The fashion industry is the second largest polluter. Many high-street brands tend to greenwash, by claiming to be improving through ethoses such as, "by 2025 our factories are going to be powered by 100% renewable energy". But they aren't improving through ethical labour - which is one of the key ingredients of destructive fast fashion. Large fashion brands such as Top Shop, Primark and Urban Outfitters use workers in countries where workers' rights are reduced or non-existent. They are paid next to nothing, and as a result the Western world receives cheap clothes that don't last, causing us to buy more clothes off the backs of people who are essentially in slave labour - and the cycle starts again. But it is hard to find sustainable or ethically sourced clothes in the UK for reasonable prices. Not all of the following are made from sustainable fabrics, but they are made by workers who are paid fairly, and who work in safe conditions. Reducing the amount and rate at which you buy is also key - getting rid of the culture that 'it's only acceptable to wear the same outfit once'. So, here are a mix of sustainable and ethical brands - oh, and they've all been founded by black queens.
This women's fashion brand was started by a woman up in London, and supplies a range of clothes in nude for women of colour. Sincerely Nude has a range of crop tops, skirts, leggings and shorts, and accessories. As well as dresses for different occasions - elegant summer dresses, to something a bit more party. And prices range between £15-30 for most products, while dresses are between £39-45. The clothes are great quality, and actually this is the average price range of sites like ASOS. They are also comparatively cheaper than other UK online sustainable fashion brands, which range from £60 upwards.
Selling bralettes, tops and shorts in gorgeous patterns, AleroJasmine uses ethically sourced materials with patterns inspired by the founder's Nigerian heritage. Not only are garments ethically sourced, but also 'handmade by a curated group of underprivileged Lagosian artisans'. Prices are £25-30, and whew child, they are worth it.
Sancho's is a store in Exeter, founded by two women who have seen first hand the impacts of fashion on workers in Ethiopia. They only stock clothes made from ethically sourced natural fabrics such as organic cotton, tencel and bamboo. And all their manufacturers are certified by Fair Wear Foundation. Their clothes are for women and men, and prices seem a little more up market (most clothes are upwards of £62), but you can find cheaper items amongst those. Plus, their ethos is slow fashion, so when you buy from their collections, the clothes will last a long time and look 'in style' for longer. As well as that, they also support paying black women in fashion, and have an email template with which you can email fashion brands, and implore them to "pay black women for their work".
This African print swimwear uses traditional Akan names. While they are largely high end prices, there are some more affordable gems in there at £29.99 per top/bottom - which is the price most high-street retailers like Billabong sell at. Swimwear materials at affordable prices are unfortunately not eco-friendly. But these brands don't use cheap labour to make their items. If you are concerned with micro-fibres getting into the sea, it is probably worth investing in a 'guppy bag' to wash items in.
Mamas Boutique was created by sisters in London who wanted to make their clothes in mind of women's curves. They sell two pieces, jumpsuits and dresses - so are ideal if you want something for a night out. And their clothes are made here in the UK! Prices are pretty up market, but if you have some cash to splash for an event, you can find something here.
Prints on this site are influenced by the founder's Nairobi heritage. They are meant to make men and women feel empowered through bright bold clothes - by 'Twisting the Tribal'. Prices tend to vary between £20-65, so there's something for everyone in these gorgeous patterns. And lets's not forget, they are made ethically.