Image: Gucci

When Meghan Markle addressed the crowds at last year’s British Fashion Awards, she declared 2019 as the year when “it’s cool to be kind”. Kind to the planet and also kind to the people and animals involved in the complicated supply chains that bring clothes to your closet.

From luxury brands to the high street, brands are working hard on minimising fashion’s impact on the environment as the cost of fashion to the planet is becoming more and more apparent. The consensus at the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Davos was that unless global warming is held to 1.5°C, there will likely be a major climate crisis by 2040.

But with consumer awareness about how our clothes are really being made on the rise, it’s an exciting time for sustainable fashion.

Companies like Kering, which owns brands including Gucci and Bottega Veneta, are making strides towards sustainability and transparency through stringent corporate policies, but the fashion industry remains the second greatest polluter on the planet, responsible for producing greenhouse gas emissions of 1.2 billion tonnes a year (more than international flights and maritime shipping combined), and 73 per cent of the 53 million tonnes of fibres used for clothes and textiles each year are burnt or sent to landfill.

Here, we’ve selected some of the most ethical and sustainable buys on Sloane Street, chosen either for their eco credentials or because of the steps the brand is making in being kinder to the planet and its people.

Smythson bag, £1,395


All Smythson leather goods are manufactured in artisan factories in the UK, Italy and Europe using leathers carefully and responsibly sourced from European tanneries, principally in Italy, Spain and France, and all the leathers used are independently tested by accredited laboratories before production begins to ensure that they conform to strict EU and international standards.

Wald Berlin necklace, £170 at Harvey Nichols


Seen all over Instagram on the most stylish influencers, Wald Berlin‘s pieces are handmade by groups of unemployed mothers and grandmothers in small villages in Germany where jobs are scarce. The company provides them with a working life and an income to help improve their lives.

Annoushka 18ct rose gold and amethyst ring, £3,900


Annoushka Ducas has a zero-tolerance policy towards conflict diamonds and is passionate about ensuring that her business is based on fair and transparent trading. She collects her gemstones on her travels around the world, sourcing rare and unusual stones of exceptional quality and character and, when she buys a particular set of gemstones, she has often been to the mines and personally met with the people with whom she is trading.

In sourcing diamonds, the fine jewellery company tries to go beyond the measures imposed by the United Nations Kimberley Process by determining where each stone was cut, polished and set so we can ensure the fair treatment of all the people involved in making the very-beautiful jewellery.

Veja V-12 sneakers, £105 at Harvey Nichols


Parisian sneaker brand Veja (which means “look” in Portuguese), was founded in 2004 with a promise for transparency, organic materials and fair trade sourcing. They are very chic; Meghan Markle has a pair. The founders chose to manufacture in Brazil because of a good supply of wild rubber, organic cotton and factories where 80 per cent of workers are protected by unions and pay is above minimum wage.

They work directly with cotton farmers using agro-ecology methods that combine rows of diverse crops ensuring minimal soil erosion and pay their cotton farmers twice the market rate. And they pay the rubber tappers they work with a premium so they wont have to supplement their incomes by clearing the forest to grow additional crops or rear cattle. Trainers are available in vegetable-tanned leather but there are also vegan alternatives like uppers made from recycled plastic bottles.

Gucci bag, £1,510


According to the Corporate Knights’ 2019 Global 100 Index announced during the Davos World Economic Forum in January 2019, Gucci parent company Kering is the world’s second most sustainable company across all industries, and the first in the luxury and fashion industries. Gucci is leading the way, guided by Gucci Equilibrium, an online platform designed to connect people, planet and purpose, with a focus on sustainability and transparency.

Additionally, Kering released its first open-source Environmental Profit and Loss Report (EP&L) in 2015 to examine where in its chain of more than 1,000 suppliers in 126 countries lurk the largest and gravest impacts on the environment. Gucci is the first brand in the group to adopt the Kering model to the Gucci Equilibrium platform, offering a new generation of sustainability tools that give greater transparency and insight into the link between fashion and the environment.

In the last year, Gucci has reduced its environmental footprint by 16 percent in the last three years with subtle adjustments to products like using polyurethane in the modern-classic Dionysus shoulder bags rather than PVC, which is an environmental contaminant.

Stella McCartney dress, £1,085 at Harvey Nichols


Stella McCartney has been at the vanguard of the sustainable fashion movement; consistently demonstrating that dressing ethically doesn’t have to mean hemp sacks. The brand believes in treating animals and their habitats with respect, and works to innovate ways of creating sustainable materials, such as viscose, which is sourced in a way that protects ancient forests and the species that live there.