It is no secret to anyone that knows the Artisans & Adventurers team that we love brightly coloured clothes. However, the fashion industry is one of the most environmentally damaging industries that exists as well as often being one the most unethical. Around 150 billion garments are produced annually, leading to more pollution and landfill waste than ever before. It takes 2720 litres of water to make a single t-shirt, the same amount of water most of us will usually drink over a 3 year period. It is also estimated that up to 95% of landfilled textiles are actually recyclable. Not only is the impact on our planet huge, garment workers are also at the 2nd highest risk of modern slavery of all workers worldwide. In fact, a recent study of workers in India’s garment industry found that 99.2% of workers were subject to conditions of forced labour. That’s why it is so important to us to support small, ethical businesses with sustainable practises that align with our own ethics, both as a business and as individuals. There are some incredible businesses out there that produce their clothes ethically and in an environmentally friendly way and so we wanted to share some of our personal favourites with you to help you get started on your ethical clothing journey.
Best for Co-ords: McIndoe Design
McIndoe Design is a Lewisham-based brand that uses hand-drawn, jungle-inspired prints in bright colours to create their unique, eye catching clothes. Their clothing is all made in Jaipur, India by a team headed by the greatly experienced Abhay. Abhay runs the production unit that his own grandfather started, he’s known the master screen printers that he works with since he was a toddler. All printing and sewing are done in-house at Abhay’s workshop meaning the clothing is produced in small runs, which means McIndoe Design only produce what they need and so wastage is kept to a minimum. Mary, the studio manager, is heavily inspired by South America and this passion for playful, colourful patterns is clear in all the garments she creates! We love that McIndoe Design offer lots of coordinating pieces, meaning it is possible to buy a matching set of tops and bottoms.We think co-ords are particularly great as they offer up so many options for styling, either as separates or together, making a couple of items of clothing go a long way. We particularly love the Chilli print which is available in both a shirt and trousers! For men our top pick is the Jungle Shirt paired with the Jungle Shorts.
Nearly everything is on sale at the moment too so it’s the perfect time to pick up a sustainable bargain! We've partnered with McIndoe Design to offer our customers an exclusive discount. Any Artisans & Adventurers purchase comes with an exclusive discount code to use at McIndoe Design online.
Best for Sportswear: TALA
Yes, even your activewear can be ethical. We love online brand TALA for their comfortable, simple workout clothing that comes in a great range of sizes and styles to suit everybody. They are on a mission to make their clothing 100% up-cycled and are currently 92% of the way there! All of their packaging is recycled AND recyclable and their tags are made from 100% plantable paper - meaning you can pop them in some soil and watch them grow into plants! TALA uses recycled cotton for their hoodies and joggers, meaning they save 4817 litres of water per tonne of recycled cotton used compared to cotton grown. They are always transparent about their supply chain at every stage, meaning you will always know exactly where their clothing has come from and how it was made. Their factory group has been audited by Sedex which checks the business for Labour, Health & Safety and Environment and Business Ethics, meaning the well-being of the workforce is constantly being monitored. They are always researching and trialling new sustainable materials to ensure their products are the best they can be. From sports bras to leggings to even sports socks, TALA really does have everything you need for your workout clothing and leisure-wear. Our top picks are the Zinnia leggings which come in a great selection of colours and range from UK sizes 4-18 as well as the Aster crop which comes in matching colours in UK sizes 4-20. Our illustrated tote bags also make the perfect gym companion with plenty of space for all your stuff.
