sustainable fashion - Mayamiko aw17


Sustainable Fashion – What you talking about Willis?

Sustainable fashion is sometimes synonymous with derelict-chic. The misconception is that ethical fashion is not readily available, slightly over-priced or extortionate: Case in point – this €20,000 recycled paper bracelet. Another myth that needs de-bunking is that eco-friendly fashion is restricted to a specific individual’s style; the bohemian, free-spirited person whose go-to fabrics are hemp, organic linen and batik patterns. And while there isn’t a jot wrong with this style, it’s remiss to say there isn’t a hell of a lot more choice out there.

I recently got a commission to write about sustainable fashion for a cool new Irish label, Fresh Cuts Clothing. I was dumbfounded by my research. While cotton is one of the world’s most-used fabrics in the garment industry, the farmers who harvest the crop work and live under terrible conditions. Fair wages, good working conditions and health issues are abandoned in favour of cheap labour, shoddy infrastructure (remember the Rana Plaza collapse?) and dangerous manufacturing practices including the use of toxic pesticides. The effects of these toxic chemicals are copious, causing skin damage and irritation, cancer, mental health issues and chemical poisoning (resulting in over 1 million Indian farmers being hospitalised per year).

sustainable fashion - cotton

Jolly Green Giants

In case you didn’t get the memo, the fashpack is embracing the slow fashion movement with panache. Style mavens like blogger Leandra Medine of Man Repeller, designer Eileen Fisher and activist Katrina Rodabaugh are pioneering changes in the industry and advocating a major fashion revolution.  Their goals? waste less, swap more, be label savvy and shop smarter. Livia Firth is the founder and creative director of Eco Age Ltd, a consultancy that helps businesses to adopt sustainable practices in the workplace. Closer to home, one champion of the movement really stands out.  Linda Conway set up Stiall, an online hub to increase awareness of ethical fashion. She challenged women to take part in the Stiall challenge where women ‘shopped their own wardrobe’ for 30 days and resisted the temptation to buy new clothes. The support was phenomenal.

Here’s five sustainable brands I love that are challenging the stereotype that trend-driven clothes and sustainability are mutually exclusive. All pictures are courtesy of the brands.

People Tree

Sustainable fashion brands don’t come more ethical than People Tree. A 100% certified ethical brand, this uber trendy label executes rigorous fair trade practices, employing the use of materials from marginalized producer groups in the Global South. Using organic and naturally found materials, People Tree empowers the artisan craft and design creatives from local communities across the globe to be financially independent and self-supporting. Oh, and they’re pretty damn trendy too. I love this print-popping collaboration with the V&A. Check it out here.

Where Mountains Meet:

If a design duo formerly employed by Marchesa and Theory isn’t enough to convince you of this brand’s cool factor, then their sustainability policies just might. Genevieve Saylak and Corissa Santos founded Where Mountains Meet to meet the gap in the market for ethically-sound, luxury ready-to-wear labels. Their MO was to combat the wasteful nature of the fast fashion industry whilst providing beautifully made clothes to suit fashion conscious clientele. The ‘Woven’ collections are made and manufactured in New York while designers in Guatemala, India, Peru and Bolivia make the artisanal prints. Better still, this sustainable fashion label supports women’s collectives, narrowing the gender gap and providing opportunities that didn’t always exist in communities of the Global South.

sustainable fashion - where mountains meet lookbook



If vibrant prints and kaleidoscopic hues get you in a tizzy, then you will love Mayamiko. Eschewing trend-specific styles, this brand’s motto is to provide cross-seasonal clothes with an artisanal feel. Ethically made in Malawi, African prints and traditional techniques run strong through the collections. This is the brand that keeps on giving (even Vogue thinks so) and founder Paola Masperi established the Mayamiko Trust, an initiative designed to provide training, education, nutrition, sanitation and fairer trade practices to all of those involved. As well as ready-to-wear, Mayamiko sells yoga gear, hot-right-now tech accessories, lush homeware for unbelievably good prices and accessories from boho bags to handwoven scarves and 90s-tastic hair accessories that wouldn’t look out of places on Mr Motivator. 

Sustainable Fashion – Worth the Fuss?

The verdict? There’s more to life than being ridiculously good looking but feeling good in your clothes and better about the environment is a very good place to start. And you’re a fine filly if I do say so. Yes, I’m looking at you. Arm yourself with more knowledge by visiting the following sites.



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