If you were to choose just one part of your wardrobe to invest in quality garments, let it be your workwear. You may be in denial, but it’s likely that these are the clothes you wear the most. And you don’t want to have to be replacing them all the time. There are some great Australian and New Zealand labels producing stunning workwear with a focus on sustainability. I’ve put together a range of brands – from the ultra corporate to the relaxed professional. Here’s my list.
Leading the Australian-made fashion scene and still producing the majority of its quality garments on shore (since 1968) is Sydney’s Cue Clothing. Pretty much everything on offer at Cue is work appropriate, but I’d say it’s best for staples – a black dress, pencil skirt, button-up shirt, etc. All of its Australian-made products are accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, but beware as not everything is made on shore. Check the tags before you buy.
Great for: Classic work staples
One of my personal favourite brands for work is Obus Clothing. The Melbourne label makes all of its clothing here in Australia, within 15km of its Brunswick store. I love this label’s commitment to quirky prints and oversized fit, and of course to sustainability. Pair an Obus print with a staple item from one of the brands below.
Great for: Adding colour to your work wardrobe
A sub-brand of Cue, and also accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, is the up-market corporate label Veronica Maine. It has a similar feel to Cue, using quality fabrics and minimalist design, but I’m more a fan of its floral patterns.
Great for: Good quality work pants
The Australian-made garments by Arnsdorf are a range of work-appropriate womenswear, with a bit of an artsy twist. The brand is a leader in transparency, listing the breakdown of costs for each item on its website – from labour, design and materials, to retail costs, operations and logistics.
Great for: A staple suit
Melbourne-based brand SUK makes hard wearing workwear that celebrates the female form. The designer and Creative Director Mimosa Schmidt was influenced by her own experience working in labour roles, and was inspired to address the lack of flattering workwear options for women in the industry. The garments are ethically made in Pakistan from 100% Fairtrade cotton.
Great for: Hard wearing workweat
Kowtow was born in 2007 with the desire to create an ethical label that would be the example for a fashion forward, global thinking business. And that it is. The New Zealand label is leading the way for sustainable fashion, with a now internationally recognised label producing beautiful staple items that are 100% suitable for the office. Good on You app rates Kowtow five stars stating that its environmental, labour and animal rating are all ‘great’.
Great for: Reasonably priced staples
Elk’s branch into clothing has been welcomed by customers with open arms, and its attire very much resembles the minimalist design that its accessories have always embodied. The clothing is not made on shore, but the brand takes necessary steps to trace suppliers in all stages of production, and ensures that every supplier adheres to the brand’s code of conduct. I like the subtle patterns and airy fabrics.
Great for: Comfortable clothes that are boardroom appropriate
This Aussie brand takes a simple approach to create effortless wardrobe staples with a pared-back modern feel. You’ll find a huge selection of women’s pants, tops and blazers which are all very work appropriate. What’s better, most of Viktoria and Woods’ designs are made in Australia and accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia, and the brands says that it “values sustainable textiles and manufacturing methods that leave a lighter footprint on the planet.”
Great for: A structured suit that’s a bit alternative
So we’re getting a bit pricy here, but think of it as an investment. Italian-inspired and Australian-made Carla Zampatti makes stunning corporate workwear from classic blazers to flattering jumpsuits. A well-made suit jacket could last you a life time, so I think if you’re going to get one, this brand is a good contender. Good On You says that the brand estimates to produce 90% of its clothing in Australia. Its Australian-made products are certified by Ethical Clothing Australia.
Great for: An up-market classic suit or jumpsuit for fancy work events
Ginger and Smart is also on the luxury end of this list, but that just means long-lasting staples. The Aussie brand makes gorgeous workwear classics with a feminine twist, with an alternative take on the classic suit to be found in each collection. Ginger and Smart’s garments are made offshore where the brand pays its garment workers a living wage (hurrah!) and opts for sustainable fabrics. Find out more on the website.
Great for: Stunning, feminine pieces that can be worn from AM to PM
A quick glance at this store and you could dismiss it as dull, but I see that as a good opportunity for staple workwear. Made in Australia and covered by Ethical Clothing Australia, Perri Cutten is for classic corporate attire. Keep an eye out for end-of-season sales to pick up a classic work blazer for around $200.
Great for: Your everyday blazer