It would be hypocritical of me to say I have always disliked fast-fashion. I grow up in Liverpool, England were looking good and dressing well is as important as getting an education or buying your first car.
Since the industrial revolution in the late 17th-century the textile world has dominated the industrial revolution in terms of economic pace, social employment, value output and capital investment. It was the biggest turning point in history, vastly changing clothes production, thus fast-fashion has always been under criticism for contributing to poor working conditions, cheap labour in developing countries and copycat processes. Cheap fast-fashion has an even worse reputation for the exploitation of human capital as many fast-fashion brands outsource production to the world’s lowest-wage economies.
You may or may not recall, ust five years ago, jn 2013 the Rana Plaza, an eight-story building in Dhaka District of Bangladesh collapsed due to structural failure. 1134 people were killed and 2,500 injured, due to negligence and the lack of concern from the companies who made products from inside the building. The Rana Plaza will always be remembered as the deadliest garment factory building in modern human history.
The building was home to a number of garment factories employing around 5,000 people, several shops, and a bank. The architect, Massood Reza who designed the building said: "it was structurally designed for shops, not industrial factories". The following apparel brands produced goods from inside this building: Primark, Matalan, Walmart, Bonmarche, Benetton, Joe Fresh, The Children's Place, El Cortes Ingles, Mango and Monsoon Accessorise.
The Bangladesh Fire Service confirmed the upper four floors had been illegally built without a permit and the entire building was built on a filled-in pond. This avoidable incident left a really bad feeling in the air. Did these high-profile apparel brands allow their contractors to go to work at risk every day? Where were the Building Inspector and H&S report? Was there an H&S officer? Why did this happen? Have a team of people actually sat in a meeting room and discussed the supply chain or inspected the sweatshop? Sadly, this out of sight, out of mind mentality killed 1134 skilled workers due to negligence.
The way we currently profit, with toxic carbon-intensive production and pollution contributing to our current climate crisis our ecosystem will continue to suffer and sustainability will continue to be at the bottom of the list for most carbon-intensive industries and this pecking order will continue.
Some well-established fast-fashion brands are trying to take sustainability baby-steps to reduce waste, to try to reduce greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions in their production. Small-big steps are important but branding a fast-fashion brand as sustainable is nonsense.
So what can we as consumers to help?
We can try to shop mindfully by reading the label and being curious about the product and its journey. Question ourselves or the shop keeper before you buy anything. Is the guarantee? Ultimately invest wisely. With this food for thought, here are 8 ethical brands in Barcelona:
1. Nudie Jeans
Nudie jeans are winning when it comes to salvaged environmentally friendly ethical clothing. Every pair of Nudie Jeans comes with a promise of free repairs. They pride themselves on social equality and use organic cotton and recycled polyester. They have just brought out a fabulous collection called Green and it is exactly that, non-toxic denim and 100% organic cotton. If you have not heard of them, you have now!
2. Little Creative Factory
Little Creative Factory is a beautiful atelier who artistically create timeless pieces using contemporary fabrics designed in my personal opinion, with classical Victorian splendour. Each collection is Baby, Kid and Women is made-by-hand with a modern twist. If you appreciate the detail and quality clothing that is designed from the heart, with sustainably sourced materials you need to seek-out Little Creative Factory online or in-store. Their love for textures and lust for volume and layers goes beyond getting dressed every day. If you do not know who they are, check them out.
Born in the heat of 90's music festivals Skunkfunk (now SKFK) are based in 38 countries and 600 locations. Their production line boosts zero waste, conscious sourcing, trusted suppliers who respect social equality and the environment, ecological packaging and tagging and ecological materials such as 40% organic cotton, 17% recycled polyester which is plastic bottles melted, spun and woven into the fabric so if like me you hate waste, then this waste has never looked so good.
4. Mi & Co. Barcelona
Mi & Co. believe in working close to home and that’s why their garments are manufactured in a handcrafted way in Spain. They believe in a big family network using only naturally sourced materials genuinely sourced in Spain. They are mindful of the design process and carbon footprint. They care about the journey and keep the production line close to home.
Nukak is an amazing brand who up-cycle and recycle public advertising banners and rubber. Just look around, rubber is everywhere and it is an innovative alternative to leather. Nukak uses inner tubes from trucks and agricultural vehicles and old banners. If you like bright funky statement bags and bold accessories Nukak is worth the ethical investment.
6. The Rice Co.
The Rice Co. makes handcrafted shoes in Spain. they are made by the same shoe experts who have been making traditional Spanish shoes for decades. They use sustainable and socially-conscious production processes which ensure fair trade and social equality throughout the entire production chain. They fight to preserve the traditional Spanish footwear industry by producing locally in the same factories that used to produce espadrilles more than a hundred years ago.
7. Walk with me
Localism is at the heart of the supply chain at Walk with me. They can cut, sew, and ship handcrafted bags and accessories within just a few days minimising their environmental impact. They are based in a studio in Madrid where they use a mixture of recycled leather and natural latex, ultimately focusing on keeping the design process sustainable. The material selection and geometry help them create timeless ethical pieces.
8. Holalo Vintage Many vintage enthusiasts claim anything 10-15 years old is vintage, however, a true vintage article should be twenty years old from today's date. I first came across Holala vintage in Ibiza about twenty odd years ago where I recall buying a pair of lilac cowboy boots and a blue wig, ha! Holalo Vintage travel the world sourcing second-hand items from flea markets offering vintage clothes from the United States, Japan, Europe, Canada and Australia and they have established stores and warehouses in Paris, Los Angeles, Saint Tropez, Sitges and since 1978 in Ibiza. In 1992 Holalo opened a vintage store in Barcelona right next to the contemporary art centre and museums of Barcelona as Macba, CCCB, neighbouring the Raval district.
There is nothing more ethical and earth-friendly than second-hand vintage clothes. Shopping in Holalo Barcelona never fails to entertain me, delving into history one step at a time and the musty smell of microbial volatile organic compounds takes me back to my teenage years, hanging out after dance school at The Palace on Bold Street in Liverpool city centre. The Palace was the coolest vintage shop in Liverpool. It was full of proper vintage clothing and real vintage furniture but sadly this bohemian hangout is not open any more. If you enjoy vintage discover more about this wonderful store and vintage shopping HERE