Sustainable fashion in Britain

From recycled tents to vintage finds, eco-friendly shopping is big business in Britain, with much of the profit going back into sustainability projects and helping the local community. If you’re looking to cut your carbon footprint and shop til’ you drop guilt-free, there’s a wealth of British ethical clothing brands and independent boutiques selling only sustainable goods across England, Scotland and Wales. Here’s a few of our top picks to get you started.

Ethical British Fashion Labels

Billy Rainwear - London, England

This outerwear brand was created to help solve the issue of thousands of abandoned tents after Britain's summer music festival season. It is estimated that more than 250,000 tents are left behind annually.  Billy Rainwear initially only produced children’s raincoats, but has now expanded to duffle bags, totes and windbreakers for all ages. At least 50% of each garment is made from recycled fabrics, including Nylon fly sheets as well as insect netting and material from recycled tents. The brand also has a zero waste policy. Products can be purchased at the sustainable store Loving By Nature in Dorset, England or online at BuyMeOnce.com or SocialSupermarket.com.

Boho Silver – Highlands, Scotland

Boho Silver is a mother and daughter silversmithing team that use recycled and sea worn glass to create contemporary handcrafted bespoke jewellery. Upcycled items include bangles, rings, pendants, bracelets and cufflinks. EcoSilver bullion is used to set the sea glass, which is recycled silver. Packaging is kept to a minimum and is reusable where possible. Pieces can be bought online or at select studios in Scotland such as Artisan& in Aberfedy and The Quay Gallery in Aberdour.

 

DATI Clothing Company – Cardiff, Wales

“Da ti” in Welsh means “Good on you”. Set up by sisters Julia and Sarah, DATI Clothing Company creates slow, responsible fashion and uses environmentally friendly fabrics and upcycling to create sustainable clothing for an urban lifestyle. Garments can be purchased from their brand's stall inside The Sustainable Studio in Cardiff, also run by the pair.

 

Hayley Scanlan – Dundee, Scotland

Dundee-born Hayley grew up in awe of her Grandmother’s impressive sewing skills. Inspired, she followed a career into fashion, becoming the first person to win the ‘Scottish Young Designer Of The Year’ twice at the Scottish Fashion Awards. Her clothing brand, Hayley Scanlan, quickly grew and is now worn by British singers such as Little Mix and Jessie J. She sources quality fabrics from around the world, making use of scraps and waste, creating zero waste bustiers, bags and accessories. All H.S packaging is biodegradable. Her wears can be purchased at her studio in Dundee or online.

Sustainable Design Studios & Boutiques

RÆBURN Lab – London, England

The RÆBURN Lab in Hackney, East London, is located inside the building that housed Burberry's original textile factory. The brands atelier, archive, showroom, offices and retail store can be found in this open plan floor space. Impressive design meets responsible production in this collaborative, creative fashion space along with monthly events, discussions and workshops. Available for purchase is a wide range of menswear, womenswear, luggage and accessories – all made with surplus fabrics and garments to create distinctive and functional pieces.

Sancho's Shop – Exeter, England

Kalkidan Legesse and Vidmantas Markevicius launched their Exeter-based Sancho's Shop boutique in 2014 as a response against fast fashion, and now offer an array of ethical and sustainable brands focusing on men’s and womenswear, homewares, jewellery and accessories. Their Pay What You Can range, launched during the pandemic, features three price points, outlining to customers what the margins are and what revenue from sales of each item goes towards, while helping to make eco-friendly clothing more affordable for all.

Treen –  Edinburgh, Scotland

Treen is a vegan Scottish fashion retailer that stocks ethical and sustainable brands. Available online and in its Edinburgh Stockbridge store, the boutique boasts a broad selection of thoughtfully curated high-quality clothing, jewellery and shoes for both men and women, as well as locally produced candles and essential oils. Founded in 2018 by Scottish native Cat Anderson, expect to find vegan and sustainable brands that include Nudie Jeans, Girlfriend Collective,  Jakke, Wolf Circus and Melawear.

Second-Hand and Vintage Clothing Stores

Clothes racks at Brick Lane Vintage Market

Brick Lane - Shoreditch, East London, England

Located in the heart of the East End, Brick Lane has become a hub for second-hand clothing and vintage shopping in addition to its street art, food markets, independent book stores, curry restaurants and quirky street performers. Popular on weekends, Sundays feature a weekly street market for eclectic vintage purchases, second-hand furniture and pre-loved art. The Sunday Upmarket at the Old Truman Brewery sells food from around the world, fashion, vintage items, accessories as well as arts and crafts. Within the same building, Vintage Market is open Thursday through Sunday. The nearby Old Spitalfields Market is also open everyday, with a vast collection of second hand or vintage fashions and goods.

Northern Quarter – Manchester, England

Many of Manchester’s leading vintage and thrift boutiques can be found in the Bohemian Northern Quarter of the city, offering a wide range of preloved and upcycled garments for purchase. For retro football jerseys, denim and flannel shirts, head to Blue Rinse. Pop Boutique is a crazy culture and fashion clash, renowned for its homewares and accessories. For vintage men´s clothing, Bags of Flavor is popular, and is known for its retro waterproof jackets as well as retro bags and Adidas branded clothing. 
 

Hobos Vintage – Cardiff, Wales

An independent vintage clothing store in Cardiff's City Centre, Hobos Vintage specialises in ladies and gents retro clothing and accessories from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Rokit Vintage – Camden, London, England

A well-known vintage brand store, Rokit Vintage is located in the heart of London's Camden neighbourhood. A diverse range of labels can be found, from Christian Dior and Gucci to Converse, as well as the store's own vintage offerings. Expect to find men’s and women’s clothing, home goods and military surplus. Rokit began as a humble stall in Camden Market in 1986. For 30+ years, the store has recycled more than one million tonnes of discarded clothing and accessories. Today, it boasts four stores across London including its flagship in Camden, as well as online sales on its website. 

W. Armstrong & Son – Edinburgh, Scotland

This Edinburgh vintage staple's flagship store is located in the heart of the Old Town on the Grassmarket. W Armstrong & Son was established in 1840 and is known for its eclectic and edgy pieces. There is a diverse range of men's and women's quirky clothing and accessories from the 60s, 80s or 00s. Other shopfront locations in Edinburgh include Teviot Place, Clerk Street and Cockburn Street. 
 
Great Britain's charity thrift stores also provide diverse and economical second-hand clothing finds. Found throughout England, Scotland and Wales, the following chains offer pre-loved clothing at excellent prices and give back to the community too:

20 Oct 2021(last updated)

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