Best for Laid-Back Style: Lucy & Yak
If you’re an Instagram user, chances are you have seen Lucy & Yak’s fun and colourful designs all over the grid! From their iconic oversized dungarees to bold, printed trousers, Lucy & Yak offer lots of fun, wearable designs in relaxed, casual fits. Many of their clothes are also unisex, meaning everyone can enjoy their designs. All of their clothing is made in North India by a team headed by tailor Ismail. The tailors in Ismail’s team are paid four times the state minimum wage, meaning many of them can live comfortably whilst working part-time. Lucy & Yak worked with Ismail to build a new factory where working conditions would be improved significantly by providing more space for the workers as well as improved lighting and air conditioning. Solar panels are set to be installed in the factory to improve the environmental impact of their clothing production. They have also started working with materials made from recycled plastic bottles to try and make their clothing even more environmentally friendly. Their products also come packaged in a 100% recycled fabric bag and 100% biodegradable mailing bags. They are currently working to completely eradicate plastic from their production and distribution line. Everyone who works for Lucy & Yak is paid above the national living wage and they pledge to always continue to do this as their company grows. You can currently shop Lucy & Yak online and they will soon be opening a new store in Brighton so keep your eyes peeled for that! Our top picks are the Atlas organic denim dungarees which come in sizes XXS to XXL pairing fantastically with their Ocean organic cotton tee we love all the little sea creature illustrations that remind us of Margate. 5% of total sales for the Ocean tee go to The Marine Conservation Society who do a lot of great work to keep our Oceans (and the wonderful creatures in them) healthy, pollution free and protected. We think this outfit would be perfect styled with our Coral Ocean Collection Jewellery.
Best for Outerwear: Labo Mono
Labo Mono are a really exciting new brand based in Hackney that make bold, versatile jackets from recycled plastic bottles! Their Urban Jackets are produced near the city of Shijiazhuang in the Hebei Province of China where workers are paid a living wage by the hour. They work in a safe and regulated environment, 8 hours a day. They can choose to work extra hours which they are always paid for. Founder, Ali Namdari, is always happy to answer any questions about Labo Mono’s production and is always very transparent about their production line. He says that the main criteria when looking for their partner factory was quality, social responsibility, sustainability and price. They try to reduce their impact wherever possible by collecting their fabric trimmings and upcycling them to make repair kits as well as future products. The Urban Jackets are waterproof, super breathable and easily packable. They are certified by Bluesign, Global Recycled Standard, Oeko-Tex and are PETA approved vegan. Our favorite designs are the Carnival White Urban Jacket and the Salamander Orange Urban Jacket for that perfect pop of colour on grey, rainy days.
Best for Pretty Dresses: Pink City Prints
Pink City Prints is a business we have loved for a long time! They produce beautiful clothing that is hand block-printed, embroidered and woven in Jaipur, India. Their Founder and Director, Molly Russell, lives in Jaipur for 6 months of the year so that she is able to work closely with the workers who produce Pink City Prints garments. They only use sustainable, natural fibres including cotton, hand-loomed khadi cotton and silk. Each piece has been worked on by hand whether handspun, printed or embroidered making every item special. Each workshop they work with has been carefully selected to ensure employees are treated with care and respect. All workers work eight hour days with three breaks and earn more than double the minimum wage. Employees can take leave whenever they need to and receive sick pay and holiday. They are offered overtime and if they accept they are always paid extra. Every dress that Pink City Prints produces is like a work of art in its own right. We love their colourful and bold prints that remind us of bright sunny days in Jaipur. Our top dress picks include the Banana Tree Kaftan Dress which pairs perfectly with our Tiger Line jewellery collection and the South American Dress which we style with our Silver Monkey Puzzle Hoop Earrings.
Best for Underwear: What Lydia Made
Lydia Morrow is the Glasgow-based designer behind the sustainable, custom underwear brand What Lydia Made. Everything is handmade by Lydia using sustainable and/or recycled materials and is made to order meaning there is no waste and every set is made to measure, making the sizing totally inclusive for all body shapes and sizes. Lydia offers a whole range of carefully selected, contemporary colourways to suit everyone. She is incredibly transparent about her production on her social media, so you know that everything is being ethically produced. All fabric scraps from the production of the underwear sets are recycled in creative ways, including being used for toy stuffing, to make yarn and even for rag rugs! What Lydia Made is a brand that is incredibly self-aware and conscious of the impact of the clothing and textile industries on the environment and are always open and honest about what they are doing to improve their practises. You can buy underwear separately as just a bra or pants or you can purchase a set together. Lydia opens order slots at the start of every month so be sure to check her website and social media for when these will be available. Our favourite colourway is The Battenberg in it’s rosy tones with pops of bright yellow. You can place your order and look at all the colour ways available here.
