There are perhaps two types of shopping. The first leaves one carrying clothes in plastic bags with handles that leave grooves like giant lifelines in palms. The second, which can be more preferable (and yet extremely rare), involves unwrapping crackling layers of tissue paper to find some gorgeous item cocooned within. This was my slightly delicious experience when it came to buying from sustainable brand Goodone.
This label, with an ethos of “innovatively combining new British and sustainable fabrics with reclaimed textiles”, had come to my attention following twitter contact last year. To snip the thread of a rambling tale short, the result was a chance to borrow and style three items from the upcycled label for my blog, and following the success of the post, to buy the jumpsuit I had waxed lyrical about. Several emails and a set of measurements later, I received the much-awaited package – the contents of which I shall proudly wear at every possible opportunity.
The success of Goodone, alongside other brands including Henrietta Ludgate and Junky Styling (all three featured in the Estethica display space at the last London Fashion Week), demonstrates the success that sustainable brands can and continue to achieve. However, this relatively new and still-growing (but very green!) offshoot of the fashion industry has further challenges ahead. One such problem is the general perception of ‘ethical’ – a word that calls to mind nettle couture and hemp waistcoats faster than one can take a breath to dispute the judgment. Of course, the reality of ethical is as far is as far removed from dreadlocks and shapeless skirts as the North is from the South Pole.
Another issue is the need to reach a mainstream audience, so as to boost sales and raise awareness of these most worthy of businesses. Here I return to Goodone, who have produced lines for big high street and online stores, with their ‘basics’ line retailing at roughly the same prices as the outlets themselves. This approach – one of integrating rather than separating – is both canny and admirable. When horror stories emerge regularly about the working conditions of those in developing countries, or the environmental (and thus health) implications of the dyes used to achieve the perfect fabric shade, it is heartening to know of viable alternatives. But those alternatives must be both seen and heard by consumers if they are to make a difference.
One reaction to these revelations (and one that I practice as much as I preach) is to visit the local charity shop or vintage stall. To buy second hand clothes is a brilliant way to not only donate to charities who always appreciate extra funds, but also to continue the cycle of re-using and re-styling garments that might otherwise have ended up in landfill. The reasonable prices and wealth of possibility have resulted, for me, in a wardrobe that is 75% made up from various second hand sources. However, alongside harnessing the multitude of resources of the past through charity shops, it is likewise important to buy from sustainable brands and producers so as to ensure a socially and environmentally sounder future.