The Ups and Downs of Ethical Fashion since 2007

Ethics Girls started in June 2007 and it seems both so long ago and like it was just a week ago. It’s been over 10 years of up and downs for us with most of the time getting your head down and trying to survive. Just occasionally you hear some news that takes you away from thinking about yourself and you are drawn into looking back at what has happened over the few years to the UK ethical fashion market.

The news that really threw me just recently was the closure of “Who Made Your Pants?” – a truly inspiring social enterprise and co-operative based in Southhampton. Becky is the founder and we met fairly early on in our start up stages as we were both setting up co-operatives and both looking at the enormous cliff edge that faces everyone in the first phase of a start up. Becky had a fantastic idea – using fashion textile off-cuts to make pants, made in the UK by women primarily refugees who would get training and support to enrich their working lives here in the UK. Even in the title of the company, the “Who” idea stressed the importance of bringing transparency into a fashion industry made up of many brands and companies that outsource their manufacturing work, where it is easy to neglect the direct responsibilities of the workers and the environmental impacts of making a product.
After initially reflecting on how hard it is to make your own way in the fashion industry, my thoughts wander to all the other companies and brands that have gone by the wayside since we started our journey. Ethics Girls listed quite a few of these brands in our early days, helping to promote their news and new products as each season went by.
We still have product photos on file so I decided to repost some here to re-stamp them back into our minds. If we think the fashion industry is tough, then try insisting on the extra costs for fair working pay, good working conditions, transparent supply chains, low environmental impacts for the materials AND striking a good and popular style and range of clothes for every season – it’s a real tall order for anyone and few brands have managed to keep their heads above water over the decades.
So here we are tipping our hat to those of you who opened as an ethical business, only to eventually close up shop. We thank you for being around and congratulate you for taking that difficult decision to come to an end – it’s a brave person who stops and moves on 🙂
Here are just a few of the products and brands that have closed down over the last 10 years.

clockwise from top left: BoBelleLondon (eelskin handbags & accessories), Frank & Faith (womenswear brand – organic and bamboo), Life’s not Fair (Fairtrade lingerie), Where – women’s shoes, Plush Chocolates (Fairtrade chocolate), Ascension (formally (ethical fashion online retailer), Regenerate (ethical tees), Miksani (ethical womenswear brand) and Who Made Your Pants? (eco pants).

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