25 Best Ethical & Sustainable Clothing Brands In 2021
These 20 ethical clothing brands will kickstart some serious style envy.
Let's talk ethical clothing - from why we need it, to why the world needs it and my favourite ethical and sustainable fashion brands that cover most style bases this year.
- Why is ethical fashion important?
- Ethical fashion facts
- 25 Best Ethical & Sustainable Clothing Brands In 2021
Why is ethical fashion important?
Over the last 15 years, our consumption of the number of clothes we buy has doubled.
We are literally drowning in cheap T-shirts and £1 bikinis. If you want to move away from the incessant drops of new fashion and don't want to add to the growing landfill mountain of chemically soaked clothes, then embracing ethical clothing is one of the ways to go.
From kick-ass jumpsuits to men's everyday work shirts, perfect fit jeans and T-shirts that use innovative materials, the ethical and sustainable clothing brands below are some of the most exciting fashion players out there at the moment.
I'm proud to have worked directly with them all, even hosting a few of them at our pebblefest events.
Every purchase you make is a vote for the kind of world you want to see in the future.
A few ethical fashion facts
There are mulitple issues to fix in fast fashion (from microplastics to overconsumption, animal and worker's rights, toxic waste, water scarcity...) and sadly no ethical clothing brand can hope to solve them all.
But the scale of the fashion industry and our clothing waste is what's so hard to get your head around as a consumer.
Let's break it down:
- Cotton is great because it's not plastic and a natural material but one kilogram of cotton - equivalent to the weight of a shirt and pair of jeans - can take as much as 10,000–20,000 litres of water to produce.
- And talking of water, in 2016, WRAP estimated that the water footprint of clothes used in the UK was 8 billion cubic metres. 152 Globally, the fashion industry consumes an estimated 79 billion cubic metres of fresh water annually.
- By 2030 the fashion industry is projected to use 35% more land for fibre production - that's land not used for biodiversity, conservation or to grow crops or build homes.
- Polyester is the most used fibre for clothing - it accounts for 60% of our clothes but it's most likely made from virgin plastic (a growing number of ethical clothing uses recycled plastic fibres) but either way, it produces microplastics. Here's everything you need to know about microplastics.
- Sadly up to 35% of microplastics in our oceans are from synthetic clothes. A single wash can release up to 700,000 fibres. Rinse. Don't Repeat: How your washing machine is killing the ocean
25 Best Ethical Clothing Brands In 2021
Scroll on down for some of my favourite and best affordable ethical clothing brands for 2021. Let me know in the comments below which ones are your favourite, or perhaps they're all new to you?
I haven’t included some long-standing ethical fashion heroes because this list is about discovering some new sustainable fashion superstars and sharing the love.
More and more small designers, rental outfits and make your own clothes brands are growing in confidence and style and deserve your eco-inspired attention.
This post contains affiliate links.
1. Origin Africa
Long a pebble favourite, this pair of former aid workers started Origin Africa, a unisex, organic cotton street style brand to fund African NGOs - in fact, that’s where all their profits go.
Fall for the comfy sweatshirts with traditionally woven patch pockets, it’ll become a go-to favourite, especially when you’re (slow) travelling.
2. Just Wears
Not all fashion is pants. Just Wears are full-on comfy boxers without the balls.
Delivered to your door in cardboard packaging as a multipack, this new ethical men’s underwear pride themselves on being sustainable and transparent.
Their boxers are made from sustainable Austrian Beech trees, with 40% cellulose, and the wood pulp also powers the production facility. Fancy.
3. The Natural Edition
Organic basics aren’t always the most exciting things to buy but The Natural Edition make super soft T-shirts and simple dresses feel like a luxurious purchase.
4. TAMGA Designs
While this isn’t an ethical fashion brand from the UK, TAMGA Designs focus on sustainably produced womenswear (their summery floaty dresses will see you through every holiday) that will last you a lifetime.
Think eco-luxe basics, plus kimonos, tailored trousers and summer outfits that are affordable and ethical.
They choose eco-friendly materials, water-saving dyes and plastic-free packaging and give back 1% of their revenue through 1% For The Planet.
Fancy being ECO-HOT? It’s all about transeasonal pieces, minimal waste and slow fashion over at Cossac, who have plenty of experience of what not to do from the fast fashion industry.
Say hello to stylish jumpsuits, checkered skirts and wrap dresses that have a modern vintage vibe.
6. Ninety Percent
An industry leader in sustainable and ethical fashion, Ninety Percent is an eco womenswear label that shares out 90% of its profits.
It’s not just about the black, white and grey everyday workwear basics, Ninety Percent can also be a riot of colour, like these jade sweatpants plus holiday-worthy tie-dye (without the nasty chemicals).
Every time you buy an ethical fashion piece you get to vote where the money they give back to goes, from five charities. All of their twice-yearly collections are made from well-cut organic cotton or organic merino wool and designed to last.
