We all know Melbourne’s designer scene is well established, but did you know it’s also a hot spot for ethical and sustainable fashion? As the country’s hub for onshore production of shoes and textiles, it’s no surprise that budding and established designers want to call it home. This guide takes you through the best suburbs for sustainable shopping: Melbourne CBD, Fitzroy, Northcote and Armadale.
Kuwaii is the stunning creation of Kristy Barber. Established in 2008, the brand is committed to environmental sustainability and ethical production. They keep everything above board by designing, producing and retailing every piece within 15km of the Brunswick head office – a feat many brands could only aspire to. They’re also one of few brands producing footwear onshore.
Cathedral Arcade, 37 Swanston Street
Emporium shopping centre in Melbourne’s CBD is home to a number of ethical and sustainable designers including Arnsdorf, Viktoria and Woods, Bassike, Dion Lee, Manning Cartell and Marimekko.
287 Lonsdale Street
Design A Space
Located in Melbourne Central, this creative retail concept was developed to promote and showcase the talents of independent Australian designers. Design A Space supports over 100 local independent designers through monthly rotations, providing an exciting mix of men’s, women’s and children’s designs. A lot of it is made in Australia but check the tags to be sure.
20 Manchester Lane
This iconic Australian department store may not be all above board for ethical production, but a lot of its Australian labels are. The ones to look for are Perri Cutten, Veronika Maine, Bianca Spender, Carla Zampatti, Nobody Denim, Bec & Bridge, Maggie Marilyn, Country Road and Bassike. If you’re not sure, check the labels.
310 Bourke Street
Finnish design house Marimekko is trading its wares throughout Melbourne, too. The brand produces everything from high-quality clothing, bags and accessories as well as home décor items, with a focus on doing so sustainably. Marimekko’s sustainability strategy includes a commitment to designing timeless, long-lasting and functional products, promoting responsible practices throughout its supply chain, and being resource efficient and caring for the environment.
Shop 143, Level 1 Emporium, 287 Lonsdale Street
Variety Hour is a print focused label by textile designer Cassie Byrnes. Each season a new collection of prints is hand painted, designed and adapted to suit a variety of fabulous fashion and homewares items. Ethically created from scratch in Melbourne, Variety Hour is known for fun patterns which will make you happy.
155 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Ethically produced in Australia and using environmentally friendly fabrics, Arnsdorf is completely committed to sustainable production and transparency. Not only do they explain all of this on their About page, but every product on the website has an individual breakdown of production costs. On the design front, Arnsdorf incorporates art into their designs, often opting for asymmetrical patterns and statement features. The brand keeps their prints cool, choosing classic colours and fabrics for longevity.
229 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Somebuddy Loves You
This Fitzroy boutique stocks a heap of lovely local labels like Permanent Vacation and Post Sole Studio. They also stock ethically made labels including New Zealand’s Kowtow. It’s a great place to shop unique staples and nicer pieces.
193 Smith Street, Fitzroy
HoMie is a unisex streetwear label for young people. But when I say they’re for young people, I mean this literally. The brand uses 100 per cent of their profits to support young people facing homelessness in Melbourne. They’re also super transparent, they up-cycle preloved items, and provide training programs and support to those doing it tough.
296 Brunswisk Street, Fitzroy
Bursting with colour, I Dream A Highway stocks local labels with a focus on size inclusive ranges and bright prints. It’s the place to go to find ethical and sustainable fashion brands such as Nancybird, Elk, SUK Workwear, Frock Me Out, Miranda Murphy and more. The boutique stocks a large range of the aforementioned brands garments, plus shoes and accessories.
259 High Street, Northcote
Green Horse boutique carries a collection of ethical fashion, sustainable living and fairtrade products. Here you’ll some great international and local ethical and sustainable fashion brands such as Kowtow, Amble Outdoors, Veja and Ricepaper the Label. The boutique also stocks a range of baby clothes and accessroies by sustainable labels Fibre for Good, Burrow and Be, and Hevea.
255 High Street, Northcote
Slow fashion boutique Before March believes that less is more, evident through the carefully selected garments that hang from the shop’s handful of ranks. The brand’s own in-house label Sunshine Symbol is slow fashion at its finest, with a small number of designs produced in limited runs for the boutique and supporting online store only. Expect floaty garments in neutral colours to boost your existing wardrobe.
277 High Street, Northcote
Melbourne’s Obus Clothing is now spread out across the city and has a fabulous Market Store too (for samples, seconds and super specials!). Shop for colourful, bright prints and patterns, mostly made in Melbourne.
285 High Street, Northcote
This gorgeous Melbourne womenswear and kidswear label is a local favourite. With their delicate floral prints and bold, colourful knits, this vintage inspired brand is ethically made in Bali and has a zero-waste and zero-plastic policy.
205 High Street, Northcote
Step back in time in the retro-inspired Anna Cordell Clothing boutique. The Melbourne label is known for its dedication to custom suiting, but the boutique carries a number of other special (but similarly time-stamped) garments made with care in Australia. Shop here for a statement suit that’ll last you a lifetime.
246 High Street, Northcote
Bec and Bridge
Got a wedding to go to? Or a gala or ball? Bec and Bridge has got you covered. This modern label is known for striking silhouettes and statement pieces. They don’t come cheap, but you can sleep easy knowing the people making your clothes are respected and valued.
1041 High Street, Armadale
One of Australia’s first ladies of sustainable fashion, Carla Zampatti has been bringing Italian finesse to Australian women since the 1960s. Always elegant and tailored to perfection, Zampatti’s pieces are designed to endure the test of time.
1106 High Street, Armadale
Keeping fashion in the family, Zampatti’s daughter Bianca is the brains behind this designer label. With high-quality tailoring and a commitment to responsible production, the brand is ECA accredited, uses 50 per cent deadstock fabric and is all designed and made in Sydney.
1087 High Street, Armadale