Green From The Inside Out: Greening Your Undergarments

Lingerie is big business, with financial forecasters predicting that by 2016, the retail market will sell 1.64bn bras and 4.74bn briefs worldwide. However, behind all the lace and frills, many retailers have dubious manufacturing credentials, which fail to adequately consider the sustainability of their fabrics or the ethics of their production lines.

Enter Green Knickers, a lingerie business which was the brainchild of Sarah Lucy Smith, a young entrepreneur with a flair for design and firm commitment to ethically sourced, Fair Trade products. Sarah attended a degree course in Eco Design at Goldsmiths College (part of the University of London), where she was inspired to create a special line of ‘green’ knickers, using environmentally-friendly fabrics including silk, hemp and organic cotton, to create a truly unique lingerie business which puts the Fair Trade back into fashion.

Fair Trade fashion
Green Knickers is committed to creating a commercially viable business built on ethical principles – giving customers greater choice, and ensuring that global and local suppliers get a fair deal. Sarah, with her business partner (and old school friend), Rose Cleary, are also keen to challenge the eco-warrior stereotype, reflecting a fun and playful sense of humour in all their products. Green Knickers are stitched with quirky messages like ‘Stop deforestation’ and ‘Cycle more’ which aim to convey serious messages in a fun and accessible way.

Green Knickers

Explaining their approach, Sarah says: “There are a variety of styles, but there’s humour in all of them. That was my aim: to add a cheeky excitement and much needed humour to green politics. I want people to be excited about changing their lifestyles – not bullied into it. Otherwise you can get demoralised – people who care, often end up feeling guilty all the
time.”

It’s certainly a sound proposition, which combines stylish, sexy designs with ethical production values.

Just a fad?
We all know how fickle the fashion world can be, so it’s easy to assume that the focus on ethical fashion could be a passing fad. And with Green Knickers at £25 a pair, there are significant affordability issues which the average consumer might find difficult to swallow. However, while cost is perhaps a barrier for now, it’s clear that fair trade fashion is growing
in popularity. Charity shops have reported significant increases in sales, with Oxfam and others capitalising on the vintage fashion potential of clothing donations to their stores. Indeed, with fashionistas like Sarah Jessica Parker regularly sporting the vintage look, it’s clear that recycled fashion offers consumers a chance to develop a unique and individual look that high street store chains simply can’t deliver.

So whether you’re looking for a vintage collectable, or shopping with a conscience, it’s clear that ethical fashion is on the rise. Green is definitely the new black, and it seems that at least some high street retailers are starting to…ahem…cotton on. Consumer demand for ethically produced clothing is also likely to increase pressure on big name designers to adopt fairer trade and production values, encouraging the rest of the industry to follow suit. And with Green Knickers proving that you don’t have to substitute style for substance, let’s hope the trend is here to stay.

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Organic And Ethical Lingerie

Organic and ethical retailer By Nature has started selling a range of lingerie by Enamore. The clothes are made from fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo, hemp and natural silk.

Enamore’s clothes are produced within the UK and also donates old fabrics to schools and community groups. The range seems to be a mixture of the modern and the retro. Check out the Bunny Camisole (below left) made from 57% soybean, 37% organic cotton and 6% Spandex which costs £60, or the Bedrock Bamboo Camisole (below right) which as the names suggests, is made from bamboo and costs £62.

Enamore camisoles