Menswear Made With Care: Ten Brands Making Good Men's Shirts

If you are reading this you may already know that it’s not easy to find stylish, affordable and ethically produced men’s shirts from brands who value transparency. Until recently there was a gaping hole in the market. You can find organic cotton or silk shirts on the high street but if you want to shop from independent designers who build ethics into their brand then this list is for you. In no particular order, it starts with a young company that launched when the founders couldn’t find good-looking shirts that were made with care.

 Ferry St Grey Shirt in heavy mixed wool & cotton weave, £85 by Grove & Co

1. Grove & Co
Grove & Co was set up in Bristol in 2016 by friends Ben Martin and Tristan Evans. They had been on holiday in Paris bemoaning the fact that they couldn’t find cool shirts with a conscience so they came home and started researching. They now produce in North London in small batches to ensure the quality is maintained, primarily sourcing high-quality end of line fabric. Ben told me more about their ethos:

‘By using this fabric, we are able to get excellent material which would otherwise not end up being used in manufacture and we are able to make a cost saving - which we pass on to our customers. Part of the reason we chose to source and manufacture in the UK is so that we can meet the people we work with and visit their studios or factories. Although this isn't foolproof, we felt that seeing the working conditions of the staff of our suppliers, and meeting with our suppliers, provides a very good indication of the conditions.’

Grove & Co is opening a new studio in Bristol on 2nd December 2017 and are offering a 20% discount to anyone booking a studio appointment on 2nd or 3rd December. Booking essential via their website or Instagram. Groups welcome. No stag dos.

Nankelly Shirt in Winter Berry Check cotton, 'vertically produced' - spun, woven & manufactured all under one roof in Portugal, £95 by Finisterre.

2. Finisterre
Cold-water surf brand Finisterre strives to be transparent and was founded on their three guiding principles: Product, Environment and People. Their garments are not only designed to be fit for purpose but they are also made to last, and to support this ethos further they offer an in-house repair service. They carefully source a variety of ethical, sustainable materials including organic cotton, recycled polyester and mulesing-free merino. Finisterre has developed and grown its collections over the years and in addition to the core surfwear range, it offers, among other beautifully-made garments, a great selection of shirts.

Last year I featured Product Director Debbie Luffman on the blog to find out more about ethical sourcing and how she expertly combines innovation with traditional skills and materials. You can read the interview here.

Finisterre is offering readers 15% off purchases with the code CWSTGW. Discount excludes any products that are already on sale Valid from Wednesday 29th November.

GOTS certified organic cotton concept print men's shirt by Knowledge Cotton Apparel

3. Knowledge Cotton Apparel

Danish brand Knowledge Cotton Apparel has a mission ‘to provide the conscious male consumer with sustainable fashion choices – without making any compromises when it comes to style, comfort or quality.’ Their shirts are made of organic cotton and range from classic Oxford shirts and laid-back denim styles to their quirky ‘concept’ shirt and flamboyant floral prints.

For some other garments in the collection they use recycled PET and they have grand goals for the future: by 2020 they’re aiming to have recycled more than 4.5 million plastic bottles through recycled PET polyester in their garments, and they’re working towards being carbon neutral throughout their supply chain by 2025.

Stags ethical mens shirt in organic cotton by Thought

4. Thought
There’s something for almost everyone in Thought’s collection of organic cotton and hemp shirts. They are casual, yet undoubtedly smart and stylish enough to wear to the office, depending on where you work of course. The range features playful prints - including the stag shirt, above - that are perfect for the party season but could equally be worn at the weekend for more relaxed activities. If you’re looking for something simpler, there are classic denim or check shirts too. I bought my husband a shirt in the summer - the print is imaginative but subtle and the shirt is great quality and very comfortable.

Thought's mission to 'design clothing intended to last' is backed up by their "wear me, love me, mend me, pass me on" ethos. The website is a lovely resource for all things slow fashion, featuring mending, recycling and garment care tips as well as providing details about their own sourcing policies.

Thought is offering a 20% discount with the code GOOD20. Valid until 31st December 2017.  For Christmas delivery in the UK order by Tuesday 19th December 2017 (standard delivery) or for next day delivery order by 12pm on Thursday 21st December.

Ethical men's Blue Stripe Organic Cotton Shirt With Trim by Arthur & Henry

5. Arthur & Henry
For a smart, classic British shirt in organic cotton Arthur & Henry should be your first port of call. The brand was founded in 2012 after co-founder and ethical / Fair Trade consultant Clare Lissaman ‘was at an organic cotton conference and discovered none of the men there were actually wearing organic cotton because they couldn’t find smart work shirts made in organic cotton.’ Arthur & Henry prides itself on producing an entirely organic collection and the more casual Oxford shirts are Fairtrade Organic.

The current collaboration with the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow is beautiful and subtle, and it's a fitting partnership given the provenance of the prints, as Clare explains:
‘The ‘Little Chintz’ print was one of Morris & Co’s earliest prints and based on Indian block printing. Appropriate given that Arthur & Henry shirts are made from cotton grown by Indian smallholder farmers and sewn by skilled Indian tailors.’

