Tag

ethical shopping guide

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

The Best Ethical Sandals & Flip-Flops For Summer

From ethical walking sandals to vegan sandals, to sustainable and plastic-free flip-flops and more, I’ve got all your eco-friendly summer footwear needs covered.

I’ve got an entire guide to ethical shoes and even ethical trainers. And as the sun has been positively shining lately, today let’s focus our attention on ethical sandals and other summer footwear staples, such as flip flops.

Before we dive in, it is important to bear in mind that sustainability is a complex and nuanced subject. There’s no official definition and the term means many different things to many different people. I’m therefore mindful that everyone has different ethics when it comes to footwear and the materials used in their manufacture. As such, this guide has been designed to be a starting-off point for you to research the most sustainable option for you, rather than a definitive “this is ethical” list.

Guide to Ethical Sandals

Here are the best ethical sandals and flip flops that I’ve been able to track down for you. From sandals made from recycled materials to sandals aiming to be circular, right through to vegan sandals and plastic-free flip flops. Do bear in mind that sandals, like shoes, are notoriously difficult to make ethically. This is due to the numerous components that go into making them. As such options are limited, and you probably won’t find a sandal that ticks 100% of your own particular ethical boxes. Instead, you may have to exercise a degree of compromise.

The price range key for this guide is £ = Under £50 | ££ = £50 – 100 | £££ = £100+

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that are purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

Birkenstock

Birkenstock ethical sandals

Price range: £ – ££

I bought a pair of Birkenstocks* WAY back in 2006, and, do you know what? I’m still wearing the exact same pair today. These ethical sandals are almost indestructible. I know, I have worn mine every single summer since. I’ve walked perhaps a thousand miles in them – maybe more – and these beauties are still going. They have just this year started to unravel at the footbed, but after 15 years that’s some pretty good innings. In terms of cost per wear, you simply cannot beat Birkenstocks.

I always think of Birkenstocks as being the opposite of fast fashion, as they always maintain a grasp on who they are by not conforming to specific trends. However, what makes Birkenstocks ethical and sustainable is the main component is super sustainable cork.

In some previous research on cork, I found out that to extract the cork not a single tree is cut down.  Instead, the bark of the cork oak trees is peeled away.  The cork is then carefully extracted manually by highly skilled harvesters. The cork then simply grows back. This system preserves the forest in its pristine entirety and enables perpetual harvesting with no damage to the forest or ecosystem. It’s pretty amazing stuff, really.

Birkenstock makes all of its products in Germany. And for top eco points, Birkenstock offers its own repair service. I’ve also heard good things about The Boot Repair Company, which also repairs Birkenstocks.

Birkenstock offers both vegan and non-vegan leather options, depending on your preferences. Their vegan ranges are entirely free of animal products and are verified by independent testing laboratories. However, something I did note is many sandals in their vegan range are made from Birko-Flor, which appears to be a PVC-based plastic.  PVC is the single most environmentally damaging plastic. This is because PVC is made out of petroleum (a fossil fuel), which contributes to carbon emissions. The manufacturing process of PVC uses a lot of resources, and it releases a lot of toxic chemicals. Leather isn’t without its environmental and ethical problems either. Who said making sustainable choices was easy?

Camper

Camper ethical and circular sandals

Price range: £ – ££

Camper* has slowly been working on increasing its use of recycled materials and eco-friendly fabrics. Recently they’ve introduced circular styles which use closed-loop materials or can be transformed into new products at the end of their life. Their goal is to send no waste to landfill by 2030.

At the moment Camper’s circular range is small, but the good news is that these Wabi vegan sandals are part of their ethical Better Collection range. That means that you can return the sandals back to Camper when they reach the end of their life. They will then be ground down to restart life as a new sole or shoe. This sounds good. However, at present these particular sandals are made of only 20% recycled materials, and the remaining 80% is made of virgin plastic, which is oh, about 80% too much, given that fossil fuels are required to make plastics. I hope Camper can nudge the recycled figure upwards as they expand their Circular range. I’ll keep you updated.

Matt & Nat

Matt and Nat vegan sandals in black

Price range: £ – ££

Matt and Nat’s vegan sandals* are a stylish choice if you want to avoid animal-based fabrics. Matt and Nat are a strictly vegan company and do not use any animal products whatsoever.

