When you make your own clothes, you come to realise how much time, effort and know-how it takes to create a garment. That’s why I’m always shocked by just how little shops like Primark can sell things for – the people making all those super-cheap dresses and tops are surely not getting a fair deal. So I love discovering brands that have an ethos behind them, be it sustainable, ethical or charitable – these three prove that ethical fashion can be edgy, fun and modern, and that it doesn’t always have to equal mega expensive prices, which is a win in my book.
You might be wondering who the Riley of this brand’s title is, although if you’re a fan of trashy-but-oh-so-good reality TV (like myself) you might already know – she’s part of the MIC alumni. Although it seems like most of the posh MIC peeps have their own fashion label, Made by Riley is a little different in that it’s a charitable brand – its printed tees and sweaters are designed and created in Britain, and a percentage of the proceeds from each garment goes towards various handpicked charities, including Maggie’s Centres, Action Aid and Human Rights Watch. My favourite piece is the Live Your Life sweater – not only is it comfy and stylish, but 20 per cent of the cost is donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
The Who Made Your Pants? team believe that pants can change the world. Crazy? Well, maybe not so much – you see, this campaigning lingerie brand is dedicated to tackling some of the most controversial issues in clothing production (and the world) today – wastage, working conditions and women’s opportunities. In a little factory in Southampton they use end-of-season fabrics from big underwear companies to create comfy and colourful undies, and hope to create jobs for women who have had a hard time and help them to thrive and learn new skills. What’s more, all their profits go back into the business for staff training and development. And, as if all those ethical credentials weren’t enough, their pants aren’t half bad either – they’re pretty darn lovely, actually, especially the lacy Aimee shorts.
Ethical fashion once had a reputation for being a little bit, well, boring and untrendy, but brands like Cossac are adding some much-needed edge to the sustainable clothing scene. Cossac’s mission, according to its website, is to ‘promote transparency in the fashion world and to produce quality garments that are sustainable in both manufacture and design, without sacrificing on style.’ Its clothes are produced in the UK and Turkey in factories that provide just working conditions for its employees, and the majority of its fabrics are Fairtrade, organic, recycled or have low environmental impact. The main collection comprises sleek, minimalistic pieces that are designed to be worn time and again, season to season. The super-cool high-low top, slogan tees and tote bag are on my wish list.