The Mindful Materialist
Made in Melbourne: Denim
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
We all love a pair of jeans right? They’re a staple in most wardrobes for all genders. They go with almost anything, you can wear them night and day, they suit so many occasions and can be dressed up or down. Denim has such a strong association with music, twentieth-century cultural revolutions and even the red carpet (thank you Justin and Brittany for that memorable moment). With the impact of COVID-19, local manufacturing is more important than ever. Not only to support local businesses and workers, but to keep our transport time and costs down too. There are so many benefits to manufacturing locally: workers are paid according to Australian standards, working conditions can be audited more thoroughly, transport costs are kept to a minimum (as well as carbon emissions), and the local economy is boosted.
A couple of years ago I needed a new pair of jeans and decided to do some research into Australian brands. I was so surprised to discover there were jeans being made right here in Melbourne. Previously all my jeans had been made overseas so I’d assumed that was the case for all brands, but how wrong I was! I went with a pair from Nobody Denim, which I bought at David Jones, and they haven’t shown any signs of wear yet! The fit is just as good as when I bought them and I would recommend them to my friends and enemies.
I’ve since discovered some other denim brands making in Melbourne, so I’ve put together a list of Melbourne made denim to keep us all looking our best while supporting the local fashion industry through the pandemic.
W | M | O | R | $$-$$$
This awesome brand is a personal favourite of mine. They are Melbourne owned and run,
with the HQ, retail store and factory all within a 6km radius. They are super transparent with photos from their factory on their website, accreditation audits and reports which are all published for the public to read, and they also share their carbon emissions, water usage and waste figures. They employ over 80 people and are a certified ethical fashion manufacturer with the Ethical Clothing Australia certification. They also work with Sustainability Victoria to continue minimising their environmental footprint – even their laundry is accounted for!
Of course, this would all be a waste if the product wasn’t good too, but I can assure you it is! They make a range of styles and can respond in real time to fashion trends due to their short supply chain.
W | M | O | R | $$-$$$
Based in East Brunswick, Denimsmith are a family business known for their unique designs with different colours, pocket designs, waist ties and cropped lengths using premium Japanese denim. They recently partnered with another Melbourne favourite, Vege Threads, for their organic cotton denim range. While the jeans don’t come cheap, they’ve all been made in-house since the brand launched in 2015. The brand celebrates East Brunswick’s urban culture and history, taking inspiration from the local history of migrants, factory workers and small family businesses.
Denimsmith is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia for their ethical production and treatment of their workers. You can even go and see where the magic happens in East Brunswick as their factory is on display and open to the public. If that’s not transparent production then I don’t know what is!
W | SE | $$$
Every 26 seconds, a child is sold into slavery somewhere in the world – that’s about 2 million every year. Justice Denim was started to fund education for vulnerable children and prevent them becoming part of this devastating statistic. For every pair of jeans sold, they provide four weeks of education to a child in need. If you’re not in need of jeans though, you can also donate on their website. But not only are they on a humanitarian mission, they also have a zero-waste model which minimises their environmental impact. They source high quality denim from a Turkish company called Calik who are part of the international Better Cotton Intiative. Their denim distressing is all done inhouse to avoid potentially hazardous sandblasting techniques and they minimise waste by donating their offcuts to quilters. The only downside to this brand is the lack of a men’s range. However, they are one of the few ethical denim companies that make maternity jeans, so that’s a plus.
Go to Brand Directory for more Melbourne brands