One of the most disposable industries in today’s modern world is fashion. We have all heard of ‘fast fashion’ - the throwaway trends that are designed to only last a few months at best, and encourage consumers to consistently purchase more clothes.
In recent times there has been a definite shift towards minimalism; an interest for buying one-off statement pieces that stand the test of time. There is now a growing nod towards ‘slow fashion’; an ethical stance that promotes mindfulness and consciousness about sustainability and social justice. The eco-fashion industry is growing at an exponential rate; there are so many fashion social enterprises out there nowadays that it’s easy to buy ethical; you just have to know where to look.
The Bottletop Fashion Company is a social enterprise that was founded in 2012 by Oliver Wayman and Cameron Saul. It funds the operation of the Bottletop Foundation, which uses contemporary art and music to raise funds and awareness for education projects that tackle delicate teenage health issues such as HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. The Bottletop Foundation supports young people in Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Brazil and the UK.
Cameron Saul, founder of Bottletop says 'I didn't want to work for a charity. I didn't think it would allow me to be creative enough. But I did want to change the world, and if you look all around you – it's business that is changing the world.'
Looking for that sharp shirt to spruce up your work wardrobe? In London, Arthur and Henry sell organic men’s Fairtrade cotton shirts with cotton sourced from Pratima Organic Farmers in Odisha India.
They say ‘we believe that every man needs a good shirt. Our shirts are good shirts. They are well made. We haven’t cut corners. They are good for the environment made with organic cotton. They are good for the people who’ve had a hand in making them, from farmer to factory worker, weaver to dyer.’
In need of something sustainable for your little ones? Darlo provides ethical babywear, and are based in London. Made with 100% certified organic cotton, one purchase from their site provides a week's worth of meals for a child in India.
Chloe Hoole, founder of Darlo, says the idea came to her whilst travelling: ‘I was particularly affected by the lack of support for children in developing countries so upon my return I wanted to focus on making giving easier for people and to highlight that financially it doesn’t have to be a lot.'
Looking for a gorgeous reusable bag? Look no further than Freeset. Since 2005 they have been supplying organic fair trade bags to businesses and individuals all over the UK. Based in Hampshire, Freeset helps employ over 160 women in Kolkata, India who have been victims of human trafficking and exploitation due to poverty and lack of opportunities.
Need a dress for a special occasion? Fashion Compassion could be right up your street. They offer a fantastic selection of impeccably stylish, ethical and sustainable fashion pieces that are sure to turn heads. Founder Ayesha Mustafa has worked tirelessly to create a business with a strong social impact, partnering with the UN food programme to feed a schoolgirl with every purchase. The site also supports an eco-system of trade supporting those in developing countries.
In need of a gorgeous silk scarf? Little Lotus Boutique is a social enterprise founded by Sian Conway and her mum. Their motto is ‘sustainable business, social heart.’ They started their business after a trip to Cambodia in 2015, visiting a community of artisans who used their traditional silk weaving skills to create positive change in their community, to support their family and send their children to school. The artisans made beautiful silk scarves and garments and Sian and her mum felt they would sell really well here in the UK. Working with the artisan association, Little Lotus Boutique imports handmade silk scarves and sells them in the UK; re-investing into the artisan association's programme which empowers these women to run their businesses and support their families.
Sian Conway, co-founder of Little Lotus Boutique, shared her thoughts on ethical fashion:
‘Ethical fashion is such an important issue for many reasons. Exploitation is a massive problem in the fashion industry...and fast fashion is also terrible for the environment. We just don't need the amount of clothes we have and trends change every 3-4 weeks. By moving away from "fast fashion" you can shop ethically, stylishly and in a more cost-effective way without causing any harm to the people who make your clothes or the planet. It's exciting to see more and more people embrace ethical fashion, but while this exploitation is happening around the world we still have a way to go.’
Do you agree that we should embrace ethical and adopt #slowfashion? Let us know your thoughts.