Ethical fashion

There's a certain sensation you get when you find a "really good" new addition to your wardrobe, writes Observer Magazine's Lucy Siegle.

I am not a shopping addict or blind to the evils of consumerism. I'm an ethical dresser but one who refuses to compromise on style or give up loving fashion.

Until recently the phrase "alternative fashion" conjured up images of tie-dyed cloaks and knitted boots. But the new breed of ethical fashion companies are different. Case and point is provided by People Tree, an ethical label created by Safia Minney, whose eye for trends is right on the money. People Tree sources its threads from 70 fair trade groups in 20 developing countries and now has concessions in Selfridges.

At American Apparel the high quality ethically made cotton polo necks and t-shirts are perfect for this season's layered look. Gossypium is the name for fairly traded organic underwear, t-shirts, baby and children's clothes and is particularly good for sports kit.

Supporting fair trade and organic cotton and hemp labels is one way to clean up your closet, but it's not the whole story.

Overall we need to look towards a new aesthetic, one where our own personal style is not reliant on uniform pieces, with such a limited fashion life. Nothing stays in vogue for ever, but creative recycling can extend a garment's lifespan. (Read about stylish second-hand clothes.)

For more good quality ethical or fair-trade items see Bishopston Trading Company, Braintree Hemp, Ethically Me, Greenfibres, The Hemp Trading Company, Howies and Hug. Concerned about what's on your feet? See Vegetarian Shoes and Ethical Wares.

This article by Lucy Siegle is taken from Earthmatters, Friends of the Earth's supporter magazine.

Find out more

Naked fashion: The new sustainable fashion guide is beautifully-illustrated, and packed with producer profiles, interviews and contributions from the likes of Emma Watson, Livia Firth and Vivienne Westwood.

Buy from Friends of the Earth shop