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Thursday
Jun292017

5 UK Ethical Clothing  Companies

Child labour, unsafe working conditions and inhumane hours - these are a few of the exploitative methods employed by a lot of global fashion companies. As well as engaging in destructive environmental practices, fast fashion relies on a simple formula: selling more for less. This means exploited workers and disposable products, creating an unsustainable, dangerous business model driven by an (often ignorant) consumerist society. However, the revolution for sustainable fashion has begun, with more and more organisations and companies committing themselves to sustainable and fair practices. Interested in finding out what some of these companies are? We’re here to give you 5 UK clothing companies that put ethical fashion at the forefront of their journey.

Catching a Fish in Norway

Based in London, Catching a Fish in Norway produces ethical and sustainable streetwear. Quoting Scandinavian ecological values as a source of inspiration, CAFIN’s clothes are fair trade, organic and 90% carbon neutral. By focusing on working with producer partners from a grassroots level, the company promotes an ethical supply chain that aids financial independence and ethical working conditions for those involved in the creation of their products.  From recycled tote bags, t-shirts, to wall prints - Catching a Fish in Norway’s pieces are intent on changing the exploitative global fashion industry for the better.

Rapanui

Hailing from the Isle of Wight, Rapanui makes ethical and sustainable fashion, ranging from custom t-shirts to flannels, to surf towels. Clothes are made in an ethical, wind powered factory and with low-waste printing technology. By providing open access to their supply chain, the organisation makes it easy for people to find out where their clothing has come from, how it was made and who it was made by. Their interactive traceability map therefore allows anybody to track the process of the product supply chain - thereby raising awareness about making better choices when consuming fashion. They have also designed t-shirts for various causes and organisations, such as Save The Bees, the RSPCA and the Choose Love campaign.  

PexelsPeople Tree

Accredited by the World Fair Trade Organisation, the Fair Trade Association, the Soil Association and an active member of several fair trade and social justice networks, People Tree supports marginalised producer groups from the developing world in order to help develop their economic independence and agency of their environment and community. From Bangladesh to Nepal to India, People Tree’s producer partners use traditional skillsets and the work of local artisans to create their clothing, which feature a range of techniques such as block printing and hand embroidery. Each partner collective has their own local initiative and processes, resulting in unique products that serve particular, local needs. These long term relationships have nurtured mutual respect, with collections designed with enough time for hand production as well as internal monitoring systems that ensure completely fair trade processes all the way down the production chain.

Mayamiko

Established by Paola Masperi in 2013, Mayamiko clothing is made ethically in Malawi, fusing contemporary design with traditional techniques. The company is committed to sustainable employment opportunities in the local communities they work with,  thereby investing in the development of skillsets and using locally-sourced materials which are mostly natural and recyclable. Their collections are produced just outside of the capital Lilongwe, in  the Mayamiko Lab - a project set up by the charity Mayamiko Trust (also founded by Paola Masperi). The Trust is committed to developing sustainable practices and improving lives without taking away anybody’s personal autonomy, by providing things like skills training, education, nutrition and skills training. At the moment, the project provides sewing and tailoring training to local women who are affected by HIV or are the carers of HIV orphans.  Equally, Mayamiko is committed to lessening the environmental impact of clothing manufacture, operating a zero waste workshop, in which even the last piece of material gets transformed into something of value.  Their ethical standards comply with the Ethical Trade Initiative principles, including codes such as no child labour, regular employment, financial education and pension schemes.  

Flickr | Nicolás BoullosaKomodo

"It's a privilege of our civilization to dress up in comfort and style, but it's also the responsibility of today’s fashion designers to make that style fairly and sustainable for those who work on it - otherwise, you can only pretend it’s cool!" - Joe Komodo

Inspired by travels to Bali and Kathmandu back in the 1980s, the founder of the brand, Joe Komodo, simply wanted to create a brand that was sustainable, fair and created a lifestyle in which he and his team could travel and work with their partners across the world.   A true sustainable fashion pioneer, Komodo has been promoting the use and development of organic cotton, hemp, bamboo and other natural fibres since the 1990s. The collaborative ties created in Bali and Nepal back in the 80s still exist today, and Komodo stresses the importance of respect and loyalty between the two parties – in fact, the Komodo team travel to the small overseas factories every 2 months, in order to ensure that any problems are solved together. The eclectic designs and the traditional tailoring skills combine to make ethical clothing inspired by global partnership.

So there you have it - 5 awesome UK clothing companies that have made it their mission to combat fast fashion. We as consumers can make a choice with our wallets - by investing in ethical production to combat exploitation. And with such cool designs and great stories behind each piece, why wouldn’t you want to?

 

By Laura Hallensleben - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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