothes as often as possible.

Sell or Swap or Donate Your Old Clothes

In an ideal world, we would all wear our clothes until they were no longer repairable. However, life never stays the same. Body sizes change, lifestyles change, tastes change. In these instances, selling or passing on our clothes helps disrupt the fast fashion market. 

It’s never been easier to do so, and there are many sites where you can sell clothes online. Alternatively, you can swap clothes with friends, or through organised clothes swaps in your local community. If these aren’t an option, then online clothing swapping platforms, such as Shwap, are great ways to keep clothing out of landfill, build an ethical fashion wardrobe, and reduce our reliance on fast fashion.

If you are donating clothing, remember that charity shops aren’t waste disposal units. Charity shops want clean, good-quality clothing from desirable brands. Before donating, ask yourself if you would honestly buy the item you are planning to donate. If not, recycle the item of clothing instead.      

Shop Secondhand

Buying second-hand is one of the easiest ways for consumers to understand that they are choosing a more sustainable option than buying new. It’s also one of the most affordable ways to take part in ethical fashion. 

Shopping secondhand does have its barriers. It can be tricky to find inclusive sizing on the rails of your local charity shop. Meanwhile, men’s options can be limited. The good news is that there is a proliferation of secondhand shopping sites online – from eBay to Depop and everything in between. You can even shop Oxfam Online*. Here proceeds support their work on fighting poverty and injustice across the globe. You do tend to find more options online, with many sites having healthy plus-size and men’s clothing sections.   

Support Garment Workers

Garment workers have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, and stay-at-home orders closed stores across the globe, many big-name fashion brands cancelled their orders placed before the crisis. This included some orders which had already been shipped. This financially devastated factories since they had already paid for fabric and other production costs for these orders. Many were left with no money to pay workers’ wages, and garment workers were left to go without. 

According to the Workers Rights Consortium, many brands have still not paid for these cancelled orders. To date, the brands that haven’t paid for cancelled orders include Matalan, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Esprit, and Oscar De La Renta.

Through their #PayUp campaign, The Clean Clothes Campaign is pressing the global fashion brands that have refused to pay for over $16 billion worth of goods ordered since the start of the outbreak. With Twitter templates that you can use to tell brands to pay up, supporting garment workers’ rights and encouraging fashion brands to adopt more ethical practices is as simple as sending a tweet. 

Have Conversations Around Ethical Fashion

Having conversations with fashion brands that you think should be doing better is another key way to support the ethical fashion movement from the ground up. 

Fashion Revolution’s Who Made My Clothes campaign, for example, encourages people to ask brands via email or social media, who made the clothes they are wearing, or the fabric their clothes are made from. This challenges brands to protect the people in their supply chains. It also encourages them to take responsibility for the human rights and wellbeing of everyone involved in the manufacturing process, from farm to factory to finished garment.

Conversations don’t have to stop there. Chat to your friends and family about why supporting ethical fashion doesn’t just mean buying a pair of jeans made from organic cotton. When we take into account the entire supply chain and life cycle of a garment, through to a brand’s business practices, and to our options for recycling when the item we’ve bought reaches the end of its life, do we see that ethical fashion extends far beyond just what our clothes are made from.

Call Out Greenwashing

Greenwashing is when a brand conveys misleading information that its products are environmentally friendly. It’s rife in the fast fashion industry. Here, brands like H&M, BooHoo, and Primark, which are rooted in promoting hyper-consumption, have all launched lines with a sustainable facade. These, often small collections – in the case of Primark, their ‘sustainable range’ comprises of just 8 items – are partly made with recycled or organic materials. They’re then sold alongside these brands’ standard options. 

The problem is scale. At the time of writing, H&M, for example, has 9416 women’s items of clothing for sale on its website. Of these, 1337 are new arrivals. This rate of manufacturing simply isn’t sustainable for the planet. Rather than cutting back on manufacturing levels, H&M instead launched their Conscious Collection – their “sustainable” range. Here at least 50% of each piece is made from more sustainable materials, like organic cotton or recycled polyester. However, a t-shirt made partly from organic cotton isn’t going to save the planet. H&M ditching its fast-fashion model would. 

Call out this kind of greenwashing when you see it. This helps other people realise that this type of greenwashing is a hollow facade and that there are better ways to help support the ethical fashion movement than buying a “concious” t-shirt.

Final Thoughts on Supporting Ethical Fashion

If we want to change the systems that exploit communities and the environments that we live in, then it’s important to understand that what we buy is only one tiny element of that. Our actions and conversations that we have with others can have a much bigger impact. These can create ripples into the greater world that can bring about positive change to the ethical fashion industry from the bottom up. From change that supports garment workers and increases their wages and improves their working conditions,. To change that reduces both waste and the rate at which we buy new clothes. It’s a win for people and for the planet. And it doesn’t have to hurt your bank balance.