When you think of Brisbane, fashion probably isn’t the first word to come to mind. The city’s main shopping strip (Queen Street Mall) has the same high street shops that you’ll find everywhere else in the world, and the shopping centres don’t have much more going for them either. But if you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll actually find that Brisbane does have a bustling fashion design ecosystem. And what’s more than that, a lot of them are actually manufacturing here too!
Here’s a list of some of my favourite Brisbane designers, that have a focus on ethical production and sustainability in their businesses.
Brisbane’s Tengdahl started up over 30 years ago and has taken a wild ride from having one shop, to many shops, to landing in David Jones stores around the country. Founder Julie Tengdahl explains the journey in the video above – essentially she has decided staying small is the best way to keep their quality top notch and keep their brand sustainable. Tengdahl now stocks a range of resort wear that appeals to all ages. The store can be found in Brisbane Arcade (and their sewing room is upstairs!).
Alice Nightingale makes quirky pieces out of her sunny Brisbane studio. Her focus on using secondhand, vintage and locally produced fabrics means her designs are not only hand made to outlast fast fashion cycles, but are also environmentally and socially sustainable. Shop for fun, feminine pieces with floral prints and the odd funny slogan.
NICO Underwear are doing the important work of manufacturing underwear sustainably. Brisbane founder and creative director Lis Harvey established the brand in 2012, and has done an incredible job of setting up an ethical supply chain to produce the brand’s wares (some of which are made right here in Brisbane!).
Cute and classic Brisbane label Maiocchi is known for its floral prints and Japanese influence. The brand uses a mixture of soft bamboo and cotton fabrics, and its garments are designed and manufactured with care here in Brisbane. The Maiocchi shop is on Adelaide Street outside Brisbane arcade and also stocks some other great Brisbane artists including accessory designer Each to Own!
Meta Design Co is handmade here in Brisbane. The brand opts for cotton to avoid synthetics and weaves in a number of unique Japanese and African fabrics. Meta Design Co is a one-woman operation with founder and designer Kathy doing all the cutting, sewing and finishing. She says slow handmade clothing over fast fashion is her ethos, “We need to treat the world kindly for both ourselves and future generations.”
Ukiyo uses fabrics made with traditional methods like hand block printed Indian cottons, Japanese kimono fabrics, European laundered linen and linen blends. The designers take these simple and functional fabrics that breathe, to make a range of oversized and comfortable tops, bottoms and dresses for women. It’s all designed and made here in Brisbane.
Having seen the isolation many suffer from perceived “difference” or “otherness”, the founder and designer behind Genkstasy was inspired to create a fashion label that focuses on bringing joy, colour and connectedness to people’s lives. With over a decade of sewing and design experience Genkstasy works with fit and form to create pieces that look and feel amazing, moving Fresh-Dressed street style into a non-binary future. It’s ethically made here in Brisbane.
d+k makes both mens and womens activewear and swimwear. As a label they say they are committed to making a difference in the future of sustainable clothing. The activewear products are all designed, produced and delivered all from under one roof at their Brisbane headquarters. d+k uses carefully selected, quality materials ranging from Italian lycra to organic bamboo, incorporating recycled fabrics where possible.
Gloria Dulcie is an independent, ethical luxury label emerging from Brisbane. The designer’s focus is to create quality pieces with a poetic touch. As supporters of slow fashion, the brand says they believe in escaping traditional trend cycles, instead creating detailed, capsule collections that harmonise creative rhythm and environmental sustainability. It’s for linen lovers looking for something a bit feminine.