I have returned home from the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris full of good intentions to save my pennies and spend them on a thought-through socially conscious wardrobe instead of indulging my usual habit of impulse buying. The problem is, when you start scratching the surface of what’s ‘ethical’ (i.e. doesn’t exploit people or the environment in the production line) and what’s not on the high street, the result is a bewildering array of pro and con arguments (mostly con) for each brand, and it can be tempting to give up the whole exercise of trying to shop your way to a better world. (See Vivienne Westwood’s thoughts on how fashion can change the world here.)
Perhaps the solution is to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives. As I discovered at the Ethical Fashion show, there are so many talented designers out there. Ethical shopping really doesn’t need to be a chore. Here are three of my favourite brands that I think could easily replace some of the big high street contenders in my own wardrobe.
A standout French brand that is eco-chic at its best – a stylish replacement for your Topshop jeans, very American Apparel with its sexy and bright androgyny but better quality. (Seriously, I had a look at the seams and they are finished really well…) The online shop is currently under construction, but I was assured that it will it be up and running soon and also looks likely to be stocked in some London boutiques in the near future. L’Herbe Rouge does menswear as well as womenswear, and jeans start at around £99. www.lherberouge.com
This German company makes beautiful, simple Gap style basics in organic fibres that are super soft and wearable. Order online at www.naturalwave.de Prices range from around £20-£35, so it ticks the affordable box as well.
Linda Mai Phung
It was love at first sight. When founder of the Ethical Fashion Show, Isabelle Quéhé, wore Linda’s dress to present her with the Ethical Fashion Show prize, that irrational ‘It’s beautiful, I want it…’ syndrome kicked in. Luckily for me, it didn’t break the bank at £78. I can’t enthuse enough about this talented young designer – a mixture of Reiss and French Connection, her collection is made up of simple, flattering and stylish designs in bright colours and silks. Linda’s career is just taking off, but she hopes to have her online shop up and running with her Spring/Summer 2012 collection early next year. Watch this space, this is one talented designer… www.lindamaiphung.blogspot.com (My dress is the bright blue silk maxi dress!)