Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Vegan scarves for the chilly seasons

scarf1.jpgIt’s starting to get mighty chilly and one incontrovertible Autumn/Winter must-have item is the neck warming scarf. It’s fairly easy to unearth some wonderfully soft wool, alpaca or cashmere scarves, but for the veggies amongst us we want something animal-free. Whilst it is often believed that animals such as sheep and cashmere goats do no suffer for their coats the reality is frequently quite different, with animals being kept in cramped, unhealthy conditions, being ground up in a mincer if they fall ill, or otherwise killed off at a very young age if their coats aren’t up to scratch. Certain ethical fashion companies may gather animal’s coats in more humane ways, but I’d rather skip an animal coat as a winter warmer. So, I’ve been on a vegan scarf hunt and here are a few of my favourite items, to keep that winter wind at bay.

1) Tanjuv Scarf, chocolate, fairly traded cotton, £11.99,
2) Circle Scarf, pinks/browns or blacks/beiges,100% acrylic, £35.00,
Bourgeois Boheme.
3) Antonia Grey Scarf, 100% acrylic, $19.99,
Alternative Outfitters.
4) Hemp Shawl, black, £19.95,
Ethical Wares.


Nu magazine hits the shelves and showcases ethical fashion

numag.jpgEthical fashionistas no longer need to spend hours combing the internet for fashionable and environmentally sound fashion purchases. Whip out your diaries, because on 24th September the very first issue of nu magazine will be lining the shelves of London's shops. Founded by social entrepreneurs Amisha Miller (22) and Lauren Maleh (24) nu is offering ‘fashion laid bare’ and flying in the face of the mainstream fashion industry, showcasing only the most stylish ethically produced clothes and accessories. It hasn’t come a moment too soon, launching at a time when the world is beginning to wake up to the ethical fashion world and realising that glamorous mainstream garments come at a cost to individuals and the environment.

Nu will be offering up only fair trade, organic, recycle and vintage, UK-produced and cruelty–free products, encouraging consumers to shop ethically whilst acknowledging that people have the right to remain supremely stylish.

Pearl Lowe, ex-Powder front woman turned fashion designer and cover star of the first issue, says:

“I've always been interested in ethical fashion, something that inspired me to create my own line of vintage dresses. It's great to see nu showcasing the very best of ethical fashion, making consumers aware they can be responsible shoppers without comprising on their style. I'll definitely be picking up a copy!”

Nu magazine is funded by UnLtd, a charitable organisation established by leading organisations that promote social entrepreneurship and Miller and Maleh have opted to invest 10% of profits to aid new ethical fashion designers in their bid to break into the UK market.

Hopefully nu magazine will demonstrate how effortlessly stylish and wearable sustainable fashion can be. Hurrah!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Get an ethical coat this Autumn

coat1p.jpgInspired by Elisa’s blog yesterday about Loyale Clothing’s new organic Costilla Coat, I have been on a web based hunt for other ethical coats and jackets. I haven’t found stylish ones so easy to uncover in the past, but the tide has turned and there is now much more on offer. The three coats I have featured are from Adili.com, People Tree and BTC elements. The rather elegant belted mac from Adili is the creation of Brazilian designer, Maria Garcia and is brought to us courtesy of Mumo (an acronym for Muda Moda). Mumo works with established fashion designers from Brazil to develop fair and ethical trading principles along with a sense of responsibility down the supply chain, choosing to focus on this aim rather than promoting fair-trade clothing as high fashion. They believe the key to fair-trade fashion is ameliorating ethical practices within the current industry to reduce poverty in southern countries.

The empire ‘Iris’ waist coat available at BTC Elements, in the centre of the image below, is crafted from a 100% recycled cotton and acrylic blend with vintage fabric trim, by Rebe, a mother daughter team, who incorporate more sustainable fabrics into their collections each season. The coat is made in southern California.

The ‘garbo’ jacket on the far right, from People Tree, is a fair trade item hand-woven in Bangladesh. People Tree, who is constantly setting the ethical fashion scene, has been registered with the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT) since 1996 and is an active member of many fair trade, social justice and environmental networks.

1. Mumo Belted Mac – light khaki, £218,
2. Rebe Iris Coat - $196,
BTC Elements.
3. Garbo Jacket – black or grey herringbone,
People Tree.


Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Get your vintage glad rags at Frock Me! fashion fair

frockme.jpgIf vintage fashion floats your boat mosey on down to the world’s favourite vintage fashion event, Frock Me! on Sunday 7 October at the Chelsea Town Hall, King’s Road, London. Approximately 50 specialists will be selling collections of vintage clothing and accessories including hats, shoes, gloves and jewellery alongside modern designer wear. This event attracts fashionistas, stylists, models, fashion students, collectors and costume designers for stage and film. Whatever era piques your interest, Frock me! has something to suit, with clothes ranging from one to several hundred pounds.

