Honest Department was born through a love for fashion. A desire to raise the environmental and ethical standards of the fashion industry. We represent brands which have high standards in taking care on their environmental impact and provide fair pay, in safe working conditions.
Fair labour practices lie at the core of our philosophy, and I believe that fair trade is intrinsically linked with environmental sustainability. The past couple of decades have seen a globalization of the fashion industry and a shift towards overseas production to developing countries. In principle, this was meant to bring new opportunities for trade and growth, however, in reality it has created a great imbalance of power eroding garment worker’s wages and rights.
The British Retail Consortium has found that 90% of garment workers worldwide are not paid National Minimum Wage, work without contracts and are subjected to illegally sub-standard working conditions. Wages are half of what would be considered a living wage whilst the accident rate is nearly double that of similar industries. These facts are unacceptable to us, and we believe so much more can be done to ensure decent work and economic growth.
All brands that we work with must take steps to guarantee that their collections are made under ethical working conditions. This means that workers receive fair pay for their work and enjoy safe working conditions, free from discrimination and harassment. Many of our brands have chosen to go the extra mile by favouring economically disadvantaged producers and promoting gender equality. With the majority of garment workers being women, this is hugely important in supporting women’s empowerment worldwide.
Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world and the main culprit for this is our unending appetite for cheap, disposable clothing pushed by fast-fashion retailers. In the UK alone, £12.5bn worth of clothing was sent to the landifll in 2018. The manufacturing of most of these materials used involves unsustainable production practices linked to impossibly low prices.
Toxic Chemicals. Whether it comes to natural or man-made fibres, most materials are made using harsh chemicals, such as insecticides, pesticides and petroleum-based dyes.
Water usage. Producing just one pair of jeans requires 7,600L of water and most factories are built in water-scarce areas.
Microplastics. These tiny particles shed by plastic-based materials such as polyester are posing a real threat to our eco-systems.
Low production standards. Factories which feel pressured into accepting lower prices for their labour are likelier to ignore environmental standards.
We focus on curating a collection of timeless pieces which last season after season, made from eco-friendly materials by independent, environmentally conscious brands. Some of our favourite materials include organic cotton and linen, Tencel and deadstock fabric. These tread much lighter on the environment than their counterparts and are also made under more ethical labour conditions.
Handmade & Artisanal
We love handmade and artisanal items as they so perfectly embody the ethos of slow, sustainable fashion. Handmade pieces are a labour of love. It takes time and patience to perfect the skill if weaving or knitting, and what you get at the end is a truly unique item with a story behind it. They are better quality and feature incredible attention to detail, as so much more attention and care goes into every individual item.
Artisanal manufacturing, for us, represents the contemporary expression of centuries of culture and tradition. Some of the most beautiful pieces in our collection are made using traditional, artisanal techniques, passed down through generations. For many communities, being able to monetize on these skills has been an essential source of income. Many artisanal projects, especially within the fashion industry, are female-led helping economically empower women around the world.
Natural & Organic
Natural fibres are incredibly versatile materials. They are super soft and gentle on sensitive skin and great for layering. They are biodegradable and their production, on average, requires less chemicals than man-made fibres. We work with brands who choose sustainably sourced yarns, including Oeko-Tex certfified knits and linens from traditional European factories. We’re also huge fans of upcycled and deadstock silks and cotton and zero-waste brands.
Organic fibres are made using absolutely no harsh chemicals in strictly controlled factories which are conscious of their energy and water consumption. Farming organic cotton and linen uses no pesticides, instead relying on ancient, natural farming techniques. These are processed in factories that need to uphold a higher environmental and ethical standard. Organic farming keeps our soil and oceans healthy, and is safer for both farmers and consumers. We have a large collection of GOTS and OCS certified organic clothing for the softest and kindest linens you will ever touch.