The fashion industry is slowly progressing into a more eco-friendly and ethical industry, but it still remains somewhat of a niche. However, there are brands that have ethics at their core. To highlight some of the ethical shopping brands that are leading the way, we have put together a guide of UK based ethical brands. Our goal is to help shoppers and customers on their journey in completing the ideal sustainable wardrobe. To begin, it is important to understand what exactly is an ethical brand and what we’ve considered while compiling this list.
What is an ethical brand?
An ethical brand is "a brand that represents a company, organisation or person whose products, services and activities are morally correct. Do not harm people, animals and the environment and Contribute to society in a responsible, positive, and sustainable way". - The Branding Journal
Brands that are ethical are usually extremely transparent with their business, especially with their production line.
How to tell if a brand is truly ethical
- Read the brands 'About' page on their website. They will usually list everything about the brand here from where their fabric is sourced to how they make their fabrics.
- Stalk their social media. You can find a lot out about the company by having a quick google. If what you find isn't immediately positive, then you probably have your answer.
- Look for certifications. Brands will receive certifications for having safe working environments amongst other things. These certificates can include Certified B Corporation, Fair Trade, Certified Organic etc.
- Be aware of greenwashing. Many brands may appear ethical and sustainable at first glance, but they may only include a small collection of sustainable products.
- Ask the brand directly. Fashion Revolution promotes asking all brands, 'who made my clothes' as a way of standing against unethical fashion companies. A perfect way to find out if the brand truly is ethical.
Our Pick of The Top Thirteen Ethical Brands Based in the UK
Komodo - Men and women's clothing and accessories.
Ethics: Vegan, cruelty free, GOTS Certified, transparent supply chain.
Komodo is 'the original ethical fashion brand', running since 1988. Their website is completely transparent, sharing information on fabrics, charitable projects as well as their ethical responsibility.
Lucy & Yak - Unisex clothing, accessories and zero waste living products.
Ethics: transparent supply chain, training from the Ethical Trade Initiative, UK Living Wage, Anti-Racism commitment.
Lucy & Yak started out as a two person business, hand making items. They have a large section on their website displaying 'what matters to us' that shares all aspects of the business in detail.
Kitty Ferreira - Women's clothing.
Ethics: cruelty free, up-cycled materials, herbal and eco-dyed fabrics, UK manufactured.
Kitty Ferreira is a multi-product collection, using up-cycled materials sourced in the UK. All items are manufactured with high end finishing 'to promote durability and longevity'.
Thought - Men and women's clothing, accessories and homeware.
Ethics: responsible sourcing, natural and sustainable fibres, Fair Trade collection.
Thought clothing offers sustainably made clothing, as well as advice on extending the life of the things you already own. They provide style advice and DIY clothing tips on their blog.
WEARTH London - Men, women's and unisex clothing, toiletries, zero waste products and furniture.
Price: ££ - £££
Ethics: Brands made in the UK, recycled materials, vegan friendly, natural ingredients.
Wearth is an online marketplace partnering with eco-friendly and ethical UK brands. They have an option to 'shop by values', displaying a multitude of companies and ethics.
Olive - Men and women's clothing and accessories
Ethics: GOTS Certified, Living Wage Accredited, manufactured within OECD economies.
Olive is a family owned company that works directly with independent designers, shipping to every country in the world. They have direct access to production floors and aim to maintain fair trade principles throughout any expansions.
People Tree - Women's clothing
Price: ££ - £££
Ethics: GOTS Certified, World Fair Trade Organisation, Soil Association Organic.
People Tree launched in 1991 as one of the first sustainable clothing brands. They were the first fashion company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organisation product label. And now, using skills such as hand weaving and hand embroidery, they are able to create jobs in rural areas where work is scarce.
Bibico - Women's clothing and accessories
Ethics: Natural materials, Fair Trade
Bibico works with two womens cooperatives that are fair trade certified by the WFTO. These cooperatives provide women with training, education and work.
Mayamiko - Women's clothing and accessories
Price: ££ - £££
Ethics: World Fair Trade Organisation, GOTS Certified, Zero Waste Policy, Locally Sourced.
Mayamiko are very transparent about all aspects of their business. They are also part of the Mayamiko Trust which supports local communities' creative talents and turning them in to sustainable activities and work opportunities throughout Africa.
Proclaim - Women's underwear
Ethics: Ethically made in LA, Sustainable Materials, Inclusive, Fair Wage, 100% recyclable packaging.
Proclaim is an inclusive underwear company that offers a variety of sizes and skin tones. Whilst it is not based in the UK, they do ship here.
LeyeLesi - Accessories
Ethics: Locally Sourced Leathers, Handcrafted
LeyeLesi is based in Edinburgh, but handcrafted in West Africa. The charms and tassels for the bags are made by hand in the UK, celebrating African. culture through fabrics and vibrancy.
AAKS - Handbags
Ethics: Hand woven, Ethically Made, Creating Sustainable Jobs in Africa
AAKS produces hand woven bags made by women in Ghana. Each bag has the fingerprint and signature of the women who made it on the label. They also launched the 'Weaving for Change' initiative that shares the old artisan trade of the Tuareg community. The hope is that through this creative collaboration, the refugee artisans living in extreme poverty may have an opportunity to change their lives.
And of course,
Pretty Pink - Jewellery and accessories
Ethics: Ethically Sourced Materials, Renewable Resources, Handmade in the UK, Transparent Production Line
Pretty Pink was founded by Ilana who began by bringing artistically crafted seeds from her native Brazil to the streets of Edinburgh, where she and Amalia now design and create beautiful, ethically sourced jewellery from Tagua, also known as vegetable ivory. The harvesting of Tagua creates thousands of jobs for South American residents.
Pretty Pink have also created an initiative called A Helping Hand Project. Ilana and Amalia began this project at the beginning of lockdown, offering financial support to their suppliers who may be struggling during this time. 10% of earned profits are donated to the community of artisans, particularly the single mothers who work on the preparation of the Tagua beads who have been affected and left without work because of COVID-19.
So far the project has been able to help 49 families purchase food and supplies.
Let us know your favourite ethical brands! We love finding new companies to support!