Those with a penchant for Burlesque can pick up basques, corsets, fans, feather boas and seamed stockings. One million tonnes of textiles get thrown away each year, so opting vintage is a great way of avoiding unnecessary waste, as well as circumventing the inevitable use of toxic dyes in most new garments. Samaya Ling Vintage Collections will be selling some beautiful fashion items at the October event. Kylie Minogue visited the last Frock Me! fair, so you can also do a bit of celebrity spotting while you are there.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

MADE launches premium range fair trade jewellery

Made%20Boutique%20necklace.jpgMade, retailers of ethical fair trade accessories are launching their new premium fair trade jewellery collection, ‘Made Boutique,’ on 8th October. With their tried and tested formula of enlisting famous designers and celebrities to design for the fair trade jewellery brand, ‘Made Boutique’ will use higher quality, individually hand-made materials to produce bold statement items and limited edition designs. So, if want to be simultaneously ethical, unique and flawlessly stylish, this collection is one worth adorning. Whether you want something delicate, layered and elegant, eye-catching and heavy, or somewhere in between, the first ‘Boutique’ range designed by Pippa Small is perfect for daytime divas and nocturnal knockouts.

HER Designs: Exquisite bags for ethical beauties

HERredbag.jpgFor budding and ethical fashionistas alike, bags are vital accessories that add something extra to a stylish outfit. Finding fantastic, chic, cruelty free and eco-friendly bags is getting ever easier. HER Design contemporary bags by Helen E Riegle are winning over celebrities and the general public alike, combining inspired design with conscious sustainability. HER Design was launched in 2004 with the aim of promoting cleaner, greener living that embraces style. Helen Riegle makes the most of organic and sustainable materials, producing bags with that wow factor, but without leaving a huge imprint on the planet.

It’s clear that innovation is key at HER Designs, with novel materials such as EcoSpun (made from recycled plastic bottles) and Treetap® (“wild rubber,” a sustainably made, fair-trade leather substitute from the Amazon) showing that we don’t have to rely on bog standard run of the mill fabrics.

Here’s a rundown of my top 3 HER Design bags. Relatives and boyfriend note, these are on my Christmas list!

1.’Iris’ - in microsuede with vegan leather trim, $118 (out of stock at HER Designs but available at
2. ‘Lily’ (md) in Linen – in natural, with vegan leather trim and EcoSpun lining, $129.
3. Lily’ (sm) in Organic Cotton – in turquoise, with Treetap®, $69.


Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Equa boutique: Ethical Autumn fashion and last minute bargains

equalogo.jpgI am determined to get some last minute sales shopping in as we enter the Autumn/Winter 2007 season. With that in mind I ventured onto Equa boutique’s website and not only have they got some fab new fashions in for the chilly seasons but some great sale offers. Here is a small selection of my favourite items (sale and non-sale). Black is back and hides a multitude of sins, so if you are not a fan of this colour, I apologise for the selection!

Equa sell a range of organic (Soil Association or SKAL certified), fairly traded, fairtrade (Fairtrade Foundation certified), environmentally friendly (using azo-free dyes), UK made (supporting the UK fashion industry and the reduction of greenhouse gases from all those travel miles), recycled (reducing landfill pressure), vegan and hemp (preventing the reliance on heavily irrigated cotton) clothing and accessories. The ethical credentials of products are identified with easy symbols so you know what you are getting.

1) Ciel Striped Tee
, cut from £45 to £20, organic and fairly traded.
2) Matt & Nat Vicious
, £90, fairly traded and vegan.
3) Edun Sage Dole Skin Trousers in Black, £130, fairly traded.
4) Edun Chandelier Tee
, £42.
5) Wildlife Works New Grandpa, cut from £56 to £40, organic and fairly traded.
6) Stewart + Brown Cinch Skirt
, cut from £52 to £45, organic and fairly traded.


Monday, 3 September 2007

High street stores accused of exploiting factory workers again

sweatshop.jpgAfter a Guardian report revealed that factory workers who make clothes for high street retailers are being paid as little as 13p per hour for a 48-hour week, two of Britain’s major high street chains, Primark and Mothercare are launching enquiries. India’s biggest ready-made clothing exporter, Gokaldas Export, supplier of brands such as Marks & Spencers, Mothercare and H&M, verified that wages paid to garment workers were as little as £1.13 for a nine-hour day. This falls below the minimum international labour standards established by the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), whose members include Marks & Spencers, Mothercare, Gap and Primark.

Employees of factories owned by exporters who supply Gap and Matalan claimed that were forced to work overtime without pay to meet unachievable production targets. Allegedly the largely female workforce was harassed and bullied by male production managers and supervisors for failing to achieve targets and were not allowed sick leave.

John Hilary from War on Want said, “Exploitation of workers in developing countries such as India is standard practice for British retailers right across the spectrum. This just underlines the urgent need for Gordon Brown to step in now and stop these abuses once and for all.” The retailers in question have promised to look into these issues, but it shouldn’t take media reports for them to take action on worker exploitation. Fair, just and safe working conditions should be a basic minimum standard for all employees, anywhere in the world.

via The Guardian]

Pick up stylish ethical bargains at Tam & Rob

wrap%20dress.jpgThe summer sales will be ending soon, so for those who are desperate for affordable ethical fashion, get in quick and purchase some goodies from fairtrade and organic fashion company, Tam & Rob. The 100% fairtrade and organic cotton wrap dress on the left has been slashed from £85 to £63, the organic bow neck shirt is half price, cut from £50 to £25, the organic twin pleats skirt has been cut from £55 to £32 and the jersey v-neck top has been slashed from £40 to £18. There are more great buys on the Tam & Rob website.

