One emotion that I don’t get to experience as much as I’d like to is smugness. This is especially true when it comes to clothes. Feeling smug about your outfit can only be achieved by very particular means. You have to wear something devastatingly perfect at the right time and the right place, find a bargain of staggering proportion or buy something ethical that makes more people feel good about life than just you.
This third option is easier now that green fashion brands have realised that people will buy ethical clothes as long as they don’t look like ethical clothes. Lots of labels have sprung up that consider ethics and aesthetics together. For some, the ethical element is in itself organic. British designer Christopher Raeburn, for example, uses recycled military fabrics and decommissioned parachutes to make clothes because he wants to rather than because he feels morally obliged to. This change and lightening in attitude is really apparent in the new eco clothes.
And it’s easier to go ethical shopping, too. Some great boutiques have appeared which do all the sorting of nice from naff and the worrying about bona fides for you. All you have to do is loll on the sofa browsing their websites and buy.
My favourite two are The Acey and 69b. The former was set up by Holly Allenby, who worked at ethical footwear brand Toms, and the latter is by Merryn Leslie, an erstwhile fashion editor at i-D magazine. For great basics in simple shapes and patterns, go for 69b. The Acey is more trend-led, though not try-hard.
I really like Reve en Vert, too. This boutique was started last year by friends Natasha Tucker and Cora Hilts. Their own basics line – REV – is also available on the site and I recommend the T-shirts, which are deliciously soft.
If you want something cool, try Gather & See. Steph Hogg and Alicia Taylor are co-founders of this shop and it’s a youthful eye that has picked out their range of playsuits, crop tops and short shorts. Gather & See also categorises clothes by whether they’re organic, recycled, made in small-scale production, fairtrade or handcrafted, which appeals to me – I’m often adrift with eco terminology.
All of the above have great accessories sections, but if you’re looking for jewellery, do also look at Made and Justin Duance. Made’s fairtrade jewellery is handmade in their Kenyan workshop, where they invest in staff, offering training and job security. And Justin Duance is a UK-based jeweller who uses recycled metal and reclaimed wood in his designs.
Buy some of these wares and you will feel smug. You will be a better person and you might even find the perfect outfit for the perfect occasion. You won’t find an amazing bargain, but it’s that unsustainable and selfish search that got us and the fashion industry in trouble in the first place. Settle for two out of three. That really isn’t too bad.