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What Does Ethical Fashion Mean?

By Resources

What Does Ethical Fashion Mean?

Ethical fashion, fast fashion, slow fashion, greenwashing, mindful fashion, transparency, circular fashion, eco-friendly fashion, conscious fashion, traceability, sustainable fashion…the list goes on and on.

With so many buzzwords floating around the industry, it’s easy to get confused, overwhelmed, or put off in your quest to find and support brands that are doing the right thing.

So, we thought we’d put together this handy guide to help explain what ethical fashion means, how you can easily spot ethical fashion, and where you can instantly start browsing and shopping for ethical brands without the need for hours of research first.

Image: Francie

Let’s start with the basics, what is ethical fashion?

Depending on who you’re talking to, discussions surrounding ethical fashion can have a slew of different criteria and various interpretations. Some define ethical fashion as fashion that aims to reduce the negative impact on people and the planet, intertwining their ethical and sustainable fashion definitions together.

Here at Ethical Clothing Australia, (ECA) we focus on the human elements when it comes to the manufacturing of textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) products here in Australia. It is our mission to protect and advocate for the rights of every person behind a garment, and so we define ‘ethical fashion’ solely in terms of protecting the rights and lives of garment workers. Our accreditation program ensures that these workers are receiving the correct pay, entitlements and are working in safe conditions in line with Australian workplace laws – something that cannot be taken for granted

What is ECA’s accreditation program?

Established in 2000 in response to growing concern about the exploitation of Australian garment workers, ECA’s accreditation program maps Aussie supply chains all the way from design to dispatch. Once accredited, businesses are revisited annually with compliance audits carried out by the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union team to ensure that nothing has changed since their last audit.

ECA exists to protect the rights of local factory-based workers and outworkers aka, homeworkers.

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This work is particularly important for outworkers who are most at risk as they frequently work in isolation, can face unrealistic deadlines, be forced to work long hours, receive irregular work, and encounter occupational health and safety issues. Commonly, outworkers may lack knowledge about their legal rights, award rates and entitlements and feel powerless to speak up about problems in fear of rocking the boat and losing their jobs altogether.

How to spot ethical fashion

ECA’s certification trade mark makes it easy to spot ethical fashion when you’re out and about as well as during online shopping. Only brands accredited by ECA can display the trademark on their website and garment swing tags – so keep your eyes peeled!

If you see the ECA trademark, (pictured below) you know that the manufacturing of that particular item of clothing or accessory has been ethical from design to pattern making, to sewing and dispatch (and all the steps in between). It also means that it’s been made in Australia.

ECA’s accreditation program runs annual compliance audits, so as soon as you see the trade mark you know that fashion brand is looking after its workers’ rights not just for a one-off audit, but on an ongoing basis.

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Where to shop ethically

The great news is that through ECA’s comprehensive compliance audits all the hard work has already been done for you in determining whether brands are ensuring their workers’ rights are being upheld and in terms of easy ways to track down fantastic ethical Australian fashion brands!

If you’d like to support local ethical fashion brands you can check out our:

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Sydney’s Ethical Fashion – Made In Sydney Shopping Guide 2021

By Resources

Sydney Ethical Clothing – Made in New South Wales Shopping Guide 2021

When making the conscious decision to support local ethical clothing brands, it helps to understand what ethical fashion is and most importantly where to find ethical fashion brands near you.

So, we’ve put together this list of Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) accredited brands with products that are 100% Australian made to use as your guide to ethical clothes shopping in Sydney for some feel-good local retail therapy. This guide is focused on brands that are making in Sydney and around New South Wales (NSW).

Image: Cue

What makes a clothing brand ethical?

When it comes to defining “what is ethical fashion?” you’ll see a variety of interpretations out there. Some connect sustainable materials, waste reduction, vegan materials, and environmentally friendly fabrics to their understanding of ethical fashion.

While these are all important issues facing the fashion industry, ECA’s mission is to “protect the rights of both local factory-based workers and outworkers”, so you need to know that ECA defines ethical fashion solely in relation to the fair treatment of workers (i.e. local textile, clothing and footwear workers are paid appropriately, receive all their legal entitlements and safe working conditions).

Now that we have a clear definition of “ethical brands”, you might like to shop from local ethical clothing labels. But how do you know which clothing brands are ethical from New South Wales’s wide range of talented fashion designers and makers? Well, that’s why we’ve compiled this list of five NSW-based brands to kickstart your search for fabulous ethical fashion brands. These are brands that make 100% of their products locally.

As you look through our 2021 ultimate guide to Sydney ethical clothing, you can rest assured that all of these fashion labels are going about their manufacturing and supply chain processes the right ethical way, having been accredited by ECA.

Below Image: Margot Design

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Sydney-based ethical clothing and suits

Bianca Spender

With their head office based in Sydney and boutiques in Mosman, Bianca Spender operates from the heart of the city. Bianca Spender is a leading Australian fashion label, specialising in “designs that are enduring, empowering, and impressive” and we couldn’t agree more. Bianca Spender brings refinement to detail in tailored suits, dream gowns and elegant individual pieces that cannot be matched. Their online store has a unique sizing system to help you find the perfect fit. The Bianca Spender range runs from 4-18.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.biancaspender.com

589 Military Rd, Mosman NSW 2088

Cue

Founded in 1968, Cue is still a 100% family-owned and operated business. All Cue designs originate from their head office in Surry Hills, Sydney. Their significant investment in the local Australian manufacturing industry enables Cue to have longstanding relationships with makers, while also remaining reactive and ethically conscious. Cue has been accredited with ECA since 2009 ensuring that it’s local supply chain is transparent and ethical.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: The majority of Cue’s products are proudly made in Australia and accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia.

