With the aim of getting back into blogging ways for the new year I recently interviewed Manchester based fashion blogger Cathy. Her blog TOWIE or The Only Way Is Ethical aims to raise the profile of fairtrade fashion, proving you can be both a cool and conscious consumer.

1) In five words describe The Only Way Is Ethical?

Ramblings about fashion without exploitation.

2) What inspired you to start writing The Only Way Is Ethical?

I’ve personally been interested in trying to shop more ethically for a while, so really it started as an attempt to keep track of all the ethical labels I was discovering – and try to remind myself what I thought of each one.

It is possible to buy clothes that are made ethically without compromising on style and it’s important to me to support labels that know exactly where and how their designs are produced. Massive abuse still goes on in the factories used by big high-street chains – just a few weeks ago over 100 workers died in a fire in a factory supplying clothes to Walmart, amongst others.

Plus the opportunity to pun on an awful ITV2 reality show is a good enough reason to start anything, I reckon.

3) Where are the best places to shop for ethical clothing in Manchester?

Junk Shop in the Northern Quarter is a little different from the other vintage shops around that area in that they have their own label called ‘Made in the Mill’. They source vintage and second hand fabrics and then rework into new designs over at Islington Mill in Salford. I interviewed the owner back in July and she’s got a really interesting take on sustainable fashion.

Stitched Up run regular clothes swap events and workshops around Manchester to teach people how to customise and rework their old clothes. Or, if you’re willing to venture a bit further afield then Remade in Leeds do something similar – and have developed their own sustainable fashion label, Antiform, with all material sourced within 20 miles of their north Leeds shop.

4) Which fabulous fairtrade brands will be making it big in 2013?

I think, and I certainly hope, that People Tree will continue to go from strength to strength as they really are leading the way in producing well-made and style-led pieces in factories that pay workers a fair wage.

It’s heartening to see that more mainstream brands are paying attention to producing their garments ethically – ASOS Green Room now includes some own label items that have been made in the UK.

On a smaller scale, Ruby Rocks and Nancy Dee are two in particular that have caught my eye recently – both stocked by Fashion-conscience.com

5) What’s your greatest ever ethical fashion bargain?

There’s loads actually – if you manage to hit the sales then ethical clothes really aren’t more expensive that those you’ll find on the high street. I think one of my stand-out pieces was probably a black organic cotton blazer from Annie Greenabelle with a polka dot lining, which I got for £25.

To read more from Cathy in 2013 at The Only Way Is Ethical.

Image c/o Castaway in Scotland licensed under Creative Commons.