Want to refresh your wardrobe? You’re in luck as we’ve rounded up five of the best independent sustainable and ethical fashion labels that you may not have heard of but definitely should. The best news? They’re all affordable. So, this spring, you have no excuse to flock to fast fashion. From the zero-waste mantra of The Sisterhood and Smart Squid’s ethically crafted clothing created with a message in mind to the made to order linen garments by Love and Confuse, we’ve got you covered. Whoever said sustainable fashion was stuffy? The line-up of this round-up will have you disagreeing. Wishlist at the ready, everyone.
With this fashion label, what you see is what you get, it’s all in the name – nude ethics – fair, up-front, honest fashion matched with a modest price tag. Selling garments and prints made by the independent shop’s owner, Jessica Bailey, alongside small ethical brands, Nude Ethics is where you’ll find locally crafted garments made with sustainability at its core.
“I wanted to create minimal ethical clothing that people, like myself, could actually afford,” says Bailey of her motivations behind founding Nude Ethics.
Certified by the Fair Wear Foundation, Carbon Trust and the Global Organic Textile Standard, each Nude Ethics t-shirt is manufactured by Earth Positive and is fairly formed from 100 percent organic cotton or other biodegradable fabrics. A sustainable t-shirt for £30? Indeed.
“I want my store to be filled with easy to wear key pieces. I also wanted to try brands that focus on different aspects of ethical practise,” says Bailey. “From locally crafted to family businesses, traditional craft and handmade, every brand focuses on making a product that can do good whilst also being at the highest standard.”
The arch black t-shirt – also available in white – with its embroidered chest detail is particularly tempting and is Bailey’s favourite too. “I like a basic t shirt with minimal detail and I also love the thought that people can express their inner feminist, in such a simple way,” says Bailey of her design.
Bag the nude toned tee fittingly etched with the word nude and leave yours bare or juxtapose with gold necklaces for extra embellishment. Or, pick up the off the shoulder bardot dress by ethical label House of Sunny and accessorise with a velvet padded headband for added emphasis.
Shop Nude Ethics online here.
The ultimate cool-girl brand, The Sisterhood is the UK’s answer to Realisation Par. Think strappy dresses, fuss free florals and blouses that ooze sensuality in the simplest of cuts. Taking a slow-fashion initiative, this Manchester based brand does things a little differently.
Made for women who seek simple elegance with a handful of sass, The Sisterhood is serious about sustainability too. Ethically manufactured – the brand ensures all of its garment workers get paid a fair wage under safe working conditions – this label works to reduce the footprint of fashion.
Sure, some of its products may be of polyester blend, but each item is carefully crafted in a small factory to ensure its zero-waste mantra is upheld. Plus, no harmful chemicals pollute during the production process. Big thumbs up from us. Just wait until you see the clothes, there’s no sacrificing on style for sustainability where The Sisterhood is concerned.
Team the strappy Cyprine slip polkadot dress with red wedge espadrilles and a scarf tied around your hair for Parisian points. Your muse? Jeanne Damas. Or if you’re more of a leopard lover, go wild in the Angita slip.
The Maya slip is a silky wonder that will serve you well and is the perfect partner for cocktails in the sun. Or, team the Morgan button-up blouse with jeans and slides for effortless appeal. And, the Annette slip in white polka dot is the sweetest dupe for those Realisation Par dresses, wear yours with white Supergas.
Shop The Sisterhood online here.
Using only organic cotton, recycled fabrics and Soil Association certified organic inks, Smart Squid focuses on sustainable staples that bring awareness to the environmental issues impacting creatures that are often overlooked.
The label was founded as the result of an unsuccessful search for affordable sustainable clothing on the high-street for founder and Biology graduate, Sarina Saddiq: “I thought that it could be cool to use clothing as a platform to convey messages about ecological issues, using primary research from papers as a starting point.”
Smart Squid is your go-to for transparent classics with an environmental twist. It really is a brand for everyone as each piece is unisex. Our favourite? The new Krill collection is particularly appealing. It highlights the impact that climate change and fishing techniques have had on decreasing the krill population by 80 percent. Saddiq’s favourite, however? “I think my favourite piece so far is the first design I ever screen printed – the Dung Ecology Original Long Sleeve. It’s versatile, and I’m proud of the design,” she says.
While Saddiq is currently busy working on the next Smart Squid collection which she reveals will put focus on pollinators, the brand has an exciting event lined up in the coming months. “I’m also getting together some items for an exciting pop-up shop in Shoreditch run by a cool company called Weekend:In. Hopefully SmartSquid will be in some shops soon too,” she reveals.
Shop Smart Squid online here.
Love and Confuse
Love and Confuse is your go-to for lightweight summer staples. Made to order with love in Lithuania, each item is sustainably crafted using 100 percent washed local linen, making it the perfect pairing for balmy summer evenings to come. Love and Confuse is a sustainable brand through and through, not only is the family owned label in the business of using only natural fibres, from producing to packing you can be assured that they are serious about ethical manufacturing and recycled packaging.
Founded with the vision that women should not have to choose between style and sustainability, a mantra that we at Think Thread share, Love and Confuse create clothes that are the antithesis of fast fashion. Carefully created with minimalism in mind, Love and Confuse deliver classic, timeless pieces that would make apt additions to your summer wardrobe.
Love and Confuse is slow fashion done seriously and its simple yet sweet garments will always be in style. Wear the Alice off the shoulder top with vintage Levi 501s and Veja trainers for now and a midi skirt and basket bag for later. Or, if the brand’s ethos of effortless style has you nodding, try the Aurora jumpsuit in crisp white linen and dress down with matching Supergas. This number would also be the perfect companion to a tropical tan, wear whilst walking barefoot on the sand for beachy vibes and match with seashell jewellery and slides for seaside semblance.
Priced at a cool £47, the Violet slip dress is ideal for date-night, slide on slinky heels and you’re good to go. And, if you like the cut but not the colour – no bother. Tailor a piece to suit your sartorial wavelength and choose from Love and Confuse’s expansive list of 27 colour ways. They really have covered all bases. Our favourite? The silver pink tone. Divine.
Ilk & Ernie
Brighton brand Ilk and Ernie is big on jumpsuits and even bigger on female empowerment. Created as celebration of sisterhood, this label makes ethical fashion affordable, whilst ensuring that its garment workers are supported, have safe working conditions and are paid a fair wage.
Vibrancy is a built-in characteristic of this brand, if you’re looking to stand out, look no further as Ilk and Ernie’s garments are hand-crafted to empower you. Leopard print lover? Rejoice, as the Mia jumpsuit is made from 100 percent cotton and is ready and waiting to be paired with a clean white tee and black converse. Score yours for a sweet £56, affordable indeed. Or if denim is more your prerogative, the same cut is available in indigo matched with contrast stitching.
Shop Ilk and Ernie online here.