Shop: www.cue.com

Below Image: Bianca Spender

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Shop ethical tees made in Sydney

Citizen Wolf

Designed and made in Sydney, Citizen Wolf is the home of the perfect fitted tee. They have elevated the experience of clothing through their iconic ‘Magic Fit” technology, creating custom, high-quality clothing made on-demand. This eco-friendly brand is zero waste and customers receive free repairs for life.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.citizenwolf.com

Woolerina

Established in 2005, Woolerina is an Australian-owned and operated family business based at Forbes in central west NSW. Woolerina was born out of a love for the Merino fibre and their passion for the fibre and producing amazingly comfortable clothing only continues to grow!

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.woolerina.com.au

Below Image: Citizen Wolf

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Sydney-based ethical scarves

Margot Design

Printed and made in Sydney, Margot Designs has developed a business allowing customers to buy only what they need, and Margot only prints when required. With this on-demand style production, Margot offers great flexibility and creativity, allowing your most lush textile dreams the opportunity to come true. Margot Designs’s range includes scarves, throws and textiles inspired by Paris, sold online and at the local Paddington Markets.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.margotdesign.com.au

Image Below: Margot Design

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Buy ethical linen clothing in Sydney

Pankina Clothing

Pankina Clothing is a brand that is designed, developed and manufactured in Australia. Their aim is to produce ethically made sustainable women’s clothing that is both timeless and stylish. Pankina use natural breathable fabrics which are practical for the Australian climate.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.pankinaclothing.com.au

Image Below: Pankina Clothing

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Shop ethical wool from Sydney

Woolerina

Woolerina has been family-owned and operated since 2005, producing beautifully crafted garments and covers the whole family, head-to-toe in gorgeous locally grown merino pieces. The team handpicks the wool from the Sydney Wool Selling Centre. Designs are inspired by the beauty of simplicity, timeless silhouettes and basic styling, creating garments that can be handed down to generations to come.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.woolerina.com.au

To discover and shop for more ethical fashion brands in Sydney look at our Digital Shopping Map. The map is your go-to guide for retail store locations Australia wide.

Please note: This guide was last updated on 14 July 2021.

Below Image: Woolerina

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Melbourne’s Ethical Fashion – Made In Melbourne Shopping Guide 2021

By Resources, Uncategorised

Melbourne's Ethical Fashion – Made In Melbourne Shopping Guide 2021

If you’ve made the conscious decision to support local ethical clothing brands, it makes sense that you’d need to understand what ethical fashion is and most importantly where to find ethical fashion brands near you.

So, we’ve put together this list of Ethical Clothing Australia, (ECA) accredited brands whose products are 100% made in Australia to use as your guide to ethical shopping in Melbourne – for some home-grown retail therapy you can feel good about.

Image: Vege Threads

What makes a clothing brand ethical?

When it comes to answering the question ‘what is ethical fashion?’ you may see a few different definitions floating around the internet. Some tie sustainable materials, waste reduction, vegan materials, and environmentally friendly fabrics into their definition of ‘ethical’.

While these are all important issues, ECA’s mission is to “protect the rights of both local factory-based workers and outworkers”, meaning that ECA’s definition of ‘ethical fashion’ only relates to the fair treatment of workers, (i.e. local textile, clothing and footwear workers are paid appropriately, receiving all their legal entitlements and safe conditions).

Now that you know what we mean by “ethical fashion”, you might like to choose to shop from local ethical clothing labels. But how do you know which clothing brands are ethical in Melbourne’s plethora of talented fashion businesses? ECA’s accreditation program takes the guess work away and that’s why we’ve compiled this list of 10 Melbourne-based brands to kickstart your hunt for ethical fashion options.

As you browse this 2021 ultimate guide to Melbourne ethical clothing, you can rest assured that all these fashion labels are going about their manufacturing and supply chain processes the right ethical way, having all been accredited by ECA.

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Melbourne-based ethical activewear

Vege Threads

Vege Threads is a low impact womenswear and menswear label that uses hemp, 100% GOTS certified organic cotton, and natural plant dyed textiles. Vege Threads is a progressive label with a strong ethos—striving to improve its company’s sustainability through transparency and a greater economic, environmental and social success.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.vegethreads.com/

Ottie

Based in Melbourne, Ottie specialises in making 100% Australian merino wool hiking t-shirts. Designed by hikers, for hikers, their short and long-sleeved relaxed-fit tees are odour resistant, moisture wicking, biodegradable and very very comfy. Their tees are available for men (S–XXL) and women (sizes XS–XL).

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: ottie.com.au/

Wilderness Wear

Wilderness Wear Australia was established in 1989 and is still 100% Australian owned. They produce apparel and socks of exceptional material quality and functional design that are all 100% Australian Made.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.wildernesswear.com.au

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Shop ethical denim made in Melbourne

A.BCH

A.BCH is a circular fashion label that exists to transform the way people buy, wear and discard clothing. Rejecting many of fashion’s norms, A.BCH focusses on eliminating material and energy waste through the entire lifecycle of a garment whilst creating beautiful, design-led products for people around the world to love and enjoy.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.abch.world/

Denimsmith

A family business founded in 2015, Denimsmith has a passion for ethical and local production of high-quality denim clothing. They craft their premium jeans from the finest Japanese denim where each pair is handmade by their skilled local makers in their Fitzroy based factory. Ladies jeans sizes range from 24–34 and men’s jeans sizes range from 28–38.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: denimsmith.com.au

Nobody Denim

Nobody began in a small family-built denim laundry in the backstreets of Fitzroy in Melbourne, Australia. The label was founded in 1999 on the belief that making jeans could be imbued with integrity and creativity. They began by designing their own unique tools and techniques in the hand customisation of denim. Nobody’s design process now creates the best fit possible by looking at the different shrinkages, reactions, life and shape retention of denim. Each jean has been individually hand-customised to achieve natural and proportioned placement.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: Majority (All of Nobody Denim is made in Australia).

