Realise the political power of your money and spend it with the brands you know are treating their workers and the environment in the best possible way.
Once you’ve educated yourself on the negative impacts of the fast fashion industry, you’re probably looking for alternative ways to spend your hard-earned cash and support sustainable brands.
But when so many companies now use greenwashing as a marketing tactic, how do you know which brands are genuinely working to do good? I know that this was one of the biggest stumbling blocks for me when I embarked on my mission to shop more ethically.
Fortunately, I’ve done the hard work for you when researching the best UK sustainable fashion brands. From transparent supply chains to eco-friendly materials, you can be sure that these recommendations go beyond seasonal trends, adhering to responsible sourcing with sustainable credentials.
Before you buy anything, I should preface this with a gentle reminder to revisit my article on embracing slow fashion. It goes without saying that the most sustainable option is the clothing you already own. Otherwise, you might be able to swap with a friend, use a rental service or buy second-hand.
To begin curating your minimalist capsule wardrobe, don’t rush this process. Take your time, carefully consider the pieces you need and invest in quality over quantity with clothing you can treasure forever.
The intention behind this post is to raise awareness about ethical fashion. These are brands that are doing good in the world and deserve your recognition and support. So without further ado, let’s get clear on what constitutes an ethical brand before I share my absolute favourites with you.
What Is an Ethical Clothing Brand?
An ethical clothing brand takes responsibility for the garment workers in its supply chain; ensuring a living wage, working hours are regulated, policies on child labour and the right to join a union.
It also takes accountability for the impact it’s having on the long-term health of our planet. This includes reducing CO2 emissions, working with more sustainable materials, plus using less water and toxic chemicals in the production process.
Finally, the treatment of animals is considered. An ethical brand aims to reduce or even cut out animal products completely with a vegan approach.
When assessing a brand’s credentials, it’s useful to look for transparency in the way they operate, as well as remembering these three pillars of People, Planet and Animals.
If you’re ever unsure, take a look at the Good On You directory for a comprehensive sustainability checker and brand breakdown.
The Best Budget-Friendly & Sustainable Clothing Brands
Sustainable fashion may save the earth but it doesn’t have to cost the earth, as proved by the brands I’ve handpicked below.
However, what I will say is that none of these brands are going to be anywhere near as cheap as H&M or Primark. And you need to start retraining yourself to see that as a good thing! The fast fashion industry has primed us to expect a t-shirt to cost less than £5, but of course, you’re going to have to pay a little more if you care about an ethical supply chain, natural materials and sustainable practices.
When you’ve been told your whole life to feel good about snagging a bargain, it can be really hard to overturn this mindset. Generally, if a price feels too good to be true, then… it probably is. As Lucy Siegle warns:
Fast fashion is not free. Someone, somewhere is paying the price.
With this in mind, I hope that you’ll consider investing in fewer but quality pieces that support a circular fashion model. Please be assured that this list is regularly reviewed and updated, so if anything changes you’ll be the first to know!
Best for… Head-turning partywear
Who said ethical clothing couldn’t be sexy?! OMNES is my go-to brand for simple yet stunning occasionwear. Their dresses are made from recycled polyester, with 100% mono material for ease of recycling at end of life. Everything down to the inner garment labels has been considered (these are made from recycled plastic bottles!). They also stock the perfect capsule wardrobe staples like basic tees, trousers and chunky knits.
OMNES has partnered with climate organisation Earthly to not only offset its carbon emissions, but to go one step further and become certified carbon positive. From the use of dead stock fabrics to guaranteeing a living wage across their supply chain, you can read more about their impressive credentials on their Sustainability page. This London-based brand is definitely one to keep on your radar!
Categories: Occasion-wear, smart casual, basics
Price: £14 – £85
Size Range: 6-20
2. Plant-Faced Clothing
Best for… Statement streetwear
100% vegan and proud, Plant Faced Clothing is a brand on a mission that is close to my heart. With playful slogans like ‘Oat is the Goat’ and plant-based puns (‘Kale ‘Em With Kindness’), this is unapologetic clothing with an activist twist. In their own words, they aim to:
Promote a new wave of consciousness that supports the non-harming or exploitation of any beings – humans, animals, or plants.
I love the visual boldness of Plant Faced Clothing, which not only looks stylish but is more than likely to going to prompt necessary conversations and spread the word amongst your peers. You can also rest easy in the knowledge that they use high-quality, sustainable fabrics, are ethical and fair trade, and your order will be delivered to your door in recycled, responsible packaging.
