There are a growing number of sustainable fashion brands based in Australia.
Together they are helping to bring about positive change in the fashion industry by giving consumers the opportunity to make more ethical and sustainable choices.
The best way you can become more sustainable is to focus on your own behaviour. If you have the intent to do better, you always will.
Buying less, buying better, and making it last, is the simplest approach you can use.
Below are seven brands addressing an important area of sustainable fashion. Hopefully, each will inspire you.
1. The Possibility Project: Using re-purposed and re-cycled materials
The Possibility Project is a Sydney based social enterprise that creates slow fashion through dignified employment projects in Jaipur, India.
Their slow fashion brand, called slumwear108, includes women’s tops, dresses, and jackets made with upcycled saris and rescued fabrics, Indian cottons, and naturally dyed woodblock prints.
All garments are stitched with pride and dignity at either I-India’s vocational training centre, or through a directly sourced manufacturer in Jaipur.
When it comes to sustainable fashion, one way to reduce waste and the use of virgin materials is to recycle and upcycle existing garments. The Possibility Project is making this possible.
2. EKOLUV: Renting and re-selling fashion and accessories
Renting (rather than ownership) has permeated many industry models in recent years, think co-working spaces, Uber, and AirBnB.
It is great to now see rental models emerge as a segment within the sustainable fashion market.
Emily Kate Symes founded EKOLUV out of frustration that she was unable to find a way to shop luxury fashion in a sustainable way.
EKOLUV offers customers the opportunity to buy or rent vintage and second-hand designers products.
They also offer a platform for people to sell their beloved designer pieces – keeping the circular economy in motion.
3. Francie Melbourne: Minimal waste knitwear
If you are serious about being more sustainable with your fashion choices, it helps to look at a business through a triple check - does it consider its footprint on the planet, does it treat its workers with respect and dignity, and does it put its profit back into community.
Francie knitwear is one of our favourite sustainable fashion choices.
Their yarns carry a number of certifications such as BCI (Better Cotton Initiative), OEKOTEX® Standard 100, and Bluesign®, the designs are knitted in one piece on one of the last knit machines in Melbourne.
They supply wholesalers on a made-to-order basis in an attempt to avoid waste. And their accreditation with Ethical Clothing Australia is a guarantee that they uphold the rights of their workers.
4. Lazybones Australia - transparent supply chains
Sustainable fashion brands go to great lengths (and cost) to develop supply chains that reverse the damage production can have on people and planet.
Sustainable and ethical production is at the heart of everything Lazybones Australia does.
Set up in 2000, this company has been a forerunner for many in the sustainability movement.
Working with an incredible GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) fair trade factory in India, Lazybones uses organic and eco fabrics to make their apparel and accessories.
One of their best sellers uses scrap fabric to make excellent hairbands.
Lazybones believes that sustainable actions need to be in the details too, they use minimal compostable packaging, recycled paper, and have a purpose built HQ with solar energy and tank water.
5. Seljak Brand - Closed Loop Recycled Blankets
Seljak Brand was founded by sisters Karina and Samantha Seljak.
They combined their talents to bring circular processes and great design together.
The Seljak Brand manufacture beautiful blankets from offcuts and yarn that were otherwise destined for landfill.
The recycled wool blankets are made out of factory floor offcuts from a minimum of 70% recycled wool and a 30% blend of other fibres and poly for strength.
The best part is that after your blanket has enjoyed a long, adventurous life Seljak will collect it free of charge using a carbon neutral courier service.
Back at the mill, they will shred it and spin it into new yarn to make future blankets. This circular model allows them to divert waste from landfill and create a luxurious and useful blanket for your cosiness.
Closed loop models are the ultimate in sustainability. It puts pressure on the makers to create lasting products that the consumer doesn’t necessarily want to give back!
Hopefully the ‘right to repair’ movement that is gaining traction in Australia will create more incentives for closed loop businesses.
6. Citizen Wolf - the most sustainable T-shirt you can own.
The humble T-shirt has become the ubiquitous symbol of fashions sustainability challenge, being a staple wardrobe piece for billions means that if consumers looked to purchase a more ethical T-shirt, we will go a long way in making positive change.
Citizen Wolf is a Sydney based company that is meeting this challenge through innovation and continuous improvement (kaizen).
They have developed Magic Fit® technology, eliminating waste by making an accurate 96% measurement to craft a custom fit Tee for you.
If it doesn’t exactly fit, they offer free alterations for zero risk.
This zero waste manufacturing process even captures, sorts and upcycles every single milligram of offcut fabric scraps into gorgeous, individually unique products, which can be purchased through their zero waste accessories.
7. Second-Hand is not second best - Op shops, vintage and online second hand
It feels like the human condition needs a crisis before it wakes up to common sense, and the most common sense (and affordable) solution to our fashion crisis is definitely second-hand clothing.
It’s true, the dumping of fast fashion garments into op-shops has made it a little more challenging to find quality and originality, but there are still some amazing treasures out there.
Social media is here to help, start following accounts that curate interesting pieces.
The Wayside Chapel op-shop and organisations like them are an excellent way to buy, you not only buy designer pieces for less but you help communities in need, it’s a win-win when it comes to choosing more sustainable ways of living.
Becoming a sustainable fashion buyer is an invitation to connect with your personal style rather than trends.
As an individual it may feel as if you are not making a difference.
It is important to remember there isn't just one way to do better and that change is made up of small incremental steps.
When we buy something, we signal to the markets what is desired and wanted.
It is why shopping with local brands or small Australian businesses is so important because it builds and sustains a community of positive change.
We need more people like you to take up the challenge and remember, don't let what you can't do stop you from doing what you can.