Shop: www.nobodydenim.com/

The Social Studio

The Social Studio is a manufacturing studio, fashion label and retail space that celebrates the style and skills of diverse cultures in Australia. They champion diversity, community, education, sustainability, design and ethical business practices. Working with both established and upcoming brands they offer a manufacturing service of high-quality garments and homewares, whilst guiding you through every step of the production process.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.thesocialstudio.org/

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Melbourne based ethical sleepwear

Dream With Me

Designed and made in Melbourne, Dream With Me is committed to a conscious journey, endeavouring to create pieces which can stand the test of time, allowing customers to buy well in order to buy less. Dream With Me’s luxury sleepwear range includes draping kimono robes, chic silky pyjama sets and comfy bamboo basics. They carry women’s sizes S–L.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.dreamwithme.com.au/

Remuse Designs

R E M U S E Designs is a Melbourne based clothing label where futurism meets nature. Fusing artisan techniques, dye technology, and natural fibers, R E M U S E investigates the ways the future of a fashion is simply fashion that takes inspiration from the earth. The philosophy behind the label is to create small, ethically produced, trans-seasonal collections, released quarterly at the time of each Equinox and each Solstice. Each collection gives R E M U S E an opportunity to reconsider its impact and material choices.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.remusedesigns.com/

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Buy ethical socks in Melbourne

Humphrey Law Socks

Founded in Melbourne in 1947, Humphrey Law Socks have been manufacturing socks made from the highest quality natural yarns (mostly cotton, alpaca and wool) for over 70 years. Their mission has always been to provide high quality and value for money. Humphrey Law makes socks for men, women and children for travel, work and play.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: humphreylaw.com.au/ or https://sockrevolution.com/

Soxy Beast

Soxy Beast is the subscription experiment of two design lovers who wanted to meet interesting artists, support charities they care about and invest in Australian textiles – all while creating bold, unique socks just for you.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.soxybeast.com.au

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Shop ethical underwear from Melbourne

Farm To Hanger

Farm To Hanger is a slow fashion brand that locally produces handcrafted clothing. Embracing traceability and transparent processes, Farm to Hanger is committed to knowing exactly where its products come from and the impact these products are having both socially and environmentally. This attention to detail even extends to the reusing, repurposing and recycling of their waste materials. Farm to Hanger focuses on designing, producing and supplying garments for quality and longevity – making it the perfect way to be environmentally conscious! Farm to Hanger also gives back to the environment by planting a tree for every item the brand makes and is passionate about supporting local industry by being 100% Australian Made.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.farmtohanger.com/

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Melbourne based ethical womenswear

Allora

Launched in Melbourne in 2016, Allora specialises in beautifully designed and tailored wool and cashmere capes and coats for women. All of their garments are ethically produced and designed in Melbourne because supporting the local manufacturing industry and ethical treatment of garment workers is Allora’s top priority. Their collection is available in women’s sizes 6–16.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: alloracollection.com.au/

Francie

After years in the fashion & textile industry in Australia and Japan, francie was born from a desire for luxurious knitwear that is also low impact. beautiful design that happens to be transparent, sustainable, and ethical. Their knits are made from premium yarns on one of the last knitting machines in Melbourne.They focus on natural fibers that breathe with you and designs that move with you between occasions, seasons, and years.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.francie.com.au/

Gaal

Founded in Melbourne by Brianna and Mathew Gaal, Gaal designs cool, fun, feminine pieces that celebrate colour and promote sustainability. All their garments are designed and made in Melbourne. They are passionate about sustainable eco-friendly materials, where their fabric, thread, button, interlining and even shoulder pads are made from low-impact, natural biodegradable materials. Their collection includes sizes 6–14.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: gaalcollection.com/

Interknit & Branberry

Interknit is an established knitting mill in regional Victoria, operating since 1939. With an emphasis on quality production and ethical processes, Interknit continues to service a wide variety of sectors including mining; corporate; schools and fashion retail.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.interknit.com.au

Keegan

Keegan is the contemporary clothing label of designer & artist Keegan Hunt, valuing innovation, quality craftsmanship & slow, considered fashion. Comfort, style & versatility are integral to each keegan design. The lifespan of each garment & the business’s social & environmental impact informs each decision made in the workroom. Therefore, garments are produced in-house from quality & predominantly bio-degradable materials & all offcuts are composted or up-cycled. Believing that clothing is a long-term investment, keegan designs with longevity in mind; from the way each piece is constructed, to its timeless, relaxed cut & trans-seasonal nature.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.keeganthelabel.com.au/

Love Linen

Ethical luxury linen born in beautiful Broome, Western Australia, where every day is resort life. Passionate about the beauty and intrinsic qualities which only linen possess, Love Linen creates clothing perfect for the Australian climate.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.lovelinen.com.au/

Magenta Threads

Magenta Threads is a slow-fashion Melbourne based label with a focus on natural fabrics, original prints and a love of colour. It is a fusion: many years of design and couture experience, classic lines, digital technology and inspiration drawn from nature and art. Garments are versatile, comfortable and made to order in your size, to ensure minimal environmental impact & maximum sustainability. Buy Australian made, buy less, buy quality that lasts.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.magentathreads.com/

Pankina Clothing

Pankina Clothing is a brand that is designed, developed and manufactured in Australia. Their aim is to produce ethically made sustainable women’s clothing that is both timeless and stylish. Pankina use natural breathable fabrics which are practical for the Australian climate.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.pankinaclothing.com.au

