An Oxford-based textile printing company which created the iconic Oxford University varsity t-shirts is celebrating 35 years of buisness, as it aims to bring ethical practices to forefront of the industry.

Established back in 1986, Shirtworks are the creators of the Oxford university t-shirt and was also the very first printing company to introduce the now iconic ‘varsity’ style to the UK market.

Varsity-style apparel is now sold to students and tourists in nearly every town in the country.

During its 35 year history, Shirtworks has adapted to meet the challenges of the modern, ‘fast fashion’ age.

Arron Harnden, managing director of Shirtworks, said: “It's hard to believe, but the fashion industry is now the world’s second largest polluter, second only to the oil industry. So we are always looking at ways we can reduce our impact on the environment.

“From a people perspective, we’ve signed the Living Wage pledge to ensure that all our employees are paid fairly, we’ve also committed to both Fair Trade and Fair Wear so we can guarantee that all our garments are made by people who are treated fairly.”

‘Fast fashion’ is described as cheap, trendy clothes which a person will wear just a handful of times before throwing away.

Mr Harnden said: “Back in the 80s, globalisation was sold to us as a win-win for everyone. One look at the fashion industry today and it’s clear to see something has gone drastically wrong.

“As producers of ethical fashion, we aim to pay workers a fair wage for a fair day's work in a clean, safe and dignified job. As well as considering the impact on the local environment when farming, producing and shipping clothing.

The brand utilises a sustainable production system and water-based inks to avoid the use of PVC - oil based inks - which are harmful to the environment.

He added: “Shirtworks is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This certification sets high standards throughout the supply chain for both ecology and labour conditions in textile and apparel manufacturing using organically produced raw materials.

“Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic, persistent pesticides and fertilisers. A recent study showed that 61% of non-organic cotton pickers show direct health effects from pesticides during picking season.

“We have to move away from fast fashion, it’s damaging to people and the planet, there are viable and lucrative alternatives out there, we need to fix this industry now and turn it into a positive force for good.”