Making my wardrobe more sustainable, whether that’s by ‘shopping’ what’s already in it, buying second hand or renting, has become a priority over the past couple of years. I think a lot harder about something before I buy it these days. Do I love it? How often will I wear it? Does it work with the other pieces in my wardrobe? This approach means that if I do buy something from a not-so-sustainable brand – because hey, I’m far from perfect – I know I’m making a considered decision, and the piece becomes sustainable because I will wear it again and again.
Of course, another way to create a sustainable wardrobe is by shopping, if not exclusively, then predominantly, sustainable brands. It sounds like a no-brainer, but when I first started exploring the more conscious offerings out there, it quickly became apparent that they were way out of my price range. Recently though, a whole crop of on-trend, sustainable and affordable brands have popped up – an eco high street if you will – and I can’t wait to start adding their designs to my wardrobe.
Debbie Dress, £75, Aligne
What: Former fashion buyer and product developer Dalbir Bains launched Aligne in the middle of lockdown last year. A carefully curated, modern womenswear brand with sustainability at its core, Aligne fast became Instagram-famous thanks to it’s directional but timeless silhouettes, happy prints and eco-friendly finishes.
Sustainability Credentials: Aligne’s conscious production methods are spread across three key pillars – fabrics, factories and sourcing. The brand swerves regular cotton – one of the world’s most heavily polluting crops – for organic cotton which, being 80% rain-fed, not only uses much less water but is fairly-traded and regulated. Recycled polyester and EcoVero™ are also used for Aligne designs, the former creating 75% less CO₂ emissions than virgin polyester and the latter a natural form of viscose produced using pulp taken from renewable resource wood, resulting in significantly lower emissions compared to standard viscose.
How Much? Prices start at just under £30, going up to £300 for a luxe leather piece.
Floral Dress, £95, Damson Madder
What: An Instagram find I was instantly smitten with, I told Hannah she absolutely had to include Damson Madder’s puff-sleeved, Bridgerton-worthy floral dress in our recent Leopard List. Another lockdown success story – founder Emma Hill started the brand just a week before the world turned upside down last April – alongside those pretty prairie dresses you’ll find cool co-ords, slogan t-shirts, oversized striped shirts and throw-on loungewear.
Sustainablity Credentials: Damson Madder designs use 100% recycled polyester and 100% recycled cotton. The recycled polyester is made from plastic bottles taken from coastlines and landfill and the cotton is recycled from textile waste, while the natural dye sweatshirts are made from 100% organic cotton. Packaging-wise, everything – including swing tags and labels – is recycled and recyclable.
How Much? Tees start at £25 while a dress will set you back around £100.
Spot Frill Collar Blouse, £50, Albaray
What: A new venture from the former leadership team at Warehouse, Albaray offers the same wardrobe essentials and on-trend statement-makers, but with sustainability at the heart of every design. Expect compliments-guaranteed midi dresses, seriously comfy jumpsuits, gorgeous loungewear, really nice tops and elevated basics.
Sustainability Credentials: Albaray uses 100% eco-viscose and 100% organic cotton across the majority of items, as well as using recycled and recyclable materials for labels and tags. The team’s retail background means they have built a network of suppliers who share their eco ethos, many of which have been left with excess fabric and dead stock since the pandemic. Albaray has been utilising both to prevent waste and help their suppliers during what has been a tough time for the fashion industry.
How Much? Pieces at £22 for a top with the most expensive dress costing £120, but many of the dresses are around £70-£80.
We Are Kin
Juliet Zebra Dress, £95, We Are Kin
What: Creating sustainable clothing often means producing collections in small batches to avoid waste. This is brilliant for the planet, but less so for size inclusivity. We Are Kin, the East London label founded by Ngoni Chikwenengere, is here to deliver on both fronts. The brand’s directional designs – separates, dresses, outerwear and swimwear in statement asymmetric cuts – are all available in sizes 6-26 as standard, and if you can’t find your size, Ngoni will custom-make a piece for you.
Sustainability Credentials: We Are Kin’s focus on sustainable and responsible practices is made possible by using end-of-line fabrics, sustainable materials and working with a local factory in Bow, East London.
How Much? Slightly spendier, expect to pay £150 for a timeless black maxi dress – it’s made of 100% silk though.
Winnie Jumpsuit, £42, Nobody’s Child
What: From Kimberley Walsh and Holly Willoughby to countless influencers, Nobody’s Child’s signature pretty prints and dreamy dresses have a cult following. It’s also one of the new brands to be stocked at Marks & Spencer, as well as on its own website.
Sustainability Credentials: Nobody’s Child acknowledges its sustainability efforts as a work in progress, pledging to “learn and listen” as the brand grows. 90% of the SS21 collection is made from responsible fabrics like renewable viscose, organic cotton and recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. Nobody’s Child also shares information about their suppliers here.
How Much? Prices start at just £16 for a t-shirt while a trademark dress costs around £45.
Meadow Floral Top, £38, Omnes
What: Another Insta find (damn that algorithm is good) Omnes is on a mission to create fashion that “doesn’t cost the earth”, both literally and figuratively. Fresh prints, wedding guest-worthy dresses and jumpsuits and cool denim make up Omnes’ covetable collection.
Sustainable Credentials: Fabric-wise, it’s certified viscose – a renewable plant-source material that will eventually biodegrade – recycled polyester and organic cotton. When it comes to suppliers, Omnes works with a small, carefully selected set of fabric producers, all of which are individually approved by top environmental groups. Using deadstock is another focus for the brand, who are currently upcyling fabric cut offs into accessories,
How Much? Nothing tops the £100 mark, and you can refresh your look with a hair accessory for as little as £5.
Molby The Label
Patty Gingham Dress, £125, Molby the Label
What: Instagram’s favourite new slow fashion brand, every Molby the Label design is handmade by founder Karina Molby in her studio. The gingham dresses are currently going viral, and with each piece taking between 4-6 hours to produce, Karina asks that you allow up to 14 days for the making and sending of your order. Better get in quick – you’re going to want a Molby the Label number in your re-entry wardrobe.
Sustainable Credentials: Karina sources fabrics locally before designing, cutting, stitching, sewing, labelling, steaming and sending out the finished product to its new home. The result? Reduced carbon emissions, less fabric wastage and a high-quality design you’ll wear again and again.
How Much? Those gingham dresses cost between £115-£120, whilst Molby’s kitsch new slogan t-shirts come in at £50.