How to Shop For Ethical Fashion in Melbourne

I first learnt of the harmful effects the fashion industry had and continues to have on the planet a couple of years ago now. At the time, sustainable fashion was in its infancy, with very few fashion forward options available at an accessible price point for me. I decided to cut down on my consumerism, only investing in a few key pieces every season – each timeless and made from high quality materials to last the test of time. But as I furthered my research, I began to realise that ethical practices are just as big an issue in fashion as sustainability. 

Ethical fashion often refers to the human element of how a certain piece of clothing was manufactured. This can refer to how the raw materials were sourced, how workers are treated – working in a safe environment, earning above the minimum wage and receiving health and work benefits – and the absence of child labour. It can also refer to ensuring animal welfare. Since the devastating Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 that killed 1,134 garment workers, people have become much more aware of the issue of ethical fashion and its impact. Within the media industry, key publications have encouraged the conversation by taking a strong stance towards supporting ethical fashion – in particular Vogue Australia who appointed Clare Press as their Sustainability Editor-at-Large in 2018. These conversations promote education, which ultimately leads to action and change.

How to Make More Informed Buying Decisions

The Ethical Fashion Guide by Baptist World Aid Australia is an annual guide that gives an A-F grading of how well national and international fashion brands are performing ethically. Similarly, the Good On You app also ranks fashion businesses on their ethical efforts. But it’s only since moving to Melbourne that I became aware of Ethical Clothing Australia; an accreditation body that works with local textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) businesses to ensure their local Australian supply chains are transparent and comply with Australian law. ECA protects the rights of both local factory-based workers and outworkers (homeworkers).

“Outworkers are particularly vulnerable in the TCF industry as they often work in isolation and can be unregulated. They can face unrealistic deadlines, long hours, irregular flows of work and occupational health and safety issues.” — Ethical Clothing Australia

A few weeks back, I went on the Ethical Clothing Australia Walking Tour as a part of Melbourne Fashion Week. Before the tour, I always saw sustainability and ethics as going hand in hand; when interviewing someone from a fashion label I would always ask ‘what are your sustainable and ethical practices?’ As though one couldn’t exist without the other. But I have since learned that most fashion brands make an effort to be more ethical but they’re often less inclined to focus on sustainability. We visited four ethical clothing stores in the CBD to learn more about their ethical practices. Touring the city, I was shocked to learn that ethical fashion has progressed from ill fitting and hessian sack-like garments to become much more wearable. Some of my favourite places to shop, like Viktoria & Woods and Nobody Denim are making huge efforts to become ethical.


Proudly Australian owned by the family that founded it, Cue is the largest local manufacturer of fashion in Australia. Cue has always been a go-to for work wear for me, but I never knew of its history or ethical practices. With most of their garments created in their Sydney studio, Cue is keeping jobs in Australia, ensuring workers receive fair wages and are working in good conditions. There are a few exceptions however: Cue City, CITC, and The Letter Q labels, knitwear, shirts and accessories. So to ensure you are shopping ethically, look for the Ethical Clothing Australia logo on garment tags.

TOP PICKS: Ribbed Tee, Crepe Wide Leg Pant & Belted Mini Skirt.


Founded by three sisters Cheryl, Vanessa and Gabrielle Manning, this Australian label utilises luxurious materials to make beautiful, timeless pieces. 80% of their garments are made in Australia; ethically produced at their headquarters in Sydney. Accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia since 2012, Manning Cartell pieces have been worn by the biggest celebrities around the world. Having never shopped there before, I was pretty surprised that such a beautiful label would incorporate ethical and sustainable practices into their brand.

TOP PICKS: Miami Heat Asymmetric Mini Dress, Point of Origin Knit Jumper, Flight Mode Crop Top.


Known for their luxurious fabrics, such as Australian merino wool and their certified organic cotton, Viktoria & Woods has long been my go-to for good quality basics with a sustainable approach. 85% of their collection is made in Melbourne and accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia.

TOP PICKS: Alps Crop Shirt, Mega Wide Leg Pant, Juno Bralette.


Probably the most transparent is Arnsdorf. With all of their garments designed and manufactured in Collingwood Melbourne, Arnsdorf make the conscious effort to reveal the process, materials and costs that go into making every piece. Aware of their impact on the environment, Arnsdorf transseasonal collections are made up of long-lasting garments created by a team of women in a fair and safe working environment. All Arnsdorf pieces are designed with fabrics and fibres to have the lowest possible environmental and human impact.

TOP PICKS: Carolyn Shirt, Merino Rib Funnel Neck Skivvy, Minuette Dress.


Bianca Spender
David Jones, Level 2, 310 Bourke St, Melbourne

Carla Zampatti
David Jones, Level 2, 310 Bourke St, Melbourne

Melbourne Central, Shop 112, Level 1, 211 La Trobe St, Melbourne

Ivi Made
AFC Curated pop up, Emporium, Level 3, Shop 3-003A, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Justice Denim
Design A Space, 20 Manchester Ln, Melbourne

Nobody Denim
Myer, 314-336 Bourke St, Melbourne
David Jones, Level 2, 310 Bourke St, Melbourne

Organic Crew
1399 Malvern Road, Malvern

Perri Cutten
Myer, Level 2, 319 Bourke St, Melbourne
David Jones, Level 2, 310 Bourke St, Melbourne

Vege Threads
246 High St, Northcote

Veronika Maine
The Strand, Shop T13, Ground Floor, 250 Elizabeth St, Melbourne
Myer, Level 1, 314-336 Bourke St, Melbourne
David Jones, Level 2, 310 Bourke St, Melbourne


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