Lovely reader parakeetpie recommended that I do a post on ethical shopping, and I’m happy to comply with a list of my top three companies. The shops are all UK based I’m afraid, although they do all ship internationally.
My favourite, of course, as you probably noticed if you follow my outfit pics. It’s pretty much the only place I buy new clothes now, I tend to get stuff twice a year whenever the sale is on. I just bought this dress and this blouse.
The clothes are both organic and fair trade, and the fair tradeness extends to all aspects of the production process, not just the growing of the cotton (as is the case with M&S fair trade tshirts for example). They are working with small-scale producers and providing training, social welfare and environmental projects, as well as paying a fair price obviously. Which is nice.
The clothes are often handmade, and can be a little on the hippyish side as a result, but they do have some interesting designer collaborations, and some sharp tailoring in the non-designer section as well. Also, I think I’ve said this before but their cotton basics are seriously good quality, and even the light coloured tops thick enough not to show dark underwear through, which you don’t get anywhere else I don’t think.
Prices aren’t low, but reasonable – sort of mid-range high street level. Plus almost everything will go in the sale eventually which brings it down to excellent value. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything full price, actually.
This is a shoe shop focusing on ‘lightness, anatomic design, disassembly and durability’. They try to minimize waste and toxin use through minimum glue use, and use eco-friendly and recycled materials. A lot of the leather is vegetable tanned.
The main thing though is that these shoes look AMAZING. So, so pretty. And I’m not a shoe person at all, but I am coveting these ones, and I think I might get these ones at some point in the future. I’ve been on the look out for lace up shoes for ages. Prices are high though, about as much as Camper shoes or more in some cases. But if they really are as durable as they say, totally worth it. I’d love to know if these run small or large (I’m a size five and a half and could go either way), I suppose I’d need to go to one of the shops in London to find out.
These I’ve never bought from before, and probably won’t either, since their style of clothing is really too sporty/outdoorsy for my taste, but I think will be great for some people.
Their thing is ‘made to last’ clothes from organic cotton, merino, and recycled materials, and they pledge to give 1% of their turnover or 10% of pre-tax profits (whichever is greater) to grassroot environmental and social projects. Their products aren’t fair trade though, because “we are not convinced that there is a trusted set of guidelines to follow”, which does seem a somewhat odd statement, if the Fairtrade mark is not enough, what’s stopping you from using that as the basic, and improving on it? However, I do believe that they are serious about being as low impact and sustainable as possible, I can’t think of many other companies where the owner would respond as openly in a critical Q&A like they did with the guardian website in April last year.
The pricing is again on the high end of high street prices, and somewhat erratic. £75 for a pair of jeans seems just about ok, but for a short sleeved top maybe not so much. They do cut prices a lot in their sale, so it’s worth checking in.
Also, I should mention that there are a quite few ‘ethical department store’ type sites bringing together stuff from various brands. Ascension is my favourite.
I’m actually not sure I’m completely the best person to ask about this topic, since I rarely buy new, even ethically new, so if you have any other favourites, do tell!