Arthur & Henry is offering 20% off all full price items (i.e not gift card or sale items) with code XMASGW20. Valid until 24th December 2017. Order by the end of the day on Wednesday 20th December for Christmas delivery in the UK.

light grey Organic cotton shirt, £22 by THTC

THTC launched in 1999, initially producing hemp t-shirts and has diversified over recent years to offer jackets and shirts too. They currently stock one shirt style in light or dark grey denim – an affordable, stylish staple for your conscious wardrobe. THTC founder Gav Lawson told me about why he decided to introduce shirts into their collection:

'THTC has been the world's leading hemp t-shirt producer for almost two decades. During that time many of my friends and customers have asked me to produce a range of smarter products that they can wear to work, so I decided to release some organic shirts with our subtle logo embroidered on the breast. Our customer base has expanded as a result. In fact I was even sent a photo recently of Jeremy Corbyn wearing one of them!'

THTC is offering a 15% discount with code THTC-The-Good-Wardrobe-15. The offer doesn't include their charity collaboration designs, codes can only be used once per user, and can't be used in conjunction with an existing promotion (i.e bulk buy that they offer on most of the hemp collection). The last UK order date for Christmas delivery is Thursday 21st December. Here's a full list of all the garments eligible in this offer: (*Please note: some sizes of this shirt have sold out but do do double check the drop down menu on the product page for your size.)

Cactus Quilted Millerain Waxed Cotton in tan, £129 by Peregrine Clothing

7. Peregrine
J G GLOVER & CO is a family manufacturing business that has been producing clothing in Britain for 220 years. In 1956 they established Peregrine Clothing, and though the fashion brand is separate to the manufacturing arm, it continues to be a family business.

In 2003 the current managing director and designer Tom Glover took the helm at Peregrine Clothing and though he has modernised the brand, the company's aim to design for longevity remains key to its success. The style is enduring and the focus on quality materials and expert production means they produce heirloom pieces that are made to last. The whole collection is made in the UK and all of the cotton is woven here too.

Peregrine Clothing is offering 10% off to new customers with the code BUYBRITISH. Valid until 1st January 2018.

Reworked mens shirt made-to-order from £40, by Tail End

8. Tail End
Tail End founder Fran Rennison works from her Bristol studio reworking second-hand textiles to create something new, vibrant and fresh. She offers ‘made-to-order’ to prevent waste and to give customers the chance to input into their new garment. Focusing on vintage and festival fashion Tail End upcycles old garments and utilises innovative pattern cutting in its collections. The men’s shirts from Tail End are customised to order – select your sleeve fabric and Fran will rework it just for you. Contact Fran via the website for more details and order by Monday 18th December for Christmas delivery within the UK.

Tail End are collaborating on a pop-up event in Bristol from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th December. Local designers will be selling their collections and there will be ‘making’ workshops too. More details can be found here.

Munny Insulated Shirt in organic cotton featuring Ventile shoulder panels and a low bulk layer of Primaloft® Silver Insulation Eco, which is made using 70% post-consumer recycled content, £115 by Howies

9. Howies
Welsh active clothing company Howies aims to produce its collections in a low impact way, using carefully sourced fabrics. Their shirts are made with a variety of more sustainable materials including organic cotton, ‘ethical’ merino wool and recycled polyester Primaloft® insulation. They focus on making clothes that stand the test of time, and that stand up to the elements. The Munny Insulated Shirt above is a great example as it features Ventile shoulder panels ‘for added wet weather protection and durability.’ 

As the website explains, the team at Howies ‘believe in a thing called quality…[they] believe that making a product which last longer is better for the environment.’ Howies combine practicality, performance and comfort with style and ethics. To them it’s just ‘common sense’.

Howies is offering 20% off with the code WARWSDA. Valid until 18th of December 2017. It can only be used on full priced items (i.e not bundles / multi-packs / 'Last in the Box' / sale items).

Finsbury Slim shirt made from end of roll cloth, £29.99 by Visible Clothing

10. Visible Clothing
Visible Clothing is all about transparency. The brand provides a breakdown of their costs on their website so you know where each and every pound of your money is going, which is not only reassuring but also enlightening. All of their products are either organic Fair Trade cotton or upcycled cloth and are made-to-order to eliminate waste. Shirts are produced with end of roll or ‘dead stock’ fabric and can be made in three different cuts - classic, slim and extra slim - at very affordable prices. You can see the ‘Visible Cost and Breakdown’ of one of their shirts here. And they sell ties too.

Visible Clothing are members of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand and the Fair Trade Forum India. I asked about certification and they told me ‘we are not officially certified due to the costs involved with this process, but we own every step of the process since we own the tailoring centre. We adhere to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade and are 100% visible about our people, products, and pricing. We will answer any question!’

Visible Clothing is offering 15% off using the code GOOD WARDROBE. Valid until 1st January 2018. Order by 4th December for Christmas delivery. As garments are made-to-order in the Visible Tailoring Centre in Dharamsala delivery does take a bit of time though a priority shipping option is available.

If you do want to shop on the high street then check out the Fashion Revolution 2017 Transparency Index which sheds some light on 100 of the biggest fashion brands. None of them scores over 50% but it will give you a sense of how transparent your favourite brands are.

Image credit top: Radski Studios for THTC.

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Founder and Director of The Good Wardrobe. Lover of charity shops and mending stuff. New to Bristol. Follow on Twitter

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