An Interview with Eco Boutique: Ethical, Printed Arty T-shirts

Eco Boutique was founded in 2009 as a London-based creative brand combining urban style with ethics. They create fabulous ethical graphic printed t-shirts made from 100% organic cotton. Each style comes in a limited edition run and each tee is numbered so you know just who special your one is. Priced at just over £30, this exclusive ethical style won’t break the bank either. I caught up with one of the founders Hayley Power to find out more about the fashion brand.

Eco Boutique

1. How did Eco Boutique get started?

Myself (Hayley Power) and my business partner, Lynsey Dickenson, worked together in advertising for ten years as an award winning creative team, before deciding on a new career and launching Eco Boutique. We were frustrated at the way the fashion industry was churning out fast, disposable fashion and we wanted to change people’s attitude to shopping.

We wanted to make a stand against the high street production line and encourage people to find their own individual sense of style, while being conscious of the effect the fashion industry has on the earth and the people that live on it.

We want people to buy less clothing, but cherish what they do buy. We hope that by creating limited edition prints, people will regard their t-shirts as works of art and love them more, meaning they’re less likely to discard them after just one season.

2. You work with some great contemporary artists. How have those collaborations come about?
They are people we’ve met over the years. When I meet extremely talented, lovely people I make sure I don’t lose contact with them! I think creative people feed off of other creative people and inspire each other. We’ve been lucky that our featured artists believe in our brand enough to collaborate exclusively with us, and it’s a huge compliment to us that they are happy to do so.

3. Your t-shirts are printed in the UK. Why do you think it’s important to support other UK businesses?
It’s important not only for the UK economy, but also to support our skills and to make sure they don’t die out. We don’t just want to be a country of retailers!
Another huge factor for us is shipping. Manufacturing abroad has huge environmental implications, and being an eco company we keep shipping to a minimum. If the UK produced organic cotton we’d manufacture our t-shirt in the UK too.

Eco Boutique

4. How do you measure the 90% reduction in C02 from your t-shirts?
The carbon footprint has been calculated in accordance with BSI PAS2050 methodology, and certified by the Carbon Trust. The 90% reduction has been achieved by a combination of low-impact organic farming, efficiency in manufacturing and transportation, and the use of renewable energy instead of the fossil fuel based grid electricity.

5. You sell vintage clothes too, is that a passion for both of you?
I’ve always loved vintage clothing, mainly because I like to be individual and hate the fact that the high street turns us all into clones. I like to mix vintage with high street to create my own style.
We decided to add vintage clothing to our website because it fits in with our ethos perfectly – firstly it’s eco friendly to re-use clothing and not throw it away, and secondly we want to encourage people find their own sense of style, rather than being high street sheep, and vintage does that perfectly.

6. The ethical fashion market is growing at a hefty rate, but is still a niche market compared to the big retailers on the British high street. What do you see for the future of ethical fashion?
I think the ethical fashion market will continue to grow, especially as people become more aware of the impact the fashion industry has on the earth and the people that live on it. However the problem is that producing ethical clothing costs a lot more than standard clothing – up to three or even four times more. As fashion is a business, people are in it ultimately to make money. If you think about the big retailers, they are run by huge companies and for them it’s ALL about profit. Unless the public makes a stand and refuses to buy standard clothing, then the ethical market will always be a niche market. Although I believe it will grow, realistically I don’t think the ethical fashion market will ever overtake the standard fashion market in size.

7. What is in store for Eco Boutique in 2013?
We’re concentrating on getting more stockists for 2013. Ideally we’d like to double or even treble what we have now. We’d like to secure at least one big name retailer, as it gives so much exposure as well as increasing sales. We’re also looking at wholesaling internationally and we’re currently in talks with an Australian boutique about stocking with them.

Eco Boutique is available online and through stockists including

Eco Boutique

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