Sista Of Jac

SISTA ÖF JAC is an Australian label established in 2015 by siblings Selda and Yeshim Ismail. The label focuses on creating sustainable and ethical womenswear made locally. The label is interested in using new and quality sustainable fabrications that are fused with innovative bespoke tailoring. Inspired by science, engineering, architecture and experimenting with prints, SISTA ÖF JAC offers bold and eccentric colours and styles

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.sistaofjac.com/

Zauber

Zauber Knitwear is Australia’s only knitwear using Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) certified yarn which has been spun by Great Ocean Road Woollen Mill, in Australia, using Australian fibres.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.gorwm.com.au/

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Buy ethical childrenswear and baby clothes from Melbourne brands

BOA Basics

BOA Basics takes pride in creating premium quality kids clothing with all pieces responsibly and ethically made in Australia, using Australian grown cotton. BOA Basics encourage clean dressing through timeless, unisex styles & colours that can be mixed and matched with ease and passed down or shared between siblings. Each piece designed with comfort and durability in mind, bringing you Aussie made goodness you can rely on!

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: www.boabasics.com.au/

Treekid

Treekid is a kids clothing label that thoughtfully designs their unique hard-wearing garments so they adjust as your child grows over time. All their garments are designed to be worn for at least 3 years and can be adjusted up to 4 sizes. They make colourful tees, shorts, dresses and overalls. A cool feature of their denim overalls is they are reversible and incorporate upcycled fabric for pockets, so no two items are the same! Treekid caters for little ones aged from one to six.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: treekid.com.au/

Smart Stuff

Born in Melbourne in 1996, Smart Stuff’s jam is bold and brightly coloured art smocks that kiddies just love to wear. Smock designs feature an extra thick front panel to protect against paint and glue, are machine washable and have no tricky buttons or ties. Art smocks are available for little and big kids, with sizes suitable for children aged 2–14.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: smartstuff.com.au/

 

To discover and shop more ethical fashion brands near you take a look at our Ethical Shopping Map.

Please note: This guide was last updated on 30 June 2021.

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Our Guide: How to Shop Ethically Made Clothes

By Resources

Our Guide: How to Shop Ethically Made Clothes

When you’re trying to do the best with your dollars by investing in a well-made ethical piece of clothing and supporting a business that’s doing good in the world, it can get a bit confusing, to say the least. Fast fashion companies can boast big vague statements or have impressive goals… for 2040… but, what are they doing now? Below we share how to research brands, what questions you can ask of brands and what the Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) trademark means. Let’s dive in!

Do your research

Ethical Clothing Australia’s accreditation program creates a level playing field for the brands and manufacturers that pass an ECA audit. The audit ensures that the rights of the talented and hard-working people behind each garment are being protected – that they are receiving the correct wages, their entitlements and are working in safe conditions according to Australian workplace laws.

When understanding what makes a brand ethical, there’s a lot to consider. Here are the fundamentals ECA looks at in a compliance audit, which is a great place to start when researching and finding where to shop ethical fashion:

Employee wages and entitlements are met as per the Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 2020 or any other applying award.

  • TCF Award 2020, making sure workers get paid enough).
  • Working conditions are occupational health and safety (OHS) inspected and Workcover insurance is available, (ensuring the space they work in is safe and that if an injury occurred then a first aid kit and other essentials are available).
  • Evidence of accruals: annual and other leave has been accrued, and paid correctly, (because all workers deserve the leave they’re entitled to).
  • Meeting with the workers as well as home workers, (face to face conversations with workers so they know about the audit and what it covers).
  • Assessing all onshore suppliers, including any outsourced services such as embroidery or screen printing , (every step of the way, these standards need to be maintained).

As we look at the supply chain and process involved in making textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) products, we start to see how many hands have been involved and how important it is to look after each one.

If you’re short on time you can head straight to our brand directory and know you’re buying ethically with any one of our ECA accredited brands.

Ask questions of brands

How are your garment workers treated?

Everyone deserves a safe work environment, from designers to garment workers to those who dispatch your clothing. Without ethical treatment of workers, employees can be under-paid, denied bathroom breaks, meal breaks and proper care when injured or sick. When asking brands about how their workers are treated, keep them accountable and make sure that their actions count. Shopping ethically supports workers who are receiving living wages and encourages these fantastic ethical brands to continue to manufacture in Australia.

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How do you ensure safe working conditions for garment workers?

A consumer asking about the working conditions of a business’s garment workers is a joy for ethical brands and simultaneously puts pressure on brands that are not up to scratch. For ethical brands, they get to proudly share all the effort they’ve put into making their working conditions safe, fair and ethical. Whereas for unethical brands, asking what the working conditions are can lead to allusive, vague answers covering up their lack of standards. For ECA, having safe working conditions for garment workers includes OHS inspection of amenities, having electricals checked from the toaster to the sewing machines, even ensuring that the workplace has a working fire extinguisher with the correct service date. These seemingly little things if overlooked can add up to a dangerous workplace. Asking these questions can increase demand for safe working conditions for all garment workers.

Does the brand have a transparent supply chain?

A great first step when looking into a brand’s ethical practices is to see if they have a transparency page on their website. Transparency pages usually reflect the willingness of a brand to share information behind the scenes and about their products. Ethical brands that know and respect their garment workers will often share photos of the team and their factory because they are proud of each person behind their ethical brand and practices that go into making the clothes. If you cannot find this page, you can email the brand and ask about their transparency policy and for details about their supply chain. With more demand and consumer pressure, comes the push for brands to share what goes into their garments, leaving no room for shady practices and encourages brands to take the steps necessary to become ECA accredited.

Does the brand share ethical and sustainable goals?