Best for Footwear: Po-Zu
Po-Zu is a London-based company that creates sustainable and ethical footwear including simple trainers and stylish boots. All of their shoes are made from natural, renewable and sustainable materials that are kind to the environment, healthy for your feet and safe for all their workers throughout the supply chain. All materials used are responsibly harvested, contain no pesticides, bleaches or toxic dyes and are sourced locally wherever possible. Some of the materials they work with include linen, Piñatex™, organic cotton, FRUMAT™ Apple skin, wool, cork, natural rubber and more. All of their shoes are made in carefully selected factories in Portugal and Sri Lanka that are committed to high standards of ethical manufacturing. Nearly all waste products in the production process are recycled including fabric off-cuts and water. They are certified by the Ethical Company Organisation as a company that upholds human rights and animal welfare and works to protect the environment. They have also been ranked number 1 shoe brand by The Good Shopping Guide for 11 consecutive years! We love the practical and wearable designs offered by Po-Zu at an affordable price point. They offer both mens and womens footwear too! Our top women's picks are the Sneak V Natural Cork and the MOTH Silver Linen. For mens styles we’re loving the Brisk Black White and the BEAUT Off-White.
Best for Basics: TWOTHIRDS
This Barcelona-based brand focuses on simple, staple pieces for your wardrobe that you can keep and love forever. Overproduction and throwing away of unused clothes and fabrics is an under addressed issue in the fashion industry. It is estimated that in some big retail chains, about 10% of the garments are not sold, leading to enormous amounts of clothes lying around. Because of this, TWOTHIRDS uses a pre-order system meaning they only produce what they sell, resulting in a much lower environmental impact. They produce all of their garments in Braga, Portugal to ensure European labour standards are met. Everyone they work with is paid a living wage which is periodically checked to ensure everyone is always being paid fairly for their work. All the fabrics used by TWOTHIRDS are environmentally friendly and they are always researching new fabrics and looking for ways to improve their environmental impact. They are also engaged in different projects including EDMAKTUB which is an organisation working in the field of marine research and SUPerando , an organisation working to improve social inclusion. All of their products are sent in recycled and recyclable paper bags to further reduce their environmental impact. Some of our favourite pieces include the Portland Stripes Cardigan which is made from 100% organic cotton, the Ma Wan Skirt in Dark Mustard and the Santa Ines Terrazo Print T-Shirt. We think these basics would all work wonderfully with our easy to wear Charm Jewellery Collection which pairs perfectly with basics.
Best for Menswear: Finisterre
For over 15 years Finisterre have been committed to sustainability and creating products with as little environmental impact as possible. On their website you can see where each and every product is made, learn more about each individual factory, see the number of employees, the factories certification(s) and when the factories were last audited, meaning they have one of the most transparent supply chains we’ve ever seen. Finisterre’s code of conduct is also available to view on their website and all partner workshops must agree to it prior to working with them. Their code of conduct includes points such as no child labour, employment must be freely chosen, no discrimination and fair wages and benefits. All of their fabrics are either natural, recycled or renewable. The Finisterre Fabric Use-Up Project focuses on using up unused fabrics from the production of their main line of clothing to produce accessories such as wallets, wash bags and hats. They also offer repairs for all their garments, meaning your clothes will live a much longer life, reducing the need to buy more clothing. They offer a wide range of quality basics including t-shirts, jeans, underwear and even swimwear. They also currently have a range of clothing made in collaboration with the Natural History Museum featuring ocean inspired prints and motifs. Our top picks are the Larousse Short Sleeve Shirt from the Natural History Museum Collection, the Harlyn Classic Logo T-Shirt in Brittany Blue and the Stafford Workwear Jacket for its timeless design.
