18 sustainable clothing brands: ethical UK fashion retailers you should know - from ASOS to Lucy and Yak
These brands are aiming to support the slow fashion movement and do their bit to help fight the problems caused by fast fashion
Ethical and sustainable fashion has never been more important.
These days, we are all thinking a lot more about our planet, and the impact the products we buy and use have on it.
The problem is that, thanks to fast fashion, ever-changing trends and mass production, around 300,000 tonnes of used clothes are burned or buried in landfill each year.
As people become more aware of the devastating impact of climate change - and how fashion contributes to that - there is more effort from brands to create their clothing in a more ethical way and shoppers are also looking to buy more sustainable outfits too.
Here are some of the top eco-friendly brands which offer sustainable clothing lines.
Some names you will recognise from the high street, and some may be new.
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is about meeting the needs of today’s customers, while also ensuring that the way we go about meeting those needs provides for customers from future generations too.
On the surface, sustainable fashion is about producing garments using the most eco-friendly materials and processes, and then ensuring that clothing can be recycled or reused when items have reached the end of their life to avoid adding to pollution or landfill problems.
However sustainable fashion is also about benefiting the people involved throughout the fashion supply chain and making sure that everyone is treated fairly – from farmers to consumers to everyone working in end-of-life facilities such as recycling factories.
Sustainable fashion is sometimes referred to as slow fashion because it has been created to last a lifetime.
Which brands offer sustainable clothing?
We’ve rounded up 17 of the best brands which offer sustainable and ethical clothing. Happy shopping.
Their designers have created a new collection of clothes, using innovative ways to treat fabrics and materials that are often thought of as being waste.
They have found ways to give these materials value and a new purpose in our wardrobes, and also encourage people to take pride in passing their clothes on to loved ones.
Ella Soccorsi, concept designer at H&M, said: “The design team was talking about who we become when we fall in love – and how our clothes become part of the love story.
“So we created a collection about love and its many guises: romantic, tough, passionate, nonbinary and platonic.
“We are passionate about circularity, so most pieces have labels inside to encourage customers to write their names and a message when it is time to pass them on.”
The H&M Foundation have also just unveiled garments that capture CO2 from the air.
Girlfriend Collective at John Lewis
A new brand in the industry, Girlfriend Collective specialises in making activewear from recycled materials because they say “trash looks better on you than it does polluting the planet”.
Its philosophy of not making waste but rather wearing it even extends to taking back previously worn pieces to recycle and create new products
John Lewis has also relaunched their ‘BeautyCycle’ scheme and is encouraging shoppers to recycle empty beauty products to get £5 off their next beauty purchase or donate the money to charity.
Marks and Spencer
Marks and Spencer are committed to sourcing 100% of the cotton they use in their clothing from more sustainable sources, with the majority through the ‘Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).
The BCI initiative helps farmers to increase profits and reduce their water usage.
They are also committed to helping their customers recycle their old clothes through their ‘shwopping’ scheme.
Customers can donate clothes from any brand in any condition in the dedicated bins found in M&S stores, including shoes, accessories and bras.
Any of their clothing which is unsold is sent to their charity partners Oxfam, Newlife or SmartWorks to be reused or recycled.
Think of it as a one-stop shop for all of the environmentally conscious clothing and accessories on their website.
You will find recycled goods, where waste, plastic and textiles have been repurposed as new products.
There’s also new items made of sustainable fibres and fabrics, which use less water and exert less waste which make them better for the environment.
& Other Stories
The brand also uses recycled polyester and polyamide in their synthetic garments and all their cotton has been either sourced through Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) or recycling since 2020.
This is where you’ll find a long-lasting wardrobe treasure.
Mango has announced its commitment to designing more sustainable products which are housed in more eco-friendly packaging.
The brand also says they want to produce less textile waste.
So far, they have said that 79% of their pieces have what they call sustainable properties - with the target for this year being 100% of their garments having sustainable properties.
By 2025, they aim to use 100% sustainable cotton in their products, as well as 50% recycled polyester.
They have a clothing collection called Committed, which is made up of items which have at least 30% sustainable fibres.
