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by Amelia Petrovich May 10, 2017

Ethical fashion choices have just become easier to make than ever!

Last month, Tearfund New Zealand launched the Ethical Fashion NZ Guide 2017 and changed the conscious clothing scene for good. It’s a New Zealand-specific guide, grading clothing brands on policies, knowing suppliers, supplier auditing and worker empowerment. It means now anyone can pop a guide in their handbag and find out how their favourite brands stack up when they’re out and about. We think it’s sheer, ethical genius!

With a 400% global increase in consumption of clothes over the last 20 years, critiquing the industry is important. According to the Ethical Fashion NZ Guide, the average Bangladeshi garment worker earns just $60NZD a month. In many cases, that’s barely enough to buy even a single item they worked hard to create.

That’s why this week we flicked through the 2017 Ethical Fashion NZ Guide to find a few new Aussie and New Zealand clothing favourites. All of these brands scored within the Tearfund A-range, featuring incredible ingenuity and fantastic designs.

Audrey Blue (Australia, A+)

Ethical Fashion NZ Audrey Blue
Photo: audreyblue.com

Versatile, classic garments for people of all shapes and sizes are what Audrey Blue does best. They’re Fair Trade certified and every piece of clothing is made from organic materials – no synthetic nasties here! Inspired by a lack of accessibly priced clothing for both men and women, Audrey Blue creator Hannah Parris says sustainability and fashion should go hand in hand. We established our label because we believe that to live a truly sustainable life, we need to carry the core principles of environmental responsibility and social justice into every aspect of our lives – including our wardrobe,” she says. 

It’s a brand as body-friendly as it is eco-friendly, with gorgeous wrap dresses and shirts, office wear and leggings. The online store also features ‘Apple’, ‘Pear’ and ‘Ruler’ categories so you can easily shop by body type.

Mighty Good Undies (Australia, A+)

Mighty good undiesMagazine and Netflix subscriptions are all around us, but a monthly subscription for undies? For many, at first it probably doesn’t seem like an ethical fashion success story. However, Mighty Good Undies are nothing short of sustainable, affordable genius. With Audrey Blue’s Hanna Parris as co-founder, Mighty Good creates quality, cotton underwear from “the most ethical and sustainable supply chain they can find.”

By providing a subscription service, Mighty Good aims to create a strong Australian Fairtrade organic cotton brand that engages consumers about how they view, understand and consume cotton. Because if you spend money every month on sustainable, ethical underwear you’re voting with your money for a smarter fashion future. That definitely sounds mighty good to us!

Kowtow (New Zealand, A)

Ethical Fashion NZ Kowtow
Photo: kowtowclothing.com

Our very own mindful fashion label Kowtow has always been a brand turning heads for good reasons. Human rights advocates in an industry powered by slave labour, Kowtow believes an imbalanced world is one that needs fixing. The brand says it’s an imbalance “fuelled by the Wests’ continuing short changing and exploitation of labour markets in the so called third world.” Their answer? Certified organic, fair trade clothing made ethically and sustainably.

Kowtow produce beautiful, fashion-forward clothing that is 100% Certified Cotton, from fair trade producer groups that are democratically run. Their factories support ethical initiatives and donation programs in the farmers’ villages, and all employees benefit from workplace unions. It’s not every day you see stunning clothing produced so compassionately, quite frankly we’re pretty proud.

Liminal Apparel(New Zealand, A)

Ethical Fashion NZ Liminal Apparel
Photo: liminal.org.nz

Rather than selling bags and clothing of their own designs, Liminal Apparel produces 100% organic cotton garments that act as blank canvases. This is a brand supplying ethical t-shirts, bags and hoodies for businesses and individuals to print onto however they like.

What’s more, worker rights initiative Freeset manufactures 95% of their products. This means Liminal Apparel is actively involved in the fair, ethical hiring of women previously trapped in bonded labour and human trafficking. Initiatives like this allow these women to regain control of their lives with a job and the financial means to support themselves. Just like most of the Ethical Fashion NZ Guide’s A-grade brands, Liminal Apparel is fair trade and all-organic.

Saba (Australia, A-)

Ethical Fashion NZ Saba
Photo: @sabastyle

“Superior tailoring” and “modern simplicity” are what Saba does best, boasting a chic clothing line for both men and women. The brand was founded in 1965 and draws inspiration from fashion capitals around the globe with gorgeous results! Saba’s garments are manufactured in small, often family-owned factories in Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Japan and Germany, as well as Melbourne.

Saba positions themselves primarily as a fashion-forward brand, but their progressive policies landed them an impressive A-range grade. The Ethical Fashion NZ Guide also confirms that they know their suppliers personally and audit their factories regularly. It’s impressive, thorough ethical practice and it makes us wonder when other clothing brands are finally going to up their game too.

JAG (Australia, A-)

Ethical Fashion NZ JAG
Photo: jag.com.au

JAG Australia are long-time denim experts “forever mixing old with new, classic with contemporary, the exciting with the functional.” They’re a brand with keen attention to detail (which is important when you’re creating clothes this slick), recently partnering with ISKO mill. ISKO is one of the world’s most sustainable denim mills, committed to eco-friendly materials and garments that last. It’s also currently the only mill in the world with the prestigious Nordic SWAN Ecolabel award.

Just like JAG itself, ISKO values its employees and ensures equal opportunities for all. It’s part of a group that delivers food aid to more than 50,000 families in need each year. This means buying JAG goes further than just a pair of denim jeans, and we think that’s pretty inspiring thinking!

With initiatives like Tearfund making ethical clothing choices more accessible, being a conscious consumer is easier than ever. Challenge yourself this year to by from as many ethical and eco-friendly brands as possible. You’ll look fantastic and, with purchases that help protect and improve the lives of people worldwide, you’ll feel it too!

Amelia Petrovich
Amelia Petrovich


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