This is another question you can ask. Goals and targets show that a brand is at least considering their practices. You can help to keep them accountable by asking what the smaller steps are and when you can expect certain changes to be implemented. This builds accountability and pushes them to take greater steps toward being an ethical brand as they can see their customers are voting with their dollars.  Look for goals with tangible results, not just sidestepping over issues, (for example, starting a charity, while very commendable, doesn’t benefit their garment workers).

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How much of their clothing is manufactured in Australia?

You don’t know what you can’t see. ECA only audits brands, manufacturers and suppliers based in Australia and there are a lot of benefits to producing onshore. When clothing is produced in Australia, there’s more accountability of both the company as a whole, but also the business leaders and marketers who sell their products. If there’s unethical manufacturing occurring, it can’t be blamed on being “out of sight”. There are also greater benefits to local production like keeping the valuable skills of sewing and pattern making alive locally, supporting local manufacturing and jobs and greater collaboration between Australian businesses.

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ECA’s Certification Trade Mark

Our accreditation makes it easy when shopping ethically. When you see a brand who displays the ECA trade mark, you know that brand values ethical production and treats their workers fairly in line with Australian law. Our accreditation is renewed each year, so you know the standard will not change.

What does ECA’s accreditation mean for garment workers?

An ECA accreditation means the brand has met all the criteria in the compliance audit. It means everyone in the entire supply chain from designers to garment workers and all the way to dispatch are getting paid fairly, both in their wages, their super and their leave entitlements. It means having the correct breaks, working safe workplaces with kind treatment. It means your garments are made with love.

Why you can trust an ECA accreditation

An ECA accredited business must undertake an annual renewal process. This ensures the standards and practices are in place and stay up to date according to a range of Australian workplace laws. ECA’s compliance team audits each step of production, so that every supplier and manufacturer involved in the creation of a garment is included. This means your ethical purchase is a vote in support of the many hands involved in the creation of the garment.

How to identify ECA accredited brands

You can find ECA accredited brands in our brand directory. Ethical brands with ECA certification are able to display the ECA certification trade mark on their website and garment swing tags. Make sure to keep an eye out! If you are un sure you can always search for a brand on our website.

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ECA exists to protect the lives of Australian garment workers

ECA was created to protect garment workers and to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to find and support ethical brands. Our accreditation sets a standard for brands, manufacturers and value-adding businesses seeking to manufacture ethically and locally.

Find ECA accredited brands in our brand directory or you can find out more about ECA accreditation on our website and in our accreditation guidelines.

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The Cost of Manufacturing Onshore VS Offshore: In Conversation With Sample Room

By Resources

The Cost of Manufacturing Onshore VS Offshore: In Conversation With Sample Room

No matter if you are a solo designer, start-up business, established manufacturer or global brand at some point in your business journey you would have had to consider the benefits of manufacturing in Australia, verses manufacturing offshore. We recently spoke to Julia Van Der Sommen, Director at ECA-accredited end-to-end development house Sample Room about the advantages of manufacturing onshore and the cost comparison of offshore production.

Julia has been working in the Textile, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) Industry for more than 27 years. Starting her career locally in Adelaide working in product development, designing, pattern making, managing businesses and sourcing factories for wedding dress, sportswear, women’s fashion and kids wear manufacturers before starting Sample Room in 2009.

Can you tell us about the cost comparison research you have done about manufacturing onshore vs offshore – what insights did you find?

This is a very interesting topic. I had a gut feeling about this many years ago and undertook this research in 2019. The results were very surprising, the industry assumption is that it is cheaper to manufacture offshore, but this is not necessarily the case. The results of our research showed that with all things considered such as development, manufacturing, freight, and fault rates, you were better off manufacturing in Australia.

This information has become much more widely recognised after 2020 and the impacts of COVID-19 on both international and local industries. Many businesses encountered the tipping point of quantity and number of styles being produced. For those making less than 20 styles and less than 1000 pieces per style, it really is worth looking into manufacturing onshore. Based on pre pandemic numbers, our research found through a comparison on four styles manufacturing 300 pieces per-style resulted in a lower cost per piece when manufactured on shore. On top of that a designer then needs to take into consideration that the local industry can offer lower minimum order quantities (MOQ’s) which will also help to lower your overall costs.

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What are your thoughts on how we can secure the future of the Australian TCF industry and the workers in it?

Now is a great time to put the skills of our local industries talented workers to the test. From smaller runs with quick turnaround times to improved fit, the ability to quickly pivot when needed and the ability to communicate your requirements for unique designs, there is an opportunity for Australian designers, businesses and bigger brands to branch out and grow. I would like to see the technicians and workers behind the scenes highlighted as much as the designers to attract people to want to work in these roles and create a collaborative approach to development.

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Realising that creation is a team effort is essential to this shift. This education can also extend to the consumer, so they see who made their clothes to create a connection and understand of the costs involved. We need honest and genuine transparency, as without the technicians, skilled garment workers and manufacturers, designers are at the mercy of global politics, pandemics, freight issues and whatever else is out of their control. It is fair to say that it is in the best interest of the local design industry to nurture this.

Over the last couple of years, we have developed our workroom and equipment at Sample Room to support people who are making card patterns with other pattern makers. We have had a digitizer machine for many years, but the process of digitizing patterns was inaccurate and requires a huge effort of re-printing and re-checking. I just never felt it was accurate enough to reflect the detailed work that has been put into the patterns. I have had my eye on a particular scanner for a few years and we decided to invest in this equipment at the beginning of last year. This allows us to scan in patterns with 99.99% accuracy. This is the same machine used by NASA, allowing us to scan, grade and print markers or card with incredibly fast turnaround.

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Is there a final message that you have about the importance of ECA accreditation and protecting the rights and lives of our local garment workers?

