Ethical Clothing in 2019 – From Margins to Mainstream

Ethical Clothing in 2019 – From Margins to Mainstream

There is no doubt that 2018 was a stake in the ground for ethical clothing. A moment in history that will be marked as the year the tide finally turned away from social and environmental bad practice and towards ethical clothing best practices.

The 2018 Fashion Round Up

From Burberry being exposed for burning £28.6m worth of clothes and perfume, to the UK Government finally taking  notice of the damaging effects that fashion can have on people and the environment. One thing is for sure – 2018 saw the change we needed to bring the ethical fashion movement from margins into the mainstream.

The 2019 ethical movement still won’t come easy – an ethical fashion foundation has been born, but this year we need that last push to get it over the hill into the mainstream.

The facts remain: the fashion outlets that continue to wreak havoc on our planet and abuse people remain profitable while others are struggling.

In December, while ASOS announced profit warnings, fast fashion outlet Boohoo announced its sales remained “comfortable”. This is a clear sign of the times. As spending is squeezed, young people are still turning to bad fashion practice for poor quality items made in unethical conditions.

Worse still, in 2018 we saw manipulative tactics by Boohoo to achieve these results. The BBC’s investigative programme, Watchdog Live, recorded promotions on the Boohoo website that did not end after the countdown clock reached zero.

Time-limited sales put pressure on consumers to buy quickly. Keeping the clock running means the time limit – and the pressure – were false.

The UK Advertising Standards Authority deemed the tactics as “misleading”. Not only are these poor products being made in highly unethical environments, they are being promoted and sold on vast scales in deceptive ways too.

While many people continued to back these destructive fast fashion outlets, many choose more ethical clothing options.

These other options came in many forms. From backing independents that are committed to ethical clothing best practice, to shopping pre-loved/vintage to choosing to rent instead.

All of these new ways to look at fashion, are a part of a growing trend that will rise further in 2019 and beyond. It is a move from the old into the new. A move towards a fashion future that demands a better relationship with people and our shared planet.

So what do these ethical clothing trends in 2019 look like…

Ethical Clothing Trends in 2019

1. More Planet Friendly

This year we will see a continued demand for fashion that is kind to our planet.

  • Expect more products made from recycled fishing nets to more plastic free and carbon neutral packaging and shipping.
  • Expect more love for fibers that are kind to our planet – organic cotton won’t be going anywhere in 2019.
  • Expect to see more organic in the pipe as it increasingly becomes an expectation.

For organic vibes in 2019 check out Lyme Terrace for men and Gung Ho for women.

A man wearing an ethically made blue T-shirt made from organic cotton Lyme Terrace – Limited Edition Organic Cotton and Bamboo Tee – £20


Many brands are getting creative with left over stock from fashion garment factories. Good Krama is an excellent example of this. Through using the materials that other companies waste, they are able to create unique pieces that are perfect for trans-seasonal vibes.

A women wearing a bodysuit made from waste materialsGood Krama Body – made from upcycled fabric

In 2019 we will also see the continued rise in planet friendly business models. Circular fashion is increasingly taking shape.

The Ellen McCather Foundation defines a circular business as a move away from the “take-make-dispose model towards a circular economy that aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system.”

In other words, it means looking at waste as value to re-use and create new ways for our system to thrive.

One strong example is MUD Jeans. This forward looking power house provides a leasing service so you can always get the latest jeans you want. Better still, their jeans are made from organic and recycled denim and once you’re done with your jeans they shred them into small pieces, blend them with organic cotton and turn them into new pairs of MUD Jeans. Cutting down on water and waste.

Now if that isn’t some pure ethical business genius, I am not sure what is!

Another business model to look out for in 2019 is rental. With 100 billion items of clothing being produced annually,  and one in 10 people throw an outfit away after three photos wearing it, we need a system re-think. The system is broken. Simple.

Rental services provide a strong new path. Whether you are a fashionista wanting a solid look for London Fashion Week or a sassy professional wanting a new look for your best friends wedding, rental has you covered. Wear The Walk is a solid example. Watch this space for Compare Ethics rental vibes in 2019. 