Men often get left out of the sustainable fashion scene but not at ethical menswear label, Rozenbroek. It’s based in the UK and has a very modern British sense of style.
Each piece is handmade to order to reduce waste and air miles, the factory is in Yorkshire and even their tote bags are made with leftover fabric.
Choose from organic shirts, sweatshirts and T-shirts or straight leg jeans or chinos - and know you’re investing in a slow fashion classic.
Rozenbroek will also repair and mend anything you manage to break, meaning you’re keeping it in circulation longer and cutting down on your carbon emissions. The perfect place to shop for men's ethical clothing.
8. Selkie Patterns
The sustainable fashion revolution is always about buying new off the rack every time. There has been a huge shift towards making (and mending) our clothes, more in line with what our grandmothers would have done.
Selkie Patterns is one of my favourites. This ethical and sustainable brand produces unique patterns for tops and dresses that are easy to make at home (for every body shape) and create their own eco-friendly material, inspired by their iconic home city, London.
I’m loving their new Lin jumpsuit pattern that works with shorts or long trousers.
9. Charl Knitwear
Created in England and made in Italy, it infuses British classic style with a modern ethical twist.
Aiming to keep heritage skills alive when it comes to knitwear, Charl’s designs make the most of traceable, organic yarns to spin them into oversized cardigans, oatmeal coloured sweaters and square-shaped loose jumpers inspired by traditional Norfolk fishermen.
Got a fear of falling out of fashion? United Change Makers have the Capsule Denim Collection to keep you cool for years to come.
The timeless designs of these beautiful ethical dungarees and jeans are making a sustainable dent in our disposable fast fashion industry.
They are soft, 100% organic and have adjustable knot tie shoulder straps for your eco ease. UCM’s pieces are durable, high quality and GOTS certified to support a healthy Earth.
This transparent brand pays their workers a fair living wage and ensures they operate under excellent conditions.
Pangaia proves that there’s nothing that seaweed can’t do - including being turned into T-shirts.
Pangaia's focuses on ethical textile innovation and is a collective of scientists, technologists, designers who make everyday essentials from innovative tech and bio-engineered materials. Future fashion indeed.
Finisterre are one of my all-time favourites to go to if I need something that’s going to keep me warm.
Whether your adventure is up a mountain or down the street, their lightweight eco-friendly jackets last forever and keep you cosy and dry, no matter the weather.
Their collections now encompass more everyday items as well, such as jumpsuits, jumpers and swimsuits and they offer repairs on anything you buy to keep it out of landfill.
Plus you’re helping one of the most pioneering British clothing brands - these guys are a BCorp, support masses of charities like RNLI and invest in British manufacturing and innovative solutions to replace the microplastics in our clothing.
13. Thought Clothing
Looking for womenswear that works as workwear and a weekend wardrobe for when you want to get out of jeans and a T-shirt?
Thought Clothing produce a couple of capsule collections a year, focusing on bright prints, super soft organic cotton and thoughtfully designed clothes that flatter every shape and curve.
They’re transeasonal but trendy enough and built so you treasure the styles forever. Invest in Thought’s sustainable clothing, you’ll be happy to see year in, year out, like old friends.
If you've seen me talk at events or at pebblefest, I'm often in Thought Clothing - because it's so comfy and all the dresses have pockets!
14. Gung Ho London
London based Gung Ho, is a sustainable womenswear label that loves a theme and runs with it.
From collections based around food waste, with patterns of food most likely to be leftover or the biggest air-mile culprits arranged all billowing dropped hem dresses to its classic embroidered sweatshirts (the bee is my favourite), Gung Ho London is an investment worth making.
15. Lyme Terrace
London based ethical menswear label Lyme Terrace make simple sweatshirts out of organic and recycled materials, but they look top drawer.
There are short sleeved versions made of surplus materials, plus brushed organic cotton Oxford shirts - basically everything you need for an off duty look. Their motto is ‘the world is changing, dress accordingly’ - I couldn’t put it any better.
16. Mud Jeans
Here’s how: Water. Per pair, they use thousands fewer litres than standard jeans and filter it so that it comes out clean.
Recycled cotton and renewable energy. Their factories are so full of it that MUD have climbed their way to Carbon Neutrality.
Recycled post-consumer denim. Their ethical jeans are 40% made from it and they aim to get that figure up to 100%.
Packaging. Return what your eco-friendly jeans arrived in and it will be reused. They also have the Nordic Swan Ecolabel certification, which means no toxins or chemicals are going into those skinnies, or coming out of them.
You could also try their ‘Lease a jeans’ system. Simply send your slacks back after 12 months and pay per month instead of upfront.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re a little frayed, or whether you just fancy a change - you can swap them for some new sustainable jeans.
Fine, timeless and considered, you can tell that Henri's beautifully cut clothes are made from the finest 100% organic cotton, 80% of which is handwoven.