This industry is labour-intensive and will be for many years to come. The people behind the scenes are incredibly important to the survival of all fashion brands. Having an understanding to what is involved and the specialist skills each person provides is the first step to respecting the people who are there to support you in reaching success. From the first phone call to the last collection, just to treat everyone you talk to as you would like to be treated. There is gold in the knowledge that is behind the scenes and many people who are willing to support you.

Sample Room is proudly 100% made in Australia and accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia. You can find out more about Sample Room Here

FEATURE

Is Ethical Fashion (rightfully) More Expensive Than Fast Fashion?

By Resources

Is Ethical Fashion (rightfully) More Expensive Than Fast Fashion?

By Jenna Flood, The Ironic Minimalist

We often baulk at laying down cash or swiping a card for expensive purchases, even if we know that we are making a good investment at the time.

This often applies to ethical fashion. Compared with fast fashion brands, ethical fashion brands seem to cost their products much higher, which can make our money-savvy brains think we aren’t getting a bargain or are missing out on a deal. When in fact, we are usually the ones missing out on a good deal when we opt to buy fast fashion.

Investing in an ethical and well-made garment means we don’t have to spend our valuable time looking for the same garment season after season, as it’s already hanging in our wardrobe. It also cuts down the amount of clothing in our wardrobe, making it easier and less stressful to get dressed on those busy “must-get-out-the-door” type days.

When we choose to spend our money with a brand that values its workers and cares about the longevity of its garments, we are voting for a better future and helping set the standard for other brands to follow.

Want to know a bit more before you spend all your hard-earned money on that ethically made jumper? Well, let’s unravel, (pun intended) the cost gap between ethical and fast fashion and why investing in ethically made clothing helps to build a better wardrobe.

Garment workers need to be paid a living wage

One study released by Oxfam found that the garment workers who made our clothing weren’t receiving a living wage. In Bangladesh, workers were paid as little as 39 cents an hour, which isn’t enough to cover basic needs such as food, housing and healthcare. While we may think this is an isolated issue in international countries, the reality is that it happens here in Australia too.
Many manufacturers employ out workers (also known as home workers). These workers are based outside the traditional factory or work environment. They often do not understand their rights as Australian workers due to a lack of spoken English and often due to these boundaries struggle to speak up when they experience unethical working conditions, such as long hours, not receiving correct award pay rates or no entitlements such as leave or superannuation.

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When a brand is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA), the ECA accreditation ensures that any worker who works in that brand’s supply chain receives the correct wages and entitlements and are working in safe conditions under Australian Law. Supporting the work that accreditation bodies like ECA do is important for the future of the fashion industry.

So, when you next head off to buy something for your wardrobe, ask yourself a few questions. Did the workers who made this garment work in a safe and secure environment? Were they paid a living wage or at least the minimum wage? Is this a company that you want to support?
The more we support brands who are doing the right thing, the more we set the standard for other brands to follow.

Ethical garments are built for longevity
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Imagine opening your wardrobe and inside are four coats. Three of the four coats are from fast fashion brands, they have begun to lose their shape, the stitching has started to unravel, and they have to be layered with another jumper to keep you warm. You only bought these on sale at the end of last winter! The fourth coat is made by an ethically accredited brand, it still retains its structure, the fabric feels smooth against your skin and most importantly, it keeps you warm. What’s the bet that you reach for the fourth coat the most?

Due to the skills, talent, extensive training and passionate craftsmanship of their workers, ethical brands ensure that their garments will last season after season. One example of this is Denimsmith.

At Denimsmith we believe in the slow jean making process, this means whatever we do we have the end user in mind. We want to ensure our Denimsmith jeans become our customers' favourites, they need to stand the test of time and not be discarded after a few wears due to poor quality. We source high quality fabrics from Japan that are strong, we make our jeans with care ensuring more stitches per inch. Taking our time with weaving, cutting, manufacturing and washing means we have better quality control and little customer returns.

Leonie,Creative Director of ECA-accredited Denimsmith.

Because brands like Denimsmith and their craftspeople take the time and focus on making their denim goods with care rather than focusing on creating for profit. Their jeans are loved and cared for by their loyal customers. Investing in garments such as these means we need to spend less on our wardrobes in the long term.

Develop your personal style

Those marketing geniuses behind fast fashion brands work hard to make sure you want something new and shiny season after season. They trick you into thinking that having the latest trend in your wardrobe is the key to living a happy life. But not all trends are created equally, not all trends suit the body shapes and sizes that buy them. Soon your wardrobe is filled with pieces that don’t flatter and prints that don’t match.

When you decide to stop buying into trends and invest in well-made pieces, you will find that your wardrobe may shrink. Don’t worry, it’s for the best! By taking a considered approach to shopping, we can narrow down what we want from our wardrobes. Investing in key pieces such as staple coats, and jeans, (or pants) can help us to build a wardrobe that we love.

Defining your values also helps to build a better wardrobe. Do you want to support brands that pay a living wage and provide a safe space for their garment workers? Maybe you’d like to support the Australian manufacturing industry (check out ECA’s digital shopping map)? Once you have identified some of your core values, you can work on finding brands that match them and begin to build a wardrobe that represents you and your values.

Cost per wear

If you are someone who does want to get the most bang for your buck, try embracing the “Cost Per Wear” (CPW) method to your clothing before buying. Cost Per Wear is a great way to help you invest in pricier pieces as you analyse how many times you would wear something before taking the leap. CPW is the price you pay for a garment, divided by the number of times you wear it. For example, if you buy a garment for $100, and wear it four times, that garment cost you $25 each time you wore it. So, the more you wear, the less the CPW is.

