An Ethical & Independent Clothing Directory
I've had a funny journey with determining my personal style. I spent my twenties working in fast fashion - as a Visual Merchandiser for Topshop and later, in various roles for the Flannels website - and found myself caught up in fads, trying to keep up with the trends. I would buy new clothes on almost a weekly basis, often only wearing something once before shoving it into the back of my wardrobe. I bought clothes that didn't suit me or that I didn't feel comfortable in, simply because that was what everyone else was wearing. I had different wardrobes for work and my everyday life, almost feeling like I was dressing as a character when I got ready for work. It wasn't me.
Everything changed at the same time. I lost my job, went freelance (and started a part-time role in interiors), and started to become interested in a slower pace of life. Slowing down your working life leaks into every other area of your life eventually. You learn that every day doesn't have to be a huge rush or a competition, and that the smaller things in life are those that are more meaningful. For me, these changes have included switching to a diet of fish and vegetables, moving out to the countryside, learning to say only say 'yes' to work that I actually want to do, and having a complete upheaval of my style.
I'm no longer interested in fashion, but I still have a keen interest in style. My personal style is very, very different to my days of brightly printed trousers & smart shirts to work / twee vintage dresses & white tights on my days off. I prefer clothes with a loose, relaxed fit that I feel comfortable in. I wear natural fabrics, mainly cotton and linen, that feel hard-wearing and do their job of keeping me cool in summer and warm in winter. I only buy something new if it is replacing something in my wardrobe or if I have completely fallen in love and know that I will wear it to death. I prefer garments that I can wear all year round, dependent on layering, and that I know I will wear for many years to come.
When I started to change how I dressed & how I shopped, I didn't know where to look. I still have pieces in my wardrobe from shops like Zara and & Other Stories that I love, but I wanted to be more ethical with my clothing choices. I wanted to buy from small, independent brands that were conscious about where their fabrics came from and who made their clothes. Yes, this means paying more, but if you are buying less and buying items that are made to last, the money spent is worthwhile.
I wished that there was somewhere where I could find a list of these brands all in one space - so I'm creating it here! This is a list of all the independent brands that I have stumbled across, mainly through Instagram. They all make their clothes in small batches, using natural materials and adhering to more timeless styles that we're used to seeing on the high street. This is what I want to fill my wardrobe with*.
* disclaimer. And Toast. I will always love Toast's garments!
Based in the English countryside, Nadia is someone that I have followed for a very long time. I remember her designs from when I first started blogging, years ago, and had the pleasure of meeting her while her studio was briefly based in Manchester. Nadia's designs are the epitome of slow style. They are clothes that are designed to be loved for years to come, and that transcend trends. They're simple, while still remaining stylish. Her latest collection is focused on Shubui garments, that appear to be simple yet have hidden complexities in their design. The collection includes jackets, tops and trousers, as well as the beautiful Soro Soro overalls with their subtly intriguing cross-over straps.
Runaway Bicycle are one of those brands that I dream about owning their garments. They're based in India, but I'm keeping my eye out for U.K stockists (East of Home in Bath occasionally stock them). They design clothes that I'd wear everyday (cute little tailored shorts, shirt dresses, simple overalls) but they also sell the kind of dresses that I dream of. Thin, gauzy dresses made for flouncing around meadows. I'm completely in love with everything that they do and hope that I manage to get my hands on one or two of their garments sometime soon. There's something for everyone really, as they offer both pastel hues and more neutral colour palettes, and mix in more contemporary pieces with their extravagantly feminine designs.
Off On are a family-run Lithuanian brand making incredibly beautiful garments, almost exclusively from linen (there are one or two cotton dresses). Everything that they make is beautiful. Dresses and jumpsuits that look like they'd be effortless to wear, in a variety of styles and silhouettes. The choice of colours and a few subtle prints is staggering, with so many options that it can become a little overwhelming. I own two of their jumpsuits and wear them all the time.
Babaa sell a variety of garments for men, women and children but it's their knitwear that really gets my heart racing. If you follow Courtney Adamo on Instagram, these are the jumpers that their whole family seem to wear all the time. They just look so warm and cosy! I'm not into prints or bold colours with my knitwear. I like slightly oversized jumpers in neutral and dark colours that I can throw on over anything - something that Babaa absolutely nail! I'm thinking of begging for one of their jumpers as a Christmas gift this year - finger's crossed my boyfriend is feeling generous!
This American store used to concentrate on vintage but now design their own clothes that hark back to vintage styles. Everything is very girly, with plenty of tea dresses, crochet tops, floral print skirts and sunhats. Not always my style, but I love mixing garments like these in with my more simple and contemporary pieces. Their straw hats and white cotton dresses would fit into my summer wardrobe effortlessly.
I'm yet to own anything from Ren London, but that hasn't stopped me liking almost every single thing that Ren posts on Instagram. Ren offer a capsule collection each season with a limited number of each garment available. Predominantly focusing on dresses, jumpsuits and shirts (and homeware), these are easy-to-wear pieces that are designed to effortlessly fit into your existing wardrobe. While I'm completely in love with her dresses, it's one of Ren's oversized shirts that I am currently coveting. Just imagine throwing one of her silk or cotton shirts on, all nonchalant with a pair of jeans, or over your bikini on the beach.
I've been admiring Olive for a while and recently made my very first purchase. The dress that I bought is well made from a thin linen, and despite my fears of their one-size-fits-all philosophy, fits me just as I like it: oversized yet flattering. Based in Cheltenham, they have a small store and sell clothes to people all around the world from their online shop. Everything is made in small production runs, and they are committed to ethical practices in every stage of the supply chain. They sell everything from shirt dresses to knitwear, and when I browse their site I find myself wishing that I could buy one of everything.