2. More Socially Good

In 2018, we saw amazing moves for fashion that is good to the people who made our clothes. The global Fashion Revolution movement gets stronger every year and continues to demand companies to disclose “who made my clothes”.

This year, we expect social good practices to continue to grow and we will see an increase in brands who operate using fair trade practices. These brands come in many shapes and sizes.

There are not-for-profit brands such as Kathaa, the brainchild of The Nepal Youth Foundation. Their lovely coats have been made by women who have been freed from domestic slavery in Nepal. Now armed with seamstress skills for life, the foundation’s work has truly transformative impacts for the women they serve – with 100% of all profits going back into the their amazing work.

Then we have strong brands such as WYNAD clothing. They meet contemporary styles and prints with a strong mission to achieve gender equality through ethical clothing. They only work with verified  fair trade suppliers in India. Plus they are committed to giving 10% of every sale to directly support women empowerment projects in rural India.

Compare Ethics founders wearing organic cotton and fairtrade shirts by WYNADWYNAD Animal Print Shirt Dress and Men’s Bowling Shirt

Another key trend that is increasingly on our radars is ethical clothing certifications. In recent years, a lot of moves have been made in this arena.

There has been a strong move to create certificates that explain how a product is ethical. While more needs to be done in 2019 to better explain how they work and what they do, certifications really do play a strong role in creating industry standardisations. Let’s look at one example: the FairWear Foundation.

The FairWear Foundation is a non-profit organisation that works with brands, factories, trade unions, NGOs and sometimes governments to verify and improve workplace conditions for garment workers in 11 production countries. In Asia, Europe and Africa.

If a brand is FairWear certified it means it has undergone a process to verify it’s social protection credentials.

An excellent example of this is Just Ak. They are a committed FairWear certified brand that brings street style with a conscious vibe.

A man wearing an organic cotton jumper that is fairwear certifiedJust AK’s Extinction Jumper


All of these brands list have one element in common: a drive towards increased transparency of supply chains and greater exposure on working environments.

Leading brands in the transparency arena include the fabulous Know the Origin. As an industry leader they have worked for years to create a transparent supply chain.  Check out their latest products and traceable map here.

Other companies – such as Provenance – are utilising blockchain technology to increase transparency in supply chains. Simply put, Blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions are made and recorded chronologically.

For ethical clothing, this means we can trace the garment process from one factory to the next. While there is still work to do in removing human error from this process, there is no doubt that blockchain is an exciting area for ethical clothing.


3. More Animal Cruelty-Free

Last but not least, in 2019 we will see a continued rise in ethical clothing that protects animal rights. Veganism as a movement and way of life has already taken the journey into the mainstream. With reports of veganism quadrupling in the 5 years between 2012 and 2017, according to Google search.

This has already started a journey into the mainstream with Asos making some cruelty free moves by banning cashmere, silk and mohair. At the same time London Fashion Week goes fur free! There is still a lot to do but we foresee these vibes are are looking set to continue in 2019…

Great brands to watch for vegans is WAWWA and ETHCS. With original street vibes and vegan cores – these brands are set to go from strength to strength in 2019.


2019: the year ethical clothing goes from the margins into the mainstream.

Ethical clothing is not a fad, trend or simply a buzzword for the fashion industry. As we have seen in 2018, the time is up for bad fashion practices. The time is up for burning stock. The time is up for lack of cultural and racial insensitivity. The time is up on destroying peoples live and the planet we need to thrive.

It is time to move over for brands, organisations and changemakers who really give a shit about people, planet and animals. The changing tide has arrived. Either ride the wave with us in 2019 or get sunk under. Which one will you choose? We know where we will be…

Compare Ethics is the leading ethical fashion comparison website. We are dedicated to celebrating ethical clothing best practice in all it’s forms. This year we will be stepping up our game to drive the change we want to see in 2019 and beyond – living in a world in balance with people, planet and animals. Stay tuned.

Much love for all ethical clothing advocates in all shapes and sizes in 2019. Disclaimer: we may receive small commission for sales made from some of the brands listed here. We are proud to work with ethical brands that are committed to a new way and a better world.

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Written by Abbie