Australian’s fashion manufacturing industry is making a comeback. While the industry had its hay-day before the country entered into free trade agreements in the 1980s, the demand for ethically produced fashion and locally made garments has seen the reintroduction of brands big and small producing their garments onshore. Denim is a part of that – and despite being a laborious garment to produce, Australian brands are meeting demand and making top quality, affordable, ethical jeans onshore.
Nobody Denim is a legacy fashion brand in Australia and has been manufacturing onshore since 2010. The brand is committed to local and ethical production, and its onshore production is certified by Ethical Clothing Australia – the accrediting body that ensures safe working conditions and fair wages for Australian garment workers. While Nobody Denim has long been associated with ethical production, the brand has taken its commitment to sustainability further, making environmental responsibility core to its operations and setting serious goals to reduce its emissions. In 2019, the brand stated it had already reduced its water use by half since 2017, and the brand is making efforts to reduce energy use and waste produced. Nobody Denim says it aims to pay living wages throughout its entire supply chain by 2025.
Vege Threads specialises in creating comfortable clothing, sustainably. The brand’s collections are manufactured onshore using organic and eco-friendly materials and dyes in limited numbers. Vege Threads manufacturing is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia and the brand prides itself on working with local knitting mills and dye houses. The ‘threads’ are a lovely bunch of long lasting, practical yet beautifully designed basics – including a denim collection produced in collaboration with Denimsmith (more on them below) from a combination of organic cotton, elastane and recycled nylon.
Denimsmith launched in 2015 as a “collaborative vision of veteran Australian designers and makers who are committed to the ethical production of high quality denim clothing.” With over two decades of denim expertise enriching every piece, Denimsmith says it takes locally-made to a whole new level and is proudly accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia. Each Denimsmith item comes directly from their Melbourne makers’ skilled hands and hearts. The brand boasts a classic collection of jeans, jackets, shorts, skirts and other apparel for men and women made from quality materials.
Embody jeans are ethically made in Melbourne with a focus on inclusivity in shape and size. To reduce the brand’s environmental impact and avoid unethical processes, each Embody Denim garment is washed in an industrial family-run laundry and dye house in Sydney that complies with Australian rules and regulations when disposing of chemicals. The best part? The Embody jeans are available in an inclusive size range from 8-22.
Adelaide-based brand Good Studios boasts a range of sustainable lifestyle products, from clothing and outwear, to swimwear, accessories and bedding. The brand opts for sustainable fabrics including locally sourced wool, recycled nylon and hemp. For its denim collection, which includes jeans, shorts, shirts and dresses, the brand uses premium hemp denim made from an organic cotton/hemp blend. The garments are all ethically made in Australia and certified by Ethical Clothing Australia. For every sale, the brand plants a native tree on your behalf. That’s very good.
Melbourne-based label Tri Colour Federation produces a range of high quality denim products with a focus on bespoke and timeless design. The brand partners with a denim manufacturer based in Turkey that works to create denim with minimal environmental impact. To do so, the denim blends are made from a range of certified organic cotton, recycled PET and elastane, and the factory actively manages and reduces its use of water, chemical and energy to reduce environmental impact. The Tri Colour Federation pieces are all made in Australia.
Justice Denim is committed to doing good. From its onshore production to its distribution of profits, the brand ensures ethical production and refuses to be a part of human exploitation. As such, every pair of Justice Denim jeans funds four life-changing weeks of education for a young and innocent child who has been rescued from the sexual slavery and illegal labour trade. Justice Denim delivers this through its partnership with Project Futures and Destiny Rescue. The brand’s range of vegan-friendly jeans are hand-cut, designed and distressed in the streets of Melbourne, by some of Australia’s last great denim craftsmen. This onshore production is certified by Ethical Clothing Australia.
Melbourne-based luxury label Arnsdorf makes quality denim pieces that make a statement. The brands says it’s created the best fitting jeans with a perfect low-impact denim – using organic cotton with natural indigo pigment or low impact Japanese denim, which is good for you and the environment. The collection includes a cool contrasting “patchwork” skirt and jeans, plus some staple jeans in black, white and blue, with the odd colour statement piece. Arnsdorf works with a local Melbourne factory to produce its denim in limited runs.
Staples and basics brand Bassike also produces some pretty sweet and sustainable denim products. On its website the brand says that sustainability for them means treating people and the planet with respect, lightening their environmental impact and constantly evaluating how they do that. Longevity is also a core consideration for Bassike, as it should be for all brands which is something that influences everything from the design stage in their business. They aim to produce all their collections with intention, integrity and longevity in mind. As a bonus, over 90% of Bassike’s products are ethically made in Australia which ensures a high level of supply chain transparency while supporting and helping to preserve the fashion industry in this country.
Made in Sydney and accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia since 2012, Manning Cartell celebrates femininity, strength and beauty with sharp silhouettes. The three sisters behind the label source luxurious fabrics from ethical producers to create the majority of collections on Australian soil. The denim collection includes jeans, skirts and shorts with statement design features. To reduce the environmental impact of the denim productions, the brand uses organic cotton and recycled cotton in the pieces.
Launched in 2004, the original goal of this Australian label was to create effortless modern wardrobe staples. Of course, denim fall into that category. A Viktoria and Woods essential, versatile denim is the ultimate all-occasion styling tool. The brand’s denim is custom washed and made from a premium cotton drill. Viktoria and Woods has Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation but not all garments are made in Australia, so double check the tags.