Tam & Rob’s (Lucy Tammam and Lucy Robinson) fashions are crafted from organic and fairtrade cotton certified by SKAL and the Fairtrade Foundation. Their factories have been accredited by independent third parties through the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT). If you are concerned about potentially toxic azo-dyes, rest assured that Tam & Rob’s garments are azo-free. They also use recycled products and packaging, make the most of vintage buttons and work with Carbon Clear to offset carbon emissions.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

The real cost of distressed denim

Distressed denim may be all the rage in the fashion world at the moment, but the style comes at an environmental and human cost. In Tehuacán in Mexico it is the local people that pay price for our fashion. Once famous for its mineral springs and spas, Tehuacán, the ‘City of Health’, is now home to around 700 clothes manufacturers, many with little or no environmental controls or standards. Workers are routinely exploited, their employee rights ignored. The worst environmental culprits are the dozens of factories that make the faded or distressed denim that is so fashionable right now. The chemicals used in the process are discharged into the rivers and streams around the factories, turning the water blue and damaging the crops that depend on the water systems.

The main chemical used is potassium permanganate, a strong bleaching agent that was once used to induce abortions. Mariano Baragán, a local farmer said: "As well as being blue, it burns the seedlings and sterilises the earth." The government agencies that should be monitoring the factories are allowing this to happen, probably because the local economy depends on the factories, and their foreign corporate customers. It is these corporations that should be enforcing stricter controls on their client factories to protect both the workers and the environment. We as customers ultimately have the power to change this with our buying power. We chould only buy products from ethical
and fair trade companies.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Topshop uses 'slave labour' to create garments

The Telegraph featured an article yesterday about Topshop's use of slave labour to produce their garments. This is not really much of a shocker, Topshop is part of the Arcadia chain, who are hardly the most ethical of retail giants. Unlike other well-known high street retailers, they haven't even signed the Ethical Trading Initiative, which sets bare minimum standards.

Asian workers are being paid a mere £4 a day (40% below the local average wage) to produce the latest Kate Moss range. The factories supplying billionaire Sir Philip Green, employ hundreds of Sri Lankan, Indian and Bangladeshi workers in Mauritius, where they are subject to unhealthy and unfair working conditions, including 12 hour days for six days a week. Prior to this they are snapped up by self-employed agents who grossly exaggerate the wages they will be receiving. Workers then have to cough up seven months earnings, amounting to £725, to secure the job. In one firm salaries are paid according to race. Workers are also set targets and subsequently suspended if they fail to meet them.

Treating workers in this way is abominable, but sadly I don't think it will change to any drastic degree unless consumers radically transform their buying habits. The best thing any of us can do is signal our disapproval by taking our custom elsewhere, to more ethical outlets and stores. I used to be a Topshop devotee, but now I aim to shop in a more ethically and environmentally responsible way, wherever possible. I know I've mentioned other Arcadia stores in previous blogs as a source of ethical clothing, because if you are going to buy from these outlets it's better to opt for the more 'just' option. If enough of us vote with our pockets, perhaps retail magnates will reconsider their treatment of workers. Here's hoping!

Friday, 10 August 2007

Be a shining example of ethical chic with Onagono fashion

onagono.jpgEthical fashion brand Onagono is introducing a new collection called Shining, designed by Tomomi Kojo Robertson, which will be unleashed in September. This simple, high quality and incredibly stylish jersey wear collection reveres the planet, having been constructed from 100% organic fair trade cotton and featuring nature inspired printed artworks by Phoebe Eason, Rohan Daniel, Rupert Smyth and Richard Ardagh. Garments from this new collection will not break the bank with t-shirts starting from £23 a piece.

onagono2.jpgOnagono was born out of Tomomi’s desire to fight against the unfair cotton trade, by providing an ethical alternative. Recognising that her background in mainstream fashion and interest in creative cultures and the environment were at odds, Tomomi developed an ethical label that makes the most of organic (certified by SKAL) fair trade cotton. Onagono will be showcasing a full Spring/Summer 2008 women’s wear collection at the September Pret-a-Porter exhibition in Paris.

Stockists of Onagono have included Topshop, Behave and Family Tree in London, Beams and Ma in Japan, The Rise and Fall in New York and 90sqm in Amsterdam. For more information check out the
Onagono website which will have an online store up and running shortly.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Under the Canopy Ecofashion®

Stylish and ethical fashion need not come with a hefty price tag. Organic and ethical fashion label Under the Canopy are having a summer sale and you can pick up some great buys for as little as $19. Under the Canopy was established in 1996 with the intention of making a positive impact on the planet and utilising sustainable materials. Their products are crafted from innovative organic fibres and fibre blends, such as: organic denim, organic cotton and soy. Last year in the U.S. alone, over 84 million pounds of toxic pesticides were sprayed on conventional cotton crops. The production of conventional cotton results in poisoned people, plants, soil, air, waterways and ultimately a poisoned planet, so I applaud UTC on their ecologically sound practices.

