Is New Zealand home to the most (and best) sustainable labels?

Images Via Marle
Words by Hannah Cole

An investigation.

On my long list of ‘Life Hypotheses’ sits many a thought on the weird way the world works. The latest: New Zealand is the home of the most (and best) sustainable labels per capita.

Bear with me. The land of the long white cloud has a teensy population of 4.8 million (compared to our 24.9 million). And an equally small landmass of only 268,000 square kilometres (which, according to someone on the Internet, would fit into Australia 28.6 times).

Yet, for such a small nation, it’s making waves and reaching milestones across all areas. It was the first country to open up the vote to women and is making headway to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy sources. New Zealand also nurtures some of the best creative talents across all fields. Maybe it’s because of the inherent proximity to nature, but our friends across the ditch appear to be radically sustainably-minded.

Already, we’ve seen a multitude of NZ-based labels taking the sustainable fashion world by storm: golden child Maggie Marilyn, basics guru Kowtow, and the legendary Karen Walker. Here I offer you four more labels to watch, ready to prove once and for all the unbeatable sustainable status of the region.


As the creative output of Juliet Souter, Marle communicates a lifestyle of ease, earthiness and luxury. Natural fibres such as silk, cashmere, linen and cotton are used to offer low-impact, staple designs. Equally natural colour palettes – mostly monochrome with a touch of cocoa, lavender and khaki – make for timeless wardrobe additions. You can almost hear the earth sighing with relief every time you slip into one of these pieces.


Beach Knickers

Beach Knickers has a heart-warming tale to tell of community, love and artisanship. Designed by Rosie Ackland, the brand is a real testament to the magic that can happen through collaboration. In working with a team of friends, each collection is created, styled and shot in a way that celebrates the ultimate girl gang (the one we always wish for). With all pieces handmade in New Zealand from local suppliers, the garments will make your heart flutter: puff-sleeve dresses, cotton bikinis and pussy bow blouses. This is the stuff of fairy tales.


The Knitter

Trust me when I say, winter will never seem dreary again. Not when you’ve been sorted with an indelibly cute, incredibly colourful, woollen sweater courtesy of The Knitter. Nicole Leybourne is the self-professed ‘sheep-enthusiast’ behind the brand. All pieces are handmade – between New Zealand and Peruvian artisans – using yarns sourced from both countries. The Knitter is fixated on promoting slow fashion and supporting small communities and, IMO, uses one of the most sustainable fibres available to us. Indulge now for next season, and you can thank me later.



Can you ever have too many bows or oversized sleeves in your life? I think not (unless you have Marie Kondo’d the shit out of everything). I’m not promoting buying for the sake of buying – but Mahsa’s offerings will become your new staple every time. Each piece promises something special to upgrade a mundane day and make it magical. With limited collections (all produced in New Zealand) the eponymous label utilises earthy hues to bring a fresh sense of romanticism to your wardrobe. Trust me – one look at the O’Keeffe dress and you’ll be converted.


This article was originally published in Fashion Journal 187.

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