Summer Dresses: 14 Ethical & Sustainable Brands to Shop Now

Long lunches by the beach, barbecues with friends, picnicking under a tree, summer dresses are meant to be enjoyed outdoors. They’re floating, fun, floral and above all comfortable. These days we’re a little more demanding though – the dress needs to be sustainably and ethically produced. Not too much to ask for a carefree summer’s day, is it?

From bold bright prints to minimalist black linen, here’s our round up of the best sustainable Australian or New Zealand clothing brands to shop for the ultimate summer dress.

1. Bird + Kite

Bird & Kite dress

Bird and Kite’s dreamy collection is as close as you can get to the Mediterranean coastline without getting on a plane. Think big ruffles, big sleeves, big skirts in white, red check and mustard stripe. The resort-ready dresses are made in small batches in Bali and the label donates to Baliwise, a charity that supports and educates marginalised Balinese women.

2. Marle

Marle

New Zealand label Marle aims to create timeless, feminine essentials with a low environmental impact. Each garment blends natural fibres such as silk, linen and cotton with neutral tones to create items that will stand the test of time.

3. Ukiyo Boutique

Ukiyo linen dresses

This Brisbane-based label uses natural fibres such as Lithuanian linen in neutral, natural tones or gingham. It’s range of dresses are mostly floaty, flowy perfect for the hottest days of summer and easily dressed up with heels or down with sneakers.

4. Obus

Ethical fashion and fun prints meet at Obus. The fittingly named, fun and floral New Beginnings dress (and matching bucket hat) might be the antidote to what’s been a shocking year. Even better, you’ll be supporting a Melbourne-made label.

5. Lois Hazel

Lois Hazel tier dress

Photographer: Ryan Wheatley | HMUA: Casey Brooke | Model: Juliette d’Udekem d’Acoz

From organic Japanese cotton button-up shirts on hot days to jersey knit skivvy dresses for cool nights, Lois Hazel has something for every climate. Every piece is made in Melbourne and certified by Ethical Clothing Australia.

Britt’s List readers can get 10% of full price Lois Hazel with code BRITT10 at checkout. Shop here.

6. Kuwaii

Kuwaii ss20 floral dress

This summer’s 100% linen floral print is the bright, fun piece we didn’t know we needed. This Melbourne-based, Melbourne-made label sticks to mostly basic shapes and block colours, but the fun summer print has certainly caught our eye.

7. Variety Hour

Variety Hour sketchbook floral dresses

Summer is the time to go big and go bold with your prints. If you find yourself eyeing up the cute dresses in Gorman’s windows, make the effort to check out this ethically made Australian label. This summer you could be wearing a cotton jersey shift dress with big illustrated crocodiles or wrapping yourself in a patch of wildflowers. Every piece is made in Melbourne, with sizing up to XXL or 18-20.

8. Cue

For those looking for that more tailored look, Cue is almost always the answer. Accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, the primarily Australian-made label’s new summer range features soft georgette, big sleeves and plenty of details.

Love Cue? Check out episode 8 of The Quick Unpick Podcast where Britt’s List editor Brittanie Dreghorn chats to Cue Clothing Co’s Executive Director Melanie Levis and Head of Design Kylie Parkes.  

9. Wild Horses

Gingham lovers beware. Wild Horses’ new range of full-skirted, smock-style cotton summer dresses come in a range of various checks and colours with ruffles and big sleeves galore. The West Australian label produces garments onshore and in Indonesia with a focus on small batches and quality.

10. Kowtow

Loose, comfy, stretchy dresses in block-coloured 100% organic cotton jersey and poplin. Sounds like heaven, right? These minimal pieces by New Zealand label Kowtow will make for easy, no-fuss summer road tripping or even just a touch of extra style while you’re catching up on Schitt’s Creek.

11. Tara Whalley

Tara Whalley apron dress

If you love art, patterns and colour, take a look at Tara Whalley. The textile designer turns her artwork into prints for her collections of bright, fun clothing handmade in Melbourne in sizes “XS to 4XLovely”.

12. Little Tienda

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.

13. Isle of Summer

Isle of Summer dress purple

These maxi and midi dresses with a boho 70s flair ready for a hot summer, of chasing the kids around. Founder and designer Emily Whishaw is on a mission to create not only clothing but also flexible jobs that pay women a living wage. Most pieces are breast-feeding friendly, every piece is designed in Australia and the current range is produced in a transparent family factory in Bali.

14. Rice Paper The Label

Rice Paper the Label Dress

Simple, elegant and ethical are the guiding principles at Rice Paper garments. With pieces designed and made in Melbourne, the brand aims to create a fully circular supply chain by next year. The dresses are bright, fun and use natural fibres – the flocked emerald cotton is particularly stunning.

About Author

Daniela Sunde-Brown

Daniela Sunde-Brown is a freelance writer who has been sewing and thrift shopping since she can remember. Now she's passionate about telling the stories of artisans and makers.

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