Thursday, 15 March 2018

Ethical Wardrobe Basics: bamboo leggings, sustainable socks and recycled tights!

Since I started my blog last year, I’ve been planning clothes purchases more carefully, and this has mostly involved finding alternatives to high street “basics” to replace tops, leggings and underwear as and when they wear out. 

Although ethical fashion has been receiving a lot more mainstream attention recently, it’s still perceived as quite niche, with an assumption that it’s attached to a particular style rather than being a shopping option that’s available to everyone. While it’s lovely to invest in a statement sustainable piece, especially if you’re putting together a capsule wardrobe, for most of us it’s the base layers and basic wardrobe staples that get worn and washed the most often, and get worn out the quickest. 

In my search for ethical clothing online I’ve found an amazing selection of brands producing good quality, wearable clothing that seems to suit a much broader range of personal styles than fast fashion’s monotonous options. I’m focusing on leggings, tights and socks this week, but in future posts I’ll be recommending t-shirts, vest tops and pants! 

My ideal pair of leggings is soft and comfortable, high-waisted and completely opaque, made from a fabric that doesn’t fade or “pill” (develop those little bobbles that make a garment look worn). Whether you’re wearing leggings for leisure, exercise or fashion there are some great ethical options out there.

Classic leggings
Thought has a range of bamboo basic leggings in different colours that make a great wardrobe staple if you wear a leggings a lot. The pair I bought have washed and worn really well, and the bright colour hasn’t faded. These leggings are sized generously, so if you’re between sizes I’d recommend buying the smaller size for a wrinkle-free fit.

Other brands to try: People Tree make an “essentials” range that includes organic cotton leggings in classic black that will work perfectly as a base layer or for yoga. 

If you’re a fitness aficionado, there are some great sustainable alternatives to your synthetic sports kit. Bamboo is a naturally moisture-wicking fabric, so you can stay cool and comfortable while you exercise. BAM Bamboo Clothing make an extensive range of plain and printed yoga leggings (sold at different price points, but there is usually a selection on special offer). These are thicker and less stretchy than classic fashion leggings, and the sizes come up a little smaller, but durability is important for sportswear, and the wide double-thickness waistband means your leggings won’t roll down or dig in as you move around. 

Other brands to try: Starseeds specialise in eco-conscious sportswear with a special ingredient: coffee! Adding post-consumer coffee grounds to their recycled polyester gives their Coffee Date range added odour-control properties.

Footless tights and hosiery
If you prefer footless tights to leggings, you should check out Australian brand Boody, who make sleek, seamless basics with a high bamboo content. Their leggings are knitted in the round like tights, with a diamond shaped gusset and wide, soft waistband. They have the slight sheen of 100 denier nylon tights but are much more breathable. 

Other brands to try: Swedish Stockings are the first sustainable hosiery manufacturer, making new tights out of... tights! Their innovative technology has created a virtually closed-loop system, and they are constantly working on ways to ensure that every part of their production process is as sustainable as possible. 

I’ve been keeping a Wardrobe Diary this year, and I’ve realised I know virtually nothing about my socks! The only item in my wardrobe that never has a label sewn in, once I’ve thrown away the cardboard packaging I have no idea where I bought them, let alone what they were made from, or whether they were made ethically or sustainably. I bought plain black ankle socks from Thought and Boody, but Thought also produce a range of colourful patterned socks, if that’s more your thing, and Boody make a range that includes trainer socks and “invisible” shoe liners if you don’t want to wear ankle socks in the summer. Leggings, tights and socks are even available from Amnesty International's online shop if you want to give money to a good cause while buying your clothes.

Not all these brands have exactly the same ethical credentials, but each brand has a section on its website outlining the steps they have taken to create an ethical or sustainable product: paying workers fairly, using more environmentally friendly materials, or using post-consumer or recycled materials. We all have different criteria for our wardrobe staples, but hopefully a wider variety of options will enable more and more people to choose ethical clothing.


  1. Bamboo leggings and tights! I loved this post a lot. Each and every pair that you have shown here looks fantastic. The pattern leggings are my favorite among all. Actually these designs are in the trend so I too would prefer ordering a pair of black and white patterned ones for my cardio classes.

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