Because keeping warm shouldn’t cost the Earth
It’s officially not summer anymore! Which makes it well and truly coat weather, and as such I’ve had a lot of messages on Instagram asking me where to buy responsible winter warmers.
I’ll be honest, this is not an easy one to answer. When I gave up shopping I educated myself on the non-fast fashion ethical and sustainable brands that are my go-tos now that I allow myself the odd new items of clothing here and there. But many of them stop short of producing anything REALLY warm, and I imagine this is because it often means the use of down (and feathers are often not collected in a cruelty-free manner), and/or waterproof polyester (AKA plastic). Plus they are an expensive thing to produce.
I doubt I will be buying a new winter coat for about a decade. I was lucky enough to accumulate a few really good quality ones when I was still accepting gifts as a fashion editor – in the picture above I was shot for a New York Fashion Week feature in InStyle magazine which I was made redundant from over four years ago! – and this is hands down my favourite coat of all time. It’s by Filippa K, which is making great strides in sustainability and innovative fabrics – I wear it pretty much every day of the winter but it’s currently being repaired as the zip is broken (this is in no way a criticism of the quality – it’s at least 6 years old).
One thing I know for sure is that this is the most useful style of coat I’ve ever owned is this: the parka. Not only is it incredibly practical (waterproof and warm – including over the bum) but it’s a timeless style classic and looks great with everything. I’ve also seen a lot of sustainable brands touting another lovely style – the puffer jacket – which is always a great option for keeping warm.
So just for you, I’ve done some research into the best sustainable parkas and puffers out there – most of these should be waterproof and warm, but do always read the small print. There is some polyester in this edit, but if you’re buying something that you’ll wear for decades this isn’t necessarily the end of the world in my opinion. And obviously it’s even better if it’s recycled polyester!
Everlane recycled polyester liner, £76 (everlane.com)
I love this idea! If you just want to add an extra layer to your existing winter coats, Everlane has this handy quilted liner. Made from 100% recycled polyester, it’s available in 5 different colours and is really lightweight, making it perfect for packing and easy to throw underneath everything from a peacoat to a Crombie. It also looks great worn on its own, as you can see here.
Here’s my friend Julia, who recently moved to Scotland and so is fast becoming an expert on stylish snuggle-wear, looking gorgeous in a coat that was made with 120 recycled plastic bottles. I really like the brand Thought’s approach – as well as using only certified natural and recycled fibres and fabrics (this coat is made from recycled polyester), this label only makes clothes from start to finish in the same country to prevent them being shipped all over the place (which frighteningly does very often happen). There’s a wealth of information on the brand’s transparency for you to read online too – as a rule of thumb, if you can’t find information like this easily the brand is unlikely to be sustainable. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, always email the brand in question to ask. Peer pressure is a powerful thing…
The North Face
The North Face Triple C parka, £340 (thenorthface.co.uk)
I’m really into a longline puffer for the ultimate in keeping warm while looking cool, and this one will keep you dry too with its water repellent finish. As well as being made from 100% recycled polyester, it’s also filled with down that is responsibly sourced, and comes in black as well as this lovely shade of olive.
Seasalt Cornwall puffer, £140 (seasaltcornwall.com)
This British brand, often underrated for its sustainability credentials, just keeps getting better season after season. This puffer is made from 65% recycled polyester and is a really nice option if a hood isn’t really your thing. Please note that this coat is not waterproof.
ECOALF at Know The Origin
ECOALF recycled polyester puffer, £230 (knowtheorigin.com)
Know The Origin is a new one-stop shop for all things sustainable fashion. This brand, ECOALF, is new to me, but I like the look of it! This jacket is 100% recycled and vegan, and the hood is detachable.
Community Clothing parka, £139 (communityclothing.co.uk)
Community Clothing has a focus on classic styles that won’t date, made using traditional techniques that enable British workshops to stay alive. This particular coat is made from 100% wax cotton from British Millerain in Rochdale, which has over 140 years of textile manufacturing experience. You also get to learn where everything happens in the production process – for example, this was sewn in Blackburn, finished in Rochdale, dyed in Elland, and the 100% BCI American Cotton is woven & spun in China
Patagonia ‘Down With It’ parka, £280 (patagonia.com)
Patagonia is often cited as one of the best performing sustainable brands out there. As well as offering a repair service in the US, you can return any old Patagonia items to them and they will reuse them to make new products. The brand also donates to grass roots organisations that help to protect the planet. This coat, which comes in four colours, is made from 100% recycled polyester for the outer layer, and is insulated with recycled feathers which are reclaimed from down products.
pricey puffer (if money was no object)
Pangaia long puffer jacket, £584 (thepangaia.com)
OK, I know it’s RLLY expensive but I wanted to let you know about this because the technology is amazing! This coat is made from FLWRDWN™ – no, that’s nothing to do with Strictly Come Dancing contestant HRVY, but rather the cult sustainable leisurewear brand Pangaia. Amazingly, these coat are made from wild flowers and are completely biodegradable. And since wild flowers are needed to make them, their production also contributes to habitat restoration.