High Street High Fives: Forward-Thinking Fashion From 6 Big Names

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We love stories of niche brands turning fishing nets into bikinis, but what’s a girl or guy to do when treading the high street? Here’s some big brand know-how for your next shopping trip…

Outreach: Schoolchildren in Peru / Photograph courtesy of M&S

Queens of ‘shwopping‘ (that is, bringing in one of your old rags for something shiny and new), M&S donates your old stuff to Oxfam. That will then either be sold in an Oxfam shop or recycled. It’s all in the hope that it will encourage a “buy one, give one” culture.


The scheme is part of its aptly named Plan A (“because there is no plan B”) campaign. Launched in 2012, it continues to be fronted by Joanna Lumley and is widely respected for its pretty awesome susty approach. M&S’s objectives are as diverse as helping to protect sea life and getting people back into work.

How to shop it: Grab the timeless classics that never go out of style / Find your nearest Shwopping kiosk here / And check out the #shwopping hashtag for inspiration.

Jeans, glorious jeans… Back in Feb, C&A teamed up with the Jean School of Amsterdam for its Design Challenge. The aim was to nurture young makers towards creating super-appealing, low-cost and durable products.


The Dutch retailer has its sights firmly set on sustainable fashion – such as using bio-cotton in all its cotton products by 2020. It is currently the world’s largest procurer of organic cotton. (Let’s hope other companies, er, cotton on.)

How to shop it: Check out the winning designs What’s so good about bio-cotton, anyway? Get more info about the Jean School here. 

This month, as part of our #FashionTakeBack call, Collectively  will be taking a look inside Amsterdam’s coolest derelict train station, the House of Denim – a hothouse for clothes of the future.



First, there’s H&M’s Conscious collection, fronted by the glam Olivia Wilde (pictured above). Then, there’s the in-store clothing take back, which has music legend Iggy Pop insisting we all follow one rule when it comes to fashion: recycle our clothes.

And let’s not forget its water stewardship partnership with WWF. Basically, the Swedish fashion firm has got its fingers in all sorts of sustainable pies. The aim? To make fashion sustainable, and even better, sustainability fashionable.

How to shop it: Find the Conscious Collection online here / Learn loads more about sustainability at H&M here.


Remember that notorious anti-Black Friday campaign? You know, the one where Patagonia told us not to buy something new, just repair our old clobber instead? The outdoor clothing firm is all about keeping something for the long haul. And persuading us that worn stuff is better than the new. Like you know, that coat you took around the world. Now, Patagonia is even taking to the road to fix up our stuff with its Better Than New truck (pictured above). 

How to fix it: Find tour dates for the Better Than New truck here / If it’s not swinging by your neck of the woods, send your Patagonia garment off to be repaired / From bottoms to tops to outerwear, swot up on how to repair it yourself.

Schoolgirls in Uganda / Image via Nike's Girl Effect campaign

Nike is no stranger to innovation. It’s ‘flyknit’ tech creates lighter shoes and cuts waste by eliminating multiple materials and seams. Sustainability at its sexiest. It’s also cutting water use. Did you know it takes about 30 litres of water to dye a single shirt? Nike’s ColorDry tech goes without aqua and cuts down on energy, too. The company is also committed to empowering girls and women in developing countries with its Girl Effect campaign.

How to shop it: Check out the flyknit range / Learn more about Nike’s sustainable innovations



In the swinging seventies, Monsoon’s clothes were made in Indian villages with vegetable dyes and hand-loomed cotton – and the company is keen to keep to its green-fingered roots. It is cutting energy, packaging and waste where possible. Oh, and its has backed an installation by designer Alex Noble, who’ll be using beaded fabric waste from Monsoon as well as the Self-Employed Women Association during London Fashion Week.

How to shop it: Check out Alex Noble’s design / Take a look at the artisan collection, crafted using traditional techniques.

**This story first appeared on Collectively.

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