The sustainable men’s fashion industry is growing. Brands like Patagonia are committing to ethical production and environmentally friendly practices at every level of the supply chain. Local labels like Citizen Wolf are creating a new type of trend with sustainably made custom casual wear. As the demand for these goods increases, the options are catching up to meet it. Here’s some of my favourite picks for the best ethically and sustainably made menswear in Australia.
Forget tailored suits, Citizen Wolf makes tailored T-shirts so you can feel #spesh all the time. The brand takes your weight, height and date of birth to create your magic fit, before laser cutting the fabric of your choice, and sewing it in Sydney. You can choose your favourite cut, colour and fabric, and then customise as you wish (ie. add a pocket). It is truly the best fitting T-shirt you’ll ever have and potentially the only one you’ll need too – because if anything happens to your shirt, the team at CW will mend it for you. #LikeAWolf
Vege Threads specialises in creating comfortable clothing, sustainably. Its collections are manufactured 100% onshore using organic and eco-friendly materials and dyes in limited numbers. The brand is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia and 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.
Perth-based slow fashion label RŪPAHAUS makes sweet threads, suitable for summer. The brand’s use of organic fibres and natural dyes make the pieces unique in their appearance (keeping the colours earthy) with the prints adding a retro edge. The RŪPAHAUS collections are ethically made in Indonesia, in small batches to keep control of the supply chain.
Melbourne-made menswear label Windsor Lane thinks that men should not be limited by out-dated ideas of masculinity and should be free to express themselves with colour and pattern. It suggests cheekily, “Women shouldn’t have all the fun.” I tend to agree with it, and not just because the brand is serious about sustainability, keeping its production in Australia and fabrics made from natural fibres. The range includes short and long sleeve button up cotton shirts, neck and bow ties, and pocket squares.
PapaDrew produces 70s-inspired button-up shirts in West End, Brisbane. The designer and maker behind the brand is Andrew Carpenter, who started off as a cutter in a clothing factory when he was 18 and says he still uses a pair of 150-year-old Heinisch tailor’s shears. His original PapaDrew short sleeve shirts are made from reclaimed vintage and salvaged fabrics (found by Andrew), so no two shirts are the same. The upcycled prints range from retro to floral to novelty.
Melbourne based-brand Theo the Label makes comfy clothing from natural fibres. When it comes to production, the brand says sweatshops are a no-no and the team only works with makers they can meet, greet and share honest to goodness relationships with. The men’s range includes a bunch of t-shirts and button ups, plus shorts and pants made from cotton and linen.
Outland Denim has ethical production at its core. The brand was set up to help stop human trafficking in Cambodia by giving vulnerable women and those saved from the sex industry a place to develop skills and secure a sustainable career path. Outland Denim is committed to sourcing ethically and environmentally sound raw materials, from organic cotton pocket linings to recycled packaging. The brand says its jeans are “made different” not only because of how they are made, with fine attention to detail, but because every pair can help change someone’s life.
Sydney-based brand Neuw is producing its denim with the environment in mind. The brand has released a line of denim that boasts zero water wastage, zero chemical distressing and zero washing waste as it moves towards a circular fashion model. Neuw opts for Australian-grown cotton in its denim, which is great because Australian cotton is some of the most water-use efficient cotton in the world and has yields three times the world average. Neuw Denim works with a small selection of factories is actively mapping its supply chain to gain further visibility of its production. Shop for all your men’s and women’s denim essentials.
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.
No mass production here, friends. Spunky Bruiser sports unique Australian fashion, tailored to individual requirements. Their small team hand-makes everything ethically in New South Wales from sustainable, upcycled materials sourced within Australia. Keeping it all made to order also means they’re able to significantly lower the waste they produce. Spunky Bruiser says it designs to your style and in timeless, comfortable cuts further minimising the brand’s environmental impact. The result is some epic ’90s-inspired upcycled fashion that’s anything but fast.
