The sustainable clothing brands to add to your wardrobe in 2021

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  • Sustainable clothing brands and ethical fashion aren’t buzzwords anymore, but the pandemic has certainly thrust them high up the agenda. Designers such as Alessandro Michele at Gucci have called for a slower pace, to avoid flooding consumers with clothes they won’t wear – or will be bored of come next season.

    However there is still a lot of greenwashing going on, making it difficult to know labels really are making a step in the right direction, and which questions to ask them. Scroll down for our complete guide, and to shop our favourite sustainable clothing brands, and the businesses to shop with to help you live sustainably.

    Sustainable clothing brands

    There are many ways in which the fashion industry impacts the environment and communities, from the sourcing of the fabrics to manufacturing, transport and right down to selling and recycling.

    ‘I don’t like to use the word sustainable, because I find people are scared of it and don’t understand it,’ says Orsola de Castro, Founder and Creative Director of Fashion Revolution, an organisation which educates brands on how to produce clothes than don’t exploit the planet or people.

    ‘There is no fully sustainable brand at this point in time. There are certainly brands that are embedding sustainability in the way they design and think,’ she says.

    ‘We know for a fact that the high street and many so-called “fast fashion” brands are investing in social prosperity and in transparency, but does all that effort offset the fact that they are producing billions worth of garments a year?

    ‘Although we do have to bear in mind that there is an enormous slice of the population that cannot buy anywhere else but affordable chains. For that slice of the population, having access to a sustainable t-shirt or ethically made garments is at least a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, it will take more than a year or two for them to become fully sustainable. However, no longer using single use plastic should happen now, rather than by 2030, for example.’

    Ethical clothing brands

    There is a lot of confusion between the terms ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’, and while brands often try to address both concerns, the two aren’t the same. There are different ways to produce ethical clothing, and according to the Ethical Fashion Forum, they fall into three categories, social, environmental and commercial, specifically tackling these issues:

    • Countering fast, cheap fashion and damaging patterns of fashion consumption
    • Defending fair wages, working conditions and workers’ rights, and supporting sustainable livelihoods
    • Addressing toxic pesticide and chemical use, using and/or developing eco- friendly fabrics and components
    • Minimising water use
    • Recycling and addressing energy efficiency and waste
    • Developing or promoting sustainability standards for fashion
    • Providing resources, training and/or awareness raising initiatives
    • Protecting animal rights

    Keep scrolling to discover the brands that are winning when it comes to sustainability, employee rights, fair trade and great style – and while you’re here, shop our favourite ethical jewellery brands too.

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