The fashion industry often gets a bad rap with links to exploitation overseas and large-scale production of energy-intensive, synthetic fabrics such as polyester often cited by critics. Even when natural fabrics are used, they are often produced from crops laden with pesticides and chemicals. According to the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), cotton accounts for around 2.5 per cent of the world's cultivated land, yet is responsible for 16 per cent of global insecticide use. However, there are alternatives. While menswear has been regarded as lagging behind womenswear on green issues, the last few years have seen the launch of fashion companies dedicated to all things men who also understand the importance of combining style with sustainability. From shirts to shoes, here are five of our favourites.
Mongrel Clothing Jimi Hendrix t-shirt, £45
With summer festivals in full swing, an iconic t-shirt featuring the late great Jimi Hendrix, £45, is a day-off must have. Made right here in the UK, the cotton is 100 per cent organic and is coloured with low-impact dyes, while all waste produced during manufacture is filtered and cleaned before release. If you’re not much of a Hendrix fan, Mongrel also does natty Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison versions.
Bam polo shirt, £28
If the thought of attempting summer smart-casual leaves you cold, check out Bam’s eco-friendly take on the classic polo shirt. Combining a simple shape with a great cut, the shirt is 26 per cent cotton, four per cent lycra for stretch and 70 per cent bamboo. Team with jeans or chinos to nail a simple smart-casual look that will take you from the office to the bar. Better still, all materials are sustainably sourced and Bam throws in 10m2 of South American rainforest with each purchase.
People Tree Jimmy cardigan, £14
The lightweight Jimmy cardigan, £14, is a stylish piece of evening wear for when the sun has disappeared below the horizon. Crafted from 100 per cent organic cotton, the cardi is Fairtrade and Soil Association certified which means no overseas exploitation and no environmentally damaging chemicals.
howies Drifter jeans, £75
Every pair of jeans in howies’ extensive range are made from 100 per cent organic cotton and are tailored with durability in mind. Pick of the bunch are the loose fit ‘Drifter’ jeans, £75, which are triple stitched and come in versatile dark denim. If that’s not enough, then know this: the company also promises to donate one per cent of their turnover, or 10 per cent of pre-tax profits (whichever is greater), to grass-root environmental and social projects. Definitely jeans with a conscience.
NAE Sportvega trainers, £47
From sandals to boots, Portuguese eco-label, NAE [No Animal Exploitation], offers a variety of styles, including the uber hip Sportvega trainers, £47. As befits a label with no animal exploitation in its name, all shoes, flip flops and boots are vegan with no animal-sourced materials used anywhere. The brand also places emphasis on protecting worker’s rights, so only uses Portuguese factories that are signed up to Fair Labour Association audits.
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