For: Men & Women (mostly gender-neutral clothing & sizing)
Categories: Tops & t-shirts, hoodies, joggers, accessories
Price: £15 – £70
Size Range: XS-XXL
Best for… Classic quality styling
For ethically crafted, contemporary classics… look no further than Baukjen! They are working hard to bring you easy-to-wear pieces whilst simultaneously ‘fighting the fast fashion model’. To top it off, they are also a certified B Corp.
What’s different about Baukjen is that they offer different ways to shop. You can buy clothing in the traditional way, or you also have the option to purchase second-hand with their ‘pre-loved’ collection. They even have a rental service, which means you can try different styles without the commitment (and minimise waste in the process!).
A word of warning: you’ll need to watch for animal-derived fabrics like leather and wool, but there are still plenty of natural and recycled fibres to choose from.
Categories: General smart casual everyday wear, sweatshirts and joggers, pyjamas and underwear, accessories
Price: £30 – £200 (There are a few leather items that go up to as much as £500, but I haven’t included these animal-derived products)
Size Range: 6-18
Best for… Everyday essentials
With a slightly more mature audience in mind (think 35+), Thought Clothing manages to strike the perfect balance between the amount of variety on offer, without ever feeling overwhelming. Specialising in plenty of innovative eco-fabrics like bamboo, organic cotton, hemp, tencel and lenzing ecovero (to name just a few), there is even a handy Vegan section to make your life easier.
Thought partners with traid, a UK charity that promotes a circular economy by recycling your pre-loved clothes. You can request a free postage label to send your clothes back to traid when they’ve come to the end of their lifespan.
If you’re looking for colourful, artisanal hand-drawn prints with low environmental impact, then Thought has you covered.
For: Women & Men
Categories: Everyday essentials (inc lots of choice of socks!), accessories, even homewares (e.g. eco laundry detergent & beauty products)
Price: £7 – £200 (outerwear aside, most items are under £100)
Size Range: 6-18
5. People Tree
Best for… Pioneering ethical clothing
The OG of fair trade and sustainable fashion, People Tree is an all-around exemplary UK sustainable clothing brand to support. If you’ve ever watched an interview with founder Safia Minney (take a look at the fashion documentary The True Cost if not), then you’ll understand first-hand just how much care and attention to detail goes into each garment.
People Tree works to the highest ethical and environmental standards and is awarded the best rating of ‘Great’ by Good On You. For more information about their practices, they provide extensive information on their transparent supply chain, dedication to fair wages and environmental impact via their website.
Categories: Everyday wear, yoga & activewear, nightwear, underwear, jewellery
Size Range: 8-16
Best for… Coastal outdoor pursuits
I remember first stumbling across a Finisterre store in London and being thoroughly impressed. Whilst they’re mostly located down South in (understandably) coastal towns, it’s great to see ethical clothing more readily available on the high street.
As a registered B Corp, Finisterre is particularly passionate about its environmental impact and pioneering new, innovative fabrics. They offer pre-loved and trade-in options, as well as a handy free repairs service for waterproofing, patching and reinforcement, and mending hardware and zips.
In a nutshell, this is sustainable style for lovers of the great outdoors who are looking for technical and reliable clothing.
For: Men & Women
Categories: Outdoor wear, surf & swim gear, accessories
Price: £12 – £395 (for reference, £12 is for a pair of socks and £395 is for a wetsuit, a basic t-shirt costs £30)
Size Range: XS-XXL & 6-18
Best for… A nautical vibe
Rapanui is a brand I discovered through the forward-looking fashion documentary ReDress the Future. In it, we visit Rapanui’s renewable energy powered factory on the Isle of Wight and get a fascinating insight into their ethos and production process. Their technology-first approach means that they only need to print their organic cotton t-shirts once you place your order.
We are also shown what happens when an item becomes worn out. You can scan a QR code on the garment label and will receive instructions on how to send it back. These reclaimed materials are then remade into new pieces. This circularity attempts to solve some of fast fashion’s most difficult issues and is a truly innovative model.
For: Men & Women
Categories: Casual wear, surf towels, underwear & socks, accessories
Price: £6-£125 (a hoodie costs a reasonable £40)
Size Range: S-XXL & 8-18
8. Lucy & Yak
Best for… Quirky co-ords
As much as I love my monochrome neutrals… I’m also a sucker for a pop of colour and print! If bold is your bag, then you’re going to fall head over heels for Lucy & Yak. For matching co-ords and loud dungarees, these are seriously colourful clothes with a focus on comfort.
We believe if we put out kindness, fairness, and all round good vibes, it breeds more of the same.
Lucy & Yak uses organic fabrics and recycled materials, as well as having a repair and upcycle network. Their ‘buy back’ initiative in collaboration with Beyond Retro vintage shops means that garments stay in circulation for as long as possible. It’s also nice to see inclusivity, with each garment being shown on a variety of different-sized models in their online imagery. If you want to find them offline, they have four physical stores in Brighton, Bristol, Norwich and Nottingham.