Based in Odessa, Kid Philosophy sell ethically made linen garments that are lovingly made. Their pinafores, skirts, shirts and tunics are all designed to be timeless pieces that can be mixed and matched with garments in your existing wardrobe to work all year round. The pinafore dresses with their cross-over backs look beautiful worn on their own during the summer months, but could be layered up over t-shirts or thin knitwear when the temperatures drop. This is a key feature of the clothes that I am falling in love with; that they transcend seasons and can be loved all year round.
Another brand creating beautiful garments from Lithuanian linen, Son de Flor adhere to a slow living philosophy that I love. Their dresses are all very romantic and nostalgic for bygone times, but they are also simple and could easily be given a contemporary spin with the right choice of shoes and accessories. They offer long sleeve and short sleeve dresses, with buttons and collars and without, in a variety of colours. There is also a selection of other garments, accessories and aprons available - but it is their dresses that I adore.
Aussie brand, Vege Threads are commited to organic materials and production techniques, providing their customers with long-lasting clothes that fit in perfectly with the philosophy of slow living. Focusing on basics, they aim to fill your wardrobe with comfortable, practical and beautiful garments that you will wear over and over again. All the materials that they use are sustainable, with even their swimwear being made from recycled nylon. I've had my eye on one of their jumpsuits for a while; they look like the perfect easy-to-wear garments for daily wear.
First Rite make beautifully designed garments, designed and manufactured in L.A (knitwear made by a woman-led factory in Peru). All of the collection is made from naturally derived fibres, and although some of their styles are more trend-led, the majority of their collections offer timeless garments. Their dresses, jumpsuits and trousers are the kind of clothes that you could effortlessly throw on and look great with minimal thought. I've been besotted with their spring/summer collection, but their fall/winter offering of corduroy jackets, cosy knitwear and slinky dresses has demonstrated just how versatile this brand are.
Wish you were Naked is a brand new collection from Dara Muscat, a photographer who shares stunning photographs on Instagram, and her best friend, Tania. Dara recently moved to Bali and launched her first womenswear collection, offering a selected few garments that were produced ethically on the island. The result is eight easy-to-wear garments, all in white, cream and stone hues, all perfectly designed for a slow and relaxed lifestyle. These are clothes that you can lounge around or work in, but also look beautiful for dressing up.
Oakie is an Australian brand that focus on providing ethical clothing that feels beautifully soft against your skin while looking great. Dresses, jumpsuits and shirts are made in linen, cotton and hemp, providing the perfect garments for lazing around on a hot summers day. Everything is easy to wear, with no fuss. These are garments that you can throw on and leave the house without checking the mirror, knowing that you look carefree and stylish with minimal effort.
Designed and produced in London, Bug make ethical easy-wear for contemporary women, with the ethos that we should all buy less and buy quality items. They use deadstock linen to make their garments, designing more fashion-forward pieces that I'm perhaps more usually drawn to. I'd look to their dresses for special occasions (my friend's sister's friend just got married in one of their dresses) when I want to make a little more effort than usual, but also want to wear something slightly unusual.
Another American brand that I wish I could get my hands on is Minnesota-based Hackwith Design. They make a limited edition design weekly, offering just 25 of each garment, making you feel super special if you make a purchase. All garments are made in house, usually made to order to reduce waste. Selling everything from dresses and skirts to underwear and swimwear, they place an emphasis on designing simple garments that won't date. Again, these are pieces that would fit easily into your existing wardrobe and could be styled all year round.
I'm completely besotted with everything that Beaton produce. Their linen garments are thoughtfully designed and produced, creating a small collection of highly desirable garments that would fit effortlessly into my wardrobe. The collections change with the seasons, but jumpsuits, dresses and coat dresses transcend seasonality, easily styled for any month of the year. The colours are always perfect - natural tones and earthy hues of green and rust. I'm desperate to make a purchase from them soon; the only problem is deciding what to go for (the off-white dress pictured below is currently calling my name).
Henri offer a capsule collection of beautifully designed shirts that updates seasonally. Perfectly fusing tailored styles with relaxed silhouettes, Henrietta designs shirts that can be worn everyday, for all occasions. These are shirts that feel as at home worn on the beach as to work. There are a variety of long sleeved cotton shirts on offer at any one time, alongside thicker over-shirts and sleeveless options, allowing for chic layering. Henrietta's commitment to sustainability and ethical production is commendable, as she works with disadvantaged women and people living in rural communities throughout her supply chain.
I'm cheating a little bit with this one. The Acey is best known for being an online destination where you can find a variety of hand-picked brands who all produce their garments ethically. They do also sell their own line, and they are one of my favourite places to shop, so they definitely made this list! I love the variety of the garments that they sell - my purchases from them include a pair of corduroy trainers, a pair of cotton dungarees, a couple of string bags and ethical washing liquid. If I'm looking for something ethical and unusual, a new brand, or an everyday staple, this is usually my first port of call.
Elizabeth Suzann is the big gun on this list. I've been following this incredible American brand online for years, and although I'm yet to make a purchase, I have a huge wish-list. Their philosophy is all about making clothes in an ethical way and offering thoughtful garments that you'll wear forever, rather than fast fashion. Their prices are a little steep (which, coupled with import charges is the only reason why my wardrobe isn't full of their clothes) but I do believe that it's worth it. Their garments (they offer dresses, jumpsuits, trousers and everything else you may need) really look like they'd last forever and become those wardrobe staples that you wear all of the time.
All images are the brand's own.
This is not sponsored & does not contain any affiliate links, I simply wanted to share the love.