SUSTAINABLE FASHION brands
to buy now
From profit sharing to planet-friendly fabrics and community-focused British manufacturing, we’re celebrating the fashion brands that show true innovation when it comes to sustainability
Fashion has always been about invention, creativity and expression. And right now, these qualities couldn’t be more vital when it comes to addressing the challenges presented by the climate crisis. It’s a time for fashion to do what it does best – innovate and evolve with the times.
To demonstrate support and raise awareness for environmental protection, we want to hold up those brands brought into the John Lewis fashion family who are true game-changers when it comes to sustainability.
Achieving sustainability is not a one-size-fits all solution and it certainly takes time to effect change across multiple brands, products and a complex network of supply chains. It’s a journey, and one that is being prioritised at John Lewis so that we can all make a difference together.
‘Accelerating our efforts to reduce our impact on the planet is a priority for us,’ says Jo Bennett, Partner and Head of Fashion. ‘We have made three commitments to achieve this. We will develop a “take back” or “buy back” solution across all product categories by 2025; all key raw materials in our own-brand products will be from sustainable or recycled sources by 2025; and we’ll develop sustainable rental and resale options for customers.’
Meanwhile, there is a lot to be celebrated already. ‘The denim used for our in-house womenswear brands uses the EIM (Environmental Impact Measurement) System, which was developed by Jeanologia,’ explains Jo. The EIM measures the environmental impact of the water, chemicals and energy used in the washing process in our denim production.
‘And the majority of Viscose used in our womenswear own brand clothing is made using at least 45% LENZING ECOVERO fibres,’ Jo continues, ‘which are extracted from sustainable wood pulp and produced via an environmentally responsible fibre production process.’ The JL&P in-house cashmere is also of the highest quality, sourced from trusted suppliers and fully traceable.
‘We also continue to build and evolve our fashion brands with sustainable credentials. These brands all focus on considered design and responsible sourcing,’ says Jo.
Read on to find out more about the exciting brands that are leading the charge when it comes to sustainable fashion.
Lightweight blouses, organic cotton jeans and on-trend knits – Baukjen encapsulates how we want to dress now and has ethics to believe in. And with the brand recently winning an award for being carbon-negtaive circular leaders in the fashion industry at the United Nations Global Climate Action Awards, you know you can trust them. In the first half of last year alone, the brand has made a total saving of 99 tonnes of carbon equivalent emissions and 74 million litres of water.
‘At Baukjen, we are champions of slow fashion and are passionate about giving radical transparency into our sustainability and ethics,’ says co-founder Baukjen de Swaan Arons. ‘Our clothes are designed for good, giving people the option to shop consciously and buy less, but better.’ The brand was recently celebrated as the highest-scoring Fashion B corporation in the UK – certified B firms have the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
British-made clothing brand Community Clothing was born five years ago when founder Patrick Grant spotted a gap in the market that desperately needed to be filled. ‘Long-lasting, high-quality, affordable clothing was missing from the British clothing landscape,’ said Grant, in his exclusive interview with The Edit.
‘With Community Clothing, we wanted to give our customer a great choice of beautiful, made in the UK foundation pieces at affordable prices,’ adds Edyta Knapinska, Partner and Menswear Buyer. Think workwear-inspired cotton twill jackets, quintessential striped rugby shirts and the perfect casual sweatshirts and hoodies.
‘Supporting the British clothing sector and wider communities is at the heart of the brand,’ Edyta adds, ‘so it was an obvious partnership for us as those values are extremely important to us as a business and to our customers.’
Sydney-born contemporary brand Thought came from an early passion for natural and sustainable fabrics. ‘The first styles we made were simple,’ says co-founder John Snare. ‘We were eager to show the beauty of these kinder yarns so didn’t over complicate our designs.’
This ethos comes through in hard-working pieces that you’ll want to wear again and again. ‘Thought is a go-to for contemporary classics,’ says Billie. ‘From beautiful prints to a perfectly-priced bamboo legging, their pieces make you look and feel good, highlighting how small changes we make in our shopping habits can make a positive impact on the planet.’
What’s next for the brand? ‘Our focus is to continue to be at the forefront of cutting edge sustainable fabrics and practices,’ says co-founder and creative director Rachel Kelly. ‘We are specifically looking at traceable and recycled wool, working with our production partners on further certificates and external validation of their factories, and we’re conducting a full review of our packaging to see where we can reduce our impact.’
London-based casualwear brand Ninety Percent’s motto is, ‘For the world we want’, an ethos that begins with a radical business model that sees 90 per cent of their profits shared between five charity organisations and the people who make the clothes. This means each purchase benefits not only the customers, but the producers they work with and the planet we all share.
‘It is perhaps a mad concept,’ says co-founder Shafiq Hassan, ‘but it was developed with real passion that is alien to the traditional business culture. Our life experience has taught us to focus on two aspects – protecting the most vulnerable wildlife and environment plus disadvantaged women and children.’
Then there’s its commitment to use only sustainable materials, from organic cotton to Tencel, natural linen and hemp, and transparency around its manufacturing partners, with main supplier Echotex in Bangladesh being something of a pioneer for ethical working practices and sustainable innovation. The collection comprises those core casual staples that have just the right amount of cool, without being ‘trendy’. Think signature tie-dye prints, T-shirts in every cut you desire and the perfect hoodie.
Girlfriend Collective makes activewear from recycled materials ‘because trash looks better on you than it does polluting the planet’. Its philosophy of not making waste but rather wearing it extends to taking back previously worn pieces to recycle and create new products. The collection of high-rise leggings, simple shorts and colour-pop sports bras are functional for a work-out and comfortable enough to wear every day.
Read more about Ethics and Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership here