If you’ve fallen victim to the print-obsession that is Gorman, Mister Zimi and the like in the Aussie fashion scene, you’re not alone. What started out as an innocent fashion movement touting natural fibres and unique prints has truly turned into a craze, with shoppers waiting to snap up new collections as soon as they drop (which is like, a lot). Since Gorman’s values of creating well-made clothes with the environment in mind went out the window, conscious consumers have been looking for ethical alternatives. Now, smaller and more sustainable brands are answering the call – creating stunning unique prints with natural fibres. Here’s some of my favourites.
If statement prints on flattering cuts is your thing, Obus is your brand. The Melbourne institution has been tailoring quality garments out of its Victorian workshop for over 18 years. Obus makes at least 80% of its clothing onshore and is committed to producing small runs of high-quality, well-made clothing. Each season brings a fresh collection of bright and bold prints. The brand’s printed pieces are a great addition to any work or weekend wardrobe.
Art meets fashion in a very real way at Variety Hour. The Melbourne-based artist and designer behind the brand Cassie Byrnes creates stunning prints and transfers them onto delicious wearables (think: cotton voile, 100% silk, and linen) that make for some very special pieces in the wardrobe. The prints are an abstract set of florals and scenes inspired by the country’s landscapes and flora. It’s all ethically made in Melbourne.
Look familiar? You may have spied Cassie Byrnes’ prints in an early Gorman collab.
New Zealand-based brand Kowtow was born in 2007 with the desire to create an ethical label that would be the example for a fashion forward, global thinking business. Now more than 15 years on, it leads the way in sustainability and ethical production while creating quality, considered pieces. Good on You app rates Kowtow five stars stating that its environmental, labour and animal rating are all ‘great’.
Tara Whalley is a Melbourne-based clothing and textile designer showcasing hand painted original artwork exploring exciting colour palettes and often plant life, exciting keepsakes and places. The designer’s work has won the Frankie Magazine Fashion Good Stuff Awards and has been showcased in LA and San Fransisco. Tara Whalley’s first collection was inspired by her experience travelling and working Guatemala, and she’s since produced a new collection “Gallery” featuring hand painted works from her 2019 show as part of the Lamington Drive Artists Residency. The beautiful garments are all ethically made in Melbourne.
This Aussie brand is drawing inspiration from beautiful seascapes and transforming it into classic cut women’s, men’s and kids’ clothes that are made right here in Australia. Based in Launceston, Tasmania, the founders started the label in Brisbane in 2007 and have slowly shaped the design and product over the last 10+ years. The result is a range of beautiful and unique prints, on an assortment of clothing and accessories.
This Melbourne-based brand goes above and beyond with its ethical production, manufacturing everything here in Australia with environmentally friendly fabrics, and making efforts to reduce waste in the process. Kuwaii carries a range of classic staple pieces all year round, which make for both professional and alternative workwear. Kuwaii goes into detail about its manufacturing, fabrics, environmental impact and more on its website. The brand also plants a tree for every order shipped.
Melbourne-based label Farn was born out of the designer’s love for colour and print, and is founded upon values of transparency and sustainability in the supply chain. The label’s unique prints and styles are designed, printed and made in Collingwood Melbourne, all within a 1km radius of the Farn studio. Farn took out the Frankie magazine Good Stuff Award for Fashion in 2018 and is often at Finders Keepers Markets around Australia.
Seasoned sewer and designer Alice Veivers is injecting a little bit of history into her label’s garments. Working with quality vintage fabrics, her clothes are more short stories than they are another addition to one’s wardrobe. What’s better? They’re all made in Brisbane by the designer herself. The brand’s built a cult following of almost 15,000 on Instagram and many more IRL.
Modern design meets traditional African wax prints to create ULO’s bold and vibrant fashion and lifestyle pieces. Founder and creative director Dinzi Amboi was inspired by her West African heritage and British upbringing when creating her brand and from sourcing fabrics all the way through the design and manufacturing process, Dinzi stays true to her culture and upbringing. The brand works exclusively with wax fabric in innumerable bold and colourful patterns, with stories of heritage and tradition attached to each design. It makes pieces for those who want to embrace colour, appreciate good craftsmanship and who enjoy storytelling,
Australian label Little Tienda is home to whimsical, romantic dresses in soft hues and bright tones. It’s perfect for lounging around, taking on the world or having a picnic at Hanging Rock. Each piece is handmade in India in small batches using traditional techniques.