It is a well-known fact that the fashion industry is one of the planet’s largest contributors to carbon emissions, and the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, in addition to having a long-standing reputation for less than ethical production practices. This is in no small part due to the rise of fast-fashion, where retailers copy designs directly from the catwalk and produce quick and inexpensive designs that capture current fashion trends. The knock-on effect is cheap labour, exploitation and products that not only don’t last due to poor quality, but will rarely be worn more than a few times due to being specific to current trends. In a world where most of us are now all too aware of our finite resources and the impact that these practices have not only on the planet but also on developing countries, it has never been more important to vote with our wallets for the change that we want to see.
Enter Slow Fashion, a movement that focuses on the designing, creating and buying of garments for quality and longevity. It encourages slower production schedules, fair wages for workers, safe working conditions, lower carbon footprints and ideally zero waste. Products are generally more expensive, but with the additional cost comes craftsmanship and sustainable materials, leading to products that you will treasure for years and even hand down to your children. Rather than the instant gratification associated with fast fashion, slow fashion encourages conscious purchasing with integrity, and environmental and social awareness. Gathered together below, is a list of some of my favourite sustainable brands, each of whom is proud to produce beautiful and lasting products for us to enjoy for many years to come.
Above photo: Ninakuru’s Cascada wool hat
A new favourite that I actually found through the wonderful ladies Emily and Melissa of Stories Studio. Based in Singapore, Sans Faff have a beautiful collection of elegant staples, from stunning dresses to wear both during the day and going out for the evening, to some gorgeous essentials. Sustainability and slow fashion are integral to everything that they do, encouraging consumers to buy more responsibly and wear more consciously. Plus all their products are made locally in Singapore by a family-run business, and they are a member of ‘1% For The Planet’. Shop their website here.
Photo: Yvette Midi Dress – Sans Faff
California-based Ninakuru designs stunning bespoke, handmade collections of Ecuadorian Panama Hats, leather and straw bags and other accessories. The brand is defined by the ethos that “true beauty is holistic, and the tangible quality of products is strongly influenced by the intangibles – empathy, respect, appreciation, dignified wages, and self-esteem”. It is these values that are at the forefront of everything they do, producing not only beautiful products but also helping to preserve the livelihood of artisans in developing countries who rely on their trade to support their families. All their products are made from ethically sourced and sustainably harvested materials. Shop their website here.
Photo: Kelton panama, Aston straw bag – Ninakuru
Wonderfully romantic and nostalgic, England-based Olana are endlessly inspired by summers spent in Italy and France and the lifestyle that these places embody. Their clothes are effortlessly stylish and aim to empower women to feel confident and embrace their femininity, providing a contemporary take on classic, nostalgic summer pieces. Each item is made to order in their studio, and put together by their team of artisan dressmakers, using sustainably sourced linen – A material which doesn’t require any chemicals to be processed into a textile and is biodegradable. Shop their website here.
Photo: Olive Dress in Rose – Olana
Another Aussie favourite, Sydney-based First Base specialise in super chic activewear made from recycled nylon, and ready-to-wear collections using certified cotton, as well as some other awesome outerwear. Sustainability and ethical practices are at the forefront of the brand, right down to their biodegradable packaging and their WRAP (World Responsible Accredited Production) certified suppliers. I bought some of their leggings earlier in the year and they are so soft and comfortable, they’ve been a lockdown essential!! Shop their website here.
Photo: Foundation Cross Back Bra & Fluid Legging – First Base
Based in Copenhagen, Mie Eg Damgaard has created a beautiful brand of elegant and sophisticated swimwear in a variety of divine colours and elegant silhouettes. Her love for the environment and all living creatures extends to her choice of fabrics, with all her swimwear made from econyl, recycled nylon, and all packaging made from sustainable materials. A percentage of each garment cost is also donated to reliable projects that help in cleaning and protecting our oceans. Shop the website here.
Photo: Neva suit in mango, Jordan top and bottoms – Eg Damgaard
Handmade in Australia, RUUSK believes in creating unique heirloom jewellery with purpose and intention. Their stunning and timeless pieces are made to order and are customisable to encourage meaningful and intimate connection with each piece. Determined to employ sustainable practices, Ruusk ensure that diamonds are sourced from conflict-free, accredited diamond suppliers, and other stones are sourced locally where possible. The made-to-order model also means that there is zero waste, and from this year a tree will be planted for each item purchased. Shop their website here.
Photo: Lola ring – Ruusk