Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Eco & Fairtrade Fashion

My last post on eco-fashion at the Oscars really got me wanting to know more.

I've had a good search on the internet and it seems that unfortunately the market is not booming.  There simply aren't enough designers taking fairtrade and sustainable fashion on-board (making prices high), and of those that do, many of their collections are not available online or they have only a handful of boutiques (making shopping inconvenient).

Here's 6 of the best I've found.

1.  Beyond Skin

What is it?

  • 100% vegan shoe shop

Tell me more!
  • Offers free worldwide delivery during Fairtrade Fortnight (27th Feb to 11th March)
  • Pledges to give 1% of it's turnover or 10% of pre-tax profits (whichever is greater) to grass-root environmental and social projects.
  • These faux suede courts are made from 100% recycled PET plastics

Beyond Skin - Faux Snake Courts - £162

2.  Annie Greenabelle

What is it ?

  • Ethical clothing and bags for teens/20 somethings (and their budgets)
Tell me more!

  • Garments made from organic or Fairtrade certified cotton
  • Uses end-of-roll fabrics to minimise waste and, as a cool by-product, many of the items are unique
  • All factories comply with Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) codes of conduct

Stripe T-Shirt Dress - Annie Greenabelle

I've learnt some pretty shocking facts during my research.  We're all aware of the sweat shops and child labour and other atrocities that certain brands try their best to conceal, but I'd never considered, for example, the environmental impact my wardrobe has or indeed the welfare of the animals my leather has come from.

For example, one cow hide = 18 pairs of leather shoes, and just one of these pairs requires 1.4 million litres of water (the rearing and slaughtering of the cows and processing of the leather), and much leather is not even bio-degradable due to the tanning agents used*!  I've also read of the inhumane ways in which reptiles are slaughtered (after being illegally hunted from their natural habitats) i.e. being clubbed on the head and skinned unconscious or even alive**.

3.  Ascension

What is it?
  • Ascension brings eco-fashion brands to one place (tick for the convenience criteria), with womens, mens, kids, jewellery and toiletries all available.
Tell me more!
  • Collections celebrate the finest artisanal skills (and fair of course), the best quality organic cottons and sustainable bamboo.
  • 15% off during fairtrade fortnight

Denim Shorts - Ascension - £17 from £49
4.  Edun

What is it?
  • Brainchild of Bono and his wife Ali Hewson, Edun develops trade in Africa, and aims to encourage other fashion brands to do the same
Tell me more!
  • Edun has set up projects such as providing funding and training for cotton farmers in war-stricken Northern Uganda, supporting 4,000 farmers and their families, or working with school children in Kenya who have designed prints for Edun t-shirts, with 100% of the proceeds going back to the school.

Bracelet - Edun - £32 from £65

5.  Stella McCartney

Not strictly an eco-fashion brand, however the SS12 collection contains sunglasses who's materials come from all-natural origins, with 50% of the material being natural and the other half renewable.

Stella McCartney SS 12 Sunglasses

6. Minna

 What is it ? 

I've saved the best till last and I could happily wear any item in this collection.  Think pretty, feminine and romantic tops and dresses in ivories and creams (though there's a black collection too).  

Tell me more!
Minna is described as eco-luxe - luxe due to the meticulous craftsmanship and on-trend designs, and eco as the materials are either organic, recycled or produced locally.  Minna is the least affordable of my collection of eco-brands but the clothes are gorgeous so they're getting a good showing off anyway.

I cannot claim to practise what I preach.  With the scarcity of choice and competition, eco-fashion remains pricey, inaccessible and therefore the less appealing option, but as eco-fashion grows in popularity (as it inevitably will) I'll be on the case for the new generation of eco-brands, and of course, their end of season sales! 

*    beyond skin