Sustainability refers to many facets of the supply chain, from fabric sourcing to producing, to waste management and design. So for a brand to stand up and commit to the lot, it’s pretty impressive, but for Melbourne label Kuwaii, it was a no-brainer and a non-negotiable from the get-go.
Kuwaii is the stunning creation of Kristy Barber. Established in 2008, the brand is committed to environmental sustainability and ethical production, and keeps everything above board by producing each piece by hand, onshore. In fact, every Kuwaii piece is designed, made and retailed within 15km of its Brunswick head office, a feat many brands could only aspire to. The brand is also one of very few producing footwear onshore – which is a huge feat for a relatively small Australian label.
Kuwaii’s complete commitment to sustainability starts with its design which is made to outlast a season, in quality and style. The unique pieces are made to flatter the female form, whatever type it may be, and are often made to be worn multiple ways to extend the use and wear of the items. Its classic range is always available and includes timeless pieces that are staples for any wardrobe.
Designing to last is a core element of the Kuwaii brand, as the brand helps to combat the global landfill crisis. In Australia alone over 500,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill each year, a scary statistic for fashion lovers and only part of the reason why fashion is often referred to as the second-most polluting industry in the world. So making sure clothes don’t end up in the trash is at the core, but the design ensures that.
Kuwaii uses a range of recycled, organic and sustainable fabrics across its collections, and is pushing to make all of its clothing from sustainably-sourced fabrics. This allows the brand to limit its use of fabrics made from nonrenewable fossil fuels like polyester, acrylic, and nylon, opting for regenerated wood fibres which are much more environmentally friendly, such as tencel.
Tencel is made from natural, sustainable cellulose wood pulp obtained from eucalyptus trees in forests that have earned Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. The ground pulp used for tencel is treated in a ‘closed loop’ process, which means that the solvents used are recycled with a recovery rate of 99.5%.
The Kuwaii stores also do their bit for the environment by using 100% renewable, carbon neutral electricity. The brand uses ‘GreenPower,’ which means it’s contributing to renewable energy development in Australia by paying extra on electricity bills.
Each of the Kuwaii pieces feels like a little bit of luxury, and the solid colours and staple patterns mean you can wear them all year round, with layers in winter and accessories in summer. I especially get a kick out of the footwear, which is a complementary range of sandals, platforms and lace-ups.