In my former life I LOVED a good Zara shop. There was no better feeling than having a quick browse and stumbling on that It piece (I’m sure we all remember that floral blazer phase) that I could humblebrag about. I don’t know a person who hasn’t spent more than a few lunch breaks strolling around one of their many stores, and spotted something that made them run straight to the cashier desk without a second thought.
Looking back now, if I’m honest, I don’t even remember half of what I bought. So many of those pieces were probably worn a handful of times before I inevitably fell out of love with them.
My journey with ethical fashion has meant that I haven’t shopped in Zara for nearly three years now. And if I’m honest, that’s a sentence I thought I wouldn’t ever say, since in my twenties I was a diehard fan of the retailer.
If you’re like me and are keen to make some changes to your shopping habits, then this is where to start. I’ve listed some of my favourite ethical brands that are just as gorgeous, and will help you make the shift from those impulse Zara buys. And who doesn’t want more options?
Birdsong London is a unique brand taking inspiration from art, nature and the world around us. It believes in creating clothing that is joyful as well as ethical and socially impactful. They support their makers and pay everyone a fair living wage as well as taking careful consideration at every point of the sourcing, design and supply chain process.
Best pieces to buy at Birdsong:
This is the perfect piece if you’ve got a winter sun break planned: team with sunglasses, comfy sandals and a crossbody bag.
For those who want to make a statement, this Raise Wages bag is quintessential Birdsong – cute and socially impactful.
This limited edition tee is a collaboration with artist, Judith P. Raynault, which came to fruition after she featured a Birdsong dress in an illustration. Wear with a slip skirt or jeans for a comfy everyday look.
The Eliza team love Omnes. It’s a brand that gives me old school trendy Topshop vibes but in a more ethical way: expect bright co-ords, slinky dresses and statement going out tops that would look great with jeans and strappy mules.
The brand uses carefully selected materials meaning you can wear your favourite pieces for much longer than you’d think, given the great price point. They’re also working on ways to incorporate upcycled materials into their designs, furthering their sustainability pledge.
Best pieces to buy at Omnes:
I have this set and have worn it so many different ways. You can never go wrong with a co-ord!
This dress is in the colour of party season, and can be styled so many different ways. I’ll be pairing mine with some strappy heels, an updo and big earrings.
This is just such a pretty dress. The shape is super flattering and the print is bold but can be worn for day or night.
Now Ninety Percent is a truly pioneering ethical brand who shares a whopping 90% of their profits between charitable causes and those that help make the collection happen. They create wearable basics that you will reach for day after day.
Best pieces to buy at Ninety Percent:
A great wardrobe basic, and yes, it’s definitely steeper than what you’d pay for a Zara alternative, but for this superior quality, it’s worth the investment.
Another fantastic staple that can be worn all year round – for now, wear it with a cardigan and chunky ankle boots.
These long sleeve tops are worth stocking up on – they’ll last you for years (with proper care, of course) and are a great outfit foundation for layering: think under dresses, blazers and cashmere.
We Are Kin
We Are Kin ticks all the boxes for me. It’s an ethical, slow fashion brand, that runs small amounts of each timeless piece – meaning you won’t turn up to a party wearing the same dress as someone else. They’re size inclusive and made to order, and they use super cool 3D renders on their website to showcase their collection which shows the clothing in different sizes, so you can envision what it would look like on your body.
Best pieces to buy at We Are Kin:
I’d wear my hair back and pair with gold jewellery to allow this simple dress to shine.
Available in both white and yellow, I would wear this with a simple pair of trousers and strappy mules for a paired back look.
The skirt that goes with everything. Available in a satin or linen, you have the option to be super glam or ready for everyday.
Asket is all about beautifully crafted, seasonless wardrobe staples that are built to last. They encourage their customers to care and repair their pieces and even offer customers the option to “revive” their pieces when they send them back at the end of their lifecycle.
Their “permanent collection” is made up of classic pieces that will stand as a great foundation to any wardrobe and there is a guide to help you build the perfect capsule wardrobe.
Best pieces to buy at Asket:
Everyone should own a pair of classic jeans. Asket offers denim styles in different fit options of ‘straighter’ or ‘curvier’ too.
A neutral knit is one you’ll turn to all winter long.
The most classic item of clothing, a white tee is incredibly versatile and wearable. My favourite way to wear mine is with my blue jeans and a chic blazer.