So Long Sack Dresses – 5 Fabrics That Don’t Ruin The Planet

Close your eyes and think about the phrase 'ethical fashion'. What visuals spring to mind? I’ll start: there is linen. There are scarves. There are scratchy utility fabrics and flowy jersey 'basics'. There are dropped crotches, tunics, elasticated waistbands, dresses that go out where they should go in and in where they should go out. Trousers designed purposely to make one’s arse look like a potato in a paper bag. There is khaki, and grey, and a veritable rainbow of beige, extending from millet to lentil through a spectrum encompassing every kind of ancient grain.

The great news is that we’re wrong – or at least, not wholly right. Conscious fashion has come a long way, baby. 
While for a long time the porridgey smock dress reigned supreme, the last few years have brought with it a boom in genuinely stylish, inventive labels doing their bit to bridge the gap between fast fashion’s sugar rush and ethical fashion’s slow-release energy. Which is nice, because while it makes sense that some conscious consumers would like their clothes to represent a rejection of ‘fashion’ in every respect, others of us would still like to show the world our style. And our waists.
In 2018, fashion site Lyst reported a 47 per cent increase in shoppers looking for items with terms such as ‘vegan leather’ and ‘organic cotton’. And as the number of customers asking ‘who made my clothes?’ and ‘how?’ rises, so does the number of young designers and entrepreneurs determined to do things differently. Not just ‘in spirit’ (everyone’s doing it differently in spirit) but in solid, traceable supply chains and quantifiably cleaner production, and there’s an ever-diversifying rollcall of indie labels to discover. Brands who are designing out waste, putting sustainability at the heart of their business model and striving to make a positive impact, rather than just minimising the bad. 
Like Amy Powney’s Mother of Pearl, the luxury womenswear line with high-fashion aesthetic but low-impact production. Like Veja, whose fairtrade vegan sneakers are suddenly everywhere, including on Meghan Markle’s feet. Mayamiko, whose colourful vegan collections are made in Malawi by a cooperative of women who source local fabrics to minimise their carbon footprint. E.L.V. Denim, which patches together pieces of old discarded jeans to create entirely new, unique pairs with a featherlight environmental footprint. The Acey, which makes its cool single-fibre basics to order, so there’s never any waste. The Knotty Ones, which sells gorgeous knitwear made by stay-at-home mums in Lithuania.
There’s Vana, whose loafers and ballet flats are made from cruelty-free alpaca wool with 100 per cent recycled soles. Community Clothing, designer Patrick Grant’s social enterprise, which utilises the quiet periods at Lancashire textile factories to produce sustainable staples and keep the factories in business. Rakha, which makes incredibly stylish button-down skirts and blouses using recycled vegan fabric and seashells. Lara Intimates, which makes very cool lingerie from reclaimed fabric offcuts. Hades Knitwear, whose art and punk-inspired pure wool sweaters are all handmade in Scotland. Rapanui, which makes slogan tees as sustainable as they are genuinely desirable. Swimwear brands Deakin & Blue and Batoko, whose ECONYL swimsuits – made from regenerated ocean waste – are fast becoming a feature at every lido in the country. 
The options are looking better, brighter and less like a mung bean salad with each passing month. Sometimes, I suppose, you just need a bit of roughage to get things moving. Click through to meet five exciting sustainable fabrics to look out for. 
This extract is taken from Lauren's book How To Break Up With Fast Fashion.

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