The global fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions — more than the emissions of all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Annually, the fashion industry contributes 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, so it’s safe to say more needs to be done to reduce this figure, and yesterday.
While there’s still a ways to go to drastically reduce the impact fashion has on the environment, the good news is there are a collection of brands already working towards a more sustainable earth.
Below, we’ve collated a bunch of stylish labels, both Australian and international, doing just that in their own ways.
This is a list we’ll be updating regularly as come across new brands doing awesome things for the environment, so check in regularly or slide into our DMs on Instagram if you have any others to recommend.
Sean Satha, founder of Aussie eyewear label Local Supply is determined to see the fashion industry and its wasteful nature through a different lens. Putting the environment first always, the label is doing better by using plant-based materials to produce its frames and is also using custom production methods that minimise waste and carbon emissions.
Further to those efforts, the brand is committed to designed and producing frames that somehow manage to straddle the trends of today whilst still embodying the timeless silhouettes that stand the test of time and outlive fleeting fashion trends.
“Traditional eyewear production is extremely labour and material intensive, with over 90% of raw material ending up as (non-recyclable, non-bio-degradable) scrap on the factory floor,” Satha says.
“Our latest range represents a huge step forward in terms of sustainability, design and innovation. By implementing zero-waste production processes, we’ve been able to minimise our environmental impact by using a sustainable Swiss-made plant-based resin throughout our entire new range, while still keeping our starting price under $100.”
By using this plant-based alternative, Local Supply’s carbon emissions are reduced by 50% when compared with the crude-oil based plastics used in other eyewear frames.
New Zealand label Marle breathes new life into luxurious and sustainable fabrics cashmere, silk, mohair, linen, cotton and hemp, to create timeless basics and an everyday uniform for the modern woman.
Designing around a colour palette of neutral earthy tones and simple silhouettes, the brand’s focus on creating lifelong pieces that transcend the trends is just one part of its sustainability values.
Founder Juliet Souter believes sustainability is a journey and is always evolving her business to do right by the environment and its people. Marle uses no single-use and multiple-use plastic, designs with only natural fibres using a safe and minimised use of chemicals, and ensures fair working conditions for each person throughout the supply chain.
Friends with Frank
Melbourne label Friends with Frank celebrates high-quality craftsmanship and luxurious fabrics in its collections. Each piece, whether one of the brand’s signature wool coats or the new ribbed dress from the spring capsule collection, is designed to complement the existing pieces in a woman’s closet and stand the test of time against passing trends.
Where possible, the label prioritises high-quality, natural textiles like Australian wool, cashmere, duck down and by-product fur, which are both warm and durable, but will also biodegrade over time.
Friends with Frank also created limited runs of its collections to avoid waste, works closely with trusted, family-run manufacturers that stand for creating a safe and respectful working environment, and uses recyclable cardboard boxes with recyclable water-activated kraft paper tape to send all customer orders. You can read more about Friends with Frank’s ethos here.
While Slowe isn’t a fashion brand, it’s e-tailer offering a curated selection of sustainably and ethically made mens and womens clothes.
In recognising the value of each product, the site doesn’t offer any discounts and doesn’t overstock or ‘kill’ any of its offering. Each brand showcased on the site is first assessed on its practices and sustainable attributes. Brands include Afends, Jordan and Marle.
Sydney designer Gary Bigeni has launched its Repurposed Capsule Collection. By hand tie-dying archived stock, the young designer is breathing new life into legacy pieces from collections past.
From balloon-sleeved tops and dresses to tailored pants, skirts and shorts, the Repurposed collection adds a pop of colour to any wardrobe while ensuring no two pieces are the same.
Upon order, each piece from the collection is then hand-dyed to order by a local artisan and takes two weeks to complete. The move to slow fashion in made-to-order quantities is one way this label is doing things differently.
Australian eyewear label Le Specs has launched its environmentally conscious ‘Le Sustain’ collection, which features a range of affordable and stylish frames that are composed of 77% recycled plastic and 23% meadow grass.
There are three frames in the launch drop, each with punny names: Grassy Knoll, Grass Band, and Grass Half Full. As part of the collection, Le Specs has ensured that every part of the product experience is sustainable — not only the products themselves.
“Focusing on every detail, every pair of Le Sustain sunglasses are packaged with zero waste componentry including a recycled jersey pouch, recycled cardboard box and frame tag, eliminating all polybags and excess packaging,” the brand says.
Shop the ‘Le Sustain’ collection online now.
Founded in Australia, Boody brings together a collection of sustainable everyday basics, underwear, sleepwear, loungewear and activewear, for both men and women. The label prioritises sustainability at every step of the customer journey and uses a signature fabric of organically grown bamboo, chosen for its wearable and environmental benefits.
Easy on the skin (and the eyes) the Boody bamboo range does the body a favour by wicking away sweat and regulating temperature. Environment-wise, bamboo requires only 10% of the water needed to grow cotton and generates 30% more oxygen than an equivalent area of trees.
“Everything we make is certified cruelty-free and comes from ethical supply chains, so you can be confident in your choices. We believe in refining rather than reinventing the design of our clothing, creating timeless, versatile looks to be worn again and again,” says Boody on its site.
Boody is also loved by celebs, with A-list fans including Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Emma Watson.
Reebok‘s move towards sustainability in sportswear is seeing the active brand drop a new REEcycled collection of trainers and apparel over July and August, 2020. The REEcycled collection of seven signature shoe silhouettes has had an eco-friendly upgrade and have been reconstructed with recycled materials — shoes in the range are now made with at least 50% recycled materials while apparel is constructed with at least 40% recycled materials.
