Some days I just want to scream. I was reading an article the other day about business branding (because, you know, I know how to party..!). Anyway, the point the author made was that it is unhelpful for a business to include the word ‘ethical’ in its branding because people associate it with being boring. Ugh.
Maaaaaaaan how frustrating! Years ago, it probably was the case that buying ethical meant compromising on style, but that hasn’t been true for ages! There have been many reasons in the past when I’ve not made the ethical choice. These have mostly been finance related (good quality, non-exploitative products usually cost more to make), though sometimes idiot related, like when I used to chase the latest fashion trends in the vain hope that I’d become suddenly cool by wearing them. Spoiler alert – I did not. But generally speaking, finding the ethical choice to be too boring, was not one of them.
Now as you’re reading this post on a blog dedicated to ethical interiors, I know I am probably preaching to the converted. However, I’ve strayed outside my usual interiors niche for most of the brands today, and I hope this provides you with a cool introduction to some not boring ethical shopping delights. Enjoy!
Not boring ethical rugs
I’ve been on Sukhi’s mailing list for a while as I am a HUGE fan of their artisan-made rugs. In particular I am a sucker for their Beni Ourain range of rugs which come in a variety of sizes (you can even have a specific size custom made) and which are hand-woven by Moroccan artisans in the Atlas Mountains.
The rugs take 12 weeks to make, as they are hand-made to order. This really appeals to me as you know that you’re getting something special that’s totally worth the wait. Sukhi works with artisans in Morocco, India, Turkey and Nepal – in fact Sukhi means ‘happy’ in Nepali. I love that Sukhi rugs are bought directly from the people that make them – it’s a lovely ethos – and with a range of styles on offer, there will be a rug for everyone. Sukhi also ship worldwide. That’s a big win in my book!
Not boring ethical shoes
They’ve been around for some time, but Beyond Skin is a fabulous UK ethical fashion label that has maintained its ethics over the years without scrimping on style. I’ve picked a few of my favourite shoes from their site in the image above – the teddy heels, the bee slippers, the pewter vinnie shoes, and the blue button maya heels. I’m pretty confident that they’re a decent distance outside the boring box. Agree?
Beyond Skin is committed to trading in a manner that is kind to both people and animals. Its vegan shoes are also made from eco-friendly fabrics and materials where possible, in order to minimise the company’s impact on the environment. Dedicated to proving that style and ethics can be happy bedfellows, and offering worldwide delivery, Beyond Skin needs to become one of your regular shopping haunts, like yesterday.
Not boring ethical scarves
New on the ethical fashion scene, Mara Vera is a gorgeous online boutique selling beautiful hand woven, block printed scarves. Working closely with artisan partners in Gujurat and Rajasthan in India, Mara Vera use traditional pit-loom weaving techniques and natural vegetable dyes to create striking and unique designs for their scarves which take several days to make. Mara Vera also donate 5% of their profits to develop local artisan communities.
Again, this is a brand that is both ethical and far from boring. With bold geometrics, earthy hues and striped designs, Mara Vera is definitely a company to watch – and remember, you heard it here first!
Not boring ethical bags
Aanin Collective is a fabulous new social enterprise, working with local communities in the remote Peruvian Amazon, to make awesome bags and pouches made from traditionally woven textiles and Italian leather. Working closely with the community, Aanin Collective helps to preserve traditional weaving techniques that have been handed down through generations, whilst providing a valuable alternative income source that is desperately needed due to deforestation and climate change.
Aanin Collective pays fair wages and ensures ethical working conditions. They also offer training, workshops, and business support to the artisans making their products. The bags speak for themselves – their woven designs, tinted with local Amazonian plants, are striking and contemporary, with the tan leather accents providing a sophisticated finish that will complement any outfit. I am a particular fan of the Yachay fold-over clutch in the photo above and am convinced my life will be better when I own it. Stop judging me – it’s just because you want one too. You can see the full range over on Aanin Collective’s facebook shop.
Not boring ethical jewellery
These wonderful Masai warrior bracelets by Lalibella popped into my inbox this week and I was so taken with their bold, not-boring, design, I was inspired to write this post to turn the stereotype about ethical shopping in that annoying article on its head. Hand-made by Masai women in Tanzania, these bracelets are made from glass beads with a soft leather closure and adjustable fastening (which is perfect for those of us with freakishly small wrists. Come on – it can’t just be me!). And as you’ll have seen in a previous post, Lalibella is a charity with all of its profits going towards Give a Future, providing education to both children and adults in Ethiopia.
Yet another brand demonstrating that ethical shopping does not mean boring, or rustic, or only buying things that are green, brown or khaki….!
Whilst I take the point that terms like ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ are bandied around alot these days, sometimes by companies that don’t necessarily practice what they preach, the idea that brands should somehow play down their eco, ethical or social credentials for fear of being labelled dull or preachy, is a real shame. For conscious consumers, a bit of signposting to help us find what we’re after is essential. And for companies doing all of the right things, I think showing people why you’re different is a real selling point.
As for the notion that ethical = boring? Pah. That ship has long since sailed. Bring on the bold with a soul!
Who are your favourite ethical brands? Would you have found them if they didn’t tell you about their eco or social credentials? Let me know in the comments below.
Happy travels, and shopping