Eco-friendly clothing, with its connotations of burlap sacks and sludgy colours, is at odds with the decadent, flighty and fabulous world of fashion. What's a girl to do if she's got the heart of Saffy but the sartorial soul of Patsy?
Happily, several retailers and designers have risen to the challenge to create stylish clothing with a conscience, making it easier than ever to go for the ethical option without sacrificing personal taste. Last week Berlin played host to the sixth annual Ethical Fashion Show, which saw over 91 international eco brands present their collections to a sold-out crowd. Closer to home, Ikea in Glasgow held a sustainable fashion event featuring upcycled clothing by designers Gayle Hanvidge and Morgan Renwick, as well as a presentation on living a sustainable life at home.
If you're the kind of person that only takes the recycling out when they remember and racks up air miles without a second thought, getting to grips with ethical fashion might seem intimidating and perhaps even pointless. But it's not. By making mindful choices, no matter how small, you're part of a wider group making a big difference. Here are five companies that sell gorgeous clothes and accessories while supporting underprivileged communities, promoting sustainability and providing safe and healthy working conditions for those who make the garments.
H&M's Conscious Collection
Based on the ethos that fashion and sustainability shouldn't be mutually exclusive, this range always has a few gems. It comes at a reasonable price point too, though more expensive trend-led items can be found in the recently launched Conscious Exclusive collection.
I love the vibrant prints and contemporary silhouettes of this range, which is made in Kenya. Proceeds from all sales go towards boosting jobs in Kenya, and the workforce receives on-site childcare and a free lunch. Check out ASOS's Green Room too.
Look no further than this American brand for stylish specs and sunglasses. For every pair purchased, the company will give a pair to a nonprofit organisation which will then sell the glasses at affordable prices to people in developing countries.
Marks and Spencer
It's a pity that M&S recently reported flagging sales, given that it's been named one of the world's most ethical retailers by Ethisphere. While you might not associate your gran's favourite shop with cutting edge fashion, its Limited Edition collection is underrated.
Master & Muse
Created by model Amber Valetta, this fashion-forward brand regularly collaborates with other ethical labels (including Vivienne Westwood) to produce modern and stylish clothes and accessories. Pricey, but perfect for investment buys.
Read Natasha's thoughts on fast-fashion here.