Ladies and lads of Melbourne, we know your appetite for fashion is changing. Once, you were content with solely looking suave. You were happy to strut from Windsor to Prahran in threads that simply fit well and said “I’m on-trend.”
But today, your diet is a little different. Looking good has a more complicated criterion. You want to know where your clothes are made, who made them, and more importantly – what they’re made with. You take time to read care labels, you know your silks from polyesters and you take pride in wearing a design with the disclaimer, ‘ethically made.’
And for this, we’re proud of you. But we also understand that in a city full of fast fashion super-stores, sorting sustainable from mass-produced can be rather scary. Especially when our retail make-up involves a warren of secret laneways we’re still discovering exist.
But thankfully, there are a number of local designers and destinations that are making sustainability easy to shop. Want to know where to find them? We’ve compiled a menu of Melbourne’s best ethical (and stylish) enterprises, so that you can feed your desire for sustainable stuff that looks really, really sweet.
Hey sister, soul sister – blood related or not, these sisters know how to scratch our sustainable itch. Producing collections crafted from locally sourced, vintage fabrics – and lots of linen (who doesn’t love linen?) the sisters behind SISTER are all about making practical yet pretty things, with their bare hands. Although they don’t have a shop front (yet), the fact everything SISTER is designed, developed and created in Melbourne makes them a fundamental ingredient in our recipe for homegrown, sustainable style. Shop their sweet, ’70s inspired threads here.
There’s something about the words 'green' and 'horse' that conjure visions of natural beauty. Step inside this little Northcote nook and this is exactly what you’ll find. Boasting a collection of both international and Melbourne-based brands (keep your peepers peeled for Bahlo, Tara Whalley and Kiwi label Kowtow), Green Horse will have you trotting back down High Street looking good and feeling gratified.
255 High Street, Northcote
Nobody makes jeans like Nobody. Why? Because they’re made in Melbourne, they’re manufactured according to Ethical Clothing Australia standards, they last forever and they look really, really good. If you’ve seen a Nobody campaign (think: toned tooshes, toothy grins and the occasional midriff slip) you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
396-398 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
What’s more fun than ethical fashion? Ethical accessories, of course! Skyrocketing into our stratosphere after his recent collaboration with local fave, Gorman, Hamish Munro is a knight in … recycled armour. With a penchant for turning found objects into statement jewellery, the kaleidoscopic world of Melbourne born/Paris-based Munro makes turning trash into treasure look really swell. If you like the sound of plastic bangles filled with a palette of water balloons, or those squidgy plastic squids dangling sumptuously from earlobes, Munro is your man. Find his creations at Pieces of Eight Gallery.
28 Russell Pl, Melbourne
You could describe online concept store (and occasional pop-up) Kinobi as the cherry on top of our sustainable cake. Bringing together an assortment of small-scale labels that "emphasise quality over quantity, longevity over impulse," Kinobi is like a five-course degustation for the ethically focused fashionista – offering lingerie, accessories and ceramics, too. Let your fingertips find their sustainable goods at shopkinobi.com, and keep your ear to the ground (or sign up to their mailing list) to ensure you’re the first to find out about their next, spontaneous pop-up placement.
While this strand of second-hand stores has altruism at the core of its ethos, we figure ethical and altruistic intent go hand in hand. And, if purchasing boutique sustainable threads is stretching your budget, there’s nothing more satisfying than scoring a second-hand steal. The coolest thing about the Brotherhood stores? Many of them section their styles, and curate little ‘trend-based’ corners. It’s not uncommon to find a vintage Country Road camisole, or faux-fur jacket lurking in their overstuffed racks. For a full list of the Brotherhood’s Melbourne locations bsl.org.au
The best thing about The Clothing Exchange is it doesn’t involve shopping at all. Why shop, when you can swap? The brainchild of RMIT Fashion graduate Kate Luckins, The Clothing Exchange believes looking good shouldn’t cost the earth – and heck, we coincide! They offer a platform to ‘swap’ your second-hands for other pre-loved pieces online, or at physical ‘Swap Shop’ events across Australia. It’s a super fun (and free) way to be fashionable, while making likeminded mates. Melburnians, swap ‘till you drop at clothingexchange.com.au