The weather has (finally) cooled down and the winter woolies are back in demand. But if last year’s buys didn’t stand the test of time or you’re due for an upgrade, these quality knits will fit the bill.
There are a few things to consider when purchasing knitwear from an ethical and sustainable standpoint. In the first instance, you should be looking for natural fibres. It’s surprising how well polyester can pass off as wool. Always check the labels to avoid buying items that are made from synthetic fibres as they’ll easily lose shape, are often poor quality, and won’t break down in landfill at the end of their life. Most of the genuine knitwear on the market will be made from lovely natural fibres such as wool or recycled wool or cotton or organic cotton.
If you are buying wool, it’s good to consider animal welfare as well. Most ethical brands will be transparent about where they source their wool and ideally will disclose if they only work with farmers who treat their animals well and specifically don’t engage in mulesing.
Finally, like all products we purchase, we should know that the people assembling or knitting the garments are treated with respect and have a safe working environment. These are my picks for ethically made, sustainable knitwear.
Revel Knitwear makes quality knitwear with a focus on sustainability from design to delivery. The range of bright and bold garments are made-to-order to reduce excess stock and waste, and are hand-knitted in Australia by a group of local home knitters. Revel Knitwear opts for natural fibres such as locally sourced pure wool and alpaca wool and cotton, to ensure there’s something for everyone.
New Zealand’s favourite ethical clothing essentials brand has a range of beautiful knitwear to boost your wardrobe. From the classic pull over to beautiful button ups, the range includes new and old styles in primary colours red, navy and yellow. Kowtow’s knitwear range is made from 100% fair trade certified organic cotton, and has a soft textured hand feel. It is individually knitted to eliminate yarn waste. The brand’s garments are made in a transparent supply chain, which works with fair trade certified farmers and manufacturers from seed to garment.
Melbourne-based brand Le Sierra works with artisan communities in South America to produce its luxurious and sustainable alpaca hair knitwear. The brand says it follows fair trade principles, enabling artisan communities to make a sustainable living for their families. The small batch garments are hand crafted by artisans they work with directly in Ecuador and Peru. The La Sierra collection includes basics, scarfs and super soft jumpers.
Melbourne-based brand Oneiric creates tailored and handmade garments, with a mission to evoke emotion, mood and attitude within everyday wear. The brand’s knitwear is a mixture of seasonless garments and items that are made in small runs with deadstock knit fabric. Oneiric makes the majority of its items in Melbourne, with the knitwear being made to order. The brand works with a local family run manufacturer and also has an in-house team creating handmade pieces. The knitwear is made with natural fibres such as mohair and merino.
Bonus: Britt’s List readers can get 10% off Oneiric when they shop at Stride Store with code BRITTSLIST10 at check out. Shop here.
Tuckshop Knits are hard to miss. The colourful collection is a range of knits including vests, pull over jumpers, scarfs, beanies and button ups. The garments are made from 100% Australian merino wool sourced from New South Wales and spun and dyed in Victoria. Everything is then handmade in Melbourne with special knitting machines. Tuckshop Knits are ethically made in Melbourne in limited quantities to reduce waste.
The very dreamy Auguste the Label is taking steps to be “as sustainable as possible”. And from fabrics to the factories and packaging and the charities the brand supports, the brand is making some serious ground. Auguste the Label is transparent and publishes information about its manufacturers. The brand opts for natural fibres such as cotton and cashmere in its knits. Auguste the Label is a member of 1% for the Planet, meaning 1% of all sales goes towards preserving the natural environment.
Lilknits, big heart. Lilknits knitwear is handmade in Melbourne by a one-woman team with wearers’ comfort and the environment in mind. The brand opts for natural and fully biodegradable or recycled fibres in the garments, and uses a carbon neutral courier for all deliveries. There’s two staple knits (jumper and cardigan) in a range of earthy colours, plus the option to knit your own at home.
This year’s Obus Clothing collection includes a range of knitted turtlenecks, jumpers and dresses, too. While 80% of Obus Clothing’s production is done onshore, the brand’s knitwear is made responsibly in China. The knitwear range is made from merino wool, alpaca and wool-cotton blends. Obus Clothing also uses some semi-synthetic fibres such as viscose. Shop for fun prints and colour.
Country Road has a number of policies in place to ensure ethical and sustainable production, and is committed to transparency in a number of ways, including having its factory list published on its website. The brand says it is striving for innovation and unlocking the value of existing resources when sourcing its fabrics. For this reason, Country Road opts for natural and recycled fibres, like its verified merino wool which can be traced back to Australian farms.