UTC's Ecofashion® line offers luxurious and high quality fashion, minus the pollutants and harsh chemicals that put producers and consumers at risk. Along with garments for men, women and children, UTC also produce organic household products, footwear and accessories. If you want to check out UTC's eco-credentials, just ask and they will forward you a certificate of authenticity for every garment labelled as organic. The brand use low impact dyes, which are less damaging to the environment and their dye factory is powered with rice husks instead of fossil fuels. What is more UTC's garments are produced under fair labour practices and their factories in India and Peru use fair trade certified cotton, with products produced in fair trade certified factories. This means that their producers are receiving a better wage, healthier working conditions and a percentage of profits to re-invest into community development.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Exquisite summer fashion from Muumuu Heaven

muumuu.jpgGet in the mood for your summer holidays (if you haven’t already been and come back!) with some gorgeous hand-made, ethical, Hawaiian themed outfits from Muumuu Heaven, a family run business based in, you guessed it, Oahu, Hawaii.

Muumuu Heaven began with the concept of creating beautiful, high quality products, whilst maintaining corporate and social responsibility and without creating a detrimental impact on the planet.

Muumuu Heaven contribute 1% FTP to help preserve Hawaii’s coral reefs, use vintage and recycled materials to avoid wasting fabric and the brand is a favourite with the Hollywood rich and famous. You can purchase items from the label online at
BTC Elements and Shop Equita.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Dorothy Perkins doing their bit

Dorothy Perkins may not be number one or even 100 on anyone's list of ethical fashion brands, but they are beginning to produce more ethical items. In 2006 they introduced their O Line consisting of a small range of organic vests and tees. This year Dorothy Perkins signed a deal with the Woodland Trust to launch a collection of organic wellies, cotton T-shirts, vests, bags (and more recently flip flops!), with £5 from the sale of every T-shirt, vest and pair of wellies and £1.50 from each bag sold, going to the Woodland Trust. The overall aim of the collaboration is to plant 40,000 trees in the UK next year.

More recently Dorothy Perkins has introduced a range of recycled bags made from rubbish by a collective of over 200 Filipino women, who grouped together to tidy up the neighbourhood, collecting 50,000 packs a day. After collection the packs are sorted, clean, sanitized and woven together into rather interesting and fetching bags. Profits from this venture are divided between the co-operative.

Dorothy Perkin's endeavours are still a drop in the ocean and as part of the powerful Arcadia Group, they could do a hell of a lot better. Labour Behind the Label, No Sweat and Tear Fund have plenty to say about Arcadia's use of cheap labour and Lite Green who rank major brands based on their ethical endeavours and policies have not furnished Dorothy Perkins with a Lite Green rating (which indicates good ethical practices.) However, in optimism (which is quite unusual for me!) I am hoping that this situation will improve as consumers begin to demand more ethical fashion. Going organic is not enough, we need to push for more fairly traded items and hopefully big guns like Arcadia will respond with a more environmentally friendly and compassionate approach.

Below are three great ethical goodies from Dorothy Perkins. If you are going to shop on the high street, register your vote for organic and earth conscious fashion by making ethical purchases.

1) Green Woodland Trust Cami, 100% organic cotton - £12.
2) Woodland Trust Chocolate Flip Flop - £8.
3) Multiweave Tote Bag, 100% plastic - £15.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Grab some bargains at Adili

Ethical clothing retailer Adili have a summer sale on with up to 50% off some of their stock. I have suggested some great buys below. Bag some bargains soon whilst stocks last!

1) Kuyichi Jersey Cross Back Dress, fairly traded, £55, now £38.
2) Kuyichi Casual Summer Jean, fairly traded, £85, now £60.
3) Del Forte Denim Short, organic cotton, £85, now £55.
4) Alchem1st Sweetheart Top, ethically traded, fine jersey cotton, £70, now £45.
5) Kuyichi Harpoon Print Top, fairly traded, 50% cotton, 50% polyester, £40, now £28.

Friday, 27 July 2007

The jacket that's a bag that's a jacket

Functional fashion is the agenda for German designer Alice Kaiserworth, who has created a nifty two-in-one product called Dos Caras. One minute it's a sassy little jacket, the next it's a...erm, bag. What's even better is that everything you have stored in your pockets will remain there during the transformation, so no well-used tissues tumbling onto the pavement as you look around you in a state of sheer embarassment. It's great for the UK when the sudden change of weather from flood to searing heat requires an outfit alteration. Instead of lugging your jacket around trying to awkwardly drape it over one arm, you can simply morph it into its bag alter ego and away you go!

Centre for Sustainable Fashion

The London College of Fashion is currently in the process of establishing a new 'Centre for Sustainable Fashion,' which aims to unite sector experts in sustainable fashion practices and intends to foster existing partnerships. The project is expected to be launched in April 2008.

