Em Poncia takes a look at some brands that are doing everything right…and some that are doing everything wrong.
Sustainability amongst fashion brands is a minefield. Some companies use only natural fibres or manufacture all their clothes locally, while others say they do both but are really pumping money into illegal sweatshops.
Navigating the good, the bad, and the ugly is difficult at best.
Here are a few brands I love, and some that I hate, for their commitment to preserving the planet.
Lucy and Yak
A brilliant brand for sustainability, Lucy and Yak is based out of Brighton.
Known for their colourful dungarees, their website is also full of funky graphics that bring your attention to the good they’re doing for the planet.
The organic cotton they use is GOTS certified, asserting the quality of their products, an accolade that few clothing brands can claim.
They use Natural Earth Pigments for some of their ‘Yaks’, and their ‘Poppy’ skirt is made using cellulose viscose fibers made from sustainably sourced wood.
They work with Ecologi to offset their carbon impact and have thus far achieved 1,746.89 tonnes of carbon reduction.
Finally, in the future, they’re looking to increase their use of fabric scraps, hire someone as the Sustainability and Ethics Manager, and move to a bigger warehouse to decrease the frequency of their new drops.
Lucy and Yak is a brilliant brand to support, and they have some very unique pieces designed for maximum comfortability.
Girlfriend Collective is a brand for the climate-conscious athlete.
Their sleek fitness sets and swimwear are made entirely from recycled materials, including plastic water bottles and fishing nets salvaged from the ocean.
Their products are made in Taiwan and Vietnam, and they partner with recycling specialists in these areas to ensure the highest quality of clothing.
They also have an SA8000 certification which is similar to the Fairtrade certification for integrity surrounding working conditions.
Finally, and maybe the most fun, on each product page, they have a breakdown of exactly what the item is made from, so you know exactly where your leggings have been!
On the luxury end of the scale, Sézane is the brand to round off the eco-friendly portion of this article.
Three quarters of the items they make are certified as being eco-friendly.
They have a B-Corp certification for transparency, and therefore accountability, for their production lines and work practices.
Sézane’s charitable endeavours have raised over 4.5 million euros for DEMAIN, a philanthropic group for equal opportunities.
Finally, on the 21st of every month, 10% of their global sales, and 100% of the proceeds from one chosen design are donated to programs that support equal opportunities for children around the globe.
With beautifully crafted handbags and other leather goods, Sézane is a brilliant choice for the discerningly climate conscious and elegant.
And now onto the ugly. Realising that chic and understated Japanese brand Uniqlo was at fault for greenwashing – duping customers into believing that they engage in ethical and sustainable practices – was a hard lesson to learn.
Although the brand claims to have taken some steps towards sustainability, the brand has not been transparent about the results of their targets for reducing emissions in their supply chain, hinting at a lack of actual commitment to the cause.
The targets they set were also not scientifically approved, meaning that their actual benefits for the environment are both hard to prove and potentially nil.
With its cool understated branding model, Uniqlo claims to use eco-friendly textiles, and yet, fails to produce any sort of certification proving this…
More specifically, the ‘Conscious’ collection.
In 2019, this line was launched promoting eco-friendly products.
Their marketing was seen as deceptive because of the colors and statements they used, and they ultimately had to apologise as the Norwegian Consumer Authority deemed their advertising to be illegal.
Not only are H&M guilty of extremely dubious production lines and lacking transparency, they also greenwashed their way into the consumer’s head by wrongly touting themselves as uber sustainable.
Pretty Little Thing
Finally, falling under the umbrella of extremely fast fashion that has grown on the internet market, Pretty Little Thing has been known to commit the cardinal sins of green washing.
The company is owned by the Boohoo corporation, which has separately come under fire for claiming their pieces are more environmentally friendly than they are.
Pretty Little Thing, though, has come under specific fire after the launch of Pretty Little Thing Marketplace’, a second-hand internet forum for the selling of old clothes from multiple brands.
This endeavor makes the brand appear concerned about their environmental impact and follows the ‘ASOS Marketplace’ model which does the same thing.
However, this development does not change the highly damaging practices of Pretty Little Thing to the environment because of their quick turnaround, cheap materials, and returns policy that results in a great many items being sent to landfill.
Hopefully this article has made choosing where to shop to help the planet a little easier, although these brands are getting smarter and smarter at leaning into the eco-friendly aesthetic wherever they think it will boost their sales.
You can read more of Em’s work on her twitter @emponcia
Images via respective retailer’s social medias.