One of my eco-goals which I mentioned last year when I posted The Ultimate Eco Bucket-List was to only buy clothes from labels with sustainable and ethical practices. A year on and I’m finally making an effort to put this goal into action.
I’ve done a lot of research into clothing brands recently and here I wanted to share with you my favourite 3, which I believe cover 3 very different clothing needs: casual, occasional and outdoor…
People Tree – for casual staples and work wear.
Having not earned a proper salary for 6 months now, I’ve hardly been able to splurge on updating my wardrobe with lots of items – especially as sustainable and ethical clothing is rightfully more expensive. So I recently made one classic purchase from People Tree to see me through work to the weekend. People Tree can be expensive but you should keep an eye out for their sales via their newsletter because they are frequent! I bought these hand-woven, wide-leg trousers when I saw a 20% discount code:
On the website, it tells you exactly where and how the piece was made. For example, my trousers were made by Swallows – a fair trade group working with women in rural Bangladesh – using hand-woven cotton.
When they arrived, I was pleased from the minute I saw the packaging: everything was recyclable and made from recycled materials. The trousers are exactly as advertised and I can tell that the fabric used, and it’s finishes, are of the highest quality. I can’t wait to wear them for the first time on the day of my sister’s Graduate Fashion Week catwalk show!
Under People Tree’s section entitled ‘Our Story’, the company talks about Sustainability and states the aims of its Eco Policy:
- to promote natural and organic farming
- to avoid polluting substances
- to protect water supplies
- to use biodegradable substances where possible
- to recycle materials where possible
Mayamiko – for colourful African prints and quirky designs.
Now this brand proves that you don’t need to spend a fortune to be an ethical buyer – with prices from £19 for a top. I love the pieces in the Kukonda Collection, especially this jumpsuit (below left):
But if you want to go full sustainable the best collection to buy from is the Rebirth Upcycled Collection.
Mayamiko state that they are ‘committed to producing ethically’, and that they ‘adhere to the Ethical Trade Initiative’s principles (ETI)’. Their employment policy includes:
- No forced labour
- Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining
- Safe and hygienic working conditions
- No child labour
- Living wages
- No discrimination
- No excessive working hours
- Regular employment to be provided
- No harsh or inhumane treatment
- Training and professional development for all employees
- A nutritious meal every day
- Life skill sensitization and individual support
- Support to set up independent businesses and cooperatives when desired
- Financial education and access to microfinance, loans and grants
- Pension scheme and gratuity
I also particularly like that the company ‘operates a ‘Zero Waste’ workshop where even the smallest piece of fabric is transformed in value-add items, both for export and for the local community’
Páramo – for waterproofs, base-layers, outdoor gear, etc.
My mum is a big fan of Páramo and introduced me to them recently when we were having a mooch around the shops in Betws-Y-Coed.
Páramo was the first company to sign up to the Greenpeace Detox commitment which means that the brand has vowed to exclude hazardous chemicals from their garment production. Unfortunately, most outdoor brands are wedded to PFC-based materials because they are water repellent. But these waterproof fabrics release or break down to form extremely toxic, persistent PFCs (Perfluorinated Compounds) which are now found in even the most pristine environments. Evidence that these chemicals can cause hormone disruption, cancer and immune suppression in children has led Greenpeace to campaign for a ban on PFC use. What is even more scary is that PFCs tend to bioaccumulate and store themselves within the bodies of humans and animals!
Páramo use Nikwax waterproof fabrics and treatments as an alternative, delivering high performance without the use of PFCs.
And if that wasn’t enough to love, this brand also practices fair trade within its factories in Colombia – which make 80% of Páramo’s range – empowering vulnerable women. Colombia has one of the largest numbers of internally displaced people worldwide, with 10% of the population having been forced to flee their homes due to conflict and violence. Displacement makes women and girls vulnerable to violence, prostitution and drug abuse. Having created a partnership with the Miquelina Foundation back in 1992, the brand ensures that 200 women are employed, 400 women are trained, and 200 children attend nursery, each year. The cooperative has also built over 130 houses so far, giving the women an opportunity to buy property at a fair price.
Oh yeah, and they also run a recycling scheme where they take back any item of clothing (except underwear) and either find it a new home or recycle it into new fabric. They offer up to £50 off a new Páramo purchase as a reward too!
Páramo proves the power that clothing brands have to make a difference – if they would just choose to alter their manufacturing processes and their motives.