We must confess we look forward to winter each year – not just for the idea of drinking steaming cups of tea by a fireplace, but also for the chance to envelop our cold bones in as many snug layers as possible. Turtleneck under a jumper under a jacket — yes please! And don’t forget the beanie and mittens. Here are a handful of our favourite ethical brands from Australia and New Zealand that are turning out some cosy creations this winter.
For conscious consumerism with a huge dash of colour and craziness, Katie Jones’ collection of make-it-yourself crochet knits (main image above) brings her fun designs into your loungeroom (helped along with her mantra of #sofasnotsweatshops). Katie has recently morphed her hand-knitted fashion label into a more hands-on approach with downloadable patterns to enable you to whip up one of her vibrant hand-knits yourself. If you’re lucky enough to be in London, head along to one of Katie’s workshops or book in for The Great Make Escape, a weekend retreat run in conjunction with her mother in an eco house in the woods (um, yes please) where you’ll learn a range of techniques including crochet, embroidery, knitting, and macramé with all the materials needed included!
Add a splash of sprightly colour to winter’s grey-hued weather with this new knitwear label. Each piece made in Melbourne by owner Sharidan Bowman on her vintage Singer knitting machine lovingly dubbed “Betsy the Singer”. Sharidan sources 100% Australian wool from regional Victoria, which she knits into wonderfully vibrant colour-blocked beanies and scarves. One for the kids and the kids at heart!
This small-scale Adelaide label has taken a new leap in its 2018 winter collection, producing zero-waste jumpers. Available in a crew-neck and high-neck stylings, these soft numbers start with the sourcing of 100% mulesing-free Australian wool. This is then spun and dyed at a factory in Friuli, Italy, which is powered by hydroelectric energy, while the dyeing techniques are certified by Cradle to Cradle. The knitting is then executed in very small quantities in Victoria’s Mount Macedon, using a whole-garment technology that means there’s no wasted wool. And for every online sale, Good Studios plants a native tree on your behalf.
Penny Sage’s knitwear collection is so lush and varied in delicious winter tones that it’s tricky to pick just one favourite. Designer Kate Megaw’s jumpers are a super soft medley of 65% merino, 25% possum and 10% silk, while her ribbed tops and skirts are made from 100% cotton. All garments are produced locally in New Zealand through family run and local businesses (all located within 30km of the Penny Sage studio).
This handmade Sydney label produces only two capsule collections per year as part of their philosophy that we should all be buying less and better-quality clothes. Each of Revel Knitwear’s timeless chunky knits are designed and hand-knitted in Sydney on a made-to-order basis to minimise waste. Think cardigans (with pockets!), crew knits, cable sweaters and oversized scarves for maximum warmth, made from either a medley of pure wool, alpaca and acrylic, or a cotton and acrylic blend. Perfect for cold country escapes or simply to casually throw over your ethically made underwear of a morning while you make coffee at home.
New Zealand-based favourite Kowtow released its first range of knitwear this season made from either a blend of 50% ethical organic cotton and 50% merino wool, or 100% organic cotton. The cotton comes from organic farms that don’t use any genetically modified seeds. The crops are sustained on rainwater alone (cutting down on cotton’s high water consumption) and the lack of chemical usage is achieved through companion planting, crop rotation and composting—benefitting both the farmers and us at the other end of the supply chain. Kowtow’s merino wool is certified by ZQ Merino—a standard that ensures its growers are committed to the highest grade of animal welfare, environmental care and social responsibility. Find jumpers, cardigans, knitted dresses, scarves and beanies among the winter range—all garments have been made at SA8000-accredited factories in India.
This family run, ECA-accredited Aussie label makes cosy merino basics that are designed to be worn and loved all winter long: think long-sleeved jumpers, sweater dresses and longline cardis for women, classic tees and singlets for men, and the cutest crewnecks and bodysuits for keeping your little one snug as a bug in a rug. Made from high quality, handpicked, non-mulesed merino wool, every garment is manufactured locally to the very highest standards – resulting in a wardrobe staple that should last for many winters to come.
For all our beanie, snood, scarf and glove needs, we can’t go past Untouched World’s luxuriously soft yet long-wearing range. Ethically produced in the brand’s native New Zealand, each piece is made from 100% merino wool or Ecopossum™ (a blend of fine Merino wool, Brushtail possum fibre, silk, and sometimes angora). The label makes sweaters, wraps and cardigans too.
If you’d like your knitwear minus the sheep factor, then top of your list should be Vaute – the first vegan label to show at New York Fashion Week. Their chunky knits are created in New York using organic and recycled fibres made from industrial waste cotton by a knitting machine that creates no waste. Classic cable-knit Aran sweaters designed to be gender neutral will have your winter wrapped up in cosy bliss.
The perfect throw-on staple piece from sustainable fashion stalwarts Patagonia. The slouchy, destined-to-be-your-new-favourite Off Country Cardigan in navy or grey is knitted from EcoJean; a yarn that is comprised of regenerated fibres from reclaimed cotton and polyester, which Patagonia says has shown to have 98% less environmental impact that new, non regenerated yarn.
Wool and The Gang
Celebrate cool times with Wool and the Gang’s extensive range of DIY pattern kits. Each kit comes complete with needles and wool so you know exactly #whomadeyourclothes – YOU! Covering everything from chunky cardigans and summer sweaters to beanies and laptop sleeves, the gang even have yarns to suit all sustainable styles, including pre-consumer denim waste, upcycled t-shirt scraps, recycled wool and ethically-produced alpaca.