The Mindful Materialist
Ethical Brands for Patterns and Prints
We’re officially into spring and that means it’s time to shed the winter layers and embrace the warmer weather! Spring is my favourite time of year; the flowers, the longer days, the picnics and evenings spent outside with a gin and tonic. As someone who used to work in retail, spring has often been associated with the racing carnival and florals. But as someone who doesn’t buy into seasonal trends, I prefer to reunite with old favourites I’ve had in storage all winter. That said, if you’re on the hunt for some patterns and prints to brighten up your wardrobe after what has felt like a very long winter, then these are some ethical and sustainable Aussie brands who could really use your support. I think we can all justify a bit of a ‘treat yourself’ moment during such a tumultuous year.
If you’re a fan of brands like Gorman and Princess Highway, then this is your ethical alternative. Think bright colours, bold prints, comfy fits and gorgeous fabrics, all while giving back to the community. Obus supports refugees and asylum seekers through the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. They have donated gift sets, collaborated with Beehemia (beeswax wraps brand) to raise money, and facilitated donations both instore and online. About 80% of Obus’s collection is manufactured in Australia, with the other 20% being produced in ethical offshore factories which are listed on their website. They have a swap shop for your pre-loved Obus purchases and prioritise natural fibres over synthetics. There’s so much to love about this Melbourne brand!
Want to wear art? Well then look no further. Each print in the Variety Hour range is hand-painted by brand owner Cassie. Each collection is made in small batches based on demand, and they are working to continually improve their size range for inclusivity. Their designs are unique and vibrant, taking inspiration from Bauhaus women and textile design. They use an ECA accredited manufacturer in Melbourne for 90% of their range, as well as an ethical, small-scale factory in China. You can read all about their process on their website, as well as a guide for making your Variety Hour pieces last longer.
If you’re more of a bohemian at heart, then Spell might be what you’ve been looking for. Their flowing dresses and skirts, lightweight blouses and gorgeous prints are all ethically and sustainably produced. You can read about their manufacturing process, their fibres, dyes, environmental footprint and social advocacy initiatives on their website. They’re also part of the 1% For the Planet movement and they donate their 1% to the NFP Australian Climate Council. You can find everything from clothing and accessories, to shoes, swimwear and even bridal gowns in the Spell collection. You’ll feel like you’re in Byron Bay in these pieces.
Brisbane label Genkstasy are leading the way in a non-binary streetwear movement. Their garments are joyful and bright, and designed for comfort while you’re having a boogie or lounging on the couch. Their inclusive philosophy redefines sizing and style so you can find garments that express who you are. Their latest collection ‘Bright Freedom’ celebrates people who have inspired them, and a desire to grow, learn and explore. The name Genkstasy merges the Japanese word Genki (life-force, spirit, energy) and ecstasy to communicate a “deep harmony with one’s self and one’s surroundings”. Definitely one to watch right here.
This gorgeous Melbourne womenswear and kidswear label is a local favourite. With their delicate floral prints, this vintage-inspired brand is ethically made in Bali and has a zero-waste and zero-plastic policy. Their patterns celebrate Australian flora and wildlife and are perfect for spring and summer. Started in 2004 by Amanda McCarthy, Leonard St. is a well-established ethical clothing brand in Melbourne’s fashion scene. You can read about their ethical and sustainable practices on their website, and even meet some of the faces behind the brand – including a gorgeous wedding photo of Maya and Armett, who met working at the factory!