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17th October 2012

Inside the Outsider

Does ethical fashion come at too high a price? Grainne Morrison and Jake Pummintr investigate…

It’s hardly a secret that cheaper clothes come with a higher price. The Fashion industry is known for its fast-paced, ever-changing trends and high street shops must keep up with this to make a profit. One has to ask why and where our garments come from.  The problem faced by many students is that unfortunately our loans do not sufficient to budget for ethical attire and so we are rendered with no choice but to accept the unethical practices of the top high street stores. As students we have quite an influential voice in society and thus have the responsibility to help change the ways in which fashion is produced. By seeking out ethical labels we are helping a much needed industry to expand.

This week, The Mancunion spoke to Noorin Khamisani, the founder of Outsider fashion and she has provided us with some fabulous behind-the-scenes insight about how her brand functions. Khamisani’s best advice to students is that “it’s all about buying a little less and buying better – think about investment pieces that are well made, will last and are versatile.” Here at The Mancunion, we agree. After all, if you buy cheap, you buy twice…

Autumn/Winter 2012 Collection. Photo: Outsider

Outsider believes that ethical fashion should just look like fashion and we agree. In today’s society, the notion that all of the clothes we purchase should be made in ethical factories using sustainable methods is a given. Sadly, the reality is different. Khamisani, who knows all too well about the manufacturing process of high-street attire, having worked for a number of these brands, describes herself as an “Eco-worrier.” She continues: “I am conscious of the issues and want to make a difference but I also want to wear beautiful things […] without making myself or my customers look like a hippy.” There is the perception that ‘green’ and/or ethical attire cannot compete with those of the normal manufacturing process as more effort has been put into the artistic endeavour behind the designs, as opposed to sourcing ethical fabrics. Khamisani agrees stating that “[she has] to do a lot more research than perhaps a conventional designer would do.”

This is what we love about Outsider – it gives the customer the complete freedom to shop without having to second-guess where the farmer is who has been completely ripped-off or how many children have been overworked and underpaid for the sake of a cheap cotton-blend t-shirt. “No one is perfect but I try to make informed and conscious choices rather than purchases on a whim,” says Khamisani. Not only this, but Outsider believes that sustainable fashion is “the opposite of throwaway fashion…with items being well-made, with minimum impact on the environment that are worn again and again, and enjoyed again and again.” The image below shows Livia Firth wearing an Outsider dress when accompanying Colin to the palace however, she has also worn it on two other occasions. Khamisani elatedly commented that “my dress has done what it was designed to do – it is timeless, versatile and still relevant no matter what the season or year.”

Livia Firth in Outsider. Photo: Outsider

Difficult as it may seem, clothes that are both ethically produced and affordably priced can be found. H&M’s ‘The Conscious Collection’ is particularly great; it allows you to purchase a dress made in the best interests of workers and the environment, but at the same price as other high street items. Of course, the most accessible ethical fashion is vintage. Second-hand clothes are a mere fraction of any high street price. It’s well known that the Northern Quarter is a hot spot for vintage finds but why not try your luck in charity shops around Fallowfield and Withington for some hidden gems. Want ethical fashion without leaving your house? Look no further than ASOS Marketplace or Ebay (Vintage Jaeger for £3? Yes, please). The Green Style Blog (found on offers guidance for anyone interested in boosting their fashion karma. Check out the complete interview with Noorin Khamisani at or shop the entire collection online at


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