13 Brands Leading The Fashion Revolution
The Fashion Revolution is working. Each year since its inception – which was in the wake of the horrific Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 (hence the same date every year: the week surrounding 24 April, to mark the anniversary of the tragedy in which 1,130 of the factory’s workers were killed) – it gets stronger. We see more new fashion brands coming through, with all of the guiding principles of the Fashion Revolution week. And there’s demand for it.
Consumers – especially those in the millennial category and younger – are incredibly well-informed about the negative impact of the global fashion industry in its current form. They’re impassioned to be part of the change, to avoid future disasters and to fix all that’s become broken over the last 3 decades or so.
It’s the Fashion Revolution which has directly or indirectly inspired a whole new wave of amazing, creative, progressive fashion brands to be set up in recent years. These brands reflect the true spirit of fashion. Creative expression and reflection of social and cultural zeitgeist. They embrace and respect the craftsmanship that it requires and the earth’s resources that it depends on.
Whilst all the brands on Compare Ethics are champions of ethical fashion, we’ve highlighted 12 here that embody particular aspects of the Fashion Revolution.
Transparency, human rights, fair pay, and working conditions
The lack of transparency in supply chains across the global fashion industry enables abuses of human rights and environmental degradation to continue. Revolutionary fashion brands work with suppliers who can prove that they treat their workers with respect. Keeping them safe, paying them fairly and discouraging inequality. By rejecting fast fashion, these brands avoid putting pressure on suppliers to ‘squeeze’ their workers to make up for increased costs elsewhere in the process.
Know The Origin has brought supply chain transparency truly to the forefront of their ethos. They’re committed to a 100% transparent production process and have developed strong relationships with their producers and suppliers.
Copenhagen-based brand Mahla shuns the ‘untenable fashion culture’ and rather than making seasonal products, makes ‘timeless, multi-functional clothing and production based on demand’ with their Nordic-influenced, relaxed street styles.
Slow fashion means longer-lasting, timeless pieces that you’ll want to wear often and keep forever, even when it starts showing signs of wear and tear. Zola Amour’s hand-made collections offer just that; and they’re going one step further by helping you repair your clothes, too, with events such as their ‘Stitch and Bitch’ workshop on 25th April at their Brighton pop-up shop.
Glow & See’s unique light-reflective knitwear is hand-crafted by disadvantaged women in London. The brand utilises their established skill sets, pays them fair prices per piece and supports their development.
Cariki aims to directly challenge the notion that affordable fashion can only be created through exploitative means. Their clothes are made in factories with the highest levels of certifications and accreditations, and they only work with suppliers who can prove that they are responsible in their production processes.
Founded over 27 years ago, People Tree has Fairtrade in all aspects of its DNA. As the godmother of the Fairtrade Fashion movement, People Tree are leading the way of bringing Fairtrade to a mainstream audience.
Waste, water, chemicals and carbon
Know the Origin’s founder, Charlotte Instone, has said that “the fashion industry has tricked us into believing that clothes have an expiration date”. The result is an unfathomable amount of pre-consumption and post-consumption waste (more than two million tonnes of clothing and textiles is thrown away each year in the UK alone!), which we will be feeling the effects of for generations to come in the form of environmental damage.
Revolutionary fashion brands challenge this waste culture by meeting demand rather than over-supplying. Their production methods promote environmental sustainability, using materials that naturally degrade once discarded (rather than still being around hundreds of years after its owners have turned to dust). And, they promote maintenance and repair of clothes over disposal.
Insane in the Rain makes ecological rainwear that they call ‘happy jackets’. They’re made from old, recycled plastic bottles and single-use plastic and avoid using additional or newly-sourced plastic in any part of the journey from production to distribution. They estimate that each jacket keeps between 17 and 23 plastic bottles from roaming our oceans.
Organic Basics creates longer-lasting underwear, t-shirts and socks that are made from eco-friendly materials including organic cotton, recycled nylon and their innovative Silvertech. In their own words, “the purpose of using silver in our basics is to prevent the need for frequent washing. Wearing more and washing less is better for your clothes, as washing and drying can deteriorate all fabrics over time”.
They even plan to go a step further with their use of silver (which is totally safe and has powerful antimicrobial properties), by treating the garments with a low concentration of silver chloride sourced from recycled electronic, industrial and photographic silver waste.
The folks at Peep Eyewear refurbish and restore vintage glasses and sunglasses frames, returning them to their former glory and keeping them out of landfill. The frames come with cleaning cloths made from recycled PET plastic bottles, and they also offer a free reglazing and refurbishing service to encourage product longevity. Plus, they plant a tree for every pair of glasses or sunglasses sold, via charity Trees for Cities!
Untouched World uses an extensive range of sustainably grown fibres for their garments, such as Airewool, Ecodown and Mountainsilk, as well as GOTS certified organic dyes and water-based prints. They look at the total product life cycle and ensure their water use is minimised whilst recycling and waste recovery is optimised. Their affiliated charity, Untouched World Foundation, further promotes sustainability through their educational programmes.
Spreading the word
As with any revolution, it needs a critical mass to make an impact and drive change. So as well as committing to ethical and sustainable materials and processes, many revolutionary fashion brands make it part of their mission to inform and educate their consumers on the issues. Spreading the word and encouraging a movement.
Gung Ho creates sustainable clothing collections that carry meaning by using prints that illustrate environmental issues. Each collection is based around a specific topic – their current focus is called Food For Thought. Showcasing the impact that food has on the environment.
Lina’s unique clothing is made with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in mind, with each piece carrying a message about a more sustainable future. Perhaps the most impactful of the collection is the made-to-order ‘17 Goals Oversized Coat’, which features the “Sustainable Development Goals” motifs created with upcycled fabrics, swatches and sew-and-cut pieces.
Riz Boardshorts are crafted from 100% recycled and recyclable fabric, and are digitally printed using earth-friendly inks. Each design incorporates themes of endangered fish, flowers and insects to help raise awareness of their plight, and encourage an appreciation of the natural world which they hope inspires taking action to conserve it.
As a society, we’re learning to embrace fashion through a different lens; one that seeks assurance that it’s not causing harm. But instead eyes the opportunity it has to be a force for good.
All of these brands, and many more, are boldly pushing the sustainability agenda and keeping it relevant to fashion-loving consumers like you and me.
At Compare Ethics, we are committed to a Fashion Revolution and bringing ethical fashion to the mainstream. It should always be standard that people are not harmed in the name of fashion. The power is in our hands, we just have to protest with our purchases.