By thinking about your clothing as investments rather than trend-driven purchases, you can use the CPW calculation to get your money’s worth. Purchasing higher quality, timeless garments can also help you build a wardrobe that doesn’t rely on trends or forces you to buy something new each week. This in turn saves you money and reduces the amount of clutter in your wardrobe.

Stopping the habit of weekly fast fashion purchases can be challenging, I know it took me many years to stop the weekly peek at new trends. But, I know that once I made the switch to saving up for a garment from an ethical brand, I found that my wardrobe was filled with garments that I loved and cared for. Getting dressed is now a walk in the park compared to the messy “I have nothing to wear” days of before. While I can still be tempted by a flashy fast fashion piece glinting at me from the window when I walk past, I know that there is no room in my wardrobe for brands that don’t align with my values.

You can find out more about Jenna and The Ironic Minimalist Here

AMADU1 3

Meet The Makers: Nobody Denim

By Resources
AMADU1

Meet The Makers: Nobody Denim

In April we have been spotlighting the talented workers behind your clothes. You can find these people working in ECA accredited factories, with companies in the supply chain of ECA accredited businesses and even working from home. Last week was Fashion Revolution Week and as the conversation around ethical manufacturing practices and garment worker rights grows louder, ECA accredited for 11 years Nobody Denim have spotlighted some of the vibrant personalities that put their heart and soul into creating ethically and locally made denim.

The majority of Nobody Denim’s products are proudly made in Australia and accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia.

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Fashion Revolution 2021: Meet The Woolerina Team

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Fashion Revolution 2021: Meet The Woolerina Team

This week is Fashion Revolution Week. The week was started after the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,138 people and injured many more on 24thApril, 2013.It’s a week where important conversations are started, where we are all encouraged to ask brands, “who made my clothes” and where we can continue to create change in the TCF industry both here in Australia and internationally.  

As part of the week, ECA accredited Woolerina have shared a meet and greet series with their local team. Read on to find out who makes your clothes, Woolerina style! 

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Meet Warwick… Warwick is the founder of Woolerina and has held a strong passion for Merino wool for more than 45 years! Warwick held a dream of taking Merino wool directly off-farm and following it through to a finished garment and that dream led to Woolerina. Warwick is involved in all aspects of the business, however his primary role is selecting the raw wool for their garments and following the process through the spinning of the yarn, knitting and dying of the fabric and then to the cutting and sewing of garments. 

“I enjoy seeing the response from our customers when they feel and try our garments on and their realisation of how wonderful the wool fibre is. It really gives me a buzz when the customers comment on the quality, not only the feel of our fabrics but also the finish of our garments.” 

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Meet Rosemary… Rosemary is in charge of Woolerinas frontofhouse. You will often meet her if you shop in-store and if you order online, your order is more often-than-not packed by Rosemary. Rosemary is always very willing to help wherever she can and sometimes can be found tying swing tags on garments or sweeping the work room floor! 

“I love the diversity of my job, and the people I work with. I love their passion for the entire process of producing the end product ethically.” 

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Meet Pippa + Penny… Penny and Pippa are sisters, best friends and Warwick’s daughters. They have followed in their dads’ footsteps and share his passion for Merino wool – maybe because they were always told from day dot, “if you are cold, put a merino wool singlet on!” Pippa is primarily in charge of marketing, social media and Woolerina’s wholesale customers and Penny is the backbone to Woolerina, keeping the team in line. 

 “We love our team! Everyone is unique and brings their own personal touch to each aspect of their job. We are so appreciative of our team and how hard they work and everyone’s willingness to jump in wherever needed to get the job done!” 

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Meet Charlene, Delia, Melissa and Trudie (away when picture was taken) 

Delia is the Production Manager and has been working at Woolerina since 2014 when she came for “just a few days work”. Seven years later, she’s still there! Delia creates all of the patterns and manages Woolerina’s team of sewers.  

“The people are great to work with, it’s very collaborative, all opinions are valued. It is not working when you enjoy what you are doing each day.”  

Charlene is one of Woolerina’s Machinists with a very high attention to detail and she has been part of the Woolerina team for nearly two years, she is always very willing to help out where needed but also very happy to put her head down and get the job done! 

“I love the product and am proud to be in a team that has a high standard of workmanship. I love that Woolerina is a locally based country business who employs people to stay in a rural community” 

Melissa is another one of Woolerina’s machinists with more than six years at Woolerina. She has recently started to manage the internal system of ensuring all of the patterns are correctly digitised.   

“I love working at Woolerina because even after working here for almost seven years I am still finding opportunities to learn from not only advances in technology and fabrics, but also from team mates.” 

Trudie is the latest addition to the team, bringing years of sewing experience with her. Trudie is very willing to jump in when needed and sure knows how to get the machines humming! 

“The thing I love about Woolerina is you are part of a family, not just a number. I love hearing Warwick, Penny and Pippa show customers and visitors through our work room as to hear them talk so passionately about what they have been able to produce makes me proud to be a part of this Australian and local business.” 

 

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The Many Hands Behind Farn

By Resources

The Many Hands Behind Farn

You can’t miss the bold patterns and vivid colours of Melbourne based screen printed textiles and clothing brand Farn. The brand was founded by fashion buyer turned textile designer Amanda in 2018 after she took a career break to study Textile Design at RMIT. As part of our March focus on the many hands that contribute to the making of an ethical and local garment, we spoke to Amanda to learn more about the brand, to meet the markers and to understand why ECA accreditation is important to her business.

Farn became accredited with ECA in 2020, can you tell us a little about why you sought ECA accreditation and why it is important to you and your business?

