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Designing with a conscious

/ 03 Sep 2019
More than ever, consumers want to know what’s going on behind the scenes of large businesses and are increasingly becoming more knowledgeable about the carbon footprint left by fast fashion.

Designing with a conscious

The rising trend for fashion with a conscience is being boosted by local Melbourne designers and businesses who are taking an active role in creating lines that are sustainable and ethically sourced. Labels are demonstrating a commitment to creating quality products that last, can be easily repaired and life-extended before the end of life phase.

When it comes to ethical fashion, it can be difficult to understand the difference between sustainable practices and ethical fashion.


Sustainable fashion is now a part of the rising design movement towards environmental and social sustainability with a greater focus on the impact on the environment than the working conditions. Items must have a proven low impact on the environment, which can be through the sourcing of fabric, production methods and even the shipping and packaging protocols utilised.


Ethical fashion is used to describe everything from a brands fabric choice, the working conditions of those that make it, animal welfare and whether the product is polluting its environment or not.

ELK The Label

Founded in 2004, Elk the Label is one of Melbourne’s most successful family run sustainable fashion labels. Bi-annual collections that are heavily influenced by a Scandinavian northern aesthetic, resonate with a global audience that has resulted in products carried by over 1,000 stockists internationally. Fine quality raw materials sourced from all over the world and with independent manufacturers across the globe creating each collection using traditional skills and techniques guarantee to guarantee authentic, high quality execution of the final product. As an industry leader for positive change in fashion, Elk is determined to be held accountable for its practices. Earlier this year a 124 page in depth report was released that provides complete business transparency, from internal operations, to exploring all fabrications and materials used right back to their origins, to listing their tier one suppliers. Beyond Elk’s commitment to amazing design, the team have a strong ethical foundation and partners with local and international charities such as UNICEF, Guide Dogs Australia and Fitter For Work that supports women, children, and the environment. 119 Dundas Place, Albert Park, Victoria, 3206; 182 Little Collins St, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000; 395 Plenty Road, Preston, Victoria, 3072.

Sans Beast

Once a head designer at Mimco, Cathryn Wills has crafted a collection of must-have bags and accessories that challenge the notion that animal products are necessary for style. The Sans Beast collection is not designed to be fast fashion and the evolution of shapes is inspired by functionality and aesthetic. Using vegan leathers and other non-animal materials offers a cruelty-free alternative to traditional leather products. The brand has recognised that polyurethane (PU) can produce biodegradability issues, it endeavours to encourage consumers to make purchases less frequently and of greater quality to ultimately reduce the amount going to landfill. The team at Sans Beast will continue to stay on the sourcing track as more research and development goes in to biodegradable materials that don’t compromise on longevity and finish. Sans Beast’s popularity continues to grow with the brand being stocked at The Iconic, select David Jones and independent stockists across Australia and New Zealand.


Is one of Melbourne’s younger labels that stems from the brand concept of sustainability without compromise. This designer basics label exudes a sense of timelessness with its classic pieces featuring a masculine tone that are interchangeably unisex. Founded by Courtney Holm out of a realisation that her personal values weren’t aligning with her profession, A.BCH was born.  Determined to inform consumers of the toll that fast fashion takes on the planet, Holm’s proves its possible for great design to be coupled hyper-transparency. Each piece is considered and developed for a circular life with the choice of materials used based off the water usage, chemical usage, carbon emissions and energy and supply chain traceability. All garments are made in Australia and certified by ethical clothing Australia.


Started in Melbourne as a graphic design studio by Nick and Lucy Ennis in 1998, Nique has grown to become a respected fashion label while maintaining strong ethical practices. The brand made a full transition to fashion label in 2003 before opening its first boutique in 2008. Nique designs are inspired by a subtle luxury that have an everyday practical element with a vision to create timeless pieces, minimal and modern statements with an edge. Nique use a lot of sustainable fabrications but are working to improve their practises at every level, including their premium White Label basics line made from eco-friendly fabrics. Along with an ethical approach to their fashion, Nique also supports i=Change which sees $1 from every purchase donated to charities, including Food Bank, Child Wise and Dress For Success.  211 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065;  551 Chapel Street, South Yarra, Victoria, 3141;  Shop 233 Level 2, 211 Latrobe Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000;  201 Chapel Street, Prahran, Victoria, 3181;  Shop 1/234 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.

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