Make Your Style more Sustainable with Melbourne’s Favourite Ethical Brands

Posted on 26 March 2019

Make Your Style more Sustainable with Melbourne’s Favourite Ethical Brands

Feeling good in your clothes is about more than wearing nice fabric. Sure, when it comes to the materials that make our apparel, quality is paramount. But so is the way in which said garment or accessory was made, and what impact its creation had on the environment and the people who made it. No one is denying the value of looking good in what you wear. But it’s become impossible to deny the importance of investing in a wardrobe that prioritises both style and sustainability in equal measure.  It’s easy to forget while browsing the latest drops from your favourite brands, but the fashion industry is one of the world’s largest polluters, second only to the oil industry. And though the temporary satisfaction felt post-impulse purchase might deliver fleeting bliss, buying without thinking can often lead to the accidental support of unethical practices. One of the main criticisms of today’s apparel industry is that most of our clothes are made in countries in which workers’ rights are limited or non-existent. Then, of course, there are the countless negative environmental impacts, such as water pollution, soil degradation, the use of toxic chemicals, waste accumulation and greenhouse gas emissions, to name only a few.

Image via @citizen_wolf

There’s nothing wrong with adding to your current wardrobe, but it’s best to consider the brand’s ethics pre-purchase—especially once you realise it takes 7,600 litres of water to make your favourite pair of jeans alone. Thankfully, more consumers are becoming aware of the questionable behaviour of some businesses within the industry, fueling the interest in, and rise of, slower and more sustainable fashion. As buyers have begun to seriously query where their clothes are coming from, a greater number of brands are becoming more transparent, with many Australian makers at the forefront of sustainable innovation.  If you’re looking to make your style more sustainable this year but don’t know where to start—it is, after all, a fast fashion jungle out there—we’ve done some ground work for you. Keep reading for six of our favourite ethical brands, available to shop in Melbourne and online.

Theo the Label

Image via @theothelabel

Put simply, Theo the Label is an independent Australian clothing label that is seriously focused on sustainability. Aware of the fact that many systems within fashion are not particularly pretty, and driven by her determination to do things differently, the brand’s founder Esther Kirwin believes in the continual development of systems and processes that produce clothing that is good for people, the planet, and our purposes. To do so, Kirwin works one-on-one with super skilled garment makers to produce small runs of sustainable pieces—sometimes as few as 5 of one style at a time. Not 5 in each size, not 5 in each colour—a grand total of 5. It’s unheard of we know, but we kind of love it. In the words of the founder herself: Theo clothing is designed to be loved and to be worn to death so that it doesn’t end up ‘out of fashion’ and in landfill after 2 wears. We give this brand bonus points for opting to use all natural fabrics, to ensure that microfibres don’t end up in the ocean with the rest of the world’s plastic. Theo the Label; we salute you.

Citizen Wolf

Image via @citizen_wolf

The Citizen Wolf vision is simple: to shift the global fashion industry away from mass-production and towards mass-tailoring. Driven by their desire to promote a healthier relationship between the individual and the clothes they wear, Citizen Wolf have become known for their quality t-shirts, custom made to order in Australia. The designs are characterised by their simplicity and sophistication, crafted from fabrics sourced Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) accredited mills which are regularly audited to ensure zero labour exploitation. At Citizen Wolf zero-waste is one of the brand’s non-negotiables, which is why all garments ordered are also made on demand, to ensure that no unsold inventory ends up in landfill.


Image via @fluxmelbourne

A cult favourite among locals, FLUX is a Melbourne based menswear label who’ve been making denim & tees for Australian men since 1999. Having met at Melbourne punk gigs in the 1980’s, creators of FLUX, Julian & Denis grew a strong friendship which eventually led to the brand’s inception. Backed by their extensive backgrounds in art and design, the brand’s creators apply attention-to-detail in all that they create. The best part? Each garment made by FLUX is manufactured in Melbourne; supporting the local rag trade from sketch to stitch.


Image via @veja

VEJA decided to make sneakers because they are a symbol of our generation, and of our era. In words of the founders themselves, they are also a product that crystallizes the major issues of globalization through their production, dissemination, and usage. But VEJA do not merely make sneakers, they’ve added serious momentum to the sustainability movement. The idea is simple: to stand up with one foot in design and the other in social responsibility. Each pair of shoes created by the brand is first carefully designed to stand the test of time, with only 19 styles brought into being since the company’s launch. Restoring balance in global trade is, for the business, a core component of their philosophy, with fair trade acting as one of the three fundamental pillars that the brand is built on. As referenced (with honest transparency) on their website, VEJA sneakers have also always been made in the same location: the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. Over time, a real partnership has developed between the brand and the assembly plant. Why Brazil? The country couples robust industries with high added social value, which supports VEJA’s commitment to manufacturing sneakers with a difference, in a way that the brand (and the wearer) can be proud of.

Organic Basics

Image via @organicbasics

In the words of the brand themselves: the fashion industry is a real dirty bastard. Fortunately, Organic Basics have found a better way of doing things. Created in 2015, this Copenhagen based clothing company is in the business of creating sustainable and better-made basics, for the men and women who want to slip into something more comfortable with a clear conscience. With sustainability at the core of their philosophy, Organic Basics use better fabrics to create longer lasting underwear, t-shirts and socks—because your essentials should be well made, not worn out after a handful of wears. Personally, we 100% support the Organic Basics mission to lead the way on sustainable, better-made basics, and we have a feeling you might too.

Will & Bear

Image via @willandbear

One of Australia’s most-loved, high quality hat brands, Will & Bear are committed to pushing the boundaries of sustainability with every accessory they make. Launched 4 short years ago, whilst founders Alex and Loz were travelling the country in a vintage Kombi, Will & Bear was very much inspired by nature, an influence that remains present in each and every piece crafted by the brand. By using 100% natural materials, and planting 10 trees for every hat sold, this authentic accessories label are also committed to giving back to their community. In the words of the founders themselves, Will & Bear is an inclusive community made up of adventure seekers, conscious shoppers and barefoot wanderers.

By Kathryn Carter

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