When we started Sheer Apparel, we had no interest in building a luxury boutique only truly accessible for some. That meant that we came across a few labels that, although we fell in love with their designs, we decided not to work with.
A key element of our mission is to show that gorgeous, sustainable fashion can absolutely be as affordable as many, more mass-produced highstreet brands. By that we don’t mean the low price, low quality end of the high street. But make no mistake – even some pricier labels now produce on a massive scale that makes true, sustainable, let alone ethical, quality quite an elusive thing.
Ever ‘invested’ in something you liked the look of from a pricier label and it turned out to be as poor quality as the next fashion brand? We certainly have.
Transparency is one of our core values, and that includes bringing our customers only garments that we think are - quality, ethics and style considered - fairly priced.
Sustainable fashion brands use higher quality fabrics
The consensus among experts with decades of experience in the fashion industry is that quality of fabric and finishing has deteriorated right across the board over the last 20 years, including at expensive brands. For example, most ‘wool’ on the high street, including at premium brands like Reiss and Karen Millen is in fact mixed with or entirely made of acrylic or other synthetics, which makes it flammable, non-biodegradable and a lot less breathable.
That’s why we’ve decided to only work with brands whose level of quality as well as ethics we can stand behind 100%.
Sustainable fashion means not buying on a whim. We really want our customers to love what they buy. When we work with brands, we’ve been watching them for a good while. We’ve had in depth conversations until we know they are just as passionate as we are about the positive impact our wardrobes can make.
Small is beautiful
Our brands produce on a smaller scale than high street brands. As a consequence you won’t get any twisting of your T Shirts for example, something that happens when fabric is woven and cut in a way that saves time but produces poorer materials.
They are also laser focused on quality and detail. In many cases we hear incredibly inspiring stories about the length makers go to to source things like vegan buttons and organic velvet trim or make sure that those seams will literally never come apart.
Easy to wear brands that match your high street favourites
But judge for yourself. If you are after easy to wear, every day pieces ranging from T Shirts to summer dresses, office wear to weekend fun, Jan N June and Armed Angels in our own store are a great bet and offer comparable pricing to high street brands such as And Other Stories and French Connection. We also have a bit of a thing for Rakha, who we hope to be working with soon.
Aside from our own store, East London based KTO designs casual but stylish sustainable garments. Our go to place for basic, but well crafted sustainable underwear is Pico.
Brands using luxury fabrics, and don’t just pretend they do
There will be pieces of clothing that make sense to think about as a bit of an investment. Whether you call it capsule wardrobe or common sense – it’s a good idea to invest (over time, as and when you can) in a few high quality items you love that will go with lots of different things, season after season. Think shirts, black slim pants, denim, well designed T-Shirts and Longsleeves, shirt dresses, a good trenchcoat, quality knitwear.
And particularly those made of luxurious fabrics such as 100% wool silk or linen, deserve to be considered in terms of ‘cost per wear’. That’s because not only are those fabrics of course more expensive for the maker. A well designed and well looked after knit dress or a pair of classic linen pants can last and look fantastic for up to a decade.
From our own brands, we love Frieda Sand and Maska for classic pieces, such as silk or Tencel shirt dresses, knitted pencil skirts and jumpers, which are similarly priced as or more affordable than high street brands such as Whistles and Anthropologie.
Outside of Sheer Apparel, Filippa K and Lanius are two of our favourite brands for classic garments with a modern edge we’ll wear for a long time.
Sustainability aside, once you know that many high street labels are overcharging you for poor finishing and cheap fabrics, it’s difficult not to be a picky customer. And so you should be.
Perhaps ethical supply chains and sustainable fabrics aren’t your everyday priorities. We don’t blame you, noone can solve all problems all of the time. And that’s what we’re here for, to do the research for you.
But you deserve to know that when you spend your hard earned cash, you are getting true quality. And that’s something a lot of sustainable fashion brands are better at delivering.