New Zealand is known for its incredible beaches, native wildlife, lush green forests, Lord of the Rings, Lorde, and our new hot female Prime Minister. But because we live in such secluded beauty, we are penalised in the form of a monstrous fee we call: overseas shipping.
Thankfully, instead of battling this unfair monster, the small nation is home to incredible ethical fashion companies. As an ethical fashion advocate and brand rep, I’ve been lucky enough to connect with New Zealand designers and brands all over the country.
If you’re stuck with me on this stunning wee island, here’s a helpful guide to my favourite New Zealand ethical fashion brands:
1. Annika Deboer
“Inspired by mindful consumption and garments that play with contemporary timelessness, it is our philosophy that less is always more.” Picture timeless dresses giving off 18th-century vibes, raw materials, and dreamy tailoring. Annika makes her garments by hand, tea at the ready, dogs at her feet, in Rotorua, NZ.
Devour the latest Annika Deboer A/W collection.
Curating a New Zealand ethical fashion list would not be complete without adding the queen of NZ ethical fashion: KowTow. I’m not going to lie, around 40 percent of my wardrobe must be KowTow. The brand’s pieces are timeless, unique, and their basic range is full of versatile pieces you’ll see me in daily. They wear their ethics and values on their sleeve, and produce garments that are truly sustainable from seed to finish.
Spend hours browsing the KowTow range (like I do) here.
3. ReCreate Clothing
Ethical ~ Organic ~ Sustainable. ReCreate clothing was founded by New Zealanders, Erica Gadsby and Deborah de Graaf. The team not only create gorgeous collections for both men and women, but work with their seamstresses in Cambodia, to teach skills and support lifestyles that are empowering. Their fabrics are GOTS certified, and their sustainability philosophy stems all the way down to their eco-friendly packaging materials.
Check out ReCreate clothing here.
4. Bohome and Roam
Bohome and Roam hold a special place in my heart. I’ve been great friends with Aimee, the founder, ever since we met a few years ago on Instagram. I don’t know where to start about what I love the most about this label. It offers exquisite fair trade, artisan-made, homeware and accessories from all over the globe. But more importantly, they care about the makers, the packers, and the shippers. Every single human involved in getting a beautiful piece to you is considered, respected, and loved.
Roam with Bohome & Roam here.
5. Duffle & Co
Duffle & Co. are in the middle of taking over the world with business ethics I wish every brand would follow. They avoid mass production quantities and work hard every day to create everlasting, minimalist bags of all sizes and styles such as totes and satchels. Duffle & Co. have also done an incredible job of turning the latest sustainable leather alternative Pinatex (pineapple leather) into a gorgeous pouch (great for vegans!); which I rock with anything and everything. For bags that look good and do good, you”ll find them here.
Find your new Duffle & Co. companion here.
6. Multiverse Designs
“Multiverse Designs is our way of showcasing the beauty of the natural world while minimising the impact upon it.” Jewellery handmade from reclaimed timber sourced from construction sites in New Zealand… you can’t get more local and sustainable than that! Founders, Victoria and Luke, a husband and wife super duo, started off creating a few wooden jewellery pieces for fun. They quickly realised New Zealand adored their love of nature and sustainability as much as they did and turned into an amazing sustainable business.
Shop Multiverse Designs here.
7. Sofija Butler
***Updated 29/6/2020: Website is no longer operational***
Sophia Butler, the designer behind this slow fashion label has been sewing since she was 13. After gagging over a bridge in India that was polluted with chemical dyes, she dived into ethical fashion and never looked back. Sophia releases two collections every year, believing that garments should be worn for whole lifetimes, respected as investments, and never discarded. Her garments are impeccably tailored, and made to become lifelong friends of the women who wear them.
Related Post: 24 Hours in The Hibiscus Coast – A New Zealand Paradise
Some days, when I have a spare moment to think, I realise I’m wearing ethical fashion from head to toe, right down to my underwear! Nisa underwear is a great ethical underwear option from NZ made by former refugees in Wellington. They use GOTS-certified organic cotton, and super soft elastics from Portugal, to create underwear that feels great on your body, and your conscience.
Browse Nisa underwear here.
9. Jessica Greetham
I was lucky enough to have breakfast with Jessica a few months ago: what a woman! Jessica designs, and knits every single garment herself using luxurious high-quality fabrics such as Peruvian wool. She works with carefully sourced materials to create long-lasting and effortlessly stylish knitwear. Jessica aims for comfort, simplicity, and effortlessness in her designs; three words I adore.
Choose your favourite knit here.
10. Velvet Heartbeat
Velvet Heartbeat is currently moving and shaking the sustainable, ethical, and vegan world. As a New Zealander, I love it! Their bags and accessories are made from a mix of deadstock, upcycled, and recycled materials, safe for all vegans to wear without hesitation. All products are made by hand by founder, Suzie, in her gorgeous little sewing room in Auckland.
Check out Velvet Heartbeat here.
11. WE-AR yoga
Stylish ethically-made yogawear for people, for community, for the planet. WE-AR is the mantra for “I am,” or “we are”, meaning all is one. WE-AR infuse this mantra into every single design thought, process and stitch. They’ve developed a range of clothing that exudes wholeness and offers a bit of something for everyone. You’ll find ethical yoga mats, yogawear for women and menswear.
Shop at WE-AR yoga here.
12. Needs More Cushions
Whoops, totally not a fashion brand… BUT ethical fashion for my couch is important to me too. Needs More Cushions (best brand name EVER) work with refugees in Wellington, to produce stunning cushions for the contemporary home. I’ve never met a cushion I’ve liked more, and I’m very cushion-fussy. What I love about their business model, is how they support their team of makers. The makers are able to work in the comfort of their own home, making it easier for them to settle into New Zealand, and care for their family. At the start of every week, they are given the materials and orders, and off they go!
View Needs More Cushions range here.
**If you enjoyed, learned from, or felt empowered after reading this piece, we’ve love for you to support us by donating to our Patreon or giving a once-off PayPal payment via the donate button below.**
Title image credit: Jessica Greetham.