There’s never been a better time to reconcile your style with a sense of social and environmental responsibility. Here are nine of our favourite labels doing it right.
Being eco-conscious is the new black, right? As the pitfalls of "fast fashion" become more evident, ethical fashion is emerging as a high priority for consumers. Here are our favourite designers coming to the table with their sustainable and ethically sound clothing labels.
Beloved by eco-conscious consumers and praised by industry peers as a pioneer in eco fashion, designer Kellie Donovan and photographer Sean Whatson have been trailblazing the ethical fashion path since 2007. Fusing sustainable and high-end design, Pure Pod have a strong commitment to ethical manufacturing and sourcing – they are certified by Fair Trade and use certified organic cotton recognised by The Global Organic Textile Standard, which defines high level environmental criteria along the entire supply chain.
At just 28 years old, Steph Gabriel is the founder of the environmentally friendly swimwear line made entirely from recycled plastics and old fishing nets. Starting out with only $5000 in the bank, Steph launched Ocean Zen while studying and working two jobs - and it didn’t take long for the label to find a dedicated following on Instagram (she currently has over 21k followers). Three years later, the designer has been approached by Sir Richard Branson’s entrepreneurial program, and is currently crowdfunding her label.
Etiko began 12 years ago with Nick Savaidis' search for sports apparell that wasn't made using child labour. When his search proved fruitless, he knew it was time to offer consumers an alternative and Etiko was born. Etiko sneakers are a step in the right direction and tick all the social responsibility boxes – their range is organic, biodegradable and vegan, and come from a supply chain free of sweatshops, child and slave labour.
Despite being renowned for leading the ethical fashion charge since 2000, international brand Eileen Fisher is quick to admit that despite their already commendable eco practices, they still don’t have it all figured out. But they’re committed to finding the solution to create a truly responsible supply chain from the field to the factory to landfill. Eileen Fisher's Vision 2020 is an ambitious initiative that pledges to hit benchmarks such as being carbon positive and using 100 percent organic cotton and linen by 2020.
The jewellery industry is just as dirty as fashion in terms of environmental pollutants. Spurred on by a need to devise solutions for a resilient and sustainable label, Katey Johnston started Eco Bling – a planet-friendly line of accessories made from upcycled materials. All their handcrafted pieces are Australian made, they give back to a whole host of not-for-profits and they plant a tree for every piece sold.
Ginger and Smart
Aussie cult favourite Ginger and Smart is proving that ethical clothing can be commercially successful. Known for their bold prints and using natural fabrics such as cashmere, silk and fine cotton, Ginger and Smart has recently been accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, with a dedication to using more eco-friendly fabric options and opting for sustainable fibers. The sisters have also used natural dying techniques using blueberries and roses for their new season range, recycled polyester and Econyl (a fiber made from abandoned fishing nets) and are in the process of switching to organic over conventionally grown cotton.
Outerknown was started by a group of surfers - including 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater - who wanted to design casual menswear with a manufacturing process that respected the planet. Using nylon waste to make trunks and jackets and sourcing 100% ethical organic cotton, this brand is also committed to safe environments and fair compensation with a transparent supply chain.
They may be a wardrobe staple, but jeans are linked to all kinds of unethical manufacturing habits – from intensive water use, pesticides, and toxic run-off poisoning rivers. Happily, the company that invented the blue jean is now a leader in the sustainable fashion space. Levi Strauss was one of the first companies in denim to establish a restricted substance list, have invested in renewable energies, reduced water in manufacturing, pledged to use 100% sustainable cotton and aim to eliminate discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020.
For more insights into the fashion industry, don't miss Future Fashion on Lifestyle YOU, July 11, 9:30pm.