Be Careful What You Shop For

With high-street brands’ often questionable ethics, YASMIN LAWAL and TabTV combine forces to investigate ways in which we can shop with a sound conscience.

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With countless sweatshop controversies gripping brands such as Nike, Primark and Gap (to name a few) it’s hardly surprising that last November saw hundreds of students across the country strip off in protests which forced universities to reassess the dire working conditions stomached by the producers of some University-branded garments. So as public outrage increases, it seems sustainable fashion flourishes, and with so many of us now shopping online, it’s about time more of us joined the eco-friendly bandwagon! Let’s take a look at the ‘sweatfree’ options striking back…

Beyond Skin – The perfect example of how far the ethical fashion industry has come in the past few years. Handmade in a family run factory in England, Beyond Skin’s designs are as stylish as they are ethically sound.


People Tree – People Tree boasts flawless eco-credentials, aiming to use only organic and Fairtrade cotton, natural dyes and source as locally as possible. Plus, their Fairtrade endeavours span 20 developing countries.

Komodo – With a production base in Bali and Katmandu, Komodo (founded by Joe Komodo after he transformed old Levi’s into patchwork jackets to sell on Brick Lane), aims to spread “good vibes and messages” through its use of planet-friendly materials and dyes, as well as ethical fair trade practices.

EDUN – Founded by Bono and wife Ali Hewson in spring 2005, EDUN is far from being a celebrity fashion label. The label promotes sustainable employment schemes in developing countries across the world. The fact that the clothes are some of the most stylish in the eco-market is merely a bonus.

The North Circular – “Knitted by grannies, supported by supermodels” is the tagline attached to The North Circular. This knitwear brand uses wool from rare sheep breeds at the Izzy Lane sheep sanctuary in Yorkshire, producing beanies, socks, scarves and dresses. All hand made in the UK, North Circular creates low-mileage products that support local industry, make use of sustainable fibres and support traditional knitting skills. 10 per cent of all profits also go to the Environmental Justice Foundation.

Sika – Staff here work closely with local traders in Ghana, using natural fabrics sourced from Ghanaian markets to generate regular income for those involved – all while creating wearable, and desirable, pieces that work perfectly with next season’s tribal trend!

Christopher Raeburn – Using ex-military fabrics, Christopher Raeburn creates ethically-aware garments that are “proudly remade in Britain”. After the Royal College of Art graduate won the Ethical Fashion Forum prize in December 2008, he went on to show at London Fashion Week and his collection of parkas, made from up-cycled parachutes, was picked up by Browns Focus. “My stuff is about good design, produced in England,” Raeburn told The Guardian “It’s a very happy accident that is also ethical.”

Think Boutique – Think Boutique brings together a collection of wearable fashion combined with carefully selected statement pieces. Perfect for people from all walks of life interested in making their statement a positive one!

ASOS Green Room – Offering a range of organic, recycled and fair trade clothing, accessories, footwear and beauty, ASOS Green room makes it easy to shop more responsibly without the steep price tag. ASOS’s Africa collection is produced in collaboration with SOKO Kenya, allowing underprivileged communities to establish sustainable business through local craftsmanship.
Bottletop – Bottletop supports education programmes, striving to empower young people in disadvantaged areas by addressing key issues such as sexual and reproductive health, substance abuse and gender equality.


Filmed by Tom Porteous, presented by Fortunate Frizell.