With the growth of eco and ethical fashion around the world, designers from Down Under are getting in on the act.
The fashion industry in Australia might be small, but it is fast becoming an industry that supports sustainability and brings social issues to the forefront of style. The government funded initiative Ethical Clothing Australia and the 1 Million Women campaign, have certainly helped to influence this movement, but much of it is being driven by designers themselves. Being on the underside of the world, designers may be a season behind the northern hemisphere, but one area they are not behind in, is greening progressive and forward-thinking fashion.
Here are the top 5 Aussie eco labels to watch.
Deborah and Mary Lou, two friends with already impressive careers in the Australian fashion industry, started Bassike in 2006, with the main goal being to create wardrobe staples that had longevity, using quality sustainable fabrics. Their original range was a simple and stylish lineup of organic t-shirts, but it soon expanded into denim and has now branched out into men’s and women’s ready to wear collections. Most recently they launched a Bassike eyewear line. The label appeals to those who love an easygoing style and pays homage to the Aussie beach culture, with its loose fitting tees and effortless casual vibe. It is currently stocked in over 90 premium stores around the world, including in the USA.
Sosume hails from Australia’s unofficial style capital, Melbourne, and refers to itself as a brand with a conscience. The ethos behind the label is to transcend “fast fashion culture” and create long standing, timeless pieces, which will carry through more than one season. Made from only the finest eco friendly fabrics sourced from environmentally responsible mills, Sosume aims to select materials and methods with the least environmental impact. One example of how they support important social issues, is through their recent launch of an eco friendly women’s tee, with 100% of the profits of the sale of the item, going to support depression research.
Launched in Sydney in 2006, Elsom fulfills designer Sam Elsom’s vision to make high quality, timeless, sustainable products that reflect a strong commitment to detail and traditional tailoring. Elsom values traditional hand tailoring as an integral part of the design process, using materials sourced from all over the world. Being a huge supporter of organic farming, the label currently works with sustainable farmers in India to source organic cotton, which is used throughout its collections. Like many of the other Aussie labels, Elsom hopes to create pieces that reflect classic style, including button down shirts, chic cocktail dresses and slim suits.
Gorman has been a fixture on the Aussie fashion scene since 1999, but in 2007, it introduced Gorman Organic in response to growing environmental awareness. Pieces from the organic range are blended through the main collections, but are created from either certified organic or sustainable materials. The label says it launched an organic range as a way to offer their customers a sustainable choice, without having to compromise style or quality. The philosophy behind the brand is to be inspired by the everyday and the local cultures and artists that surround them. Gorman creator Lisa Gorman, says she is particularly inspired by her Fitzroy neighborhood, regarded as a creative bohemia, and reflects this through many of the pieces in her collections.
Up and coming Indigenous designer Lucy Simpson is the force behind Gaawaa Miyay (which translates to “River Daughter”), a label that blends the ancient tradition of visual storytelling with contemporary Indigenous design. Lucy is committed to using natural fibers, sustainable practices and to manufacturing her pieces in Australia. Her designs span across fashion, homewares and accessories and reflect the cultural heritage, stories, memories and landscapes of her Yuwaalaraay family. Already the recipient of much critical acclaim, Gaawaa Miyay is one label to keep an eye on, particularly in the lead up to Australia’s Inaugural Indigenous Fashion Week in 2013.