Ethical women’s clothing: where to shop in the UK

You’re probably looking for ethical women’s clothing – and reading this article – because you’re already aware of the horrors of fast fashion. There’s the price of environmental devastation. And then there’s the human cost.

A recent recent investigation published in the Guardian highlights how workers making £88 Lululemon leggings say they suffer regular abuse.

Another reveals bosses are forcing female workers making jeans for Levis, Wrangler and Lee into sex. If the women refuse advances, their jobs and promotions are put at risk.

These both show how codes of conduct are often not worth the paper they are written on. This is despite clever marketing from brands that make it seem they are looking after their workers.

The beauty of ethical women’s clothing

The best fashion designers care about the impact they are having on the planet. And they don’t exploit the environment or abuse human rights in the name of style. These designers take responsibility for the working conditions of the people in their supply chains.

But ethical and sustainable fashion doesn’t mean having to compromise on style. Designers care about offering superior quality. So, they make items that are easy to wear plus look and feel good.

For example, often clothes are made with natural fabrics. So, they feel much nicer to wear than synthetic materials because they let your body breathe.

Of course, ethical production comes at a higher price than fast fashion. But, you have to ask yourself, what is the true cost?

Ultimately, fashion is all about personal communication. And the most important question is, what do you want the brands you wear to say about you?

A guide: women’s ethical clothing UK

Each of these brands offer superior ethics and sustainability to the fast fashion industry. They have all completed a comprehensive questionnaire about their ethical standards in the supply chain.

But this is just a taster. Find the full list of the fashion brands we love here.

Ethical womenswear: Vildnis
Vildnis mantra: “Change the fashion industry without changing your style”

Ethical women’s clothing: Vildnis

Vildnis enable people to “change the fashion industry without changing your style”. As such, their contemporary clothes are relaxed and easy to wear. The range includes jumpsuits, jumpers and dresses that will take you from day-to-night.

Vildnis hold themselves accountable to social and environmental goals as well as financial ones. Their founder is a champion of sustainable materials and workers rights. Also, they won’t use a model below a size-10 on their website and don’t retouch photos.

Their clothes are on the generous size, so go lower when ordering if you’re in between sizes.

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Ethical underwear Lara Intimates
Lara Intimates underwear is made from surplus materials and offers great support

Ethical women’s clothing: Lara Intimates

Even with no underwire Lara Intimates bras offer such great support it’s becoming an especially popular brand for larger busted women.

Buy online or visit their Hackney studio, where they can even make bras bespoke to fit. By creating all underwear in-house, they control and oversee the final quality of their underwear. They use surplus materials from larger factories, saving it from landfill. Be aware, this means their colours are often limited edition.

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Komodo is a pioneering ethical clothing brand for women
Komodo is a pioneering ethical clothing brand for women

Ethical women’s clothing: Komodo

Komodo have been honing their style for more than 30 years. They work with family run factories in Bali and Kathmandu. Also, they work with a solar powered knitwear factory in Nepal.

They are hot on materials and use a lot of Tencel. This is an award-winning fibre made from tree cellulose that’s farmed on wasteland. It is bio-degradable and incredibly soft.

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A quick guide to sustainable materials

The best are recycled – especially cotton and wool.

Also top of the list are organic materials, especially linen and hemp but also cotton.

New, great and increasingly popular fibres include Tencel (created from wood) and Monocel (from bamboo).

Gung Ho food for thought
Gung Ho beautiful designs contain an important message about veganism and protein.

Ethical women’s clothing: Gung Ho

Founder Sophie Dunster’s aim is to start conversations with her intricate designs. These always contain a secret message about an important issue, such as food waste or ocean plastics.

It goes without saying the materials are sustainably sourced. Plus, the clothes are made in the UK, or at Fairwear Foundation-certified factory in Bangladesh. Gung Ho’s clothing and accessories are as bold as they are beautiful.

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Rapanui ethical everyday wear
Rapanui’s fully circular economy t-shirts can be recycled again and again – without using any plastics.

Ethical women’s clothing: Rapanui

Rapunai are a great brand for organic cotton essentials – especially for lovers of the ocean and great outdoors. Even Sir David Attenborough gives the brand his seal of approval.

They offer all the basics, such as t-shirts, jumpers, knickers and socks. They even sell them in bundles, so shopping couldn’t be easier.

Rapunai operate as a social enterprise on the Isle of Wight, helping to combat youth unemployment.

Plus, they power their UK factory using renewables. Even better, they use a closed-loop water system for dyeing clothes that filters water so well it’s pure enough to drink.

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People Tree ethical women's clothing
People Tree has stuck to its principles of fairly and sustainably made clothing since its inception

Ethical women’s clothing: People Tree

People Tree is one of the pioneering ethical fashion brands. As it has grown, it has stuck to its principles of fairly and sustainably made clothing. Every item listed on its site details who made the garment and its positive impact.

People Tree have great sales, so keep an eye out for them, too.

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Did you know?

It can take up to 15,000 litres of water to grow the cotton for one pair of jeans.

More than 100 million new items of clothes are being produced every year.

300,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes go into landfill or get incinerated every year in the UK alone.


ECOALF Because there's no planet B
ECOALF: Because there’s no planet B

Ethical women’s clothing: ECOALF

“Because there’s no Planet B” is ECOALF’s strapline. As such, they use the latest technology to transform recycled materials into top quality garms.

For example, their Upcycling the Oceans project collects materials such as fishing nets and turns them into fabrics.

But what’s also great is that all workers are paid a living wage and they aim to be a fully vegan brand by 2020.

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Valentina Karellas ethical knitwear
Valentina Karellas creates knitwear from surplus UK-spun yarn

Ethical women’s clothing: Valentina Karellas

Valentina Karellas creates knitwear from surplus UK-spun yarn. She purposely keeps the loose strands of yarn on her designs to showcase the brand’s zero-waste ethos and rawness of her knits.

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ethical women's clothing - Punks and Chancers Vegan Tshirt
Vegan Punk Tee from Punks and Chancers

Ethical women’s clothing: Punk and Chancers

Love a slogan tee? Then check out the bold, tongue-in-cheek designs from Punks and Chancers. They are made from organic cotton, recycled cotton or recycled polyester. Plus, the printing is done with water-based inks.

Their “Yes Bab” range is especially popular with people who have an affinity for the Midlands. “Say yes!” says founder Barry.

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Side note:

Free returns really hit small brands hard because they’re not actually free.

It takes time to pack and unpack clothes and costs money to send packages back and they don’t have huge margins to start with.

Did you know that sometimes big brands send your returns straight to landfill?

Try only to order what you really want, and return items when absolutely necessary.

Main image: Gung Ho

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