The Head of the London College of Fashion, Dr Frances Corner said, "London College of Fashion is committed to drive up the quality of advice, information and support surrounding issues of sustainability and climate change. Environmental and ethical concerns should be high on everyone's agenda, as fundamental considerations for any forward thinking fashion organisation."

The London College of Fashion launched its ethical fashion campaign, 'Is Green the New Black,' this year and is developing a postgraduate degree in sustainable fashion, as well as working towards featuring ethical and sustainable fashion in its undergraduate courses.

It's great to see this world-renowned educational fashion institution promoting more ethical and sustainable values. Hopefully this will lead to more graduates from the establishment setting up ethical fashion collections and this will improve the credibility and style stakes of earth conscious fashion.

[via Ecotextile News]

An ethical outfit

outfit3.jpgToday I have put together an ethical outfit for you that is a combination of organic high street and ethical brand items. It’s great to see the high street producing more ethical collections, in line with consumer demand. However, we have to be aware that they don’t always practice the ethics they preach. Many high street retailers are making efforts at improving their ethical policies but there is still a long way to go.

The high street brands I have sourced products from for the outfit below are Laura Ashley and Monsoon. Laura Ashley is a relative latecomer to the ethical fashion market, but they do have quite a few pieces, including the Archive Collection of vintage, organic retro, seventies garments. The organic cotton used in Laura Ashley’s small organic range is sourced from cotton farmers in Turkey who receive 1/3 more for their crop, plus their mills are organically certified. Laura Ashley could also do with paying a living wage.

Monsoon traditionally focused on clothes of ethnic origin and in 1994 established the Monsoon Trust, which aims to improve the lives of children, young people and women in South Asia, via projects that concentrate on education, health and activities to foster more income. Monsoon is also a founder member of The Ethical Trading Initiative (
ETI), an alliance of companies non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade union organisations, established to improve corporate codes of practice covering supply chain working conditions.

Monsoon could do better by increasing their organic and Fairtrade products and making more solid environmental commitments, but they do have higher standards than many other retailers. In reality all high street retailers need to be making more concerted efforts to improve their track record for producer working conditions and increasing their organic and fairly traded ranges.

The other items below are from Fifi Bijoux who produce jewellery using ethically mind gold, Novacas (sold at Moo Shoes) who produce vegan, cruelty-free footwear and Bourgeois Boheme who sell vegan, cruelty-free bags and footwear.

1) Fifi Bijoux, Starfish Pendant, made from ethically mined gold, £130 –
2) Novacas, Angel Beige Shoe, $95 –
3) Valencia Small Beige Tote Bag, £19 –
4) Jersey Grandad Top, made from 100% organic cotton, £7 –
5) Abigail Organic Regular Length Jeans, made from an organic cotton mix, £45 –

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Organic cotton is booming on the high street

The latest high street must have is organic cotton. High street retailers are seeing a growing demand from consumers for more organic and ethical fashion items. A number of well known brands are increasing their organic cotton lines. It is estimated that the value of the organic cotton market in the UK will rise by 50% this year alone.

Shops like H&M and New Look are just two of the latest high street chains to jump on the green bandwagon. New Look has introduced its third organic cotton collection this year, fronted by TV presenter Fearne Cotton, which will be available in its 560 stores this weekend.

25% of women classify themselves as ethical clothing shoppers. With such a demand from the major high street chains the supply of organic cotton is running dry. It is expected that organic cotton will make up around 30% of all cotton in the next 25 years. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, Martin Hearson of Labour Behind the Label has suggested that retailers should be committed to improving the working conditions of producers and suppliers. It's great that more people are keen to go organic in various areas of their life, but I agree with Martin Hearson that we also need to be considering the 40 million textile and garment workers worldwide who are subject to poor working conditions. One way we can do this is by buying more fair trade clothing.

[via The Independent]

Monday, 23 July 2007

Go mad for monochrome

I should be thinking about the autumn/winter season right now, but I am still hanging onto the hope of a summer arising out of the dreary gloom. Monochrome was a key spring/summer trend and the colour black is filtering through to the autumn/winter season (albeit minus the white!). So, just enough time to grab a few black and white ethical fashion pieces that will see you through the rest of summer. Enjoy your hols!

1) TUK Houndstooth Flat, $36 - Moo Shoes.
2) Vintage Zebra Dress, 450 kr - Mint & Vintage.
3) Edun Damas Organic Tee, $60, 100% organic, Fair Trade and sweatshop free cotton - Equita.
4) Ecoganik French Terry Bermuda, $75, 100% organic cotton - Couture Candy.
5) Black and White Bag, £9.95, fairly traded from India - Natural Collection.
6) BKMHattitude Not So Plain Jane, $25, linen - Etsy.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Ethical label Si:su launch their site

Ethical fashion newcomers, Si:su, established in July 2005 by Helen Stew, Hanneke Van Ryswyk and Rachel Bryan, have just launched their brand spanking new website at Si-su.com. Si:su was born out of the desire of its creators to launch an organic empire, which eventually manifested as an Oxfam Originals collection, crafted for their local store from vintage materials.

