Sustainable style is a click away

If you're looking for stylish yet ethically produced clothes you may leave the high street empty-handed. Online, eco-boutiques offer organic, 'reclaimed to wear', and fairly traded designer collections, ultimately making shopping more enjoyable.

Equa Clothing

Since opening in September 2005 as London’s first all organic and fair trade clothing store in Islington’s Camden Passage, Equa Clothing has gone from stocking nine different designer labels to 24 today. It went ‘live’ in October 2006, and founder Penny Cooke says that best sellers include Ciel  dresses and Loomstate jeans.

Finding new labels isn’t hard: ‘We are contacted by new labels that have set up or are setting up new fair trade labels, or we research the industry ourselves online or by attending events put on by the ethical fashion industry.’


 Quentin Griffiths, launched the Adili website in September 2006.  ‘We saw a unique opportunity, in terms of a growing consumer interest for organic and fair trade products, to create a fashion business with ethics at the core,’ says Adam.

 They currently stock 47 brands – including womenswear, menswear and baby clothes – and aim to expand this to 60 or more, later this year. ‘There is also a list in our office of over 200 brands that we would love to work with and we are in discussions  with some of these,’ says Adam.

 With tops, dresses, jeans and jewellery lines, Adili also launched a footwear range this spring. Their best-selling womenswear items include the Ascension organic and Fairtrade indigo jeans (£49.95) and organic knitwear from Frank & Faith (from £45).

Five per cent of the company’s share capital has been allocated to fund a foundation to independently further environmental and social justice objectives in the garment industry, which they aim to launch later this year (2008).


 DeviDoll launches at the end of September. It’s founder Sindhu  Venkatanarayanan’s solution to the dilemma of reconciling ‘high-end fashion taste with a desire to purchase  fashion that is (at the very least) less “dirty” than most fashion today.’

Every label at DeviDoll has to meet at least one of the following criteria: made with organic or alternative fabric (e.g. hemp, bamboo, peace silk); benefits children and/or women in its production; revives ancient handicrafts among local populations; or is made from vintage or reused materials. DeviDoll carries a range of designers who combine ‘a strong aesthetic sensibility and awareness of international trends in the fashion world,’ says Sindhu.

 She continues: ‘DeviDoll aims to be more than just a boutique – the idea is to be an incubator for a particular  type of designer, like an eco-Browns, if you will. By choosing the designers we do and promoting them, I hope to further populate the eco fashion space (a good thing in itself) and also to support, via these environmentally and socially minded designers and their work, various ethical causes that are important.’

Busting the online shopping myths

MYTH 1 ‘I’ll be stuck with an item that doesn’t fit’

 Adili, DeviDoll, Equa Clothing, Ecobtq and The Natural store all have a ‘no questions asked’ return policy – which means that if what you buy isn’t suitable for any reason, you can return/exchange it for something else – by simply popping it back in the post.

MYTH 2 ‘I’m not at home during the day, so won’t be able to collect the delivery’

It’s best to give a delivery address to accept signed-for deliveries – this could be your office, your neighbour’s home or a friend’s. Many of these companies can make special arrangements and can mark packages with special instructions if requested at the time of order.

Many orders are dispatched the same day, so you can get them within one to three working days.

MYTH 3 ‘I couldn’t possibly buy something without feeling the fabric and trying it on first’

 ‘Shopping online means you have the luxury of trying on purchases  at home with other items from your wardrobe so that you can be sure it’s right for you. If it doesn’t fit, or you don’t like it – return it.

Every item on the Adili site has five different shots to mirror what a  customer would look for if they were in the physical retail environment themselves.’
 – Adam Smith at Adili

‘We make ourselves as available as possible to answer questions and offer fitting advice over the phone or via email. We try to describe the clothes as effectively as possible at the point of sale.’
 – Equa

 ‘Sometimes, receiving a parcel at your front door or desk and trying on a garment at home, with no distractions, in your own environment, can be a lot nicer than queueing for a busy communal changing room. We want to be the polar opposite of the faceless high street and offer our customers a personalised service.’
– The Natural Store

 ‘Detailing of each garment’s fall, cut and tailoring is noted as much as possible on the buying page for that garment. ‘There will be zoom facilities and multi-views for every garment. Every garment has its own sizing chart on its particular buying page. There is also a detailed pop-up about how to correctly measure yourself for different garments.’
– DeviDoll

This article first appeared in the Ecologist September 2007


For ethical and sustainable suppliers of Clothing goods and services check out the Ecologist Green Directory here


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