Marks and Spencers – Best of British Dress Review

Marks and Spencers Best of British

I decided to treat myself to a new dress from the Marks and Spencers Best of British Collection. I was particularly in love with the swirly print on the dress and its super comfy fit which is so perfect for work. It is also quite cosy for work. I wouldn’t usually wear anything this body con by the 2 layers of fabric and ruching around the stomach make it much more flattering than other body con styles that I have tried in the past. At £59 for a high quality and well made dress, I consider it to be quite good value.

Whilst Marks and Spencers does not spring immediatley to mind when you think about sustainable and ethical clothing, there are a number of factors which mean that their clothes work for me.

Firstly Marks and Spencers clothes alway fit well and last for ages. This dress is incredibly comfy and warm and washes really well. The Best of British Collection is helping to preserve the British manufacturing industry. This dress was made Lee Ann, an ethically and environmentally responsible manufacturer based in Lecietershire. The dress was not only made at their UK factory but the fabric was also knitted, dyed and printed there.

Marks and Spencers are also committed to sustainabilityand improving the environmental performance of their operations through plan A.

Marks and Spencers have also recieved the Carbon Trust Triple Award 2014 with its accolades including zero waste to landfill and becoming a zero carbon company. By 2020 Marks and Spencers aim is to be the worlds most sustainable major retailer. The plan includes procuring 50% of cotton from sustainable sources and publishing an annual list of clothing suppliers across the world. They also support local charities through their UK stores and national initiatives like Macmillan coffee mornings, beach cleans for the Marine Conservation Society and Shwopping where they work with Oxfam to reuse and recycle clothes.

The dress is made from Modal, elastane and polyester. Modal is a a cellulose fibre from beech trees. It is a renewable and biodegradable fibre and much better than cotton in terms of the crop yield needed. Beech trees do not require irrigation or pesticides and are grown on marginal, non-agricultural land unlike cotton. The polyester lining of the dress is not ideal environmentally although it does mean that it requires less energy to launder as it dries quickly and doesn’t require ironing.

What do you think of Marks and Spencers? would you consider their clothing to be sustainable?

With warmest wishes

Ps Just to let you know that I bought the dress myself and have not recieved any payment for this review. Although I do sometimes work with M&S and many other retailer through their affiliate programs and this post does contain affiliate links.

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17 thoughts on “Marks and Spencers – Best of British Dress Review

  1. Ethical, yes. But sustainable? A good effort, but not quite there yet. Sustainable elements is a better descriptor and M&S states that 41% of their clothing have sustainable elements, which is a good start, but doesn’t make the garment sustainable in it’s entirety.

    Unless the polyester is recycled then the use of polyester is not a sustainable choice, regardless of the care consideration attached to the fabric. I also wonder where their modal is sourced from? Modal that is produced in Europe and North America is a sustainable choice, but modal produced in China and Indonesia is usually made from wood that has been harvested from rainforest, and thus contributes to deforestation of critical eco-systems that capture carbon for our global climate. I think the company has taken some great leadership on the issues, especially when compared to other big name retailers, but I personally prefer to invest my fashion dollars in small independent sustainable fashion labels.
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  2. Thanks for your comments and the information on modal. Defintiely something I need to look into in more detail for the future. I am aware that this is probably not the most sustainable option and usually I would try and opt for second hand or a more independent label but I am also a little bit torn between wanting to support the these moves towards a more sustainable option by major retailers.I also think that this collection could offer a better option than many of the fast fashion retailers on the high street for those that would only shop on the high street.

  3. I think sustainable also means the pieces have to be timeless and of good quality too. I remember in the 70s my mum always said that she went to M&S because of the quality and they lasted a long time. Nowadays she doesn’t give them a second look because the quality is no longer there. The last time she bought an item there was about 10 years back and it went all furry after a couple of wears. She wasn’t impressed!!
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  4. Your dress is very nice. For me, the Best of British range is sustainable but I wouldn’t say that everything at M&S is sustainable. Regarding the quality, it depends on clothes : some last long and others not so long (like a pullover that had a hole after only a couple of weeks).
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    • Thanks for your comments. The problem for me is there are not enough sustainable fabrics like organic cotton and recycled polyester.

  5. Interesting discussion. What I do think though that in order to bring the idea of slower/ethical/sustainable fashion to a wider audience we have to introduce high street options to people. For me slower fashion has been a journey that has taken five years starting with small steps. If we can encourage people to start thinking about making a small step with their purchasing on the high street then this may sow the seed for bigger better things in five years time. For many people they are not going to dive straight in to shopping online at ethical retailers. For example my mum would not shop on line for clothes but she would buy something from a more ethical collection in a high street shop.
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    • Yes agree Hannah, there is no perfect answer to the problem. As we have such a mountain to climb in getting people to think about shopping more sustainably sometimes smaller steps are the easiest way.

  6. hi Ceri! This is a great dress. And suh a good conversation. To begin, I appreciate that M&S are starting I create changes as a well know brand and build in sustainable business practices. For people familiar and comfortable with their brand, it may be a great gateway to ethical and sustainable fashion. I wish ANY major retailer wih the same cache as M&S was attempting this in Canada, but sadly, none of our department stores are showing leadership on these issues at this scale. Be grateful that some progress is being made in the UK – however imperfect, it is a start.

    Also, I completely agree with Hannah. Various forms of shopping, second hand, vintage or online, aren’t easy or accessible for everyone. If an option like this range at M&S provides opportunity to shift consumer behaviour for a broader range of people, such as our mums, I’m all for it. Let’s champion positive changes.

    • Hi Angela Hope you and baby are well. We need more from the big brands in order to drive sustainable fashion to the mainstream. That said I will still continue to support smaller more sustainable brands and buy second hand as often as possible. Such a shame there is not more progress by big retailers in Canada, perhaps soon!

  7. I love this dress on you, and I love that it’s made in Britain too! I think this is all really positive, fair enough M&S could do more (along with the rest of the high-street), but I think it’s great that they are starting produce more sustainable and ethical clothing. I agree with Angela, that if this goes some way towards changing people’s shopping habits and opens their eyes to a different type of product, than it’s great! I’m not a fan of fast fashion and while I don’t shop in vintage/second hand shops as much as I could, I do make sure that each item of clothing I purchase will be worn and kept for years to come.
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