At Birdsong, we are aware of how damaging the fashion industry can be. Globally, big name brands are still using sweatshops, Nike, Adidas and ASOS (to name a few). Since 2014 we’ve been partnering with charities and grassroots communities to create clothing for people who dress in protest. We make sure to always pay our workers fairly, working with women in the UK who hand make all our clothing. We aim to be as ethical and transparent as we possibly can, and you can find out more about our ethical promise by reading our annual impact report here.
We also know that ethical & sustainable fashion are still fairly new concepts for many people when buying into it, so we wanted to put together a list of our favourite ethical clothing brands (other than us, of course). We think these brands have an important story - and are definitely worth checking out if you haven't already.
Started in 1991 by Safia Minney, they produce their clothing to the highest ethical and sustainability levels as they possibly can, from design through to dispatch. They were the first fashion brand to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organisation product label, meaning that they positively impact the global community and aid people from developing countries. This guarantees People Tree’s dedication and compliance to the principles of fair trade, covering fair wages, good working conditions, transparency, environmental best practice and gender equality. Their collections feature clothing made from materials such as organic cotton and tencel, and they use traditional crafting methods - hand-weaving and hand-embroidery to produce all their garments.
By Christopher Raeburn, focuses on sustainable practice and reusing waste produce, upcycling excess material into garments. Raeburn won a Fashion Award in 2020, selected as one of the Honourees of the Environment category. The awards celebrate the individuals who have created positive change within the fashion industry, as chosen by 800 key members of the global fashion industry. In 2010, they produced their first full collection from decommissioned military stock, cut and repurposed by hand in London. We applaud their commitment to a greener future in fashion, and the handmade, locally produced nature of the brand.
Born out of the Rana Plaza disaster (Watch The True Cost here), founder Charlotte was studying at the time of this disaster and was led to consider whether the fashion industry was the right one for her. She travelled around the world, hearing the stories of the workers behind high street fashion, and learnt from them. Know The Origin was founded from an organic cotton co-operative and an ethical supply chain, starting with a range of around 50 basic garments in 2016. Since then the brand has grown and still uses hugely ethical manufacture and handmade processes.
Kowtow use slow production methods - around 18 months from design to dispatch, to ensure clothing is high quality and reduced in waste product. They focus on ensuring workers rights - with fair wages, no child labour, gender equality and community development throughout their production line. Their manufacturers are SA8000 certified organisations, which encourage development, maintenance and the application of socially acceptable practice within the workplace. All organic materials are sourced locally to them, and they commit to the highest standards of animal welfare. Based in New Zealand, they are a real pioneer of social clothing.
“Our lifestyle is filthy. From ethics to environmental impact, the way products are made and thrown away destroys everything in its path.” Armedangels take a circular approach to fashion, designing clothing from ‘trash’ material and impressing the importance of repairing garments too. They aim to fight textile slavery, and champion small, community based farming methods and production around the world. They also have a range of ‘Detoxdenim’ - removing hazardous fertilisers and toxic chemicals from the material, making for a safer, more environmentally friendly product.
This is just a small selection of some brands that we know are trying to create a better future in fashion, there are plenty more out there. Buying into brands like these ensures fair treatment to all workers, and means that the product is totally guilt free.