On a recent trip to Melbourne to spend quality time with my family (and reclaim the title of Golden Child lol!) my mother asked me where she could purchase sustainable fashion in her area. The closest shopping mall to my parents home is Highpoint Shopping Centre. Highpoint is the second largest shopping centre in Victoria and the third largest in Australia with an annual turnover of $778 million. It boasts over 500 stores and attracts 15 million shoppers annually. The shopping centre serves half a million people living in Melbourne’s western and northwestern suburbs.
While I normally encourage people to shop sustainable fashion online as it’s more convenient, easier to research and source responsible brands, my mother is in her early 60s, she loves to try things on whilst shopping, and she doesn’t believe online payment systems are secure.
So to help mum and people living in Melbourne’s west shop more responsibly, we’ve put together this curated list of ethical and sustainable fashion and retail stores that can be found at Highpoint Shopping Centre.
Here they are in no particular order:
This iconic Australian fashion label is still proudly owned by the family who originally started the brand in 1968. Known for its modern youthful designs and stylish feminine business attire and workwear, Cue is also an ethically-driven fashion brand, providing its garment workers with fair wages and good working conditions. Australian designed and Australian made, this brand is also accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia. Cue supports the local garment industry and is the largest manufacturer of women’s clothing in Australia; something the brand takes pride in..
Manufacturing in Australia has been integral to our business model. It means we can work close to market and experiment with design as we are not locked into the long lead times and minimum orders associated with manufacturing overseas. – Rod Levis, cofounder of Cue in a 2017 Stockland interview
Best for: Contemporary fashion, creative design, sharp tailoring, printed dresses, corporate wear and high-quality fabrics and materials.
To browse its latest collections visit the Cue website. The Cue store is currently located here on Level 3 at Highpoint Shopping Centre and its garments can also be found in the David Jones and Myer stores.
David Jones is Australia’s second largest department store and is known for stocking high-end retail products, designer homewares and luxury brands. Several years ago the retail company was given an ‘F’ rating in Baptist World Aid’s 2015 Ethical Fashion Report, but since then, has made major improvements in its business, committing to ethical sourcing policies, sustainable practices and stocking conscious fashion brands such as Veronica Maine, Manning Cartell, Viktoria & Woods and KITX by Kit Willow. It has since achieved a B-minus in the 2018 Ethical Fashion Guide.
Best for: Australian and international designer fashion labels, luxury homewares and beauty cosmetics.
Founded in 1974, Country Road is one of Australia’s most prominent brands which was acquired by South African multinational retailer Woolworths Holdings Limited (the business that owns David Jones too). The brand achieved an A-minus rating in the recent Ethical Fashion Guide and a ‘Good’ rating by fashion rating app Good On You for its commitment to paying fair wages, its robust Supplier Code of Conduct and supply chain traceability. The brand complies with the Restricted Substances List and aims to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals by 2020. Country Road also sources ‘better cotton’ through the Better Cotton Initiative and is aiming for 100% sustainably sourced cotton by 2020.
According to the brand’s website, “suppliers undergo regular social compliance checks conducted by independent auditors, or are required to supply audit reports from independent auditors.”
Best for: Classic Australian styles, contemporary casual wear for women and men, office and workwear.
For stylish bags and accessories, you can’t go past MIMCO. Launched in 1996, this fashion-forward Australian accessories brand has gone from strength to strength and is now a part of the Country Road Group. Since 2014 MIMCO has had an ongoing partnership with the Ethical Fashion Initiative and is known for featuring artisanal craftsmanship in its collections and ensuring its collections deliver the maximum positive impact. The brand also achieved a ‘Good’ rating from Good On You and A-minus rating in the Ethical Fashion Guide.
MIMCO has also implemented environmental initiatives such as incorporating REPREVE® recycled fabrics in its bag lining and its fulfilment centre (in fact the Country Road Group’s fulfilment centre) was the first building to achieve ‘5 Star Green Star—Industrial As Built v1’ in Victoria, designed to minimise environmental impact. Renewable energy powers more than 20 percent of the facility’s energy too.
However according to Good On You, whilst MIMCO has “good worker empowerment initiatives across some of its supply chain… it has made little to no progress towards paying a living wage.” You can learn more about its fashion rating here.
Best for: Fashion-forward bags, purses, wallets and jewellery.
This retailer has been producing travel and adventure outdoor apparel, gear and accessories since 1987. Founded in New Zealand, Kathmandu now has stores in Australia and the UK. The brand scored a B-plus on the recent Ethical Fashion Guide for supporting workers rights. It’s also a member of the Better Cotton Initiative and 74% of its cotton was ‘responsibly sourced’ incorporates eco-friendly fabrics such as recycled polyester and organic cotton, although it should be noted that it still uses a fair amount of synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester. Good On You gave Kathmandu a ‘Good’ rating however it noted that the business had “very few worker empowerment initiatives” and has made “little to no progress towards paying a living wage across its supply chain.”
Best for: Travel and outdoor apparel and equipment, camping gear and supplies.
This Australian pioneering organic baby and kids label was launched in 2002 when its founder fell pregnant with her first child. Since then, the business has grown to 25 stores across Australia and employs 100 people, turning over $16 million a year.
The brand uses GOTS-certified organic cotton and achieves a ‘Good’ environmental rating on the Good On You app since its certification is validation that the brand’s labour standards and wages paid meet ethical requirements.
Best for: Organic baby wear and kids clothing from newborn to size three.
The curated list is based on the writer’s research and does not fully take into account all the ethical considerations that are unique to each person. Before making a purchase, make sure to do your own research paying particular attention to the business supply chain and your individual set of ethics. You can also check out online shopping tools and apps that provide further product information and brand ratings here. This list contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase we may receive a commission which helps us to cover the rising operational costs of this site. For more information on our policies, visit this page.
Title image credit: Cue