We’re all trying to be the best we can be — and opting for a more sustainable lifestyle is the perfect way to work towards being even better.
A great way to take your first, eco-friendly steps is through your wardrobe, by investing in some quality, ethical pieces.
It can be tricky to know where to start: how to look for slow fashion brands, how to recognise their commitment to sustainability and what pieces are worth the investment.
From carbon-neutral footprints to closed-loop processes, we’ve curated a list of sustainable clothing brands available in the UK, that are good for your heart and soul.
Read more: How to make your home life more environmentally friendly
The best sustainable fashion brands
The conception of Lavender Hill was a reaction to the impact of the fast fashion industry and the mass waste it produces. Founder Isobel Ridley, after her time at Burberry London, decided that taking a sustainable, slow and ethical approach to fashion was the best way forward.
Focusing on maintaining a low carbon footprint, material traceability and fuss-free function — without having to compromise on style — the Lavender Hill brand is at the heart of the sustainable clothing movement.
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Additionally, Ridley stresses the importance of the company’s 10-point ethical and sustainability policy through their use of recyclable materials, ensuring an inclusive, safe production process and creating a positive environmental impact.
Gone are the days of mismatched shirts and bottoms: say hello to a world of style and comfort. As soft as silk, only without the guilt, you’ll be catching more than 40 winks in these jersey pyjamas.
Lifelong vegetarian and animal rights activist Stella McCartney first launched her eponymous brand back in 2001. Her goal was to bring a breath of fresh air to the world of luxury, threading her social and environmentally conscious values through each garment.
Refusing the use of animal skin, leather, feathers or fur in any of her products, the Stella McCartney brand has developed its responsible production through supply chain innovation, as well as partnerships with like-minded, cruelty-free brands.
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Committed to circularity, traceability and transparency, the company has long since strived to create beautiful and sustainable high-fashion apparel, with the least impact possible on the planet.
Whether you’re wow-ing at a wedding or headed to the races, you’ll be a walking piece of art in this gown. Hand-drawn by surrealist Lady Garden, the colourful floral print will have you turning heads left and right.
It’s easy for the world of slow fashion to become whitewashed with new-age sustainability — and that’s not to mention the fatphobic roots of the fashion industry itself, whether conscious or unconscious.
Girlfriend Collective is an ethical clothing brand striving for intersectional inclusivity within the industry, as well as an eco-friendly, carbon-neutral impact on the environment.
With pieces made from recycled materials such as post-consumer water bottles and fishing nets, wrapped up in 100% recycled (and recyclable) packaging, the traceability of the production process is of the utmost importance. From ensuring safe and healthy working conditions to the comfort and satisfaction of customers, Girlfriend Collective deserves its accolades.
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What’s more, they offer the official ‘Girlfriend to Girlfriend’ marketplace where you can shop and sell pre-worn (and pre-loved) Girlfriend pieces. This closed-loop system ensures the longevity of a garment, seeing it through to its final thread.
A capsule wardrobe staple, this versatile sports bra will see you through hours of comfort, coverage and support — and not just for your time at the gym.
Founded in 2018 by Para Hamilton and Shafiq Hassan, Ninety Percent’s work is based on the promise to share 90% of profits between the community and causes close to them — established within their business model is the “revolutionary spirit of care”.
Hamilton and Hassan met in 1988, bonding over socially conscious beliefs on wildlife, anti-poverty and more. And for over 30 years, they have been implementing the importance of said values into their practice, making strides towards a socially responsible and environmentally conscious world.
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Current Creative Director Elliot Atkinson’s vision for the fashion brand is to connect clothes back to the natural world — from using the materials around us to the earthy colour palettes, all for low carbon impact and high-quality functionality.
The mini dress is a timeless classic — throw in a gorgeous silhouette sure to complement all body shapes and types, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Versatile and chic, this woven cotton dress (organic, of course) can even be tucked into some trousers to make the most out of your capsule wardrobe.
Conner Ives is fueled by the women of his childhood, the need for story-telling and the want for a smarter, more responsible fashion industry. The predisposed notion that sustainable clothing brands must be boring — featuring just a collection of basics and staples — has long since been disproved by his eponymous brand.
Ives’ longing for nostalgia is a main theme portrayed in his work, namely through the usage of deadstock and vintage apparel. A born and raised New Yorker, Ives subverts the mass-consumerist identity of the American culture by reworking, remaking and recycling these unwanted pieces as raw materials: he is giving them new life — a new identity.
