The brands at the forefront of creating a more ethical fashion world

Issues regarding sustainability and ethical fashion have been at the forefront of criticisms directed at the fashion industry for a long time.

With new scandals frequently emerging about the poor working conditions of large brands who outsource their manufacturers, only small changes have been made. Fast fashion continues to be in demand but there are new, fresh and up and coming brands that are looking to change this. Whilst, protests certainly have their place in the battle against unethical fashion, independent designers are starting up a new phase in fashion that is focused on charity, women’s empowerment and fair-trade, as well as creating innovative, stylish and unique forms of clothing. 

Birdsong London

The dynamic duo of Sophie and Sarah started their brand in 2014, having been inspired by women’s groups struggling to survive with financial cuts. Their clothes are practical but trendy, a kind of re-vamped worker’s uniform. Their style is minimal and bright, with formal, square silhouettes with a mixture of warm muted colours, and bright ‘scribble’ prints that adorn their jackets, T-shirts and bags. Their site boasts a wide range of items, including accessories, shoes and underwear. The price tag comes in around £100-£200, though their clothes could be used for a range of events and would certainly outlast the changing trends. 

These clothes have also funded women’s organisations in London, from retirement homes to sewing classes. Clothing is handmade and the designers hold a personal relationship with their employees, paying them above London living wage. A whole page on their website is dedicated to where the clothes are made and who makes them. Their motto of “no sweatshops, no photo shops”, reflects their use of a range of models from different ethnicities and ages as well.

Sydney Davies London

Whilst revamping their website, Sydney Davies now feature on ASOS with the slogan “WE CREATE FOR THE EVERYDAY KING AND QUEEN”. All their clothing is loud and rebellious, playing with texture and slick colours, there’s a variety of bejewelled, metallic and bold prints. Sydney Davies designs for both men’s and women’s fashion and isn’t afraid to play with different silhouettes. The clothes can be worn for black-tie events or a nights out alike, lending them a wearable quality. Their pricing ranges around £45-£100 making it accessible. Using models from diverse backgrounds, their designs utilise traditional dress in a modernised way without appropriating cultures. Clothing is ethical with handmade production in England and Sierra Leone. Their message encapsulates confidence, whilst giving a voice and platform to African designers and models.

Lalla Wandavi

Lalla Wandavi started her knitwear career in 2008. Born in Stockholm and raised in Padua, she infuses her design with her past. Cosy and chic, the items are durable and high quality, justifying the £350 price tag and nine styles of jumper available. Wandavi said she was, “inspired by movement and colour of birds” which is certainly apparent in the jumper above. The most notable aspect of this collection is being fully vegan, using bamboo and other materials to substitute harmful animal wool and fibres. She calls it “the Vegan Yarn” which is a highly challenging aspect of their production but of course worth it. The brand, produced in England, is also zero-waste meaning all waste products are reused.

Gung Ho

Pushing the boundaries of sustainable fashion, Sophie Dunster lived and breathed the brand’s ethic her entire life. Raised on a zero-carbon lifestyle, she began to make her mark starting with drawing clothes before becoming a fully-fledged brand.  Nautical patterns have certainly become a favourite of this brand but everything is about colour and vibrancy. With a huge range of products, from embroidered jumpers, cushions, silk scarfs and bow ties; they certainly cater to a wide range of needs. It’s a take on animal prints but it is urbanised. Each collection has a ‘talking point’ focusing on environmental affairs demonstrating that clothes should start a conversation. Their AW18 collection ‘Plastic Oceans’ hones in on cleaning our oceans, benefiting the charity ‘Surfers Against Sewage’. All of their activist work is included within their look book.

Krait London

Established in 2017, Krait London was created by Alice Van Grutten after journeying through India and observing the social injustice within communities there. The brand is clear it did not start out as an ethical fashion brand, but quickly took on the mantra after being horrified by the cheap labour in factories across industries. By revamping elegant silhouettes in new fun, dynamic colours with edgy accessories, their use of luxury vintage fabrics gives their clothes both quality and history.

Their collections range: some with fiercer vibes and others with a quiet sophistication. Their latest collection ‘Bite your tongue’ showcases models wearing strong, trendy garments in the setting of a boxing ring. Clothing is youthful and energetic, with female empowerment at the forefront of their marketing. Each garment is certainly a timeless piece justifying the prices ranging around £100 - £200. Their main focus is on female empowerment through supporting local communities by offering skill development, education and healthcare to women and children. Supply chains are transparent and the individuality behind each piece is celebrated.

All these brands target an issue within the fashion industry, whether it is in manufacturing or the environment, such as sourcing materials and having a zero-waste policy. They fight problems through creative solutions, while amalgamating unique designs and aesthetics. It is enthusing to see the growth and traction of these brands as their popularity increases. What does the future of ethical fashion look like? Where will these brands go next? We’re excited to find out. 

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