The label is currently producing a range of womenswear, accessories and interior collections, entirely from vintage and recycled materials. Si:su are passionate about producing eco-friendly products from sustainable fabrics. On 8th July they took part in the Sustainable Urban Styles Today (SUST) show in Manchester, which featured a host of established ethical and aspiring ethical designers including: People Tree, Enamore, Think! and Snood.

Si:su womenswear consists of two ranges (Pure and Bijou) with their own customised collections. The earth toned Pure range is, nostalgic, simple, pretty and practical to wear. The Bijou range is feminine and romantic, utilising luxurious satins and cottons, detailed with ribbon and lace.

Si:su's designs are available at Allthingsgreen.net.

Monday, 16 July 2007

DePloy demi-couture: A unique approach to fashion

When you think of ethical clothing you might not automatically consider an outfit with the ability to transform into another outfit, but DePloy's approach to sustainable fashion is just this.

With a unique popper system and detachable parts, each of their items of clothing can adapt into at least two different outfits. When the fashion tides turn you simply acquire new garment parts, to attach to your old ones and by doing so, you can enjoy contemporary fashions without contributing so heavily to landfills. Bulging, heavy suitcases with an overabundance of items can be a thing of the past, as you relish the ability of your dress to morph into a new set of rags. DePloy's Creative Director, Bernice says,

"My aim is to change the fashion process to make it less wasteful, more sustainable, and more interactive with the end customer."

You might be sceptical of the style merits of attire with a popper system, but DePloy's Autumn/Winter 2007 collection, with its muted autumnal palette, feminine structures and sophisticated sensibilities, makes multifunctional apparel an aesthetic, sensible and seamlessly more ethical fashion choice than non-modular clothing.

I am not aware of DePloy's approach to fabrics, but hopefully we will also see the brand using more recycled and vintage materials in their future collections.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Clothes swapping with Hybird

For fashion swapping devotees Hybird is hosting a clothes swap shop afternoon, Feather Duster, at The New Rose, Essex Road, London on Saturday 21st July from 2pm to 6pm. If you fancy popping along you will need to bring with you a minimum of one wearable item to swap. Anything left over at the end of the swap will be donated to the Salvation Army.

The clothes swapping craze appears to be sweeping the nation. Rather than throwing out clothes you no longer wear, it makes sense to swap for them for something you will wear. It's a great way of finding a new home for old items and getting great new garments for free. Whilst New York and Sydney has already fully hopped on the swap scene bandwagon, London's first official clothes exchange shop, Visa Swap, took place between Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th June. Prior to the swap dates shoppers brought in their unwanted items and were awarded points on a 'credit card,' depending on the products they were bearing, which they could then redeem for items at the swap shop on the aforementioned dates. Any leftover items were donated to TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development).

Swapping, Myspace swap events, club nights and swishing parties, are cropping up all over the place in an amalgamation of ethical shopping, bargain hunting and socialising. 900,000 clothes and shoes are disposed of every year so it's essential that consumers become more environmentally conscious. Whether many of the attendees to such events are truly interested in planet saving, or just pseudo-ethical-shoppers keen to get some freebies, is another issue altogether, but if it means that fashion is creating less waste, it can only be a good thing.

If leaving the house is all too much for you, you can swap online with websites such as Whatsmineisyours.com or Swapstyle.com. For more information see Hybird.co.uk and Y-shop.co.uk.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Mootiful cruelty-free shoes from Moo Shoes

For a striking shoe that can translate into day or evening wear, the Novacas Darcy Burgandy, sold at vegan footwear boutique, Moo Shoes, is fantastic. With a rich, deep colour, towering heel and retro feel, it's perfect for any season. If burgandy is not your thing, The Darcy is also available in black and green.

Novocas is a vegan owned business that produces, manufactures and distributes stylish leather alternative, cruelty-free footwear. Novocas shoes are fabulous and absolutely quash the notion that vegan footwear is ugly and bland, with their striking, chic shoes. If you are not convinced by the Darcy, feast your eyes upon the Bridget (below) and Angel (on the right) shoes and I am utterly convinced that you will be converted.

Moo Shoes, founded by sisters Erica and Sara Kubersky in 2001, is a vegan owned business that sells a range of cruelty free products, both online and at the brand's New York City store. Why the 'moo' in 'Moo Shoes?' At 8 years old Erica Kubersky encountered a cow during a family trip to an Israel Kibbutz that lead her to become vegetarian. Eight years later her sister Sara convinced her to become vegan. Moo Shoes was an endeavour on the part of both sisters to make vegan living more accessible to New Yorkers.

I sincerely hope that we will be seeing many more vegan fashion and footwear boutiques in the future. Ethical fashion is wonderful but it sometimes leaves out the animal element, selling products such as silk, leather, wool and cashmere, fabrics that are derived from animals and involve animal cruelty in the extraction process. Keep up the good work Moo Shoes and other footwear manufactures take note and provide us all with a wider selection of cruelty-free footwear.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Thieves fashion will steal your heart

If you are searching for ethical fashion to get excited about, look no further than Canadian based Thieves, by eco designer Sonja den Elzen, who effortlessly evokes cutting edge style and sophistication using a range of sustainable fabrics, including: organic cotton, organic bamboo, linen, organic soy cotton and lyocell.

