Thursday, 28 March 2013

A Brief Encounter

My challenge to buy only fair trade, second-hand or vintage has been going well so far, apart from one thing: underwear. If there is one area where the words "second-hand" or "used" sound most unappealing, it's this one. In fact, most second-hand shops don't sell underwear to begin with. So far I also haven't encountered any "vintage lingerie", so my solution has been just not to buy any... Unfortunately my underwear drawer is starting to look rather desolate. I need me some funky new panties!

Pants to Poverty
Pants to Poverty make fun and comfy looking fair trade underpants from organic cotton. The production of these pants supports over 5000 farmers in India as well as their local communities. The materials are grown on organic farms, which means no pesticides and chemicals. The pants are manufactured in carbon neutral faculties that pay their workers a real living wage, which means the pants are overall much more eco-friendly, sustainable and much fairer! Yet they are still affordable with prices starting from £13.

Petits Secrets
Petits Secrets Lingerie turns waste into beauty by selling environmentally friendly knickers that are hand crafted in the UK using up-cycled fabrics. Their designs are very girly and cute and they even have some bras and tops on offer. Petits Secrets lingerie can be purchased here or on their website. Their prices are in the region of £20 for a pair of knickers, so still good value!

R.A.W. Textiles

Textile artist Rio hand-dies natural fabrics, such as silks and organic bamboo, using natural dies including iron and pomegranate. Her fascination with historical undergarments has inspired her to create a number of sustainable underwear collections. Her creations are incredibly delicate and ethereal in their beauty.
Due to the amount of work going into them and they're one off nature, they are rather more expensive.

Do You Green are a French company that offer gorgeous luxury lingerie made from pine-trees! The renewable raw material is transformed into soft fabric and, according to the brand, has the "touch of cashmere". Apart from having a low ecological footprint, the material is also breathable and easy to care for. Do You Green's fabrics are mad and died in France and their varied range includes lingerie, nightwear and loungewear. They even have a men's section! The prices are surprisingly low, with bras from €37.

Nico Underwear
Based in Australia, Nico Underwear are the first underwear brand to achieve accreditation with Ethical Clothing Australia. Their pants and bras are made in Australia under ethical conditions and they aim to minimize their impact on the environment. The design aesthetic is funky, fresh and colourful. Pants sell from £17, bras from £35. They have some items on sale at the moment!

Life's not Fair but my Knickers are
The key to this one's in the name really... the brand sell cute and girly fair trade underwear at very affordable prices with underpants starting from £14. You can purchase pieces of their fairly dotty range here. I could not find a website for them and their facebook page seems to be long inactive. You can find out more about them on the blog DomesticSluttery (safe for work, trust me!). I just hope they're still around....

And last but not least... there is:

This is probably one of my favourites out of the bunch. Not only is WhoMadeYourPants? underwear made in Southampton, UK, but it is made by women who have had little opportunity in life. At WhoMadeYourPants the women can acquire skills, like making panties, marketing or finance, which will equip and benefit them in the long-term. Moreover the brand uses end of roll fabrics which reduces waist and makes the panties more sustainable. The pants sell for about £25 but all the profits are re-invested into the company.

As you can see there many different options for buying ethical and sustainable underwear and the ones I've listed here are only a taster of all the ethical underwear brands out there... Is your head spinning a bit? If you don't want to look in a million places for knickers that might suit you, then try this place. Saumarez is an ethical lingerie boutique that stocks some of the designers and labels mentioned here and many besides. Knowing that what you're going to buy from them is either ethical or sustainable makes life so much easier!

Do you know any other ethical or sustainable underwear brands? Where do you get yours?

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