You can’t escape the gloomy headlines at the moment: insects dying out; sea levels rising; an ocean full of plastic. It’s all very terrifying. And to make matters worse, this year new investigations, like Stacey Dooley’s documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, which aired last week on the BBC, are pointing out the major role fashion has to play in all this.
In Fashion’s Dirty Secrets (a must-watch if you haven’t caught up already), Dooley emphasises how the industry is the second largest water polluter in the world, thanks in part to our never-ending appetite for new clothes. One unbelievable stat is that over 100 billion new garments are made every year – that’s more than 10 pieces of clothing for every single person on the planet. Among these, cotton is one of the most polluting, thanks to the sheer volume of water required to grow the fibre, as well as the environmental effects of the pesticides and toxic dyes used in its production.
It’s all very discouraging – especially for those of us who like our clothes, and who would like to protect the environment, too. But there is something you, as a smart-thinking Jackal reader, can do to help. There are now a whole range of environmentally conscious, sustainable brands out there that you can switch to without sacrificing your sense of style. Here are six we rate for all areas of your wardrobe.
Accessories: Mat & Nat
Luxury accessories not made from leather are a hard sell for most style aficionados. But stay with me. Mat & Nat (which stands for ‘material and nature) take their sustainability and design credentials equally seriously. Founded in Montreal in 1995, their designs are clean, minimal and come in a pared-back choice of black, olive and tan colourways. What’s more, they’re made from recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber and cork, with linings that are actually pre-used plastic bottles. We especially rate this pared-back briefcase, sized for laptops and a great switch for your nine to five.
£145, shop now
Denim: Kings of Indigo
Jeans are the primary culprit when it comes to water use and pollution: it takes 1,800 gallons of water to make a single pair. Amsterdam-based brand Kings of Indigo are trying to change that. The brand uses organic cotton to make its jeans, meaning that the producers only use natural pesticides and fertilisers, instead of environmentally damaging synthetic ones. They’re also part of the Fair Wear Foundation, which ensures good working conditions and fair wages for workers. Finally, lots of their denim comes unwashed, meaning the amount of water used to produce it is minimised. This Ryan pair, with their classic straight fit and deep indigo hue, is our pick for your autumn wardrobe.
€ 99,95, shop now
Jackets: Oliver Spencer
Oliver Spencer is a designer trying to do things differently. In our recent interview with him he revealed his plans to push his company towards sustainability, starting with using biodegradable paper packaging and moving towards using only organic cotton and ecological wool. He also manufactures in the UK and Portugal, to ensure adequate working conditions are upheld. ‘The guy that comes to us thinks about how he shops,’ says Spencer, and he couldn’t be more right. This season, our pick is his ‘Bermondsey’ bomber jacket in beautifully textured Italian Casentino wool.
£449, show now
Treading the line between style and social responsibility is the ethos Veja was built on. Founded by Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion back in 2005, from the very beginning Veja has been about sustainable products, and having a fair trade production line. These retro-inspired V-12 trainers feature their innovative B-Mesh material, made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, and soles made from wild rubber from the Amazon rainforest. Through choosing sustainable wild rubber sources, Veja has helped preserve 120,000 hectares of the Amazon forest so far.
€110, shop now
With this season’s trend for hiking-inspired outerwear, Patagonia’s recently had a bit of a style renaissance. But since its birth in the 1970s, the Californian brand has quietly been supporting sustainability through its brand ethos and decisions. As well as developing new fabrics to replace cotton, and using recycled materials instead of new ones, it also pledges at least one per cent of sales, or 10 per cent of pre-tax profits – whichever is more – to grassroots environmental groups. This ‘Maple Grove’ jacket in Mojave khaki has all their extreme-weather technology, wrapped up in a stylish canvas jacket with a camo fleece lining.
£210, shop now
Founded in 2003 to supply the needs of hardy British surfers, Finisterre is the Cornish brand that’s quietly making waves on the sustainable style scene. A ‘B Corp’ certified business (which verifies social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability), Finisterre is guided by three principles around product, environment and people. It uses recycled insulation in its jackets, merino wool from its own British flock of sheep and are also committed to eradicating single-use plastic from its supply chain and workspaces by the end of 2018. This 100% wool jumper, with its raised neck and rolled hems, will make a stylish addition to your cold weather wardrobe.
£95, shop now