Much has happened in women's fashion over the last few decades - attempts to make it ecologically responsible and sustainable have been around for a while, but these have not always been successful, giving women's eco-fashion a reputation for being unfashionable and perhaps even uncomfortable.
Times have changed and now there are quite a few womenswear labels that leave nothing to be desired - from fair production, sustainable materials, outstanding quality and durability to CO2 neutrality and environmentally friendly packaging while also meeting the highest fashion demands. FashionUnited highlights five sustainable European womenswear labels that relegate fast fashion to a thing of the past.
Ekyog from France does not offer yoga clothing, but playful and durable women's collections made predominantly of natural (74 percent), new environmentally friendly (15 percent) or recycled materials (11 percent). All textiles are subject to the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and are GOTS certified, plus wool garments are also RWL certified.
Founded in 2003, the label designs in Paris and partners only with regularly audited and ethically producing factories - for example for making denim products in Turkey, recycled blended fabrics in Bulgaria, prints and embroidery in India, organic cotton in China and vegetable dyeing and manufacturing in Portugal and Morocco. Ekyog products are available through its e-commerce site, its own shops in France and various online retailers. Prices range from 65 to 150 euros (approximately 55 to 125 British pounds/75 to 170 US dollars).
Froy & Dind
Belgian lifestyle label Froy & Dind has been around since 2008, but was initially offering colourful and cheerful patterns on postcards, recycled paper, magnets and home textiles only. However, the motifs were so successful that the two founders Froya and Adinda decided to print them on women's clothing as well. Since 2011, they specialise in high-quality, sustainable clothing that is designed in Antwerp and produced under fair conditions in Turkey. It is also low in harmful substances and GOTS certified.
The label is available at various online retailers and in numerous clothing shops in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany. Prices range from around 35 to 100 euros (approximately 30 to 85 British pounds/40 to 115 US dollars).
Lanius was founded in 1999 by Claudia Lanius with the aim of combining sustainable materials with sophisticated design and fair production. Accordingly, in addition to eco seals and certificates, personal contact, frequent visits and consistent values play a central role for the Cologne-based label in the selection of partners. All of them are GOTS-certified, follow the SA8000 standard, the BSCI Code of Conduct and are audited by the Fair Wear Foundation.
The label is not completely vegan, but offers Peta-certified products and makes sure that animal-based materials are acquired painlessly - for example mulesing-free wool, cashmere from controlled organic animal husbandry, alpaca wool from free-range alpacas in the Andes and yak wool from traditionally sustainable herding communities in Inner Mongolia. Other natural raw materials include cotton, hemp, linen, Tencel, Lenzing EcoVero, Econyl and SeaCell - an algae-based cellulose fibre. Lanius womenswear is available in over 400 stores across Europe, in addition to its own website and stores. Prices range from 10 euros for socks to 360 euros for jackets (approximately 8.50 to 305 British pounds/11 to 411 US dollars).
London-based sustainable womenswear label People Tree is a pioneer of fair trade fashion. It was founded in 1991 by James and Safia Minney with the aim of manufacturing every product according to the highest ethical and environmental standards from start to finish, using small artisan businesses from developing countries. People Tree has been a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) since 1996 and together, they launched World Fair Trade Day on 14 May, which is celebrated in over 70 countries each year.
The label focuses on contemporary, versatile designs and playful, exclusive pieces made from organic cotton, Tencel Lyocell and responsibly sourced wool. People Tree covers everything from underwear, nightwear, activewear and socks to dresses, skirts, jackets and accessories. Prices range from 14 euros for briefs to 130 euros for trousers and 190 euros for knitted sweaters (approximately 12 to 160 British pounds/16 to 217 US dollars). People Tree is available through its own website that ships within Europe and to Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand, as well as through selected brick-and-mortar and online retailers.
SKFK (formerly Skunkfunk) started in 1996 with t-shirts that founder Mikel Feijoo Elzo sold at music festivals. The idea was initially to finance his concert visits, but soon the t-shirts were in such demand that it developed into a fashion label. Today, the Spanish label offers dresses, skirts, jackets and coats in addition to t-shirts and attaches great importance to the fact that the fabrics are environmentally friendly and the production is CO2-neutral.
The collections are designed in Bilbao and focus on urban chic with a feminine, functional and casual appeal. Prices range from 50 to 100 euros (approximately 42 to 85 British pounds/57 to 115 US dollars). The label sources organic cotton from the Chetna cooperative for smallholder farmers in India and produces in China, India and Portugal. The company runs its own web shop and retail stores in Europe and South America. SKFK is currently present in 38 countries and also offers a rental service.