Best for Affordable Pieces: Passenger
Passenger are a wonderful brand based in The New Forest in the UK, with a focus on designing clothes to last throughout all your adventures. Protecting our planet is at the heart of their design process, with all of their manufacturers working under the fair trade regulations. Their manufacturers are based in the UK, Europe and Asia and they always try to produce their products as close to the fabric source as possible to reduce the environmental impact of transporting materials. Also, for every item of clothing sold they plant a tree! To date they have planted over 61,545 varied native species of trees all around the globe. They are also partnered with The Plastic Project, Surfers Against Sewage and #2minutebeachclean and regularly host beach cleans in their local community on the south coast. The Passenger HQ on the south coast is even 100% powered by UK generated renewable electricity harvested from the sun, wind and rain. We love the Story Knitted Sweater as it’s the perfect basic for those Spring chills. We would pair it with our Indian Indigo Cotton Scarf for the perfect, cosy spring evening outfit.
Best for Statement Pieces: Humphries and Begg
Husband and wife duo Alice Begg and Robbie Humphries create bright, boldly printed clothing in comfortable, relaxed fits, making them the perfect statement pieces for everyday wear. All of their clothing is created by a small team in Jaipur in India. Alice designs all of the prints which are then screen printed onto 100% natural fabrics. Every year Humphries and Begg support a different charity. In 2020, they are supporting Becky’s Bathhouse which is located in Moria – Lesvos largest refugee camp. They provided 30 showers a day to women and children in need. Each user of the centre receives toiletries, a towel, new underwear and they can enjoy time to relax in a female-friendly space. The facility is also equipped with wifi, tea and fruit, and a play area. The Bathhouse also has an osteopathic clinic who provide alternative healthcare to women who are living in Moria refugee camp. So not only is all of their clothing produced sustainably, it also does good for a community that needs it. Some of our favourite, colourful pieces are the Row of Soldiers Playsuit with it’s bright, geometric design and the ‘American Dream’ Patchwork Quilted Jacket which we think would look fabulous with our Kenyan Woven Basket Tote in Grass Green the leafy shades compliment each other perfectly.
Honourable Mentions (There's so much ethical goodness to choose from!):
Birdsong- Hand-made in the UK in partnership with skilled women makers that face barriers to employment
Heza- Sustainable brand with a focus on minimalist design, print and colour
We Are Hairy People- Unique, hand-painted, ethically produced clothes with bold designs and custom order options
Know the Origin- Fairtrade and Organic ethical fashion for men and women with a 100% transparent production process
Idioma- Ethical clothing for men and women with a focus on multiculturalism
Isle of Shee- Scotland-based brand using all natural, sustainable materials and offering a custom made service
Batoko- Environmentally responsible, independent, British swimwear brand making costumes from recycled plastic
Kowtow- Everyday basics made from certified organic cotton and accredited by Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS)
Komodo- The original ethical fashion brand since 1988 working with 1% For The Planet
The Emperor’s Old Clothes- One-of-a-kind clothing created from vintage, deadstock materials in the UK operating under a zero fabric waste policy
Uskees- UK-based brand focusing on timeless pieces and offering free, lifelong repairs
Riley Studio- Gender-neutral essential made from recycled waste materials
Whilst building your new ethical wardrobe, it is important to remember that it is okay to hold on to any old fast fashion pieces you already own as getting rid of clothing unnecessarily only causes more harm to the environment. Make sure to love the clothes you have until the end of their life-cycle, or donate them to a charity shop if they are in good condition or to a textile recycling scheme if they are no longer wearable. Try to make any basic repairs to clothes yourself, learning to resew buttons is super simple and will save your favourite blouse from landfill. If you are on a tight budget, consider buying more secondhand clothing. Charity shops, vintage shops and even antique shops can all have some real hidden gems at affordable prices. You could also try clothes swapping or sharing with your friends, meaning you’ll double the size of your wardrobe without having to buy more. Ethical clothing is an investment, not only in the clothing itself but in the lives of the workers who produced it, alongside a solid investment in the future of our planet. What’s your favourite ethical piece of clothing that you own? Or what will be your first ethical clothing purchase? Let us know. Happy ethical shopping!
Written By Leona Chapman