Fashion Loves the Ocean

Feel good in fashion with a purpose

By Danielle Viljoen, Fashion Stylist 

In 2015 a video, filmed by Christine Figgener, a marine conservation biologist, surfaced and has been viewed over 119 million times. In the video, her team removes a 10cm straw from an unsedated sea turtle’s nose. It's almost impossible to watch without flinching.  

This video, amongst other imagery that had surfaced, thrust the world into a no-straw movement. Plastic pollution, and its dangers, was now in the limelight more than ever before.  

Plastic pollution is not isolated to single-use items. Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, 50% is comprised of single-use items such as packets, earbuds, straws, cutlery, crockery and other takeaway containers- the list is endless. 8 million tons of this plastic can be found in our oceans. Plastic pollution is one of the main causes of the loss of marine life, birds included, that the world is currently experiencing. Loss of marine life has a negative impact on food and job security. We can never really and truly dispose of these items. 

Burning plastic causes air pollution and is a health hazard. One of the most sustainable ways of ‘disposing’ of these items is by upcycling them. Clothing and beauty brands are under immense pressure to become more sustainable. Access to technology and information surrounding human health and well-being, as well as that of the environment, makes for an environmentally conscious consumer. We are starting to ask more questions around the subject of raw materials and ingredients and their sources. 

Brands have been forced to become more transparent, enabling consumers to make educated and informed decisions around sustainability.


Plastic pollution has a massive impact on human health in that we ingest more plastic than we realize. Microplastics have been found in our water, salt and, in turn, found to exist in human organs. We also unknowingly ingest plastic when eating fish that contain microplastics. 

When we wash our clothing, microfibers are released into the water- these are called primary microplastics as they are already 5mm in length or less. Secondary microplastics are from larger plastic items (macroplastics) that have started to break down. This highlights the fundamental need, as consumers, to be aware of where our clothing is made, by who and what fabrics have been used. Fast fashion is cheap, but astronomical in its environmental impact

Brands committing to slow fashion

A good rule-of-thumb to remember is if the fabric ends in –ene or –ester or contains ‘oly’ then don’t buy it. 

Below are brands committed to slow fashion (and beauty) that are making a difference. 

Plasticity is a small accessories brand run by a mother-daughter duo based in South Africa.  

South Africa only recycles or recovers around 10% of its waste while the rest ends up in landfills, rivers and the ocean.  

Plasticity up-cycle plastic waste into timeless bag silhouettes. All items incorporate sustainably sourced hemp. Aside from the ethical and sustainable aspect of the brand, plastic handbags and toiletry bags are extremely durable, easy to clean and make for a great investment.  

The below crossbody bag is the perfect addition to your everyday wardrobe. Neutral hues with hints of yellow make for an accessory that can be paired with almost anything. 

$8.50 USD

The foundation of all Hey Gorgeous products is sustainably harvested botanical ingredients obtained in South Africa. All products are made by hand and are not tested on animals. Some ingredients include Jojoba, Baobab and Aloe, plants indigenous to South Africa each with their own healing properties. 

Hey Gorgeous promises to reverse the signs of ageing, nourish dehydrated skin, reduce acne and the appearance of marks and scars and plump up lines and wrinkles. They are committed to affordable beauty with value and purpose. Their vast range of skincare from toners to sunscreen means that you won’t have to shop around. 

Mango butter natural sunscreen contains 100% natural ingredients. It provides protection while nourishing and moisturising your skin.

$25.00 USD

Handmade in Cape Town from 100% cotton, each bag is made from locally sourced materials by locally skilled artisans. While rope lends itself to a major trend, each bag maintains a timeless appeal in its fabrications, silhouettes and colours. 

The Carry couture bag, in red, features an inner zip and transforms into a backpack. 

$53.00 USD

Commercial nylon gill nets are a worldwide problem. They kill marine life that they were never intended to catch and their degradation cause microplastics. 

Beach Seventy Six manufacture swimwear from Econyl (made from waste and recycled nylon) and repreve (fibre made from recycled plastic bottles). These materials can be found in at least 50% of their products. 

The Bella vegan leather bikini loves the environment just as much as you do. Made from ethically sourced fabric, this set is a summer must-have.

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