You’ll find timeless, transeasonal pieces at Hemp Clothing Australia: a classic tee, a crisp shirt, well-fitting pants. This label boasts a great men’s range along with socks and bed linen. There’s also an artist range of naturally dyed tees. But arguably most interesting is the label’s school uniform project, which aims to swap synthetic fabrics for natural hemp polos.
Read more about hemp here.
Australian owned and made Woolerina has all of your winter staples sorted. The brand’s merino comes from non-mulesed sheep, that grow their fleeces in the best living conditions. A merino long sleeve tee is a must have staple for winter so I suggest getting one you love and that will last. Shop for men’s tops, bottoms, jumpers and accessories.
Brisbane-based dk active specialises in high quality activewear. The brand says its mission is to bring a body positive and empowering approach to the activewear industry. And for this reason dk active strives to change the game in sustainable and environmentally responsible design. The best part? It’s all ethically made in Brisbane. From run shorts and singlets to tanks, t-shirts and jackets too – dk active has got your workout wear sorted.
Britt’s List readers can get 20% off full price purchases over $50 from dk active with code “BRITTS20”. Shop here.
Kusaga Athletic makes future fabrics and is the brand behind the world’s greenest T-shirt – made with less than 1% of the water than it takes to make your average cotton T-shirt. Its activewear range is all ethically produced and made to last, and its greenest T-shirts do not retain odour so they’re perfect for an active man.
ZONE by Lydia, a brand by Olympic champion turned eco-warrior Lydia Lassila, takes a holistic approach to all things wellness and sustainability. Its hemp apparel range encompasses comfort, style and inclusivity with gender neutral and timeless designs. The collection features hoodies, tees, tanks, track pants and bike shorts.
This American activewear company is setting epic standards in sustainable manufacturing, and leading a global community of environmentally friendly consumers while they’re at it. Its mission is to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” And that it does. Patagonia’s collection for guys includes everything from surf and snow gear to casual and dress shirts, shorts, pants, t-shirts and accessories.
Sydney label Sunrise at Bondi makes mens briefs, jammers and compression leggings. All of its swimwear is designed and made in Australia using sustainable techno-fabric that is 100% regenerated from post-consumer materials. This is a process that takes waste from around the globe such as fishing nets and old carpets and re-manufactures it into premium quality recycled yarn. A win for the ocean, and a win for us!
Shoes and accessories
“The world’s most comfortable shoes” are made in New Zealand, so it’s only fitting that they’re made from the finest Merino wool. The Allbirds’ founders say they have created an entirely new category of shoes inspired by natural materials, simplicity in design and extreme comfort. The brand is B-Corp certified, and uses 90% post-consumer recycled cardboard that for its packaging.
This incredible Brazilian-based brand makes environmentally friendly sneakers with raw materials sourced from organic farming and ecological agriculture. The founders have been going for about 13 years, and they’ve nailed the process of making fresh, fresh sneaks, without having a negative impact at any step of the supply chain. Fun fact: Veja also makes vegan shoes for the animal-free folk. Aussies can purchase Veja shoes online via The Iconic’s Considered Edit.
Even though R.M Williams is no longer an Australian owned company, the majority of the footwear is still ethically handmade in Adelaide. The leather goods have retained their quality despite the company changing hands, making the products a true investment. And before you scoff at the $500 price tag, remember that a hand crafted pair of shoes takes almost a day to make, plus quality materials, and many, many overheads. The brand also offers repairs on worn and damaged boots for a fraction of the cost – replacing the heel and sole after years of use.
UPPAREL (formerly ManRags) is on a mission to the reduce the number of textiles that end up in landfill. It all started with a sock subscription, but now the brand is upcycling all sorts of textiles into quality, useful products and supporting organisations and charities on their journey to sustainability and circularity. The UPPAREL brand makes men’s underwear and socks in bold and bright colours, paying its garment workers a living wage and ensuring ethical working conditions. Mix and match, buy in a pack or grab a subscription.