“Australians buy an average of 27 kilograms of new textiles each year and then discard about 23 kilograms* into landfill – and two-thirds of those discards are man made synthetic/plastic fibres that may never breakdown.” —  Textile Beat

As the seasons start to change in the southern hemisphere and you come out of winter hibernation, you may be thinking about a new summer wardrobe. It’s easier than you think to stay away from fast fashion and shop responsibly. It’s simply a matter of finding ethical brands that use sustainable materials, are transparent about their supply chain, pay fair wages, and are locally made. Also look out for vegan, handcrafted brands that create minimal waste.

Here are 9 sustainable brands that make essential summer items.


Pala Amara Tortoiseshell are made from recycled plastic bags and waste. They also support life saving vision projects in Africa. Carla Colour Barton Sunglasses are made from recycled acetate as are Dick Moby Ory.  And you can't go passed Peep Eyewear who cleverlly repurpose vintage sunglasses and make them modern.


Patagonia is an ethically conscious brand known for their outdoor wear and their social and environmental responsibility. Their mission is to ‘Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.’ Their womens and mens range of swimwear and boardshorts are all certified fair trade and perfect for heading to the beach.

Read more: Australian Brands Should Pay Garment Workers a Living Wage: Oxfam Report


Here’s a tip for looking for ethical shoe brands, look for a vegan product or one that uses recycled or sustainably sourced materials. Post Sole Studio are a Melbourne based vegan shoe brand that use upcycled seat belts as part of their design. You also can’t go past The Original Universal Sandals By Teva. They are super comfy and long lasting, plus they have a transparent supply chain and are made from 100% vegan materials.


If the spring weather has got you motivated to step outside and get active, check out ALAS, an ethical label known for their organic cotton clothing. They have just launched a new range of activewear including leggings, running shorts and sports bras all made from recycled plastic water bottles. The brand employ a North American eco fabric supplier that uses recycled PET fabric: a plastic material commonly found in water bottles. Pretty cool!

Read more: Gucci Is Banning Fur, to the Delight of Animal Activists Everywhere


Kow Tow is a New Zealand brand who make stylish basics made from sustainably and ethically sourced materials including 100 percent fair trade organic cotton grown in India. They have collaborated with artist Caroline Walls on a new range of t-shirts.  $20 of each Kowtow x Caroline Walls t-shirt will be donated to International Women's Development Agency (IWDA) to strengthen women's safety and security in the Asia Pacific. 

Global Citizen campaigns on issues of sustainability and environment. You can take action here.

How To

Defend the Planet

9 Sustainable Brands to Help Australians Get Ready for Summer

By Marnie Cunningham