Last updated: December 2015
Fashion Retailers with a Difference
We suggest ditching the high street in favour of alternative, independent clothing retailers. All the companies from our alternative clothing shopping guide
are small, independent businesses that strive to make thoughtful clothing that supports its workers and protects the planet.
Photo Credit: Oxfam, Flickr.
We have picked out 5 UK-based retailers that sell organic and fair trade clothing and have built a sustainable business model that rejects the mainstream sweatshop narrative.
1. People Tree
is one of the most recognised ethical clothing labels. It is committed to ensuring that 100% of its products are fair trade. People Tree provide a platform for farmers and artisans in the developing world to showcase their products. They were the first clothing company to receive the World Fair Trade Organisation
Fair Trade product mark in 2013.
Photo Credit: People Tree website
Ethical Consumer awarded them a best mark for its environmental reporting. People Tree state that most its cotton is certified organic and fair trade. They always choose natural and recycled products over the use of toxic chemicals. To reduce their carbon footprint they transport all overseas purchases by ship instead of by air.
2. The Hemp Trading Company
The Hemp Trading Company
(THTC) is a menswear brand that produce eco-friendly and politically conscious street-wear. The clothes are made from organic hemp, carbon-neutral organic cotton and recycled salvage plastic fibres.
Photo Credit: THTC website.
The workers who manufacture the clothes receive full safety training, belong to a labour union, work 8 hour shifts and have weekends off. Therefore THTC received a best rating for its supply chain management.
3. Braintree Clothing
originated in Australia but is now based in London. It prides itself on producing thoughtful ethical clothing at an affordable price.
Snapshot from Braintree Clothing website.
They use eco-fibres such as hemp, bamboo and organic cotton. They only work with suppliers who agree to a Code of Conduct, which means their workers have safe conditions, a living wage and are free from harassment.
4. Outsider Fashion
is relatively new on the ethical fashion scene. It launched in 2009 with a mission to create 'ethical fashion' that looked just like fashion. It rejects the disposable fashion trend and creates garments that can be worn season after season. The clothing is mostly made from organic textiles and cotton, bamboo, hemp and tencel.
Images taken from Outsider website.
Outsider does not use garment workers in Bangladesh factories to produce its clothing. Instead, its workers are placed in 3 small factories which are regularly monitored to ensure safe and ethical working practices are achieved.
5. Brothers We Stand
Brothers We Stand
is a menswear brand which was set up in solidarity with the people who make the clothing. They both stock and design clothing that is sustainable and stylish. Their own brand products are certified organic. In order to meet this target they carry out extensive research into brands and designers before stocking particular products. They call this the 'BWS Standard' as they tailor questionnaires to potential clients to understand the social and environmental impact of each product.
Photo credit: Brothers We Stand website.
The company is a member of the Ethical Fashion Forum's Fellowship 500
, which brought together 500 pioneering designers, shops, suppliers, academics and leaders in sustainability in the fashion industry.