Monki, which is part of the H&M Group, is a fashion brand that proudly champions planet power, sisterhood, and the power of community.
They’ve made a commitment to source materials which will have less impact on the environment, including using recycled materials.
They’ve also made a pledge that sustainability is at the core of everything they do.
Their Monki Cares edit features a selection of carefully curated clothing including a fabulous range of recycled bikinis.
If you do have any pre-loved clothes that have seen their best days you can also recycle them in any Monki store.
Reformation began by selling vintage clothing out of a small Los Angeles storefront in 2009.
The brand quickly expanded and began making their own clothing, with an all important focus on sustainability. Reformation’s mission is to bring sustainable fashion to everyone.
They make everything from low-impact materials, rescued deadstock fabrics, and repurposed vintage clothing.
Some clothing is still made in the LA factory, and the rest at sustainable partner factories around the world.
Every week, they put out new, limited edition collections and only start with small quantities of each product.
More of the same product is then made if demand is there and they know their customers want it, based on direct data and feedback. This keeps production less wasteful - and their products more exclusive.
These beautiful must-have pieces have been designed to last a lifetime.
Boden has created a range of on-trend slinky dresses and linen shirts which have been made using more sustainable materials.
They have been created using trademarked LENZING™ ECOVERO™ fibres which are derived from sustainable wood and pulp, coming from certified and controlled sources.
The strategy is built on three themes; transitioning to more sustainable materials, exploring new business models and challenging mindsets to provide better products and help customers to shop better.
They offer earth conscious options across their ranges, including clothing, accessories and beauty.
They also have an option to shop and sell pre-loved clothes and rent clothes too.
Omnes are quite a new fashion brand, but they are already having an impact on the industry with their on-trend, stylish designs that are all created with sustainability at the forefront.
The brand uses materials that are long-lasting, upcycle fabric offcuts and ensure all suppliers are audited and sustainable too.
They say: “A desire to look good is nothing to be ashamed of, but the damage that some fashion is doing to our environment is.
“We all need to do things differently and Omnes exists to create clothing that is cool and considered, so that you can have great style, without damaging the planet or your wallet.”
New Look have committed to doing their bit to help the planet. Over 30% of their clothes are now made using more sustainable fabrics, their shopping bags are made of 80% of their own recycled plastic.
They have a specific clothing range, called Kind, which focuses on more sustainable and ethical materials and processes.
These items are made from organic cotton which is grown using processes and resources that have a lower impact on the environment.
They are also incorporating recycled metals into their jewellery range too.
By summer this year, they aim to use only 100% sustainable cotton, and by summer 2023 they aim to use only 100% sustainable viscose, as well as even more recycled fabrics by summer 2024.
Baukjen and Oxfam
Old Baukjen garments are being repurposed, recycled or given new life via their pre-loved scheme.
Lucy and Yak
Lucy and Yak say they want to prove that everyone from production to customer can be happy.
All of their clothing is made in India by tailors. Based on what the brand pays for their garments to be made, the tailors are paid three to four times the state minimum wage.
They’ve also built a new factory for the tailors which looks out onto the beautiful Indian desert and farmland.
The factory also has solar panels so a large percentage of the energy being used in the factory is renewable.
Thought is a brand built on the ethos that clothing should feel good and do better for the planet.
All their clothing is crafted from clean, natural and recycled materials only, such as recycled wool, nylon and polyester and rpet – a material made using recycled pet plastic.
The brand is also changing their manufacturing process from a linear to a circular approach where waste and pollution are designed out.
This means materials are kept in use for as long as possible, allowing natural systems to regenerate.
Community Clothing is a British brand which offers something a little different.
They are a social enterprise which has a simple goal; to sell great quality affordable clothing, and by doing so create jobs for people in some of the UK’s most deprived areas.
Every piece of clothing is designed for perfect everyday utility and made to last using the highest quality sustainable natural materials. Better yet, every piece of clothing is made right here in the UK.
JD Williams has just launched its sustainable own brand, Anise.
The collection of clothing is described as “a premium collection of investment pieces with a focus on materials, fashioned for the future.
Designed in-house, he clothes are made with more thoughtful textile choices and using eco-friendly manufacturing initiatives.