Affordable and Ethical James Bond Style

In books and on film, Bond is always out there saving us from a global crisis. But what can we do to help here in the real world?

Before anyone panics, this won’t be a “preachy” post. I’m not going to try and sell you any “workers’ rights” or “protect our environment” philosophies. I won’t give a list of “10 Things You Can Do to Heal the Earth”. Most of us are informed adults here, and we don’t want or need lectures. But I do want to give you some insight into the thought process behind this post.

ethical James Bond style
If this topic still doesn’t interest you, feel free to stop reading now. We’re not holding you prisoner (cue Evil Laugh)

 

Why, pray tell, are you going on about “ethical James Bond style”?

Iconic Alternatives can a bit of a juggling act. We want to make sure we share the most screen accurate and reasonably priced options possible for those key pieces of Bond-wear we all want. That’s the main purpose of this site. And we also need to make money to keep the site running. Which means using affiliate links for the various brands and manufacturers we include in our posts (you can read more about our affiliate links policy here).

But like many of you, I also care about the world we inhabit and want to make it a better place. And to be completely honest, I know I sometimes link to alternatives from brands that may operate in a way that hurts other people and the environment. So I need to ask myself the question: How can I make sure Iconic Alternatives emphasizes the “good” and minimizes the harm?

I’m working on a plan that will help Iconic Alternatives find an answer to that question. Below are brief descriptions of the first two steps I’ll be taking.

 

Step 1: Start including alternatives from “Positive Impact” brands

What the hell does “positive impact” even mean? I talk more about this later in this post. But, at the most basic level, it means the company or brand treats it’s workers fairly, uses materials, manufacturing and distribution processes that minimize waste and environmental impact, and keeps a close watch on its suppliers to make sure they do the same. The company also makes a quality product that won’t wear out after a couple of cleanings or walks around the park. And it’s transparent about how it does all this.

Whenever I can, I’ll now include a “Best Positive Impact Option” in the posts. These will be sourced from companies that have a proven track record of fair, ethical and environmentally responsible business practices. Of course, “fair and ethical” may not mean the same thing to each of us. Nor will every company check all the “fair/ethical/environmentally responsible” boxes. And they won’t always offer the most “price conscious” alternative. But at least we know these brands trying. I think the least I can do is present them as a viable choice.

 

Okay, that’s nice. But are there really “Positive Impact” alternatives?

Yes. Yes there are. Check out some examples below. They all come from brands that produce great affordable products AND follow practices that help improve the lives of others and/or minimize environmental impact.

 

Komodo Raphael Turtleneck Cashmere Wool Jumper: on sale for €100.00

ethical James Bond style

Looking for an affordable alternative for the N.Peal sweater Bond wore in the SPECTRE finale? This 100% cashmere option from Komodo could do the trick. Aside from their use of organic materials, low impact manufacturing processes and fair treatment of their employees, Komodo also supports several social good projects, mainly in Asia. You can learn more about Komodo here. Sizes small to XL are in stock. I would suggest sizing down for a more fitted look.

 

TenTree Oaken Chinos in Taupe: $64.99

ethical James Bond style

Ignore the pin-roll in the product pic. These chinos are actually a solid color and style match for the Brunello Cucinelli Gabardine Chinos from SPECTRE. Made from 97% organic cotton and 3% spandex, the one thing that may turn people off is that weird pocket on the back of the right leg. But it might be worth trying to get past that when you consider the great work TenTree does. They keep it simple: for every product you purchase, they plant 10 trees. And so far they’ve planted close to 10 million. Read more about the positive impact they’ve had here.

 

Trenery Classic End on End Linen Shirt in Faint Blue: $129.00 AUS (approximately $97.00 U.S.)

ethical James Bond style

How about an alternative for the Orlebar Brown linen shirt Bond wore on the train in Morocco? Trenery’s is 100% French linen and they have sizes x-small to XXXL in stock. On the surface, Trenery looks like just another boutique fashion brand. And then, buried in their “About Us” section, you find their page about Sustainability. Ethical trade, sustainable sourcing of materials, water and energy efficiency, waste reduction, and contributing to social good projects are all key parts of Trenery’s corporate make-up. They just don’t beat you over the head with it.

 

Tom Cridland Classic Navy Chinos: £89.00

ethical James Bond style ethical James Bond style

Hey, they were good enough for 007 himself, Daniel Craig! Tom Cridland stays focused on the quality, longevity and details of his products. As a result, his goal of a “30 year” lifespan for his clothing has received more than a little attention from the international media. Like Trenery, he doesn’t really flaunt his efforts to make a difference. Instead, he builds his commitment to positive social impact and sustainable manufacturing into each product. And then lets the clothes speak for themselves.  His Journal  and “About” page provide more insights into Cridland’s philosophy and projects. The Classic Navy Chinos are currently available by pre-order, with delivery scheduled for October 2016.

 

People Tree Dalton Polo in Navy: on sale for $38.50

ethical James Bond style

Well, if the name alone doesn’t get you buying …. Based only on the design, the Dalton Polo is a nice alternative for the Sunspel Riviera polo. This one is made with 100% organic, certified Fairtrade cotton by a social enterprise in India. And that production strategy is pretty typical for all of People Tree’s products. They were pioneers in the Fair Trade Manufacture certification process and were the first organization to receive Global Organic Textile Standard certification for their supply chain based in developing nations. Learn more about People Tree here.