“All plastics should get to live more than one life. To be morphed and repurposed. To become something unexpected. We’re committed to switching up the game and turning plastics into shirts, shoes and more,” Reebok says.
The Everlane promise is “exceptional quality, ethical factories and radical transparency”, and this ethos informs all products they design. The brand works only with the best, most ethical factories around the world and source the finest materials that are guaranteed to last, which is a way of sustainable dressing in itself.
The brand caters not to fast fashion dressers with fleeting trends, but for men and women who want to build a wardrobe of wearable staples built to last. Most recently, Everlane has launched its ReNew range; a collection of underwear, jumpers and outerwear made from either 100% regenerated nylon, recycled plastic water bottles, or recycled polyester.
Converse has borrowed Nike’s Crater Foam for the base of its latest shoe, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Crater. The classic silhouette of Converse’s most beloved shoe is maintained in the collaboration, but takes cues from Nike’s recent and very popular Space Hippie range.
In addition to the sustainable sole, the shoe also features a new lacing system and fabric uppers from recycled polyester and recycled post-industrial textile waste scraps. All in all, it’s made with at least 40% recycled content, making it one of Converse’s most sustainable sneakers ever.
The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Crater is available to purchase from July 23 from the Converse site.
Founder Phoebe Yu, a long-time lover of bamboo for its versatility and elegance, began the Ettitude brand after failing to find an affordable, breathable and luxurious textile while shopping for bedding. With sustainability at the forefront, she created the world’s first CleanBamboo™ fabric, which now makes up her collection of bedding, baby wears, and chic sleepwear.
“Our bamboo is 100% sourced from FSC-certified forests as we don’t tolerate any exploitation of resource under our brand. We also are in close relationships with our manufacturing partner to make sure all our products are ethically made,” she says.
Yu puts the climate first in every application of her brand, by using fabric cut-offs for packaging, and supporting like-minded charities and initiatives with shared values. Of all revenue made on organic bamboo lyocell bedding products, 1% is donated to support environmental non-profit organisations. Ettitude also supports One Girl, a non-profit organisation that supports education for girls in Sierra Leone and Uganda.
With a focus on transparency, VEJA “combines fair trade and ecology and links together economy, social initiatives and the environment.” You’ll find Veja sneakers at major Australian retailers since the French brand’s vegan shoes are now a staple with their classic look and comfortable fit.
The cute crustaceans featured on Prawn Cocktail‘s handbags are all individually designed and hand-painted by artist Beatrix Rowe. Every single bag listed on the site is sourced second-hand from op-shops around the world, so when you purchase an accessory from Prawn Cocktail, you’re supporting both sustainable fashion and the arts industry. Want a custom design on your bag? Easy, just get in touch to discuss your needs.
Short for essentials, Essen is a Melbourne-based brand that works to combat the impact of fast fashion with sustainably-made shoe silhouettes that transcend trends and last a lifetime. At the time of writing the label has just eight designs available, each of which is hand-crafted in solar-powered family-run factories in Europe in small batches of around 25, which ensures you’re unlikely to see another fashion girl donning the same shoe. As an owner of the Elevated Essential myself, I can attest to the fact the shoes are suited to every outfit and garner new compliments with each wear.
Since it was first created in 2015, Nimble has recycled 828,990 plastic water bottles into the custom-engineered fabrics that make up its activewear ranges. Nimble’s products are also shipped in compostable poly bags made from corn, while the garment’s swing tags made from recycled PET and organic cotton. Even better, they’ve donated $36,562 to protecting Australian reefs and restoring our lands.
Women’s clothing from Reformation takes into consideration the water input, energy input, land use, eco-toxicity, and greenhouse gas emissions when producing their trend-based pieces. Ref garments are made durable and are designed to last with environmentally-friendly materials that include tencel from eucalyptus trees, viscose from wood pulp (from preserved forests), and recycled cashmere.
The KITX promise towards sustainability efforts begins with its sourcing of materials and extends beyond the moment the buyer receives their items with aftercare instructions that prolong the life of the garment. Traceability is key to the label, and they’ll only opt for materials that are certified organic or made from renewable, natural and recycled fibres from fair trade suppliers they deem “adhere to globally recognised social and environmental standards”.
The Iconic: Considered
The Considered edit from online fashion platform The Iconic consists of products the retailer says are “made using a material or process that is better for humans, animals or the environment, or made by a brand that is positively contributing to the community around us”. Whether it’s clothes that are made from low-impact materials, have eco-production credentials, or are made from non-animal alternatives, the Considered range takes into account the impact fast fashion has and is working to combat this in as many ways as possible.
Slow fashion is at the core of the Saroka brand, founded by Melbourne designer Melinda Andaloro in 2015. The label hand-makes each garment upon order to eliminate fabric and stock waste and employs only Melbourne dressmakers to craft the pieces with premium fabrics like biodegradable linen and hand-sewn finishes.
Through sustainably focused collections and artisan initiatives, NAGNATA “aims to redefine value and challenge the rampant consumerism engendered by fast fashion”. The Byron Bay-based label uses only certified organic cotton free from synthetic pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fertilisers, which also makes for a more breathable fabric for workout wear. What’s more, you’ll never see Nagnata garments on sale — the brand does not believe clothes lose value at the end of a three-month cycle.