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Sanjida O'Connell

Dr Sanjida O'Connell is a writer and a TV presenter. Sanjida writes about science and green issues. Her latest novel, The Naked Name of Love, was published by John Murray in March. Her latest TV series was on BBC 2: Nature's Top 40, and was a guide to our top British wildlife spectacles. Find more details about Sanjida's work at her website, sanjida.co.uk

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Eco Chic: Proper job - ethical sportswear

Posted by Sanjida O'Connell
  • Monday, 2 November 2009 at 09:46 am

Finally we have some decent ethical sportswear! Yew Clothing has recently launched in the UK, selling base layers, T-shirts and fleece jackets for active wear. They’re made out of recycled polyester, with casual wear T-shirts in organic cotton. The company was founded by Jun Wong and Kresse Wesling this summer. Both Jun and Kresse have been into sport since they were kids, Jun used to do athletics, karate and rugby and now participates in triathlons, as well as running, climbing and snowboarding.


He says, “I had the original idea for the business two and a half years ago. I wanted to do something involving sportswear and I wanted it to be sustainable.” It took a long time – almost a year and a half - to source fabric, find a socially responsible factory and design the garments. “The biggest challenge was finding the fabric,” says Jun, “and without that it you really can’t design a line properly.” The fabric is made in Taiwan from recycled consumer plastic, which means an energy saving of 52 percent compared to other garments. It’s also light weight, wicking and dries quickly.

The everywear top (a T-shirt designed for active sports) and the warming jacket (a thin but very warm fleece), which I tried, were both cut brilliantly and wicked sweat away exceptionally well. The company is transparent about their policies, pointing out that the thread is not recycled, the reflective Yew print is made from water-based latex ink and the labels are made from standard polyester and cotton but that they’re working on alternatives. Both Jun and Kresse have spent time at the factory in Turkey, which they say has high quality conditions for staff. You can see photos of it and find out where it is from their website.


When I mention the difficulties I’ve had trying to track down ethical sportswear in this country, Jun agrees: “We have a huge amount of respect for Patagonia, who led the way and we’re trying to emulate them, but we feel that we could do something more geared towards the UK market – and there’s definitely a need for more choice.” Right now Yew Clothing has a limited choice but they’re currently working on strappy tops for yoga and running vests and hope to have developed leggings and three-quarter Capri pants by winter 2010.


If you want to purchase anything from Yew Clothing, Jun is offering a 10% discount using the code SPECIAL10.


Pictures courtesy of Yew Clothing


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