Quality and ethical clothing grows in popularity

It’s time to forget the ‘fast fashion’ ethos we’ve become used to and take small steps to buying local or choosing brands with open policies, writes Paula Burns.

It was while scrolling online for some holiday pieces that I was struck with the stark realisation of the vastness of the clothes available. This is ‘fast fashion’ at its finest, or should I say bleakest. Do we really need so much choice?

Buzzwords like ethical fashion, sustainability, and transparency have caught the sartorial zeitgeist. But what do they mean? For me, it means shopping with a conscience. 

Taking small steps towards buying investment pieces that will transcend the fashion seasons is a way to make ‘slow fashion’ the norm. By buying local or brands that have open policies, you are making a difference. It’s about bringing our buying habits back to basics. Luckily for us, there are a number of Irish brands committed to making beautiful ethical pieces that are sure to satisfy any fashion hungry appetite.

The Ethical Silk Company

Exactly as it says. Passionate about all things silk, Eva Power has brought a family tradition alive. Inspired by her mother’s love of sleeping on silk scarfs (sent from family in India), Eva took a chance to explore the idea of making silk pillowcases, which soon evolved into loungewear.

Varanasi Blue Eye Mask, €30, theethicalsilkco.com

Finding an eco-friendly silk along with keeping the production ethical was something Eva wanted from the beginning. “You need to do something you can stand over. Climate change and workers rights are so important and need to be considered.”

With this in mind, the sumptuous loungewear made, with the finest mulberry silk, is produced in a Fairtrade tailoring unit in Jaipur, India.

Not only has India been the inspiration for Eva’s beautifully crafted silks, her trips there incited her to give back a portion of profits to charity.“I saw first hand at the Jeevan Jyothi Aids Centre in Theni the tireless work done with limited funding and conditions. I wanted to help so I pledged to donate 5% of profits to the centre,” says Eva. 

“Another 5% goes to Focus Ireland because I fully believe in the work that they do.”

In a throwaway culture, Eva has created a company she hopes encourages people “to be more selective when buying and to love what they choose to wear”. 

Being ethically conscious in business gives her peace of mind.

Theo + George

An ethical label proving that “sustainable” doesn’t have to mean ugly. From founder Katie O’Riordan’s “high quality, low volume” ethos to her cashmere athleisure trackpants, beauty is prevalent here. Comfort and street fashion are at the core of her design inspiration. Wearing ethical has never looked so cool.

Pink Cashmere Ella Sweater, €159, theoandgeorge.com

When launching her label, US-born Katie was adamant that “sustainability and transparency would sit at the forefront”. In a world of fast fashion, Katie has succeeded in making trans-seasonal, wearable pieces.

“We don’t overproduce so we aren’t disposing of clothes that we can’t sell. Being small is sustainable in itself,” says Katie.

It’s obvious that waste and the volume of textile production throughout the world and its effect on the

environment are never far from her thoughts. Because of this, Katie believes a change in mindset is needed from consumer and fashion business.

“Fast fashion is hugely damaging to the environment,” explains Katie. “With a quarter of a million tonnes of clothes being thrown away in Ireland every year, I think it is something that is going to have to change.”

Her commitment to creating an ethical brand doesn’t stop there.

“We don’t work with sweatshops. It is important that all of our workers are paid a fair wage,” explains Katie.

The Tweed Project

This company is bringing Irish fashion back to the future. Best friends and design duo Triona Lillis and Aoibheann McNamara have combined their love of Irish indigenous fabrics to create modern design.

Local craftsmanship mixed with a remarkable contemporary approach to working with tweed and linens is the soul of this label.

Red Scarf with Star Styling, €515, thetweedproject.com

Through sourcing the tweed from Aoibheann’s hometown of Ardara in Co Donegal to ensuring their linen is weaved in Ireland, the pair are making their stance in the world of ethical fashion.

Each collection has a message bigger then the product. Their ‘Fucking Made in Ireland’ range screams transparency.

An advocate for sustainable and conscious shopping, Aoibheann believes in “spiritual consumerism”.

“I am very careful about what I purchase. I invest in pieces that will last and so when I buy something I know I will have that forever,” she explains.

Waste in fashion is another ethical aspect the pair are conscious of.

“I’m still pulling left over fabrics from four years ago, thinking of things we can make from it. Nothing goes to waste. We make cushions and hot water bottles from the offcuts,” says Aoibheann.

Pushing the boundaries of where tweed can go is the basis of their

designs. Adding textures through tassels and print gives a modern twist to the traditional fabric. And while inspiration is taken from travels to places such as Morocco and the Middle East, Ireland is at the heart of The Tweed Project.

Grown

When they’re not saving lives as fire-fighters for Dublin Fire Brigade, the design trio of Grown are doing what they can to save the environment.

Stephen O’Reilly, Neil McCabe, and Damien Bligh brought their love of fashion together to set up an ethical clothing brand.

Women of the Waves Sweatshirt, €65, grown.ie

Their goal was simple: Create change. Sustainability is the core of this label. Winning the green product of the year and small green business award this year can only be a testament to their impact. Thanks to their Biodiversity Project, guilt-free shopping is a reality. Not only are you buying quality, 100% Fairtrade

cotton, but the lads will plant a tree in the Burren too. 

“We started Grown with a goal to create change,” explains Stephen. “At Grown, we believe that clothes shouldn’t cost the Earth. We have an environmental backbone and a passion for simply doing it right.”

He continues: “All our garments are traceable from seed to garment. Everything we make, every action we take, and every system we have goes through rigorous life cycle and sustainability auditing.”

A love of the ocean is evident with the surfer vibe collection of cotton tees and hoodies. This is a label for those who love to wrap up in a cosy hoodie after a day at the beach.


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