In continuation of Epigram's Green Week, first year Law student Oliver Briscoe reveals how the men of Bristol can become more ethically conscious in their satorial choices.
In order to get your 'ethically based wardrobe' assembled, lets go through a series of eco-based shops in Bristol. From Brothers We Stand by the docks, to independent stalls/shops in St. Nicholas Market, here are five alternative brands for you to follow - that help you opt for slow-fashion; not fast.
Thought's bamboo socks: 'Our bamboo socks are designed to let your feet breathe by having strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties'
I discovered these socks at a stall in St Nicholas’ Market, right here in Bristol and they are perhaps the softest pair I own. Thought is an eco-friendly company that only uses natural and sustainable materials, amongst many other great things, they make their socks with bamboo. In terms of its eco credibility, Thought is a member of the Ethical Fashion Forum and the EFF fellowship 500 (Top 500 pioneering ethical fashion companies), they only use organic and recycled materials, make their clothes in the same area as their source material to minimise shipping, they also have policy statements on animal welfare, the environment and have set up a code of conduct (all of which you can read on their website). Basically, they are pretty eco.
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The socks themselves are a real delight and retail for around £6 a pair. Because of the bamboo these socks are anti-bacterial and naturally breathable (great for summer) but that does not meant they won’t also keep your toes toasty in your desert boots. Thought have a design to suit every taste from plain to stripped and even patterned socks, muted but expressive, so you can add a dash of fun and colour to your outfit.
If you love everything eco you can spend hours online pouring over their blog and mission statements, if you’re apathetic, these are still very stylish.
Mild West Heroes: 'We use organic/low carbon cotton as well as ethically sourced bamboo to create a mix of environmentally friendly tees'
Mild West Heroes, is another locally sold eco brand. This small company only sells t-shirts designed by local West Country artists and has been based in Bristol since 2007. They are very serious about the environment and use ethically sourced materials, they also care about the whole production process, especially the artist. Each artist gets a commission per t-shirt sold and retains the rights to their design. MWH also hold a Fairwear certification (Fairtrade for clothes) so you can be sure they don’t exploit anyone throughout the process.
You can find most of their designs in a stall called Over Here, in St Nicholas’ Market or you can find them online and t-shirts go for £20. Their designs are casual and a bit bizarre but all very creative. My favourite is Mardyke gull by Michelle Barker, a recognisable and simple drawing of a gull but with a splash of pink, a colour which lacks in quite a few men’s wardrobes (For pink see Harry Styles on the Today Show).
Brothers We Stand
Walk too quickly and you won’t notice it. Brothers We Stand, is a small store slotted on Museum Street near M Shed by the docks. Like the previous company, BWS believes in ethical fashion, like the previous company, a t-shirt will cost you between £20-£30 but unlike the previous company, BWS does not produce much its own clothes. They curate and collect pieces from 14 different brands, who are all eco-friendly, all use sustainable materials and for your peace of mind BWS provides the footprint of each product. This is not limited to the materials and shipping but tells you about the brand, the factory, the treatment of the employees and what eco-certifications the company holds (most are Fairwear or adhere to other standards such as the Global Organic Textile Standard).
Brothers We Stand have been going for over 5 years and stock more than just t-shirts. From trousers to hoodies, to jeans, you can really complete an entire ethical wardrobe with just one visit. My personal pick has to be the We Do Nothing red wave t-shrit (£30), minimalist yet with Japanese inspired twist. The company is Fairwear and GOTS accredited (You can read their Fairwear report on BWS website) and the t-shirt itself is made of organic cotton in a factory power by wind turbines. I think that’s green enough.
My fourth pick is everyone’s favourite rising ethical designer and the list would be incomplete without him. Having won an award in 2009 from the International Ethical Fashion Forum, he has climbed since then and was named GQ emerging designer of the year 2015, most recently he has designed the new V & A staff uniforms. His whole production is based in England and he recycles old military fabrics to create his work. Some of it may be a bit outlandish for us mere mortals, so unless you really love fashion his collections may be a bit inaccessible and like all designers, his clothes carry a price tag. However, he is also know for a variety of collaborations with brands like Fred Perry or more recently Eastpak. Have a look online, see if it’s for you.
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Finally, once you have assembled your ethical wardrobe, you still need to take care of your body and there is nothing better than Bulldog. Familiar to many, Bulldog products have, since 2005, completely taken over in the men’s cosmetics department, from shaving cream to moisturiser, to deodorant; Bulldog has you covered. Bulldog only use natural ingredients, certified by Cruelty Free International and make a majority of their products in the UK. Their products are wide-ranging but splendidly straightforward and still astoundingly affordable. Need I say more?
Featured image: Instagram/ Christopher Raeburn