Underwear, bras, knickers, pants, vests, briefs, drawers, the lovely & chic sounding ‘lingerie’ (I draw the line at ‘panties’). Whatever you call them, I don’t seem to opt for much middle ground when it comes to my undergarments. It’s either high-end fancy frippery lace, silk & frills (read: expensive) Vs. flesh hued or black multipack basics, comfortable cottons & seam-free styles (read: boring). I realised long ago no matter your size or shape, a bit of snug shapewear is also superb for smoothing out your stuff when the occasion calls for it. A good fit is usually my number one priority regardless of garment style. We all wear them but probably don’t may pay that much attention to where they’re from let alone who made them. Have a peep now – I just checked the label on my knickers ‘Made in Cambodia’.
I’m going to stick to the comfortable, positive side of pants here but if it does pique your curiosity or conscience, just Google ‘Rana Plaza’ for a glimpse of what can happen to those working under Sweat Shop conditions. Don’t assume that it’s just happening overseas either. Yep, things aren’t that great in some UK factories either. Instead of dwelling in what is a very dark place, I’ll move on to some pretty pictures shortly – just a few stats to think about first. Try not to roll your eyes, this stuff really affects us all. Especially women.
So, purely thinking about Cotton (pun intended)…
Surprising & shocking stuff, eh? It certainly got my knickers in a twist. Huge changes need to happen to deal with this but even a small change can make a big difference, or in this case maybe a smalls change. There are several great, independent British brands that are championing sustainable underwear without compromising on style. Here’s some lovely lingerie to linger over, as promised…
I serendipitously discovered Cambridge founded AmaElla the day before their launch party – a ‘Fashion Ethics’ event – & after reading about their initiative decided to pop along to Espresso Library, see the collection & meet the founders Julie & Lara in person. Inspired by simplicity & botanical beauty, the initial – entirely GOTS certified Organic Cotton – offering incorporates statement hydrangea prints & delicate swathes of embroidered cotton finished in velvet trims. The ‘Tap Pants’ were my standout favourite piece with their cute cutaway detail.
At AmaElla, we decided that cotton lingerie can be stylish, attractive, comfortable, good for your skin, good for the planet and the farmers, all at once!
It proved to be an inspiring evening of talks including presentations by Kate Larsen, Director of anti-slavery Charity ‘Business for the Unseen’ & Confidence Coach & Stylist, Roberta Style Lee. It sparked a lot of conversation for all the attendees & it was great to be joined by my friend Sinead, of Elegant Atelier for her perspective as the owner of an independent boutique.
Currently in the final stages of their Crowdfunding campaign via The Up Effect, you can get involved by pledging as little as £1 to support production & get some great benefits in return as well as becoming the first to get into their knickers (sorry, Julie & Lara 😉 ) They are at 90% of their target at time of writing & have had garnered glowing reviews including by Ethical & Green Living Expert, Lucy Siegle at The Guardian. Don’t just take my word for it.
Cheek Frills www.cheekfrills.co.uk
Cheeky by name & harnessing nature, I was first introduced to this fun & flattering line by Lily Fortescue at Boudoir Femme. The first thing you tend to notice (read: can’t miss) about the range is the vibrant colour ways & prints. Neon trims, colour clashes, stripes, flamingoes & emoji designs all feature with their signature slogan & personalised embroideries ramping up that fun factor.
The next thing you notice is the softness – oh, the softness! I’ll never forget that first feel; I stroked the Lenzing Modal fabric like it was a beloved pet. 100% natural & produced without excess chemicals, it’s no wonder it feels so good against your skin. I own several Vest & Knicker sets (great as sleepwear) as well as a few Single Knickers. As an eternal sucker for stripes this Breton Stripe Set is next on my wish list.
Ayten Gasson www.aytengasson.com
I’ve got Instagram to thank for revealing the ethical elegance of this Brighton based brand. With a coquettish & vintage aesthetic, Designer Ayten Roberts delicately constructs her pieces in Peace & Organic Silk with Nottingham Lace detailing. Often incorporating carefully sourced vintage & up-cycled elements including Liberty fabrics, it is by far the most luxurious line of ethical lingerie I’ve encountered.
Committed to supporting the UK manufacturing industry throughout the production process & lovingly crafted in the studio of her Brighton Boutique; Ayten Gasson demonstrates the sustainable approach that the UK Textile industry was once renowned for. As a firm fan of the likes of Agent Provocateur, I’ll be directing Mr O to AG over AP this Christmas (men seem more than happy to indulge in a mutually beneficial gift). I think a trip to Brighton is calling.
Other INDIE Lingerie Brands giving good knickers:
The best POP designer there is when it comes to sustainable style:
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Eco Fashion. Is it something you’ve considered before? Who made your underwear today?