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By working on a closed-loop business model, Ives’ production process is not only responsible but low-carbon in nature. A win for the planet as well as your wardrobe.
Made from a collection of recycled silk materials, this open-back piece can either be dressed up for a night out on the town, or down for a stroll along the sand — no harm done.
Founded in the 80s by stylist Peter Meadows, the original Hunza label rose to fame in the movie “Pretty Women” — namely in the cut-out mini dress sported by Julia Roberts. The last 30 years have seen many twists and trends within the fashion industry, but today they dominate the market with their sustainable swimwear line.
Reviving 80s classics, colours and cuts, Hunza G strives for a positive environmental impact. Dyed and knit in a mill in the Midlands, these hand-cut pieces are made with no scraps left for the landfill. What’s more, any excess materials that make their way through the woodwork are repurposed as scrunchies — the handiest of companions when taking a dive.
Find your sustainable swimsuit today
Donating a percentage of their profits to charity, this slow fashion brand encapsulates the necessity of community and fair working conditions.
Want to make a sustainable statement poolside? Why not strut your stuff in this square-neck cozzie? You’ll be the talk of the waters.
Not digging the one-piece? Fret not: Hunter G has you covered. With the same cut, colour and fit, you can bare your midriff to the sun in this gorgeous two-piece.
How to tell if a brand is sustainable?
First and foremost, most sustainable fashion brands will tell you outright: “We’re sustainable.” You shouldn’t have to dig for guilt-free apparel — and brands shouldn’t have to hide! After all, transparency is key.
But if you’ve come across a clothing brand and can’t quite tell if it’s sustainable or not, here are some ways to find out.
Check for certifications.
Usually, there will be a third-party certification that validates a brand’s commitment to sustainability. Common certifications include Fair Trade, USDA Organic, Global Organic Textile Standard (or GOTS), Forest Stewardship Council and plenty more.
2. Supply chain practices
See if you can find any information on how said brand manages its supply chains. A sustainable brand will prioritise responsible sourcing, fair labour practices, good living wages and ethical treatment of workers (and working conditions) throughout the entire production process.
They’ll also typically work with smaller batches of clothing, as opposed to the mass-production rate the fast fashion industry is renowned for.
3. What materials are being used
It might seem self-explanatory, but it’s always good to check what materials are being used and where they’ve been sourced from.
You can bet your bottom dollar that if something is made from recycled polyester and comes in biodegradable packing, they’re probably going to be a sustainable brand.
On top of that, it’s worth checking out what their approach to waste is — especially if it involves a landfill.
4. Social responsibility
It’s important to consider a brand’s social responsibility initiatives, such as community engagement, philanthropy and contributions to social causes. Sustainable fashion companies typically aim to make a positive impact beyond their products.
Another word of advice is to keep it local. If the demand for cross-continental importing decreases, then the brand’s overall carbon footprint drops. And that’s always a good thing.
5. Timeless or micro-trend?
The longevity, durability and versatility of garments are vital to slow fashion brands. Trends come and go, but sustainable clothing is forever. Literally.
When it comes to sustainability, try not to be swayed by the fads of fast fashion — the ‘must-haves’ that will expire within a week, requiring an inhumane level of supply and demand.
Try to opt for a capsule wardrobe: a solid selection of sustainable pieces that can be worn time and time again, no matter the occasion.
How can I start my sustainable fashion wardrobe?
Don’t throw away what you currently have. The biggest misconception is that to live a sustainable lifestyle, you must start from scratch.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Utilising what you already have to its fullest capability is the first step. However, if you go into your wardrobe and see pieces that won’t work with who you are today, you can always give it a second home. Try donating to charity shops, or ask your friends and family if they’d like to raid your rails. And if that doesn’t work, take to websites like Depop, Vinted and Ebay.
And if you find that you do need to invest in some new pieces, opt for smaller, slower brands that take pride in their processes.
While, yes, sustainable brands tend to be on the pricier side, it’s because of their stances on liveable wages, appropriate financial compensation, responsibly sourced materials and ethical processes. You’ll find that each thread is worth every penny.
Which sustainable brands are worth investing in?
We love Lavender Hill for its collection of soft staples — from loungewear to toiletries, you can feel their passion ooze with each product.
Brands like Girlfriend Collective are great for breaking restrictive barriers within the fashion industry from the inside out, one slow piece at a time.
And the quiet luxury of brands like Stella McCartney is an investment that’s hard to pass up.
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Prices updated on 17/01/2024. We are not responsible for any changes to the prices mentioned above.