One such perk of the current situ is the potential of a new-found conscious attitude towards what we buy and what we wear each day.
No longer are we waking up to a shrill alarm, dazedly dressing in the most appropriate garms that come to hand. Gone (for now) is the magnetic pull into our favourite high street stores on the way to and from the lunchtime Pret-stop. The (somewhat) age-old adage “treat yo’self” no longer means a sale haul of one-time wears, but rather choosing special, long-lasting items that both spark a true sense of excitement on slotting through the letter box, and that contribute to a much more ethical, environmentally kind fashion industry.
So, if treating yourself is on the agenda (as it very well should be), here are five of London’s most desirable ethical clothing brands you can start with.
Online boutique Birdsong London encourages women to “dress in protest” – that is, in protest against the harmful fast fashion industry, abuse against women on the production line (an estimated 60 million women aged 18-35 working in garment production are underpaid), and consumers’ insatiable and problematic pursuit trends. Best known for their empowering slogan tees, Birdsong also boasts a range of classic-cut, beautifully patterned dresses and simple, elegant jewellery. All garments are made from organic, recycled materials, and all makers are based in the UK and paid the London Living Wage. When it comes to conscious consumerism, Birdsong ticks all the boxes!
One for the wardrobe: “Still I Rise” Maya Angelou-inspired organic cotton slogan tee
Quintessentially British and stunningly sophisticated brand Isabelle Fox was launched in 2016, the brainchild of grandmother-granddaughter duo Isabelle Waring and former couture seamstress Marie Fox. The pair’s aim is to provide women with classic, elegant and high-quality styles that bring traditional couture and consciousness together – and we can’t think of a better balance! All garments are produced from quality fabrics, 100% ethically in the UK and, despite its success, the brand remains direct-to-consumer, meaning it cuts out retail mark-ups and keeps its ultra-desirable pieces more affordable.
One for the wardrobe: “Amelia” belted coat in popping orange
Based between London and Stockholm, BITE (an acronym for By Independent Thinkers for Environmental Progress) is the environmentally and socially certified answer to high street Scandi favourite COS. A womenswear label that aims to fuse exceptional tailoring with low-impact materials, BITE’s hand-crafted pieces are effortless, durable and sustainable in equal measure. What’s more, BITE works with a collective of emerging artists and craftspeople, whether it’s producing visually stunning video installations, perfecting natural dying techniques or creating unique hand-made jewellery.
One for the wardrobe: Organic signature silk shirt
East London-based Paradise Row’s beautiful guilt-free vegetable tan leather bags have been touted “best bags under £500” by The Times’ Anna Murphy and featured as one of London’s top emerging luxury brands in British Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and ES magazine. Why? Its once-a-year collections, inspired by different aspects of psychology, culture, the arts and society, feature pared-back and sophisticated handbags made from hardy vegetable leather, which boosts the bags’ longevity and keeps them cruelty-free. They contain no chromium, the leather is biodegradable and byproduct of food and has a very low carbon footprint. The brand’s latest collection, “Hourglass”, in partnership with British artist Venetia Berry, focuses on and celebrates the female form, too – what’s not to like?
One for the wardrobe: “Contrapposto” shoulder bag in deep whiskey Italian vegetable-tanned leather
Conscious clothing doesn’t have to stop at daywear, and with all the time spent lounging between bedroom and living room at the moment, perfectly soft ‘n’ sustainable PJs are as important as “outside clothes” (the right pair can even sometimes be used for both…). That’s where award-winning online loungewear boutique Noctu comes in. The family business launched in 2009 with the aim of producing the comfiest nightie, for men and women, out of the best possible organic cotton. Fast-forward 11 years, and the brand’s entire range is organic, pesticide free, and fair trade, ensuring producers and workers are paid and treated fairly. Plus, Noctu is a supporter of the World Land Trust (WLT), donating enough money to protect ten square metres of wildlife for every purchase. Shopping and saving the planet in one smooth move – weekend activity sorted.
One for the wardrobe: “Elara” organic cotton nightie in soft blue cotton