above ANDEAN COLLECTIVE
We’ve settled into our cosy winter wardrobes here in the southern hemisphere, though of course with global warming and being in Australia and all, it’s not always necessarily that cold. All the more reason to grab any and all opportunities to swaddle ourselves in some luxurious knitwear while we still can!
Wool is one of the most environmentally friendly fibres out there – it’s 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable. Not only that, it’s incredibly easy to reuse and recycle. A global wardrobe study from Woolmark discovered wool clothes to be among the oldest kept in wardrobes and have high donation rates.
When it comes to woolly goodness, we in Australia are spoiled for choice. There are approximately 78.85 million sheepies (about 3.3 sheep to every person), and we’re known for producing the good stuff – Australia accounts for 25% of the global supply and 90% of all fine apparel wool (it’s the merino, babes).
But with a field so abundant in options, how is a body supposed to find the best? Who are the passionate pals out there dedicated to doing their best for the sheep and the planet? And why when we talk about knitwear, do our brains automatically turn to sweaters?
To help you get your nifty knitwear game on, we’ve made like a sheepdog and rounded up a flock of fantastic sustainable knitwear brands for you to peruse. Unwind your mind and get ready to snuggle down as we yarn on.
Loré Loré is a knitwear brand all about the art of handcrafted, with small production runs utilising exclusively locally sourced materials to create high-quality, long-lasting, effortlessly fashionable pieces. Melbourne-based founder and designer Lorena Gonzalez has been bringing her textile expertise to the fore to create exquisite knitted apparel and accessories for over 10 years!
Beginning in Byron Bay and built on the foundation of creating garments “made by women, for women”, Andean Collective is a small, ethical brand crafting contemporary pieces that combine the cultures of Australia and Peru. The bold and vibrant designs are hand-knitted from alpaca wool and organic cotton from the Peruvian Andes by Peruvian artisans, preserving ancient Andean knitting traditions!
Who better than Hobartians to know how to craft a cold-weather outfit that is comfy, practical and stylish as all get out? A family business born back in 2008, Smitten creates luxuriously lightweight clothes that are ethically made in Tasmania from merino certified by the Responsible Wool Standard. The brand also aims for zero-waste production practices! We’re certainly smitten.
WAH-WAH is the ultimate in cool kid’s knitwear, but this iconic brand isn’t just cool, it’s conscious. Designed in Sydney and inspired by the punk records of her youth, designer Kaylene Milner marries elements of pop culture with a deeply sustainable practice to create wearable art with a whole lotta heart. The brand operates primarily on pre-orders, with small runs of knitwear made from luxurious 100% superfine merino. Kaylene is all about “fair pay for fair work”, a practice that extends not only to her many glamorous artistic collaborators but to the garment workers that create the clothes in China and Australia. Now that’s punk rock, baby!
Created by a collection of women with extensive experience in the fashion and design industry and a shared sense of responsibility and desire to do better, Wolfgang Scout is built around the philosophy of “interwoven connections” – to people, places and the natural environment. The super-soft dreamy duds are hand-knit from merino wool that’s grown, spun, and dyed in Australia with care taken to minimise waste and water usage, and tread lightly on our precious planet.
Inspired by their family sheep farm on Tasmania’s beautiful Bruny Island, brother-sister duo Bec and Louis Wardle created Crimp to champion the natural, durable, biodegradable and thermal benefits of merino wool – warm in the winter and breathable in the summertime. The pair’s trusty trans-seasonal bucket hats are designed and hand-made in Melbourne using local supply chains. Now that’s crimpin’!
Inspired by her grandmother Beverley and the traditional tenets of hand-knitting she taught her, Shannyn Lorkin founded Revel Knitwear in 2016. The wonderful wares are made-to-order and hand-made around Australia by a community of women in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne from natural fibres like wool and cotton – the offcuts of which are saved to be spun into new yarn. Revel advocates for conscious consumption, sustainability and making with moral intent, even offering a “Mend to Extend” policy!
Born to a wool-growing family based in central-west New South Wales, founder and creative director of INTACT Gabby Neal wants to reintroduce sustainable fashion fans to “the world’s premium sustainable fibre”. Her capsule collection of clean and classy basics is made with Australian merino wool, designed to be everyday wardrobe staples that support Australian wool growers and a better fashion future for all.
Effortlessly elegant, Toorallie balances 200 years of woollen history with a future-focused perspective to honour the circular nature of merino wool in its classic, contemporary and considered garments. Designed in Melbourne, its groovy garb is meticulously made from marvellous merino wool, all hand selected from their Responsible Wool Standard-certified woolshed partner, Pooginook Station in New South Wales.
Established in 2005, the family-run, ethical brand Woolerina came from patriarch Warwick Rolfe’s long-held desire to take raw Australian merino wool directly off-farm and follow it through to a completed garment. Producing timeless designs that’ll last a long time and be loved even longer, and accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, the range is locally made using the highest quality, hand-picked merino wool.
The ethical folk at Kowtow are actually from New Zealand – where the brand was founded in 2006 by Gosia Piatek – but in the spirit of neighbourly camaraderie, we count them as local lads. Did you know that the sheep-to-people ratio in New Zealand is six to one? Not that it matters in this instance as Kowtow’s knitwear, like all their garments, is made from 100% Fairtrade-certified organic cotton, traced from seed to store. Each beautifully breathable piece is individually knitted to reduce yarn waste. Made well to look even better, that’s the Kowtow one-two.