Be honest. When you see the words ‘ethical fashion’, don’t you instantly think dresses? Skirts? A nice jumper? Basically, women’s clothing. For the man who wants to save the planet, fashion alternatives are still thin on the ground – indicating both a problem with the men’s market (is sustainability too much for men to worry about?) and a great big hole that needs to be filled. Here are five brands hoping to do just that.
LYME TERRACE doesn’t mess about. “We started as a couple of friends seeking to minimise our impact on the environment … Our vision? Clothing for the conscious consumer.” And that’s exactly what founders Andrew Renton and Alex Brewster deliver with a tight collection of UK-made tops, tees and sweats crafted from organic cotton, bamboo and recycled polyester. Slick details such as diagonal shoulder seams and concealed sunglasses pockets ensure every item is a keeper. You like technical fabrics? So does Lyme Terrace. Of its cotton and bamboo tee: “Bamboo wicks moisture away from the body so you’ll sweat less when you’re nervous or on drugs.” https://lymeterrace.com/
Sustainable comes in different shades. For HOPEFUL TRADERS, it means collaborating with those affected by homelessness and/or suffering from mental illness to help create what is part fashion label, part social arts project. By getting involved in the brand, Hopeful Traders helps its collaborators build confidence, further creative careers, just generally get their feet back on the ground. Profits form sales of the organic cotton, Fairwear Foundation Certified tees, sweats and bags are divided between the individuals the brand works with and charities they have chosen. From Miguel’s key to Zin V’s soldier, every punchy graphic has a story behind it. Powerful stuff. https://hopefultraders.com/
Trust the Danes: When Jørgen Mørup launched a textile factory 40 years ago, sustainability was already at its core. By the time he launched KNOWLEDGE COTTON APPAREL in 2008, he had a head start on almost every other ethical brand in existence. The brand offers long lean organic cotton chinos (with vegan logo badges), superb basic tees in a practically Pantone range of colours, sleek vegan blazers and – our fave so far – a solar backpack which charges your electronic devices with 100% sustainable energy. Factor in carbon neutral factories, a host of accreditations, a commitment both to innovation and practical action and you’re onto a winner.
If you think sustainable menswear is all about super smooth basics, think again. Riz Smith spent years of designing conventional surf and beachwear for global brands before he became aware of the need for something better. Cue RIZ BOARDSHORTS aka the Tailors of Sunshine, a small brand that creates ‘the most beautiful and sustainable surf shorts in the world’. Riz blends razor sharp tailoring and fabrications including recyclable polyester made from recycled plastic bottles with some of the most downright gorgeous prints you’ll ever see on a man’s lower half. Plus the brand has achieved B Corporation status and is also a member of 1% For the Planet. Score, score, score.
There’s workwear-inspired and there’s real workwear and YARMOUTH OILSKINS falls solidly in the latter; with quality workwear garments that have been designed on the same site in Great Yarmouth, for over 100 years. The company employs a dedicated team of 20 machinists and pattern cutters, many of whom have been with the company for 25 years, testament to the workshop’s family-like atmosphere. Beautiful collared smocks, shopkeepers coats and drivers jackets in 100 per cent cotton twill will soften and mature with age. Want to make a statement? Plump for the bib and brace. No one else in the club will be wearing one.
If fashion is searching for authenticity, then it need look no further than PROJECT PIETA. French activist and designer Thomas Jacob works with the inmates in three Peruvian jails to design and create heartbreaking streetwear. About 30 male and female internees, with crimes ranging from petty theft and narco-trafficking to murder, sculpt T-shirts, sweatshirts, hand-knit sweaters and varsity jackets in locally sourced materials like organic pima cotton, baby alpaca and ecological Andean Highland wool with disorientating prison-inspired signage, including the name of the inmate who made it artfully stitched on the bottom. Glorious. www.projectpieta.com/