My first lessons in ethical and sustainable fashion came from my first job at Livia Firth's Eco-Age, and the Green Carpet Challenge, which worked with designers such as Valentino, Tom Ford, and Lanvin to create red carpet gowns with recycled and sustainable materials. 10 years on, I'm dipping my toe back into the ethical design and out of vintage, here are some of my favourites, old and new, early pioneers and those leading the vanguard.
Founded in 2011 in Hackney and run by Sunny Williams and Camilla Ley, is the joyous House of Sunny. This limited-run label draws on vintage designs and modern methods to create an ever-evolving sustainable brand. Already a favourite of Instagram influencers, instead of spinning out 30+ designs for each season, the designers spend time sourcing sustainable fabrics and steering clear fur, leather, skins or silk. Camilla, the MD told Grazia' we're on this journey and making big improvements each season.'
I interviewed Sarah Slater for my little blog, and was impressed by the tenacity of the brand Birdsong, which came through on every line. Starting life as a T-shirt brand adorned with feminist slogans, the brand has evolved its collection to include bright and brilliant pieces while staying true to its core, dressing in protest to fast and forgettable high-street fashion. With an estimated 60 million worldwide working in the garment industry, making less than the minimum wage, Birdsong faces this head-on employing women who would otherwise face barriers to employment and pay them the London living wage - hats off to them!
Self-titled, 'The Original Ethical Brand', Komodo has been on the lips of ethical aficionados since 1988, and are still delivering to this day. Using organic and natural fibres, they're also breaking new ground with innovative fabrics such as green PU coating and recycled PET, from plastic bottles, with no single-use plastic in their supply chain. All this and a supremely chic AW collection.
Money no object
It's hard to say something about McCartney that you won't already know, Winner of the BoF Global VOICES Award, CO10 Leadership Award and Special Recognition Award For Innovation by the British Fashion Council; the eponymous label has always delivered on its ethics and aesthetics. As she said in Business of Fashion "I'm very aware that the minute I create anything, it's becoming a statement. Regenerated cashmere, organic this, non-leather that... I know I'm making a product that's better environmentally and for the wellbeing of our fellow species that we're extinguishing by the second. I know I'm the best example of that by far in my industry. And that gives me the will to go on."
Calling itself a 'Contemporary House for the modern human' this brand was founded by Sandar Sandor and fourteen years on, still based in Budapest, the brand is stocked across 30 countries and delivering a beautifully modern look, using vegan leather and cellulose-based fibres sourced from sustainably managed forestry. Built on the pillars of craftsmanship, experimentation and progressivism and with factories in Hungary and Serbia to ensure the safe and ethical practices, the pieces are just beautiful.
"Creativity and ethics sit equally in our brand philosophy. We believe in delivering beautiful clothes without compromising on integrity." A luxury brand with transparency at its soul, MOP has created a filter to be applied to each product, meaning that you can see what has been achieved on each piece. A fantastic amount of work for some beautiful pieces.
French footwear brand creates some of the best day-to-day shoes while maintaining ethical standards, materials and working conditions. Working with organic, recycled materials and natural rubber in the now-famous 1970s style there are many different colourways to choose from. Make sure you’re shopping the vegan range to really make the most of the brand's hard work.
On the scene for a while, Bottletop was launched to empower women through sustainable design. Starting with upcycled bottle tops and leather offcuts in Kenya, which lead to a collaboration with the Mulberry propelling them into the spotlight. The design moved on to the signature chain mail ring pulls which the brand is known for. With further collaboration with Narciso Rodriguez and Rolan Mouret, along with dozens of celebrity fans, the brands now have their own atelier and training programs in Brazil and Nepal to support and train communities.
Featured in British Vogue, as “The Best Luxury Eco Bags That Are Good For Your Wardrobe And Your Conscience”, the once a year collection from this London brand champions and cherishes East London’s heritage and history in the leather trade. Working with vegetable-dyed leather, the bags are brilliant staples with that little bit of London wit.
Huge thank you to Miranda, to follow her vintage finds and other things go to @lines_london