Ethical Fashion with Flair: Patterns and Prints - Good On You
17 Jan

Ethical Fashion with Flair: Patterns and Prints

After years of severe minimalism, patterns are back. People have been rediscovering the joys of both classic and contemporary prints: from luxe-inspired baroque opulence, to animal prints, to geometric modernism.

This month we’re looking at patterns and prints. We love them for so many reasons. They’re expressive, fun, and interesting. They can champion a traditional craft. They set off an outfit of basics. In a time when we’re breaking free from old conceptions of who and what we should be, it’s the perfect opportunity to express ourselves with something more creative and artistic than plain old… well, plain.

Another reason we love prints and patterns is that they add a layer of story to your clothing. While ethics and quality of clothing are important, there’s no denying that we buy things to express and define ourselves—and in the past, many people did this through an allegiance to a famous brand and their attitude. Ethical clothes have a story to tell through the journey of the garment, and so much the better if the design has its own chapter, too.

We’re actually riding a bit of a maximalist trend right now—layers and layers of colour and print as fashion lovers look to use their outfits as a creative outlet. We’re all for it—as long as it’s ethically sourced!

Apart from the fab brands we rate here at Good On You, don’t forget to look out for those second hand and vintage shops where you’ll find patterns and prints from decades gone by. In the 80s and 90s they REALLY knew how to do a print. But if you’re looking for some quality ethical brands to fulfil that pattern and print craving, we’ve got you covered with these brands below!

Gung Ho Design

Rated: Good

Water Wrap Skirt – Ships internationally

Gung Ho Design makes striking and bold pieces ranging from jumpers to dresses to playsuits—and each piece has an environmental story to tell through prints or graphics. The brand has created visuals about marine life, sustainable food production, and even the water footprint behind food with this flowing asymmetric skirt. Truly the embodiment of ethical plus stylish, the team even organises beach clean-ups!

See the rating.

Shop Gung Ho Design.

Tasi Travels

Rated: Good

Journey Pants – Ships internationally

For travelwear designed for adventures, look no further than Australian brand Tasi Travels. Boasting a stunning collection of handmade garments in eco-friendly materials that are made-to-order, you can feel good out in the world knowing you are leaving a light footprint behind.

See the rating.

Shop Tasi Travels.

Mayamiko

Rated: Great

Gaia Playsuit – Ships internationally

Get on to Mayamiko’s site for a wide range of prints handpicked from the from the local fabrics market in Malawi. Everything’s made on demand to reduce waste and the brand works with organic cotton and fair trade labour. It puts out a wide range of unique styles and there’s masses of information on the site about the process and partnerships.

See the rating.

Shop Mayamiko.

TAMGA Designs

Rated: Great

Galla Mini Dress – Ships internationally

This mini dress takes tropical to a new level, with a bold pattern over a lilac base. It’s made of Tencel and, like TAMGA’s other garments, you can see the difference in its environmental impact right there on the product page. Check out the gorgeous lookbooks for many more cool and spirited styles.

See the rating.

Shop TAMGA Designs.

Birdsong

Rated: Good

Red Print Wrap Dress – Ships internationally

Birdsong is a boutique label producing gorgeous womenswear. Its clothes are handmade in London by knitters and seamstresses earning above the London living wage. The business is built on a philosophy of fairness and authenticity, promising customers “no sweatshop, no photoshop”.

See the rating.

Shop Birdsong.

No Nasties

Rated: Great

Half Sleeve Shirt Agonda – Ships internationally

Another leader when it comes to ethical fashion, No Nasties makes simple and stylish clothing from Fairtrade organic cotton in India where they are actively working to grow the ethical consumer market.

See the rating.

Shop No Nasties.

Shop No Nasties @ Made Trade.

Aimee Kent

Rated: Great

Berlin Block Patterned Scarf – Ships internationally

Pattern designer Aimee Kent creates work that’s artistic and confident. There’s both a delicate intricacy and an almost mid-century bold energy to her work. This stylish scarf is GOTS-certified and made in Scotland.

See the rating.

Shop Aimee Kent.

Nube

Rated: Good

Currents Leggings – Ships internationally

Nube turns recycled plastic into responsible and fashionable activewear, designed and made in the US. The brand partners with artists and designers around the world to create prints motivated by the environmental crisis that inspire connection and action. This fully woman-owned business uses a closed-loop manufacturing process by recycling all off-cuts created during the manufacturing process.

See the rating.

Shop Nube.

Batoko

Rated: Good

Squiggle Swimsuit – Ships internationally

Whichever way you look at Batoko’s swimsuits, they’re awesome. They’re made from recycled ocean plastic. They’re fun and funky, covered in sharks and lobsters and fruit and squiggles. They’re bright and colourful. They’re designed for clever support. Go and buy one.

See the rating.

Shop Batoko.

Seek Collective

Rated: Good

Artist Shirt – Ships internationally

Bright azure colour… take-no-prisoners print… massive over-sized cut…. This is a shirt for women you don’t mess with! Check out the rest of the collection for more powerful prints, and feel extra good wearing the pieces knowing the brand provides jobs for workers from disadvantaged communities.

See the rating.

Shop Seek Collective.

Rothy’s

Rated: Good

Spotted Flats – Ships internationally

Rothy’s uses low-waste cutting techniques to minimise textile waste. So, how about a recycled-water-bottle round-toe flat with leopard spots? Yep, thought so. You’ll also find a merino collection and everything from bright colours to camo.

See the rating.

Shop Rothy’s.

Good Krama

Rated: Good

Pich Jacket – Ships internationally

Good Krama puts the planet first. Made from an upcycled brocade fabric of gold and orange hues, this jacket is festive and unique with its modern fit and tailored details. It is giving us serious koi vibes, and we can’t get enough.

See the rating.

Shop Good Krama.

Patagonia

Rated: Good

Out walking or in the city—doesn’t matter. Great-grandpa Istvan might have been upset at the demise of the suit and tie. We have precisely zero interest in being cold and will happily wear this to an important business meeting. Just look at that pattern.

See the rating.

Shop Patagonia.

Studio 189

Rated: Good
BIPOC woman wearing magenta patterned sustainable dress by Studio 189

Lilac Small Leaf Sleeveless Dress – Ships internationally

Studio One Eighty Nine is a social enterprise that provides a platform to help promote and curate African Fashion.

See the rating.

Shop Studio 189.

tonlé

Rated: Good

Veha Top with Banana Palm Print – Ships internationally

tonlé provides environmentally-friendly women's clothing with a zero-waste design process. To do so, the brand uses remnant fabrics from large manufacturers as well as recycled threads and reclaimed wood from local suppliers for its trim and accessories.

See the rating.

Shop tonlé.

Keep your eye out for the other articles in this series that look at Streetwear, Colour, and Wild & Wonderful options!

About the author: Pete Gomori is a creative director, writer and Londoner who helps ethical fashion companies with their branding. Find him at www.studiogomori.com.

Editor's note

feature image via Batoko, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world's most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use the Directory to search more than 2,000 brands. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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