Henri have a range of ethically made womenswear for every season, with basics beginning at around £30 and all-in-ones creeping close to £200.
Because they are diligent about keeping everything to do with their cotton organic, neither workers nor the natural world are harmed by chemicals and pesticides in India.
Designed and made by Henrietta (i.e. ‘Henri’) herself, the clothes are made in London and Portugal by trusted manufacturers.
Each piece is trialled, washed, worn and lived in for weeks before it passes the test to be put into production.
Find out more about Henri here: Woven in time: Cotton's complex story could have a happy ending
18. Organic Basics
Clean, straightforward style. Organic Basics stock a range of men's and women’s ethical underwear.
Their practices and principles are as strong, simple and beautiful as their basics. They only choose fabrics, and work with factories, on the basis that they care for the environment as much as they do. Simple!
From super-soft bras and simple singlets to multipacks of pants and briefs, all of their materials are natural, renewable, recycled or biodegradable and the classic styles mean they'll be go-to pieces in your ethical wardrobe for years to come.
Sustainable British brand Lowie put a trendy and unique spin on everyday style.
This brand blends traditional techniques and heritage elements with unique knits and prints. It results in comfortable, casual clothes that have a tailored air and a hipster edge.
Lowie is loath to compromise. They aim to fulfil their philosophy of crafting design, ethics and durability into each of their pieces in the following ways: Designer Lowenthal promises that Lowie: ‘aims to pay our hand makers and small manufacturers a decent price, while small production runs ensure each piece is a limited edition’.
The brand also has an award-winning repairs service. They offer free lifetime repairs on all Lowie products to help elongate the life of your wardrobe, whilst stalling the expansion of the landfill.
Komodo have been around for decades. They’ve been pushing for more ethical fashion for almost 20 years but now more of us are embracing it, they’ve stepped up their designs as well.
This year their menswear takes in long-sleeved striped organic cotton sweaters and indigo shirts while their sustainable womenswear focuses on oversized sleeved Tencel dresses and busy prints on soft bamboo shirts.
This is ethical clothing that’s excellent for every day and there’s nothing these guys don’t know about being eco-friendly.
Napapijri is diving deeper into the idea of circular fashion by creating sustainable outerwear made to last and endure all weather conditions.
The key to making these sustainable jackets is their use of only one material, ECONYL regeneration Nylon and Nylon 6. After two years, you can return it and recycle it into new yarn and other products as part of the Napapijri Circular Series.
This scheme has earned them the prestigious Cradle to Cradle Certified® Gold certification, which is the highest standard for circular and responsibly sourced materials and products in the world.
There are various colours and styles for all men, women, and children with amazing durability and protection. You can also get shirts, trousers, shoes and more.
New conscious clothing brand, non helps you say no to fast fashion. Their contemporary streetwear-inspired styles are all non-branded and non-gendered and the debut collection contains jeans in three different styles that are available in inclusive sizing.
Their exclusive selvedge denim is 50/50 certified organic cotton and recycled cotton that is reclaimed from the mill to create a circular and zero waste production process. This means that it can be easily recycled for next-life usage.
All zips and threads are made from post-consumer recycled polyester too which helps to prevent plastic from ending up in landfill or the ocean.
All of non’s products are vegan-friendly and delivered in certified recycled packaging.
Help support British, sustainable knitwear, made from a herd of sheep in the northwest of England by ethical clothing brand, HERD.
By using only 100% fine English wool, grown, processed, made and finished within 150 miles of the farms, with no toxic chemicals or dyes, Herd are closing the carbon loop begun in the soil with heirloom pieces that have a beautiful story to treasure for generations.
All their knitwear is designed with longevity in mind to become wardrobe staples that last a lifetime. We’re loving the chunky cream cardi that you can layer over everything.
Ethical fashion is for every day. It doesn’t have to be occasion wear or special occasions, it’s definitely suitable for sofa time, winter walks and workouts which is why we’re loving the new laidback label, Kanula.
Think organic cotton T-shirts, hoodies and vests inspired by Greek beach life and each purchase gives 8% directly to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, one of the world’s oldest sea turtles conservations.
Choose from a range of marine life designs and wear your green heart on your sleeve, every day. We love the cute turtle sweaters for staying warm in. Or choose a design you love and go from there.
25. Cashmere Circle
Stay cosy with new cashmere company, Cashmere Circle.
It’s not just a slow fashion brand, this is a collective of cashmere designers, textile specialists and sustainability experts who want to bring skilled jobs back to the Scottish borders and help close the loop on luxury knitwear.
Cashmere can have a detrimental effect on overgrazed landscapes so keeping your cashmere going is key.
They’ve launched a Repaid & Revive service for mending and an upcycling service for when it’s time to turn that much loved sweater into something else.
You can also make use of their specialist cashmere laundry service to make sure your treasured knitwear is cared for in the best way possible.
Or shop their eco-friendly range of cashmere care products which are vegan, cruelty free and come in biodegradable packaging.
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