It’s no secret that when it comes to sustainability, we need to take a long, hard look at the ways our shopping habits are impacting upon the planet. Fast fashion might be a form of retail therapy, but there’s no escaping the fact that it comes with a serious environmental cost. So what do you do when you’re a fashion lover, and want to work towards a fairer, greener future too?
For starters, we have to bust the myth that to embrace sustainability, we must surrender the joy of shopping; the glitz, the glamour, the excitement of our new purchases. Leading a sustainable life isn’t about sacrifice, but replacing our toxic throwaway culture in favour of more considered choices. If anything, we get to expand our options, and open up our wardrobe to a whole new world of possibilities.
While eco-fashion might have suffered a bad rap in the past, these days, you needn’t compromise on style to up your eco credentials. Thanks to a growing number of brands who have cottoned on to the fact that consumers want ethical options at a reasonable price point, it’s finally becoming easier to shop the high street with a clear conscience.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best conscious edits to buy on the high street. Whether you’re a Saturday-shop kind of girl, or prefer an online browse in your lunch break, these forward-thinking brands have the sustainable fashion revolution all sewn up.
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It blazed a trail when it burst onto the scene in 1991, and People Tree, the Fair Trade clothing pioneer, is still leading the way when it comes to ethical production. The company partners with Fair Trade producers, artisans and farmers in the developing world to ensure they get fair opportunities, while the seasonal collections revive traditional skills such as hand weaving, knitting and embroidery for rural communities. Whether you’re scouting for a new work outfit or something for weekend brunch, their unique designs are a complete standout on the city streets - see their vibrant, trans-seasonal dresses for more details.
If fur is killing animals and faux-fur is killing the planet, what on earth should you do?
With eight collections now under its belt, H&M’s Conscious Exclusive range is pressing ahead with putting sustainable fashion on the high street agenda. Practically everyone knows about their wardrobe basics, but there’s a whole range of premium pieces designed with innovative sustainable fabrications in mind; think recycled polyester jackets, dresses made from regenerated fisherman’s nets, and cashmere jumpers created from leftover yarn that tick all the trend boxes. If you’re a fan of H&M’s eye-catching accessories, you’ll also be pleased to hear about the jewellery that’s been crafted from scrap silver and discarded candlesticks. Just check the label to find out the unique production story of your new purchase.
Trusty high street giant M&S has a sustainability mission that’s going from strength to strength, with their hugely popular Better Cotton initiative setting them on course to reach 100% sustainable cotton by the end of the year. That’s not all though. If you’ve recently Marie Kondo’d your wardrobe, you can bring your bags into selected stores for their “Shwopping” programme, where unwanted clothes are either sold in Oxfam, reused in developing countries, or recycled completely – nothing ends up in landfill. Even better, you’ll receive a voucher to treat yourself in-store, which sounds like great shopping sense to us.
In 2017, millennial favourite ASOS topped a survey conducted by Ethical Consumer ranking the high street shops with the best ethical and environmental impact, and their green intentions are continuing to flourish. Their Eco Edit, a dedicated destination on the website, is filled with sustainable fashion, ranging from the ASOS Design underwear range made from old plastic bottles, to organic cotton denim and vegan leather handbags. Meanwhile, their flagship brand Made In Kenya creates job opportunities and social services to the community through its small-scale eco-factory, Soko. Their vibrant, Fair Trade clothing is inspired by the local African landscape, and one scroll of their Instagram is all the convincing you’ll need to add-to-basket ASAP.
Everything you need to know about Mango’s Committed collection is all is the name; in other words, a greater commitment to environmental sustainability. Falling under its Take Action programme, which encompasses all the brand’s sustainability initiatives, Mango has been taking steps in the right direction towards eco-friendliness, with a pledge in place to source 50% sustainable cotton by 2022. The Committed collection has been designed specifically with sustainable fibres in mind, such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and Tencel, which are dyed with environmentally friendly inks. The clothes are as beautiful as they are ethical; think breezy silhouettes, crisp tailoring, all finished with a romantic, bohemian touch.
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Our love for Zara reached new heights when we browsed the sustainable online Join Life edit - believe us when we say you would not know the difference between the eco collection and the mainline offering. Launched in 2016, the Join Life collection is made from sustainable raw materials such as organic cotton, recycled fibres and Tencel, a plant-based textile taken from sustainably managed forests, and is seriously moving ahead in the style stakes. New for SS19, the edit includes all the wardrobe staples you’ve grown to depend on over the last few seasons: conversational tees, street-cool puffer jackets, frayed jeans and faux fur – even chunky contrast sneakers made from recycled plastic bottles, so you enjoy the Nineties revival all over again.