Categories: Everyday wear, particularly known for their jumpsuits, boilersuits, dungarees & co-ords
Price: £10 – £90
Size Range: 6-32
Best for… Bold & beautiful prints
If you’re a fan of Lucy & Yak, then South-East London brand Anorak may be another one for you! Contemporary design and bold prints come with the promise of sustainable materials, an ethical supply chain, FSC catalogues, offset emissions and eco-friendly packaging. They even work with British factories on some of their most popular homewares (including their statement picnic blankets!).
I am obsessed with their supersoft pyjamas and colourful dresses. They are still growing in terms of clothing categories, but everything is well-considered and perfectly formed. I for one can’t wait to see what comes next!
For: Women & Kids
Categories: Pyjamas, dresses, tops & knits, accessories, homewares
Price: £40 – £100
Size Range: 6-22
10. Will’s Vegan Store
Best for… Cruelty-free footwear
Will’s Vegan Store specialises in cruelty-free footwear (right down to the uppers, lining and glue!). And they are cruelty-free in every sense of the word, protecting their workers alongside animals as part of the ethical clothing movement.
They use natural, sustainable and recycled materials wherever possible, operate a plastic-free carbon neutral supply chain, and close the loop at the end of use. For a small charge, you can return your footwear (printer-free!) to be turned into new outsoles and uppers.
It’s also incredibly refreshing to see a brand opt out of our race-to-the-bottom culture of constant discounting:
We don’t go on sale. We don’t have a spring or summer sale or take part in Black Friday. We don’t do fast fashion.
Amen to that!
For: Men, Women, Kids
Categories: Coats, knits, tops, footwear, accessories
Price: £35 – £240
Size Range: UK Mens 6.5-13, Womens 3-8, Boys 1-5, Girls 10-2.5
Best for… Supersoft loungewear
If you’re on the hunt for luxuriously comfortable nightwear made from sustainable fibres, then your search stops here! Noctu is a lovely minimalist brand that prides itself on its use of organic materials, including GOTS-certified cotton. You can also rest easy in the knowledge that these natural fibres are Oeko-Tex certified, which ensures no nasty chemicals are used during the production process.
For every sale, they donate money to the World Land Trust, so your purchase is doing good in some of the most endangered parts of the world. You can also treat yourself to a range of home and wellness products, like bamboo toothbrushes, wash clothes and essential oils.
For: Men, Women & Kids
Categories: Pyjamas, nighties, onesies, home accessories
Price: £17 – £75
Size Range: Adults XS-XXL, Kids aged 4-9
12. Know The Origin
Best for… Overall lifestyle
Your ethical online department store with everything you could want in one convenient-to-shop place! Know The Origin aims to take the stress out of the sustainability minefield, by allowing you to shop safe in the knowledge that you’re doing your bit (with further info to read into if you want to!).
From using alternative natural fibres to becoming a B Corp, Know The Origin is fair trade and transparent. As well as clothing, you can also browse beauty products, homewares, accessories and stationery. The perfect place for thoughtful gift ideas!
For: Men & Women
Categories: Casual wear, activewear, loungewear, footwear, accessories, beauty, homewares, food, stationery, garden, gifting
Price: £30 – £120
Size Range: XS-XL
The Sustainable Fashion Brands That Didn’t Make This List
There were some brands that didn’t quite make the cut. Not because they’re not doing amazing work, but because they’re on the pricier end of the spectrum. I know that I when was first looking into sustainable fashion options, hefty price tags felt a little alienating and overwhelming!
However, if you did want to check out some more brands, then have a browse of this list:
Support Ethical & Eco-Friendly Clothing Brands
It really unsettles me that something being ‘ethically made’ is a bonus or optional extra. Should it not be the bare minimum that those who make the items that sustain and/or shape us as humans are respected and safe?
I echo Mikaela Loach – we shouldn’t have to search for ethical and affordable fashion brands or have articles dedicated towards them. This should be the required standard for all companies, not something we choose to ‘opt in to’ as consumers. However, change takes time and it starts with your choices today. There is power in shifting towards a more conscious consumer demand.
Whilst I wish this post wasn’t necessary, I hope that it has given you some inspiration and guidance when it comes to shopping sustainable clothing brands in the UK. These companies deserve a spotlight being shone on the good work they’re doing. So do consider supporting them and spreading the word amongst your own circle of friends!
If you’ve come across any UK brands I’ve missed and need to hear about, then do let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to take a look at my guide to buying less stuff or ideas for things to do instead of shopping.