The Future of Ethical and Sustainable Clothing & Fashion
With Melbourne Fashion Festival done and dusted for another year, it’s the perfect opportunity to look back, reflect and maybe discover some new favourite labels. Much of this year’s festival took place online, but it was great to see the events that did happen had an element of sustainability to them. Below, I’ve listed my favourite brands from MFF who are leading the way in sustainability. While many of them are already big names in the Melbourne fashion industry, it may come as a surprise that they are embracing sustainability and making it an important part of their core values.
This year, Melbourne Fashion Festival standouts Viktoria & Woods featured a curated collection of relaxed denim and cosy knits interlaced with bold zebra stripes, against the backdrop of the State Library of Victoria. As an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited company, a majority of Viktoria and & Woods’ garments are made right here in Melbourne.
“Creating a conscious brand has always been at the heart of Viktoria & Woods,” says founder Margie Woods. “We have a responsibility to maintain a passion and interest in creating sustainable products, as a direct response to what our customers are searching for. Wherever possible, we source textiles that are high quality, planet friendly and trace our natural material to their source.” This material tracing features on each garment webpage, giving an insight into their fabrics with certified organic cotton and bamboo blend making up that majority offering.
With a huge selection of timeless, yet innovative styles coupled with a commitment to improving sustainable practices, it will be exciting to see Viktoria & Woods next collection at MFF.
This independent fashion label takes a unique approach to fashion, aiming to minimise its fashion footprint by placing a huge focus on circularity. Their commitment to only designing clothing that can be composted or recycled at the end of its life has been driven by years of research. A.BCH dedication to creating a sustainable alternative shows in their ECA certification and Global Organic Textile Standard certified garments that suit every gender and body shape.
Proudly made in Australia, Bianca Spender has been at the forefront of Australian fashion since 2009, with each runway seeing her label go from strength to strength. Offering luxe workwear, sophisticated construction and empowering garments, Bianca Spender is also dedicated to keeping her supply chain sustainable with a focus on energy consumption, worker welfare, and environmental impacts.
Launched to help break down the negative stigma of homelessness and life on the streets, HoMie stands for Homelessness of Melbourne incorporated enterprise. 100% of their profits go towards supporting youth affected by homelessness or hardship. HoMie helps to better prepare them for their future by equipping them with the skills and confidence to be work-ready. Their Melbourne Fashion Festival Reborn collection with Nobody Denim aimed to divert pre and post-consumer waste as well as factory seconds into one-off pieces with new beginnings.
Truly one of my favourite denim brands. Nobody Denim values ethical, Australian manufacturing, with their factory in Thornbury and Laundry in Fitzroy both true testimonials to this. Their ECA accredited designs as well as their partnership with FibreTrace, ensures that each collection is evolving and considers new technologies.
Championing new wave thinking and rejecting the notion that suits are only meant for boys, E Nolan is bringing back women’s tailoring. Emily Nolan started her made-to-measure suits as an antidote to waste in the fashion industry, with the view to provide better quality products in lieu of fast fashion offerings. What I love about E Nolan’s suits is the way they are shattering the view of outdated, stuffy office wear and bringing back a more in-touch way of dressing. Creating a uniform of sorts that can help bring confidence to even the shyest person.
Another of my favourite brands is Arnsdorf. Their commitment to transparency is so strong that they outline the cost of each garment on their website. From labour to logistics, each step is given a monetary value so you can understand what you are paying for. Manufactured in Collingwood, Melbourne, ECA accredited AND a B Corporation means that Arnsdorf is on top of its game in the sustainability world. Arnsdorf’s Fitzroy boutique also provides a tailoring service, helping you to build a long-term relationship with your clothing.
One of the most well-known names in the Australian fashion industry, the late Carla Zampatti dressed stars such as Delta Goodrem and Miranda Kerr. As an ECA accredited designer, Zampatti supported the local Australian industry, as her brand continues to do. With classic cuts and a focus on impeccable tailoring, Zampatti designs are made to be a staple in any women’s wardrobe.
With collections such as Heirloom and Fortune Teller, Kalaurie’s pieces instantly transport you to eras gone by. Kalaurie Karl-Crooks’ dreamy garments are all made-to-order in Melbourne and designed to be treasured by future generations. One of Kalaurie’s core values is reducing waste. Their collections consist of mainly biodegradable and deadstock fabrics (fabrics no longer needed by other brands or factories), and Corozo nut buttons. Defying the traditional speed of fast fashion manufacture, Kalaurie instead produces at a slower, considered speed with their designs taking around 7 to 21 days depending on the garment. This is done to ensure a piece that will be cherished for years to come.
“The concept of Kuwaii has always been the same, and it was as clear when we started in 2008 as it is now; to provide an inimitable alternative to trend-driven, mass-produced fashion,” says designer, Kristy Barber.
Her Melbourne-made label, Kuwaii, has done just that. Their stand-out styles can be spotted on nearly everybody in the Melbourne landscape, as they truly do suit every body shape!
Not only do they focus on timeless styles made from quality fabrics, Kuwaii also cares for their garments after they leave the store with their care guide and mending services. They offer life-long repairs on any Kuwaii piece and have also started an in-store recycling service for your unwanted pieces. These extra services have built Kuwaii a strong following of more sustainably-minded consumers.
With key players like these leading the way for sustainability in fashion, I can’t wait to see what the 2022 MFF will bring!
By Jenna Flood
ASI Sustainable Stylist
Jenna studied her Masters Certificate of Professional Styling with Australian Style Institute and is now a Personal and Editorial Stylist based in Melbourne. Interested in sustainable fashion? You can find more of Jenna’s articles here.