As an international student, you probably already know things like how to recycle in Australia, or that you can get a coffee from your favourite cafe in your own reusable cup. But did you know you can also help save the environment by changing where you shop?
What makes a fashion brand sustainable is how it balances the ecological impact of the production and sales of its products. Some things brands can do to be sustainable include using materials that can be produced without having a negative impact on the environment and recycling old materials and cutoffs.
Many sustainable fashion brands also produce products based on pre-sales rather than predicted demand – this is known as ‘slow fashion’.
Here are some of the best sustainable fashion brands in Australia to suit every budget, size, and occasion.
Liandra Swim produces on-trend swimwear infused with Aboriginal culture through signature prints. The brand’s Community Collection prints are hand-drawn and are inspired by the landscape of Milingimbi, in North-East Arnhem Land (Northern Territory).
Apart from celebrating the art of one of the world’s oldest living cultures, Liandra Swim uses fabrics made from regenerated plastics and recycled elastane. Its mailer bags and packaging are also biodegradable.
For your next bikini or long-sleeved swimming top, check out Liandra Swim!
Price range: $75 – $125 (current collection)
Size range: 6 – 16 (AU sizing)
For each collection, Magpie Goose partners with independent Aboriginal artists and art centres to present an ‘exhibition’ of stories on its colourful range of adult and children’s clothes and accessories.
The brand transitioned to Aboriginal ownership and leadership in early 2021. Aboriginal artists are paid a royalty for each metre of fabric Magpie Goose prints, and the brand works with Aboriginal models.
All fabrics used are biodegradable, and Magpie Goose doesn’t use plastic packaging. All garment offcuts are repurposed into baby rompers by the brand’s Sydney manufacturer, or transformed into a range of unique accessories by refugees, asylum seekers, and recently arrived migrants in Melbourne.
For fun, colourful everyday wear that celebrates and uplifts Aboriginal artists, try Magpie Goose!
Price range: $15 – $279
Size range: 6 – 22 (AU sizing)
As seen in our guide to Aussie streetwear brands, Afends is committed to sustainability through its apparel. From unique and biodegradable hemp denim garments and jumpers to using recycled polyester, tree fibres, and organic cotton for its pieces, you know that you’re doing your bit for the environment when you’re buying from Afends.
Aulieude specialises in classic, breezy clothes perfect for the Australian summer.
All collections released to date are made solely from plant-based materials and fabrics, making the brand vegan and plastic-free. These materials and fabrics include linen, tencel (made from sustainably sourced eucalyptus trees), and cupro (a vegan silk alternative). All Aulieude packaging, tags, and garments are 100 per cent biodegradable and recyclable.
Price range: $65 – $320
Size range: 4 – 20 (AU sizing)
CEACEA SWIMWEAR produces activewear that can easily transition from land to water sports. Fabric prints and artwork are purchased from independent artists, and the fabric itself features UPF 50+ sun protection and chlorine resistance.
CEACEA uses an eco-friendly sublimation printing process, which doesn’t use or contaminate water. The brand doesn’t use any plastic and recycles fabric cut-offs to make hair scrunchies and face masks. As a bonus, the brand’s manufacturers are certified as ethical manufacturers, and $1 from every purchase goes to ActionAid Australia, a charity dedicated to fighting for gender equality and social justice for women in Australia and internationally.
Price range: $6 – $110
Size range: XS – XL
Wool and the Gang
It doesn’t get much more sustainable than making your own clothes from sustainable materials, and Wool and the Gang wants to help you do just that.
This brand offers kits including patterns and yarn so you can make your own clothes, bags, and accessories in the bright colours of your choosing! Whether you want to try knitting, crochet, macrame, embroidery, or cross-stitch, Wool and the Gang offers patterns from beginner to advanced levels.
The brand also sources sustainable yarns; 63 per cent of its yarns are biodegradable, and 32 per cent of its yarns are upcycled or recycled. 100 per cent of the brand’s dye suppliers are Reach or Oekotex certified.
Price range: Kits range from $21 – $339
Size range: 6 – 28 (AU sizing)
Sustainability in fashion isn’t just about environmental impact – it can also be about the sustainability of jobs. YEVU is a for-profit social enterprise founded by Australian, Anna Robertson, which aims to empower women in Ghana through sustainable and fair employment opportunities.
YEVU’s garments, which always feature the most colourful and vibrant prints, are designed in Australia and Ghana. The clothes are then made in Ghana with fabrics sourced in Ghana.
80 per cent of YEVU’s workforce are women, one-third are single mums, and all of YEVU’s employees earn above the Ghanian living wage.
YEVU has also partnered with the Australian social enterprise Avenue for its e-commerce needs. Avenue is a co-working space that supports people of all abilities, regardless of their support needs. YEVU also partnered with The COVA Project to provide sustainable menstrual hygiene solutions and education on personal health and development to disadvantaged girls and women in Accra, Ghana’s capital city.
Price range: $25 – $280
Size range: XS – XXXL
Phurgus specialises in faux-fur outerwear in colours ranging from caramel to pink.
This brand makes an effort to be sustainable by avoiding animal fur and focusing on limited-editions and small drop collections to minimise product and fabric waste.
Price range: $400 (current collection)
Size range: One size designed to fit AU sizes 6-14
THE ICONIC’s Considered Edit
Online Australian retailer THE ICONIC now features a ‘Considered’ category. Products in this category are made using at least one material or process that is better for humans, animals, or the environment than conventional methods, or are from a brand that’s making contributions to a community.