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Faye 2022 Merino Country

Worker Story: Faye from Merino Country

By Worker stories

Worker Story: Faye from Merino Country

Faye 2022 Merino Country

This is a featured post written by a team member at Merino Country, an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited brand.

I started working as a sewing machinist in the 1970’s and learned on the job. I had decided that I didn’t want to go to school anymore, and my dad said, ‘If you don’t go to school, you have to go to work’.

My first job as a sewing machinist was at a factory underneath the Story Bridge in Kangaroo Point, Brisbane. I have worked as a sewing machinist ever since for a few different companies. I started working with Merino Country making thermals for their contract with the Australian Defence Force in 2010.

These days, I help make everything in Australian Merino from Merino wool undies (Wundies) to T-shirts. Overlocking (sewing the edges of fabric to prevent fraying) is my specialty. Even though I could have retired by now, I enjoy coming to work for the company, friendship and laughter!

My favourite Merino Country piece is the Short Swing Jacket as it is easy to wear and keeps me warm, and it looks great paired with the Merino Leggings.

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Worker Story: Kym from Merino Country

By Worker stories

Worker story: Kym from Merino Country

This is a featured post written by a team member at Merino Country, an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited brand.

When I was 16 years old, I finished school and I had the option of working in a few different areas, like retail or hospitality. I chose to pursue work as a sewing machinist because it was something I loved to do, and still love 44 years later!

My first job was making bras at a big international underwear company. When I first walked into the factory, there were so many machines lined up on the factory floor and I thought that it was huge and daunting. This was the job that taught me everything I needed to be a sewing machinist. After I’d been at the factory for a few years, the work was moved offshore like a lot of manufacturing in Australia. After that I worked with another manufacturer for many years where I made Merino Country’s first pairs of Merino wool undies (Wundies) in 1998.

Kym 2022 Merino Country

I’m now working at Merino Country, and I love my job! It is so fulfilling to make something from pieces of fabric and transform it into something beautiful and useful. Working as a sewing machinist is classified as a “factory job” and I think there is still a lot of stigma around that. To me, these jobs are vital. Especially for fashion – you need to learn a bit about every process to make a garment – not just the design part.

My favourite piece from Merino Country is the Pocket Dress. It’s a very versatile piece that you can add layers to, plus it’s comfy and looks great too!

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Outworker Story: Anh

By Worker stories

Outworker Story: Anh

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We would like to introduce you to Anh, who is a Melbourne-based outworker.

Anh learned how to sew and tailor clothing back home in Vietnam when she was a girl. She moved from Vietnam to Melbourne in 1991 after marrying her husband and started working in a clothing factory in Melbourne. After having her daughter, she decided to become an outworker so that she could look after her daughter at home. 

Anh is a skilled worker and makes high-end fashion garments for women, including dresses, shirts and jackets. She receives the cut fabric in bundles and sews together the garment, which includes everything except for the buttons, buttonholes, pressing and trimming. 

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Working from home meant that Anh was isolated and without support, because she no longer had people at work to talk to. She was put in touch with the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union, and has since received a lot of support and information about outworkers’ rights.  

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Anh is pictured in her home workshop with Nguyet Nguyen, an Outworker Outreach Officer on the compliance team. 

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Australian Defence Apparel factory tour

By Uncategorised

Australian Defence Apparel
factory tour

The Ethical Clothing Australia team recently had the opportunity to head out on a factory tour to Australian Defence Apparel in Bendigo, Victoria. We were greeted by David Frith and Kerry Hodges, who showed us around the factory and introduced us to some of the workers.

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During the factory tour, we had the opportunity to walk through the different parts of the factory, discuss the functions of the machines and speak to the people who operate them.

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Sue working on a pocketsetter machine.

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Tim, who has been a Patternmaker for 30 years, laying out a pattern for a camouflage coat.

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Some of ADA’s workers on the factory floor.

During our tour, we got to hear Kerry’s story of how she became the Factory Manager at ADA.

She started working at the business as a sewing machinist in 1988 and worked her way up. She has held many different roles at ADA over the years and did work in quality inspecting and supervising before becoming the Factory Manager over 15 years ago.

