Looking for ethically made underwear is no longer a reason to get your knickers in a knot. From sourcing organic cotton, to environmentally friendly packaging – these brands know the ins and outs of their supply chain intimately. And they’ve taken the care to ensure that the goods are benefiting both you and their makers. Here’s my picks for Australia’s best ethically made underwear.
Brisbane’s NICO Underwear is the longest standing maker of undergarments to certified by Ethical Clothing Australia. The brand’s underwear, socks and bras are made from recycled cotton and nylon, as well as Lenzing Model – a super high-quality, botanic fibre made from beechwood trees. The result is an incredibly soft and comfortable product that’s good for the environment too. NICO is super transparent and has extensive information about its manufacturing process and where its products are made on its website (some of which are made in Australia).
This brand’s motto is that “Your undies should not cost less than your latte”, and they’re damn right about that. Their collection of black, white and grey underwear in g-string, brief, boyleg and mens trunks is made from organic and Fairtrade cotton and available in packs of 1, 2 or 7. You can also order a subscription and let them know how often you’d like them delivered. Damn good, bloody good, damn good jocks.
The pair behind this Melbourne label had a vision to create undergarments that doubled as sleepwear and swimwear too. And so they did. Bimby and Roy is their range of bralettes and bottoms in pretty and plain prints that can be worn around the clock. They’re all ethically made in the first solar-powered factory in Fiji.
Love comfy jocks that don’t get stuck up your butt? This is your brand. The underwear is ethically made in New Zealand from organic and Fairtrade cotton, in the classic Thunderpants full-brief style. But the prints are the fun part – with everything from the original flower power, to bananas, mushrooms, rockets and whales. There’s plain-ish ones too.
This brand’s commitment to organic cotton and regenerated nylon is a win for the environment and a win for the wearer. That’s right, natural fibres aren’t just friendly on the skin, but they break down easily when they’re returned to land fill. Organic cotton also eliminates the use of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Organisms that are emitted by the conventional cotton trade. The collection is mostly high-waisted briefs and g strings, all edging on the cheeky side. That thong thong thong thong thong.
Melbourne makers HARA opt for sustainably sourced bamboo for their underwear. The intimates range includes briefs, bras and g-strings, in a number of fun and bright colours. HARA’s products are all naturally dyed, cut, sewn, packaged and shipped from the brand’s home town, where the brand abides by Australia’s industry awards to ensure employees are treated fairly and have safe working conditions. HARA has teamed up with the EJFoundation to support projects in remote areas of the world that are under environmental stress.
The world’s first zero-waste bra is so clean that you can bury it in the garden when you’re finished with it. It’s made using Lenzing fibre tencel (from sustainably farmed Eucalyptus trees) which takes minimal water to produce and manufacture and is extremely soft to touch. The final product is ethically made in a family-run factory in China and is without toxins and without underwire. It’s a no-frills undergarment but it’s a very, very good bra! There is now a ‘very good’ bra, ‘very good’ briefs, and sleep wear too. Check it all out here.
This Byron Bay brand opt for fabrics without chemicals or harmful dyes, so it only makes sense that its underwear is mostly made up of organic cotton. Annukka stocks a small range of high waist knickers, made from 95% GOTS certified organic cotton and 5% lycra. Both the fabrics and the underwear are ethically made in Australia, in an Ethical Clothing Australia certified factory.
This Sydney brand has entered the market with a range of basics including briefs and bralettes in stripes and plain black. The underwear is made from sustainably sourced organic and Fairtrade cotton, and is ethically made in India where its workers are paid a living wage with health care benefits, a retirement fund, holiday leave and a housing program – exactly the sort of things you’d want in a full time job.
Sydney brand Boody brings super soft bamboo underwear to the table. Their bamboo is grown sustainably with no pesticides, no insecticides, and no fertilisers, and without any artificial irrigation. Boody says it’s committed to maintaining a responsible and transparent process every step of its process – from the bamboo crops that yield the viscose yarn to the delivery of Boody into your hands. The brand is certified by a number of industry groups for ethical and sustainable production.
This Aussie brand creates little pieces of luxury for your undies drawer. Every piece is ethically handmade by skilled garment makers in Australia and Bali, Indonesia using the highest quality eco textiles. Eco Intimates aims to reduce its environmental impact by keeping production small and using other brands’ waste where they can – like their lace and fabric trims which are made from various brands’ offcuts sourced from remnant suppliers.
New Zealand’s Nisa is helping refugee women from the bottom up. The underwear brand’s products are lovingly sewn by women from a refugee background in their sunny studio in Wellington, New Zealand, with a mission to provide their staff with meaningful and interesting paid work, while making kick-ass undies.
Bham wants to create “the world’s most powerful undies,” and it is working towards that mission by ensuring its garments are ethically made from environmentally sustainable fabrics and giving back to those in need. Every pair of Powerpants makes a difference with a $1 donation made to support female survivors of violence in PNG. Bham says its Powerpants empower the “sistas who make them, the sistas who wear them, and the sistas who benefit from the proceeds.”