the #ethicalfashioncollective: H&M jacket and DIY-ripped knee jeans

Well, that was a quick month! It’s the first Friday in July (although the weather obviously missed that memo), which means it’s time for the #EthicalFashionCollective – the joint project between lovely Mel and I, where we try and promote clothes that for whatever reason are a bit more on the earth-friendly side.

I’m a big lover of second-hand things; I’m not going to pretend that I never buy anything new, I do, and I LOVE finding a good bargain, but I find pre-loved clothes great when you’re trying to save money and ease up on the planet. I do shop in charity shops occasionally, but don’t really have the time any more to spend hours rummaging, so I get most of my second-hand clothes from eBay – it’s also a great way of finding older items that shops might have stopped selling. My jean of choice used to be the Sqin from H&M, which seemed to disappear almost overnight – they were brilliant; more on the slim side of skinny rather than skintight, and with a low-ish rise which meant you could go for lunch and not have to unbutton your jeans afterwards! I recently got two pairs for £5 on eBay, and as they were so cheap, I didn’t feel in the slightest bit worried about taking the scissors to one of them!

Which brings me onto the second thing I wanted to talk about – DIY and customising. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve added things onto t-shirts, turned mens clothes into dresses and taken things apart to make something new and a bit different. I’m not the best seamstress in the world (technical skills: zero), and there’s an element of cobbled-together-ness about it, but it’s fun and a great way of making something completely original. I’d wanted a pair of ripped-knee jeans for a while, but couldn’t find any that I liked both the fit and the torn effect on (not in the right place for my knees / too torn / not torn enough / didn’t like the colour), so I got a bit happy with my new (old) Sqin jeans and a craft knife. It doesn’t really warrant a whole tutorial, but this is what I did:

1. Put the jeans on and mark where the knees are.

2. Take them off again, and check that the marks are relatively even using a tape measure.

3. Place a thick piece of card inside one of the legs, underneath the mark.

4. Using a craft knife, make a hole that you can get your fingers inside, and then tear across to make the rip. If the thought of doing that makes you nervous, use the craft knife for the whole cut instead!

5. Repeat for the other leg.

6. You’ll find the edges will fray a little, so if you want a softer effect, just give them a bit of encouragement – otherwise, trim them off!

The best thing about ripped knee jeans is that there’s no real right or wrong way to do it – for a softer look, try grating the area with a cheese grater first, or experiment with a razor blade to gently pick at the threads. Anything goes!

The second part of the outfit in the ethical category is the jacket; I found it on sale in H&M, and it’s from the conscious collection, which is the part of the brand that promotes earth-friendly manufacturing processes. I’ve always loved aztec prints and patterns, and I’m a big fan of the oversize look as well, so it was a win-win! (The shoes are from H&M, the top is a man’s t-shirt from Paul Smith and the sunglasses and bag are both from Monki. When I pulled the sunglasses out, Ali howled with laughter and cried, ‘wow! They’re a bit special!’ Yeah, thanks husband.)

If you want to join in with our planet-loving fashion series, simply use #ethicalfashioncollective on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, and tag both me (@owlandaccordion) and Mel (@melwiggins) to show off your style.


  1. dear little Lucas
    July 9, 2016 / 9:29 pm

    This outfit is lush!!

  2. Eleanor at The Bristol Parent
    July 10, 2016 / 6:38 am

    where were you and your how to rip jeans guide when I was 16? So good!

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