Now that retail is open again and we can enjoy going into brick and mortar stores, it’s a good time to think about how you’re shopping and who you’re supporting. Robecca Leyden from Sans Pareil rounds up her favourite ethical and inclusive New Zealand fashion labels to look out for, and why she loves them.
Although many big brands have jumped on the green bandwagon; it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between who is genuinely passionate about more ethical practices and who is simply ‘green washing’.
Greenwashing is when a company launches adverts, campaigns and products under the pretence of being environmentally beneficial.
An example would be releasing a new collection, a portion of which use recycled fabrics and making a campaign around this while still engaging in unethical labour practices and over-production for the remainder of its line.
As daunting as that sounds, and as difficult as it can be to know where to spend your hard-earned money; I’ve made a list of some incredible, local brands who are ethical, New Zealand-owned and operated, and if possible, made in Aotearoa.
This low impact swimwear label was designed in New Zealand and handmade in Brazil using recycled and biodegradable materials.
The two things I love most about Aurai is that they are designed by New Zealand women for New Zealand women (it’s great seeing swimwear modelled on bodies that are all different shapes and sizes) and they are incredibly dedicated to transparency.
A transparent supply chain is a difficult thing to guarantee so it’s incredibly refreshing for a label to show the world its process in its entirety.
Most Aurai’s styles also have a cheeky Brazilian cheek-kini cut.
Best described as exquisite, Taranaki based Campbell Luke designer Bobby Luke infuses his strong sense of Maori heritage with childhood memories of an unshakeable bond with his mother.
The results are delicate, usually linen or cotton, incredibly feminine garments with a nearly Victorian twist.
Each slow-run collection frequently sells out. The latest collection is set to release with Fashion Week in February, so stay tuned.
As soon as I saw this Wellington-based label on Instagram I fell in love.
It oozes fun, colour and inclusivity.
It would be pretty difficult not to have a smile on while wearing one of Havilah’s bright, oversized, layered pieces.
This label pushes a genderless ethos and I cannot emphasise enough how much I love the way these pieces are designed.
Plus, everything is designed and made in Wellington!
Jojo Ross is a chic Auckland-based label that releases small collections and made-to-order.
This means that almost any size is available and their current summer collection is beautifully designed summer basics you should definitely take a look at.
Kowtow use organic, renewable, and biodegradable fibres in their clothes, as well as an ethical, slow production chain.
They produce gorgeous, well-made staple pieces that will last seasons and look great while doing so.
If you’re into delicate, unique detail then this is the brand for you.
Loclaire also work under a zero-waste ethos which is why their collections are made to pre-order or incredibly small.
I adore the daisy cut-out featured in their summer collection.
Often with plus size clothing, there is massive compromise in style.
One of the great things about LaLA is that the designs are superb – and just happens to be targeted at plus size.
Designed and made in New Zealand – this is another K Rd, Auckland based shop that is a must go destination.
If you’re lucky you’ll even catch designer Sarah-Jane down the back of the shop, at her worktable, creating new pieces.
This table uses natural fibres and dead stock to create items that won’t end up dumped into landfills.
All items are incredibly well made and aim to last for years.
I’m a huge fan of their lightweight kits.
Ovna Ovich release their collections as chapters; short stories that are designed in small batches and released steadily throughout the year.
Production is local and designer Marina Davis incorporates the use of natural materials and sustainable practises.
This is the subtle, romantic brand you didn’t know you needed in your life.
The tailored pieces with an often feminine detail, are absolutely dreamy and perfect for a lazy New Zealand summer.
Pat Menzies is Auckland’s (possibly New Zealand’s) most iconic shoe shop.
Started in 1975 by Pat Menzies, this was the first shop to bring Dr. Martens to little old Aoeteroa.
This shop has put good quality shoes on generations of Kiwi’s and has managed to keep their hold on the local market with their fantastic knowledge and excellent customer service.
They still have one of the best selections of Dr. Martens and Converse I’ve seen in person. I strongly recommend having a browse in their Auckland based shop or online.
Rusco is an Auckland based small-run designer.
He often uses bold prints mixed with high-fashion cuts. His pieces have an avant-garde flair and his tailored Anshel Jackets are beautifully made.
You’ve probably heard of Ruby already but I needed to add them to this list because over the last few years they have gone from strength to strength.
They are not only releasing killer collections (check out the latest Resort 21 – I’m obsessed) but they are now size inclusive, offering right up to a 20 at which point you can request made to measure.
I also love that they are using more diverse models. I’m a fan.
SAF describes itself as a socially conscious, gender-neutral brand.
I love this because this label is truly working towards an entirely inclusive fashion experience.
They are also size inclusive and of course, ethically made in Auckland. With bold prints and designs, this is a label you’ll want to own a piece from.
Tutla is an Auckland based, ethically made label that does small production lines as well as made to measure.
The clothes are unique, vibrant and incredibly easy to wear.
They use a fun mix of patterns, bright bold colours and flattering, tailored cuts.
I highly recommend checking this label out either at their next pop up in Auckland or on their website.
If you enjoyed this article head over to Robecca’s Instagram @sans_pareil_online where she continues the slow fashion conversation.