I Love Zara, But These 11 British Brands Are Just as Good

It was after a recent conversation while shopping with a friend that I thought for the first time in a while, just where the clothes I was wearing actually came from. Often the high-street is our go-to for sheer convenience, but as Who What Wear are always working to champion more sustainable ways to shop, looking into the chain of production of some of our favourite brands can unearth some surprising results. And, although checking the ethical credentials of a brand is far more than just geographical, a great way to support local manufacturers, designers and vendors, is to shop British based brands and help to make the most of a home-grown supply chain structure.

Not only does shopping the best of British reduce the carbon emissions associated with shipping, but it helps to promote transparent and quality working conditions too, and it feels good to know that your sound investment might be contributing to a fairer wage for a worker or supplier. 

Here in the UK we have it easy, as there are hundreds of independent fashion brands and sustainable options to shop, no matter your budget. From the environmentally conscious Stella McCartney, right through to some of the brilliant brands you can uncover scrolling through Etsy, there’s always a savvy swap to change your impulse purchase for something a little more long-wearing (and guilt free). 

While it’s almost impossible to narrow down all of the best British brands on the market (there are almost too many to count), I will endeavour to share some of my favourite affordable, sustainable, and downright fashionable picks in an effort to support local talent. So scroll down to see and shop my edit of the coolest Brit brands to know, and love, in 2022.

Damson Madder are a London based brand passionate about putting sustainability first. Whether handmade crochet pieces or joyful midi dresses, all garments are cleverly made from organic cotton or recycled and re-purposed fabrics, creating a pretty but fashion forward collection of clothes with a focus on unique shapes and prints. 

Expect to see: Peter Pan collars, printed co-ords and the kind of ditsy florals that conjure up images of the great British summer. 

Lovers of colour, look no further! Never Fully Dressed is a euphoric journey through all of the print, colour, and feminine detailing you could ever wish for. Starting life in an attic in Essex, Never Fully Dressed has since grown from a one woman operation to a well-known go-to for vibrant dresses and skirts that celebrate the joy of dressing up.

Expect to see: Multifunctionaldresses and skirts, bold occasionwear, and an extensive curve collection that goes up to size 24.

Starting out in 1997 with loungewear and nightwear designed in a farmhouse in Wales,Toast is now an internationally shipping company and concept store, with the emphasis  always on the brands heritage– a slower, more thoughtful way of life. 

Expect to see: Fairisle knits, utility wear, prairie dresses and a considered palette, the perfect cottagecore uniform for a weekend in the Welsh Valleys. 

Sister brand of the romantic Sister Jane, Ghospell is a sculptural and contemporary London-based fashion brand that explores the “urban elements of a modern lifestyle.” With an admittedly minimal aesthetic, the brand manages to create fresh new styles with dramatic silhouettes, and as they work in small batches, each collection is available for a limited time before a new one drops every 6 weeks. 

Expect to see: Puffed sleeves, cut-outs, curved seams and textured fabrics ready for summer in the city. 

In coming up with an innovative answer to the amount of wasted fabric in denim production, E.L.V. DENIM founder Anna Foster created a unique two-toned jean fashioned from upcycled denim, and after proving a hit with customers, East London Vintage denim skyrocketed. While you can still shop the iconic jeans (now in a variety of fits and washes), there is also new collections of skirts, shirts, jackets and accessories, all made from repurposed cotton. And if anything doesn’t fit, the brand offer bespoke tailoring services, so all of your purchases are fashioned around you. We know the price point is higher than affordable, but for wardrobe classics you’ll practically in for many years to come, it’s a wise investment.

Expect to see: Premium quality jeans, modern tailoring and unique matching accessories that ensure all denim is repurposed and nothing is wasted. 

Baukjen may well already be on your radar, but their sustainable credentials are worth repeating. As champions of slow fashion, their clothes are crafted using the best quality materials to be made to last, and always take into consideration the enivronmental impact of production, source of raw material, the ethical treatment of animals, and eliminating wastage. 

Expect to see: Wardrobe staples, timeless classics and elevated basics you’ll wear all year round. 

An Instagram smash-hit, Olivia Rose The Label is an independent, slow-fashion label founded in 2017 by designer Olivia Rose Havelock. As all fabrics are locally sourced and purchased, quantities are extremely small batch, making this romantic dress brand all the more covetable. 

Expect to see: Fitted bodices, square necklines and puffed sleeves, think Bridgerton but better. 

As Molby The Label’s vision was  to create ‘beautiful, fun, and timeless garments’ it’s safe to say they succeeded. A colourful burst of vintage-looking dresses and graphic t-shirts, the brand also focuses on reducing it’s fabric wastage and carbon emissions by creating high-quality, timeless garments to wear again and again. Each piece is handmade to order so don’t expect any fashion fashion, instead custom sizing is available to get the fit that is unique to you.

Expect to see: Tea dresses in gingham, polka dot, pinstripes, and lace, classically British style made modern. 

Independent London-based label Jovonna London, are specialists in combining classic silhouettes with modern tailoring, inspired by the capital’s unique fashion scene. If you were looking for transitional pieces that will work for every kind of British weather, add Jovanna to your list–there’s a reason it has so many influencer and celebrity fans. 

Expect to see: Tweed co-ords, A-line dresses and trench coats that wouldn’t look out of place on the King’s Road. 

After realising how little there was on offer for fashionable bridesmaids, Nola London was designed to make the wearer feel her most special, no matter their body shape or style. A must-see for bridesmaids, but also anyone looking for an unforgettable look for any event, Nola’s handmade dresses intentionally take 4-6 weeks to construct to properly ensure slow fashion values. 

Expect to see: Elegant slip dresses, pared back co-ords, and floor-skimming maxis ready for wedding guest season. 

As seen on some of Instagram’s most fashionable, Elliss is a contemporary brand ideal for those who love to make a statement. Launched in 2016 by Central St. Martins graduate Elliss Solomon, the brand use natural fabrics like organic cotton, hemp and bamboo to create a graphic collection of artistic pieces, all from their studio in Hackney. 

Expect to see: Photographic prints, form-fitting silhouettes, and plenty of mesh and sheer attitude, reminiscent of the brands East London heritage.

Up Next, Autumn/Winter 2022 Trends: The 15 Fashion Looks You Need to Know About

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