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5 Ways To Be More Sustainably Stylish

Easy peasy

By Anna Saunders

It wasn’t so long ago that the phrase ‘ethical fashion’ conjured up visions of harem-pant-wearing, hemp-bag-toting dreadlocked activists. But in news to absolutely no one, green is the new black, activism is ‘in’ and it’s about time we all started taking notice of exactly where our clothes come from and where they will end up.

But… how?

Happily, becoming more sustainably minded, while still remaining stylish, is easier than you might imagine. Although the definition of what is ‘ethical’, ‘sustainable’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ varies from brand to brand and country to country (and encompasses everything from employee labour conditions to the types of materials used), there are simple ways to shop more ethically.

We’ve shared a few tips below, but before you go, please tell us your favourite ethical brands, designers and labels in the comments section below. At Primer, we include ethical products in every fashion or shopping story – and we would LOVE to hear of brands you love that we should be considering.


Ralph Lauren's Earth Polo is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles

1. Download Good On You app

This app is brilliant. We check it regularly. Created by Australians Sandra Capponi and Gordon Renouf, Good On You, which is free, allows you to check thousands of brands’ credentials when it comes to working conditions, environmental impact and animal rights. Its ratings are rigorous and trustworthy, and the stories and emails are great too. Download immediately.

2. Follow Fashion Activists 

We’re fans of Clare Press, the Sustainability Editor of Vogue Australia, whose philosophy is to work within the fashion system, rather than against it. This means she brings a unique and refreshing perspective to the ethical fashion debate. Follow her on Instagram or download her podcast Wardrobe Crisis, where she interviews a range of ethical types, from scientists to fashion designers.

3. Try Pre-Loved

There are plenty of websites offering beautiful pre-loved designer pieces in near-perfect condition. Internationally, we love Vestiaire Collective, while here in Australia, it’s worth tracking down your local consignment stores on social media, as many post photos of fresh products on Instagram. (We are basically addicted to Hock Your Frocks and Trading In Style.)

British fashion label Mother of Pearl is known for its ethical and sustainable practices

4. Explore New Ethical Collections

One of Australia’s biggest online retailers now allows you to search for clothing according to ethical criteria. The Iconic has just launched its ‘Considered’ collection, which allows you to filter thousands of products according to social and environmental issues. Meanwhile, this week David Jones is highlighting its most ethical and sustainable brands.

5. Ask: Who Made My Clothes?

It’s currently Fashion Revolution Week, which marks the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013. More than 1100 textile workers – mostly women – died in the tragedy. During Fashion Revolution Week, organisers are encouraging people to ask fashion brands to be transparent about the working conditions of the people who make their clothes.  You can find out more here.

Maggie Marilyn dress

Ethically made in New Zealand

Maggie Marilyn tee

Organic cotton tee, with proceeds to charity

Mother of Pearl coat

Created from 90% recycled wool

Nagnata jumper

Made from zero waste organic cotton

Polo Ralph Lauren earth polo

Each shirt is made from 12 recycled plastic bottles

KITX dress

Biodegradable dress with little to no pesticides used

Veja trainer

Eco-friendly, vegan sneakers

Wolfgang Scout jumper

Pieces that use fully traceable, minimally processed wool

BY Anna Saunders

Anna is the co-founder of Primer. She proudly wears Veja trainers and owns (not enough) Maggie Marilyn.

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