Those are just a few options I’ve found that meet the criteria of “screen accuate”, “affordable” and “ethical”. If you know of more, please share away in the comments!

 

Step 2: Our “Positive Impact” Page

Very soon, you’ll see a new item in the site’s top menu: Positive Impact. Click on that and you’ll go to a page dedicated to this topic.

Now, if corporate ethics and values still isn’t a subject that interests you, then no problem. Just ignore that page. I want Iconic Alternatives to continue to be an entertaining place where we can find and share cool stuff. And I have no intention of forcing any of my ideas down your throat and killing your fun.

ethical James Bond style
Honestly, I don’t want anyone to ever have this reaction when you’re reading our posts ….

My hope is the Positive Impact page will be a space for dialog. I’m not going to pretend that “ethics and values” is a topic without complexity or grey areas. There’s the question of what “ethical” means in certain contexts. Take John Smedley for example. They manufacture their clothing in the UK from high quality materials they source themselves. So we can be pretty sure their employees are treated fairly and their products will have a long lifespan. Isn’t that “fair and ethical” behavior? Shouldn’t they be considered a “Positive Impact” company? How should we approach this?

Then there’s the concept of “value vs. price” and it’s impact on the environment. Obviously, for many of us, a major obstacle to owning the original clothing Bond wears is the higher initial price. We just can’t afford £145.00 Orlebar Brown swim shorts or a pair of $700.00 Crockett & Jones boots right now. But we also know that, very often, the more expensive option will last longer than the cheaper one. Investing in higher quality (with its higher price) can ultimately reduce waste and offer us more value on a “cost per wear” basis.  So how should Iconic Alternatives balance the immediate affordability of a $30.00 sweater, which may blow apart after ten wears, with the value of a $350.00 N.Peal, which can last for years with proper care?

And of course, there’s the issue of what to do about budget options from brands we know don’t always behave in an “fair and ethical” manner. Do we just stop including alternatives from companies that consistently engage in unethical business practices? Do we use some kind of “Best Practices” rating system for each alternative so you have at least some idea of where it’s coming from and how it was made, leaving the final decision up to you?

So, while the “Positive Impact” page will share information and outline some things I’m working on for the site, what I’m really asking for is your input. Your help to find some answers to these questions. I will leave the comments section on the page open and I will always listen to the suggestions, ideas and criticisms you want to share.

These are just first steps. And they are admittedly pretty small steps. But I truly believe it’s important Iconic Alternatives moves forward conscientiously, thoughtfully and gets this right. Thank you all again for your support!

Iconic Alternatives

The search for classic and affordable menswear, inspired by the style icons of today and yesterday.

5 thoughts on “Affordable and Ethical James Bond Style

  • September 20, 2016 at 2:51 am
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    Well for a starting point on actual pieces, any jumper we consider should be made of natural fibres. Preferably wools or cashmere, the latter can only be harvested by coming out a malting goat and even budget cashmere products ie, marks and Spencer basics cashmere jumper at 49.50 gbp is harvested this way, the cheaper price comes from the the manufacturing process and quantity bought, made in China by the hundreds of thousands, n peal can trace their cashmere from goat to product where m&s can’t so a few hundred quid gets you a product with proven provenance from a fully renewable source but a fifty quid jumper is almost certainly made with heavy industry methods. Any synthetic jumper will also have a dubious manufacture process.

    Reply
  • September 19, 2016 at 7:54 pm
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    I love what you’re doing for your readers! Not enough companies and people do things like this. Most important thing for me is no slave labor and sweatshops. I feel this is the most important thing to keep in mind.

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    • September 19, 2016 at 8:04 pm
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      Thanks for your feedback, John!

      Reply
  • September 19, 2016 at 4:02 pm
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    I totally applaud what your looking at doing here but we have to be careful about things, after all any leather and suede items can be seen as unethical depending on your ideology. If we are talking about companies who have environmental standards and responsible sourcing ethics then that’s fine but I think higher end brands will be more liable to adopt such practices. Personally I swear clear of very budget items, opting instead to hunt for reduced or sale items from more expensive labels. For one they fit me better and 2 they’re better made. Also we need to be careful not to impose our sensibilities on cultures we don’t fully understand, I know by our standards workers in countries who manufacturer clothes for some labels get paid very little but in some cases they are happy for the job and take pride in it too ( I know there are horrific cases too) but let’s just be aware if we all stopped buying certain brands we may make the workers who make their clothes destitute.

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    • September 19, 2016 at 4:24 pm
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      Thanks for the thoughtful reply. And I agree with you: I doubt there will ever be 100% agreement on when a company has done enough (or done too much). Which is why this is so tricky. But I do think we can have some standards to give us a place to start. The two you mention (environmental standards and responsible sourcing ethics) are great examples. I would add safe working conditions for employees as another. If we use those as a baseline then it will be easier to identify companies that are making some effort to go “above and beyond”. All the best!

      Reply

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