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This is Australian Defence Apparel’s new embroidery machine that they are currently setting up and about to launch.

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Kerry showing David, Amanda and Jason some fabric for fire resistant garments.

Thank you to Australian Defence Apparel for showing us around your factory!

George Jon Pote

Worker Story: George from Wilderness Wear

By Worker stories

Worker Story: George from Wilderness Wear

George Jon Pote

This is a featured post written by the team at Wilderness Wear, an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited brand. 

George … Ok, his surname might not be ‘Clooney’, but he looks a bit like the movie star. Actually, to associate our George with any sort of movie star would be incorrect, because he is more like a rock star – of socks (does that make him a sock star?).

As the chief behind the banks of sock knitting machines at Wilderness Wear, George has carved out an interesting career for himself. Initially a law student, he diverted his studies to accept a mechanics apprenticeship where he remained until that business closed after moving its manufacturing offshore. Already known to the management of Wilderness Wear, George quickly moved over to his current role.

Part of George’s skill and value comes his ability to manage machines of all different brands, origins and ages. Some, like the old Bentley Komets from the 1950s, are best serviced with a hammer while the newer equivalents by Sangiacomo from Santoni in Italy are highly sophisticated machines.

There is a political claim to fame within George’s CV, and that is the occasion where he made a pair of socks for the Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon. Paul Keating. A man of known sartorial high standards, the socks were surely a fitting match to his fine Italian suits!

A champion – or pin-up boy, if you like – of the Australian manufacturing sector, George is a valuable player within the Walls of Wilderness Wear and is representative of the drive of like-minded companies to keep these valuable skillsets onshore.

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ECA Funding Announcement

By Uncategorised

ECA Funding Announcement

Media statement reproduced with approval.

A future Albanese Labor Government will inject $2 million annually for Ethical Clothing Australia to accredit businesses in the Australian textile, clothing and footwear industry.

The demand for ethically sourced products is on the rise. Nine in ten consumers want to buy ethically sourced products according to a recent global survey of 27,000 consumers, including from Australia.

But Australian businesses in the industry face difficulties competing with international counterparts that are reliant on low paid and undervalued workforces.

Ethical Clothing Australia is an accreditation body working with local clothing and footwear manufacturers to ensure their supply chains are legally compliant, from design to distribution.

The textile, clothing and footwear sector played a critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many local small businesses and their supply chains ramping up production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as global supply chains broke down.

‘Australia must be a country that makes things,’ Shadow Minister for Industry and Innovation Ed Husic MP said.

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‘We saw the way the textile, clothing and footwear industry responded to the global shortage of PPE including face masks last year.

‘They pivoted seamlessly but not without some challenges.

‘With this commitment, Labor is standing up for Australian jobs and Australian manufacturing.

‘We know that building transparent and ethical supply chains gives local businesses a competitive advantage.

‘It gives them the edge over international competitors, a secret weapon that yields better profits and jobs.’

Women make up around two-thirds of the workforce, which employs 36,500 Australians. The industry also employs many workers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

After almost a decade in Government, 4,500 jobs have been lost in the textile, clothing and footwear industry on the Government’s watch.

In 2014, they slashed $1 million in funding to Ethical Clothing Australia – Australia’s only ethical compliance body.

This is despite analysis from the Industry Capability Network that shows for every $1 million dedicated to new or retained business, the sector generates:
• $665,200 of value add
• 8 full-time equivalent jobs
• $88,300 of welfare savings.

A Labor Government will provide $6 million over three years to Ethical Clothing Australia to bring more local businesses into line with best practice.

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Labor will also use its purchasing power to support local jobs and skills, requiring ethical procurement of manufacturers in government contracts.

These commitments are supported by the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, which will build new industries and boost our existing strengths.

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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/

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

The Ark Clothing Co

Australian-made and ethically accredited, The Ark is more than just a fashion brand; they are an ethos, a culture and a community who believe design should always be imbued with integrity. Passionate about creating simple wardrobes with intelligent design, they help women create a considered and sustainable approach to personal style using fewer quality pieces that do more.

ECA accredited: Yes

Amount made in Australia: 100%

Shop: https://theark.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

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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