Sonja is as passionate about the environment as she is about producing meticulously designed clothing. Her love of fashion began at a very young age and eventually led her to create an urban street wear line, Jystijls, that was available in various boutiques worldwide from 1996 - 2002.

Thieves arose out of Sonja's desire to combine her fashion designing with environmentally friendly principles and practises. Thieves spring 2007 collection is stylish, thoughtful and earthy, using putty shades that evoke the imagery of nature. The fall 2007 collection literally takes us back to black, with a simple and refined collection that borrows Japanese detailing.

As thick as thieves, Sonja den Elzen and Dana Takeda established an online boutique for men and women in May 2007, called League of Lovers and Thieves, which sells the Thieves range and Dana's League of Lovers organic intimate wear and re-worked vintage pieces. Both women believe in using environmentally sound processes and materials, with the intention of, "taking the fashion world by storm and turning everything green one dress, one shirt, one jacket and one pair of pants at a time." With their beautifully created pieces, the outlook looks very promising.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Personalise your style with Armour Sans Anguish

We all want to be a one-off and now you can be with Armour Sans Anguish (clothing without sorrow), the brainchild of two fashion forward girls called Tawny Holt and Julie Edwards, who are both passionate about one-of-a-kind, recycled and sweatshop free clothing. Deconstructed vintage style is their forte and looking through their collections (which get snapped up pretty quick), Armour Sans Anguish excel at it.

Julie is a consummate pro when it comes to repurposing old items, having acquired the skill of thriftiness from a very early age. Tawny majors in Cultural Anthropology and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz and has always loved making things.

Online eco-store BTC Elements are currently selling a beautiful Armour Sans Anguish, 'Layered and Lovely' reconstructed tulle dress, created from reclaimed and secondhand fabric, for $200. If you're a fan, get purchasing now, before it sells out, like all their other beautiful creations.

Gary Harvey's eco-couture

Eco-conscious fashion needs a dose of avant-garde innovation, cue Gary Harvey, who produced a collection of vintage couture inspired dresses from recycled garments, which were showcased at London Fashion Week this year.

From a towering bridal gown constructed from 10 wedding dresses, to an aptly named, military dress, made from 28 army jackets in various shades of olive green camouflage, Gary's collection is a striking and pioneering move for the ethical fashion world. Gary says, "By sourcing fabrics and raw materials that have literally been thrown away, you can look good and be good too." Gary Harvey was the creative director of Levi Strauss for almost 10 years and his earth-conscious designs were born out of creative frustration. Since then his passion for recycled couture has prevailed and Gary has designed a range of conceptual eco-couture outfits. He is now taking private commissions for his unique socially conscious designs.

It's exciting to see originality and great concepts filtering into the ethical fashion arena. Hopefully this will be a growing trend rather than a passing one!

Ecoganik bring contemporary chic to ethical fashion

Eco-fashion is constantly evolving and it would seem that it is finally on the cusp of something phenomenal that will hopefully move ethical fashion from the periphery to the mainstream in the longterm. Ecoganik has been plugging away for ten years in the contemporary organic fashion movement, attempting to make headway. With a new creative director, Genevieve Cruz on board and a re-modelled marketing campaign, Ecoganik are gracing the pages of prestigious publications such as In Style, WWD, Lucky Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan and the New York Times.

Ecoganik are experts at catering for the eco-conscious consumer and Genevieve Cruz is now looking towards fashionistas who are keen to be more earth conscius, without compromising their sense of style. Each piece designed by Cruz is wearable, comfortable and relatively inexpensive, ranging from $63 for a tank to $250 for a dress.

I am hoping that ethical fashion is going to become ever more innovative and a social norm. With labels like Ecoganik injecting effortless style into earth conscious attire, the dream seems ever more possible by the hour.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Eco Dawn in the Daily Mail

I am pleased to announce that I will be gracing the pages of the Daily Mail this coming Monday 9th June, with two other ethical stylists in a feature about ethical fashion. I got the opportunity to play at being a model for a couple of hours, which I was not particularly good at, but I did my best to pout and give some fierce Tyra Banks-esque poses in my ethical garments, whilst the photographer directed me and the friendly make-up artist rubbed foundation on my pasty, circulation impaired pins. It was quite a pleasant experience (the shoot, not the application of foundation) but I don't think I'll be adorning the cover of Vogue or any other high-brow fashion publications. I got to choose my favourite ethical fashion pieces for summer, in case it ever arrives.

If you fancy having a read about the rise of eco-fashion and seeing ethical style in action get yourself a copy, I know I will be and hopefully my picture won't be too cringeworthy!