The extended lockdown in Melbourne in 2020 was an opportunity for people to slow down, reflect and take pleasure in the world around them. For me it was a chance to think about why I started Farn, what I want the brand to stand for and how to establish those values as the business grows. I was beginning to notice that the words ‘ethical’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘considered’ were being used more frequently by fashion brands but they were not being held accountable to what this really meant. Being accredited by ECA was a way for Farn to establish authenticity around my values on ethical manufacturing. Accreditation meant ‘ethical’ wasn’t just a word used to describe how I preferred to work, it became the foundation of how I work and continue to evolve my business to make better decisions.

ECA Accreditation meant ‘ethical’ wasn’t just a word used to describe how I preferred to work, it became the foundation of how I work and continue to evolve my business to make better decisions.

This month we are spotlighting the many hands that go into making a garment locally and ethically. ECA’s accreditation program maps a business and their supply chain. Can you tell us about the workers in the Farn supply chain from design to dispatch?

I work very closely with everyone who contributes to the production of Farn garments. I treasure every relationship and consider Farn a collaboration with everyone in my supply chain. I design all the garments and prints in Farn ranges and work with a local patternmaker who brings my sketches and ‘specs’ to reality with paper patterns. I used to do all the patternmaking myself in the beginning but through word of mouth I found Helen who has been working with small and large Melbourne businesses for decades.

Me in my studio

In my four years of business, I’ve found the Melbourne creative community to be incredibly open and generous in sharing information, experiences and contacts, I couldn’t imagine my business operating anywhere else!

I generally design prints and products at the same time and during lockdown when everything was closed I had to problem solve how I was going to get my designs on screen. I ended up hand-painting each of my screen separations separately on gaff film, which took a few days to complete but was a great learning experience on manual separations.

My designs are then exposed onto yardage screens using photo sensitive emulsion that reacts to lights that etches your design onto screen. I work closely with Nadia and Jason who print my designs onto fabric.

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My printers studio is just a ten-minute bike ride from my studio so it’s always easy to pop down to check colour strike offs or collect fabric rolls. I cut all samples and production in my studio in Fitzroy and sampling is either handled by myself or one of my two makers who will be making final production. I fit and amend all sampling in-house before I pass the finished patterns to Holly who also has a studio across the road from me, where she works on her own label and helps me out with sizing.

Once fabric is ready and patterns are available in their full-size range, I cut everything before passing to Neroli who works from her studio in Brunswick or I drop the rolls and patterns off to Vanessa who works from her studio in Heidelberg. I generally only cut and produce 2-3 of each size in my first production run, only recutting when sizes have sold through. Luckily, I also work with small makers who don’t have MOQ’s so I can be quite reactive and rarely have stock left over.

How many hands are involved in the making of one Farn garment? Can you explain the process from initial design to final garment?

 I’m going to use the sleeveless midi dress as an example as this sold-out in my first production run and I am about to start the recut. There’s five people who individually contribute to the production of this dress. First the fabric is printed, this dress has four colours, and each colour is printed separately with a different screen. It’s quite a magical process to witness as you slowly see each colour printed and the final print is only revealed with the last screen. The fabric is then heat cured, setting the printing pigment to the fabric. I then take the roll up the road to my studio and begin cutting the dresses. Each dress uses around 3m of fabric so the 20m roll disappears quite quickly!

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The patterns of this dress were made by Helen and the sizes were graded by Holly. Once cut, I bundle each size up along with labels, threads and production sample and take them to Neroli who sews each dress from her studio in Brunswick. 1-2 weeks later I collect the dresses, take them to my studio for a final press before they go online!

Humans are naturally empathetic creatures so if we’re forced to face the harsh reality of these conditions we would (most of the time) be less-likely to support brands that are stripping away the humanity to make room for high volume, low-cost ranges.

Grading dress

ECA is continually educating the general public about the importance of shopping ethically and locally, as a smaller Australian brand why is it important that shoppers consider who made their clothes when purchasing?

Education is so important in knowing where our clothes were made and the conditions they were made in. Humans are naturally empathetic creatures so if we’re forced to face the harsh reality of these conditions we would (most of the time) be less-likely to support brands that are stripping away the humanity to make room for high volume, low-cost ranges. By purchasing locally and from brands accredited by ECA you know you’re supporting businesses that are doing the right thing and by wearing our garments you are an advocate yourself.

I encourage everyone to make one item of clothing to understand the true cost, you’ll be surprised at how much the raw materials cost alone without even considering the time it took you to make it. How much is your time worth?

100% of Farn’s products are proudly made in Australia and accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia.

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ECA’s Guide To Ethical Shopping In Melbourne’s CBD

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ECA’s Melbourne CBD

Ethical Shopping Itinerary

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Heading into Melbourne this weekend for the final shows of Melbourne Fashion Festival or looking for an excuse to support ethically and locally made fashion? We have created our go-to Ethical Shopping guide in Melbourne’s CBD using ECA’s Digital Shopping Map below!

Stop One

If you have hopped off the train or picked up a coffee from Southbank, we are starting our tour out just up the road from Flinders Street station where you will find Remuse Designs. Stocked at Craft Victoria, Watsons Place.

 Stop Two

Take a short stroll up to Bourke Street and head into Myer Melbourne where you will find Cue, Veronika Maine and Anthea Crawford all in one place!

Stop Three

Cross the road to David Jones Melbourne who stock Perri Cutten, Carla Zampatti and Bianca Spender.

Stop Four

To finish your tour, take a stroll a few blocks over to Emporium Melbourne where you will find Viktoria & Woods and Manning Cartell.

Looking for more ECA accredited businesses in and around Melbourne? Check out our Digital Shopping Map here. We recommend heading out to Fitzroy and Brunswick where you can find brands like Denimsmith, Nobody Denim and Arnsdorf!