However, like many vegan shoe materials, there are trade-offs. Good on You highlights shortcomings when it comes to Matt and Nat. For a start, the company does use PVC plastic in some of their products, which, as we discussed in the section on Birkenstocks, is not good for the environment.

The good news is that these Cyndie sandals are made from 100% recycled Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB). PVB is an innovative material made from 100% recycled resin from windshield glass, making it a better choice than PVC.

Whilst these specific sandals are made from ethical materials, there are also question marks over Matt and Nat’s ethics. Matt and Nat’s products are made in China, and Good on You highlights a lack of transparency over certain aspects of production. There are no details on the specific measures they undertake to ensure that their labour standards are being upheld. There is also no evidence that Matt and Nat has, or requires suppliers to use, a Code of Conduct. Reading this I would say that Matt and Nat are a vegan shoe company, rather than an ethical shoe company.

Teva

Teva walking sandals in black

Price range: £ – ££

Many years ago I had a pair of Teva walking sandals* which I absolutely adored. They were one of the most comfortable pairs of sandals I had ever worn. After they wore out, I replaced them with my near-indestructible Birkenstocks, and I hadn’t revisited the brand until recently when I started hearing more and more about Teva’s eco-friendly and ethical credentials.

It turns out that Teva has really upped their eco game in recent years, and has made solid progress in terms of reducing their water consumption, reducing waste and packaging, and increasing their use of recycled materials in making their sandals. In fact, in 2020, Teva transitioned all of its sandal straps to traceable verifiable recycled plastic. Since then, they say they’ve diverted 24 million plastic bottles from landfills.

Teva has a wide range of walking sandals, sandals, and flip-flops. Do bear in mind that if you are looking for vegan sandals, then not all Teva shoes are vegan-friendly. However, they do have many vegan styles, so you won’t be short on choice.

Vivobarefoot

Vivobarefoot tan leather sandals

Price range: £££

If minimal soled ethical sandals are more your thing, then Vivobarefoot* has you covered. This certified B-Corp’s ethical sandals are made from premium leather offcuts from their shoe production, making them a zero-waste sandal. Whilst Vivobarefoot does have a vegan range, unfortunately, they don’t offer a vegan sandal option. Yes, like virgin plastic, leather isn’t the most sustainable material. However, Vivobarefoot’s leather is ethically sourced as a byproduct from small-scale Ethiopian farmers. And as you can see, they are committed to using every last scrap.

Aiming for circularity, Vivobarefoot offers a repair service. And for shoes that have reached the end of their life, you can send them back to Vivobarefoot. Here, their skilled team reconditions the old shoes, by carefully repairing seams, patching torn or weak areas, replacing broken eyelets and lace hooks, and more. By keeping shoes out of landfill, it benefits the planet and allows people to shop at lower price points whilst helping to support circular business practices.

Waves Flip Flops

Waves ethical plastic-free flip flops

Price range: £

Are you looking for plastic-free and vegan flip-flops? Step forward Waves ethical flip flops*. Yup, the holy grail of footwear materials – a plastic-free vegan product – is possible! You see, many flip flops are made from petroleum-based rubber and plastics. However, Waves flip-flops are made from 100% natural rubber that’s FSC certified.

Any off-cuts from the manufacturing process get granulated. These rubber granules are then used to create flip flops. This system cuts down on the total amount of rubber that producers need to grow, thereby reducing water, land, and energy usage. You can also send back your worn-out Waves, and again, these will be recycled. You’ll also get 10% off your next order, by way of thanks for keeping your old flip flops out of landfill.

Which Ethical Sandals Should I Buy?

I find footwear to be the most tricky aspect of an ethical wardrobe. Therefore, when it comes to ethical sandals it’s no easy matter. Any new shoe or sandal will take a toll on the earth.

What to choose depends on whether you value plastic-free products, or whether you value vegan and cruelty-free products more. If it’s too tricky to choose, then ask if flip-flops could fulfill your footwear needs. Of course, this then brings other quandaries. What is better for the environment? Flip-flops that may require regular replacing or a sandal that may have a much longer lifespan?

There’s a lot to think about. However, don’t forget the ultimate eco-friendly and ethical option. Simply ask yourself do you actually need to buy a new pair of sandals? Could your existing pair of sandals be repaired? Could you find what you need secondhand? I always find this the best starting point before buying something new.