Wearing non-matching underwear used to be my worst nightmare. Lingerie was cheap and made me feel beautiful, so I bought lots of it. Then I had my who’s-made-my-clothes-and-where epiphany. I started to get everything second hand, but that clearly wasn’t an option for underwear. Slowly but surely, my synthetic lace pants from H&M disintegrated into a mess of loose, stretchy threads, and I had nowhere to go to replace them. Or so I thought, before an inspirational chat with Rinna and several hours worth of intense Google searching.
Underwear from the nine companies below all fulfills my stringent Feel Good Wardrobe criteria… it looks gorgeous, it shouldn’t make anyone uphappy or poverty-stricken, and it doesn’t destroy the planet.
Luva Huva’s lingerie is all handmade in the UK. Their fabrics include organic cotton, bamboo and soy, as well as upcycled or end of line remnants and vintage lace. We love the sustainability credentials and we love the delicate lace designs, which they describe as “miles away from the dreary, uncomfortable clothing that has unfortunately become associated with natural fabrics.” The Luva Huva online shop delivers worldwide and you can find them on Etsy, too. The bra sizes are based on cup only, so underpants could be a safer bet for a perfect fit.
Canadian fashion designer Hanna Broer makes her organic and sustainable collections by hand in Montreal, Canada. As well as the glamorous retro look of the bright red slips and high-waist knickers, we were impressed by the way she explains the pros and cons of the fabrics she uses. Hanna says she’s “passionate about both limiting the negative environmental impact of fashion, and crafting garments that are a pleasure to wear.” Three very loud cheers for her from us at Feel Good Wardrobe!
The first I heard about Do You Green is that they make underwear from recycled Christmas trees (more specifically, upcycled pine clippings). Sounds prickly, but apparently these gorgeous creations by French designer Sophie Young feel more like silk. They’re made in France and Tunisia using non-toxic dyes. Big thumbs up for great looks and eco friendliness, but we found no information about their workers’ rights policies as yet… we’ll let you know when they answer our questions!
PACT is our number one choice for absolute basics – black and white tank tops, camisoles, thongs and boy shorts in the softest soft organic cotton (we can vouch for this. Knowing that their supply chain is “as clean and sustainable as possible,” too, we can feel super comfortable both inside and out. Cotton from farmer-run co-operatives, non-toxic dyes, factories powered by renewable energy and staffed with people who get well paid… yes, yes, yes!
This is our go-to place for comfortable, sexy, ethical and still affordable underwear. A small, all female enterprise, Peau Ethique is committed to Fair Trade and makes their entire range of bras (underwired and non-wired), pants and nightwear out of 100% organic cotton and silk. The abundance of lace and bows defies any eco stereotyping, yet Peau Ethique has received several awards for environmental innovation. The website is in French, so underwear shopping comes with a language lesson!
“Beautiful pants from cotton to bottom,” says the Pants to Poverty slogan, and that sounds about right to us. They are one of the founding members of Fashion Revolution, the campaign highlighting the need to know who made our clothes. What’s more, from supporting Indian rural farmers to including the environmental and social cost of production in their accounting, they do everything and more to change the fashion industry for the better. While not our number one choice for sensual seduction, their rainbow coloured organic cotton pants are a staple item in our gym bag.
UK-based Ciel works with local embroidery groups in India, uses organic, recycled and Oekotex certified fabrics only, and collaborates closely with factories to ensure they follow labour laws as set by Labour Behind the Label. Go marvel at their ethical stance before heading on over to the web shop (hurrah, international delivery is available, too) for some very fetching underwear… a pair of ultra pretty boyshorts will be coming my way soon!
A cooperative from Southampton, UK, Who Made Your pants rescues fabrics that big underwear companies resell at the end of each season. Instead of letting those fabrics go to waste, they sew them into imaginatively designed new pants. Their workers are all women who are keen to work but haven’t been able to find a job. All profits are injected back into the company to employ even more people. We think that’s plenty of reason to support them… who wouldn’t!
Unfortunately the prices here are beyond our reach, but we have to include Ayten Gasson for the brilliant and unusual work they’re doing for traditional manufacturing. This luxury underwear company, supported by none other than Prince Charles, sources vintage lace trims from the old lace mills of Nottingham in the UK, as well as new English lace from the few companies still in business. Everything is made in the UK, and they also have an eco collection from peace silk. Perhaps one day for Valentine’s, we could ask for something little of theirs?
Clare Bare is a California-based artist and designer whose lingerie is locally made from bamboo jersey and vintage fabric. Her self-declared love of vintage textiles manifests itself in quirky original prints and oldie worldly retro looks. Every piece is made to order so you’ll have to wait a bit for your treats… it looks like it’ll be worthwhile, though!
Happily, after long last, it looks like I can go back to my matching pieces! This time, however, I pledge to do it with sense and sensibility, going for quality rather than quantity, ethics rather than instant economics. While planning and budgeting my choices, I’d love to know if I missed out anything essential. Your top tips and favourite suppliers will be gladly received in the comments below.