Marc Bouwer presents 100% cruelty-free fashion

Marc Bouwer is a premier league fashion designer, known as the man that kits out celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Paris Hilton, Shania Twain and Mariah Carey. His creations add phenomenal glamour and style to an array of red carpet events around the world. He is a highly influential designer in the world of high fashion, so, when he decides to go ethical and stop using any animal skins or products in his designs it’s big news. Bouwer refrained from using fur, leather and wool in his collections once he became aware of the horrific conditions the animals were kept in.

Thanks to PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) he witnessed a video exposé of animals being subjected to the most painful and barbaric treatment, including conscious cows having their hooves and lips cut off, to enable their skin to be torn from their bodies.

This is far from being an unusual practise in the world of animal farming, animals are routinely kept in torturous and inhumane conditions.

Bouwers 100% animal-free clothing line ‘Imitation Is Life’ premiered at New York Fashion Week. Bouwer proved that high-end fashion does not have to be part of the animal trade, it can be just as glamorous, elegant, thrilling and beautiful without any cruelty involved. Hopefully more designers will follow suit, distancing themselves from animal cruelty and making an ethical statement as well as a fashion statement.

To view PETA videos of animal treatment see PETA TV.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Ethical brand lowdown: Adili

What do they do?

Adili is an online ethical store selling a range of Fair Trade, fairly traded, recycled, organic and other ethical womenswear, menswear, accessories, footwear, babies and children's clothing, household items, skincare and gifts, produced by a range of ethical labels.

What are they about?

Adili is the Swahili word for 'ethical and just,' which is what Adili stand for, believing that fashionable clothing can be made without causing unnecessary harm to people or the planet. Adili showcases the pioneering brands who have demonstrated that trade can be conducted in a fairer manner, without exploiting people along the supply chain. With this in mind, Adili has created a framework for each brand to be evaluated against, before they can be adopted as a supplier. Each supplier must demonstrate against a set criteria how they are ensuring the ethical and just nature of their production processes.

Who is behind Adili?

Adam Smith is the CEO of Adili, with 14 years experience in the retail sector. He has undertaken various roles throughout his career, including Director of Operations for sit-up Ltd and eCommerce Development Director at Dixons. Adam has experience of setting up supply chains from the Far East and Indian sub-continent and a personal empathy with the values of Adili.com.

Quentin Griffiths is the Co-Founder and Non-Executive Director, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of ASOS. His background is in marketing.

Christopher Powles in a Non-Executive Director, who combines his experience of financing small unquoted companies with a long standing interest in the environment and developing world. Christopher was born in Africa and has been involved in conservation and ethical projects for a number of years.

Claire Lissaman is a consultant on ethical and fair trade, having formerly been the UK director for RUGMARK, a certification, labelling and development initiative working to end exploited child labour in South Asia's rug industry.

What criteria do Adili use to ensure that items are ethical?

Adili has a set definition of fair trade, which includes, "a trading partnership based on trasparency, dialogue and respect that seeks greater equity in international trade," amongst other things. Some brands carry a certification label such as those issued by IFAT (International Fair Trade Association) and the Fairtrade Foundation. Adili uses the word fairly traded to denote brands that are working within their set definition, but do not yet have formal certification.

Adili recognises organic certifiers who are members of The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), including: The Soil Association, Skal, IMO and AGRECO. Adili uses the term organic to denote products that are crafted from organic fibres but are not currently certified.

Adili also sells locally sourced products (which supports local businesses, promotes traditional skills and helps to combat carbon emissions from shipping clothes all other the world) and sells products that use alternative and recycled fibres (which prevents wastage, as millions of textiles are binned each year and avoids the reliance on cotton, a crop which accounts for billions of dollars worth of pesticide use every year and consumes vast amounts of precious water).

For further information on Adili's ethical framework, check out Adili.com.

Hot picks?

I thought you'd never ask, the Ciel Sophia Dress, for £185, made from certified organic cotton, the fairly traded Kuyichi Harpoon Print Top, for £40, made from 50% cotton and 50% polyester, the fairly traded Kuyichi White Denim Jeans, for £78, the Fifi Bijoux Ardent Pendant, for £205, made from ethically mined gold and gemstones, without the use of cyanide, arsenic or mercury and all the Spiezia beauty products, because I think Spiezia are fantastic!

Miss Selfridge add more vintage items

Further to my recent post about Miss Selfridge's vintage range, new items have now been added. They are getting snapped up pretty sharpish, so if you want to bag yourself a vintage number you'll have to be quick off the mark. Their latest line is 'Happy Days,' with some fabulously nostalgic pieces, such as: the Red and White Stripe Dress, £80, The Hawaii Printed Red Smock Top, £45 and the Blue and White Gingham Dress, £80 (a fantastic maxi length piece, for a coquettish milk maid look). New garments have also been added to the Guatemalan, Prom Queen and Psychedelic ranges. Here is a selection of the best buys.

1) Orange Embroidered Dress, £100 - 90% cotton, 10% other.
2) Red Chiffon Prom Dress, £120 - 90% chiffon, 10% other.

3) One Shoulder Puff Ball Dress, £90 - 90% acetate, 10% other.
4) Daisy Print Maxi Dress, £80 - 90% cotton, 10% other.