Conscious shoppers have more choice than ever these days. There are plenty of local Melbourne makers who source locally, manufacture ethically and ensure they follow the supply chain from stitch to sale.
Here are a few of the best places to buy sustainable fashion without compromising on style.
Elk is a local brand that has always embraced slow fashion – particularly with a focus on sustainability. Their mission is to design and manufacture well-considered, environmentally conscious products using an ethical supply chain and keeps animal welfare and the environment in mind. They have even delivered their own Transparency Report, aiming to better communicate their sustainability goals and efforts to customers. But beyond all of this is a unique fashion brand, known for their simple silhouettes, quirky accessories and easy-to-wear pieces.
Finders Keepers Market
This October, head to the three-day pop-up Finders Keepers Markets to browse over 270 independent art and design stalls in the heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens. They aim to support small local makers and ‘conscious shopping’, pulling people away from fast fashion brands and towards independent designers. Often the stalls allow artisans to show their slow-fashion wares, much of them made right here in Melbourne by the hands that are selling them to you.
Otto and Spike
This fun Melbourne knitwear brand is manufactured ethically and sustainably in a Brunswick East factory. Their products are made from 100% Australian wool, often using large amounts of leftover and surplus wools to reduce industry wastage. They are also endorsed by Ethical Clothing Australia, an accreditation program which ensures that their supply chains are fully transparent and legally compliant – so you know you’re onto an ethical winner when you pick up a cosy, brightly coloured scarf with these guys. Find them stocked at Melbournalia and Parliament Victoria Gift Shop.
Established in 2008 by designer Kristy Barber, Kuwaii is one of the first Melbourne brands you think of when it comes to ethical and sustainable makers. This is a brand that goes above and beyond – from supporting one of the last remaining Australian footwear factories to make their trademark platforms, through to launching their first collection made entirely from sustainable fibres in 2018. They even have a commitment to environmentally friendly packaging, with their online store sending out fully compostable packaging. Their clothes on the other hand? The brand is a firm favourite at fashion week, with their eye-catching use of colour and pattern sure to win over any willing crowd.
If you’re looking for denim this spring, start with Justice Denim. Not only do they manufacture with a special water-reducing process called ‘eco-save’, but they’re also part of the Better Cotton Initiative, which works towards improving the environmental and social impacts of cotton production. However, the most important aspect of this denim brand is the ‘justice’ part. Every pair of Justice jeans you buy will deliver four weeks of life-changing education for a young child who has been rescued from child slavery, in partnership with their favoured non-for-profit organisations, Project Futures and Destiny Rescue. Find your new favourite pair of jeans, with a side of that warm fuzzy feeling, at Design a Space.
Husk is certainly a go-to in Carlton when it comes to stylish clothing and accessories – but did you know that they stock ethical and sustainable brands like Citizens of Humanity and Deadly Ponies? If it’s jewellery that you’re after, look for Alchemilla amongst the Husk shelves. Their beautiful designs are dedicated to sustainable and conscious business practices. Not only do they use recycled supplies, materials and packaging whenever possible, but also limit their use of stones, crystals and fine metals due to the environmental hazards caused by mining. Find them in Carlton and Collins Street.
Obviously, vintage clothing is a great alternative to new if you’re looking for sustainable fashion options. Not only does it save on waste, but it also prevents human and animal exploitation, encourages creativity and usually costs less.
Give your look a rock’n’roll edge with a trip to Retrostar Vintage Clothing in the ever-eclectic Nicholas Building on Swanston Street. Their huge array of apparel is divided into sections ranging from the 1940s to 1990s. Find everything from vintage afternoon tea dresses to over 500 original vintage t-shirts.
A Royal Arcade institution, Hunter Gatherer handpicks stylish finds from Brotherhood of St Lawrence op shops across Victoria. Staff are known for having a great eye for a colourful print and unique cut across frocks, blouses, skirts, handbags, coats and more. They also stock local artisan jewellery and upcycled vintage items by The Cat’s Pajamas and Lydra’s clutch purses.
Cherry-pick that one-off accessory, track down a streetwear classic or dig up a designer find at Vintage Sole. Span the style decades from the 1960s to the 1990s and rummage through the men’s and women’s racks for everything from dresses, skirts and overalls, to outerwear, knitwear and shoes. There’s bags, scarves, jewellery and more.