The Guide > Clothing > Fashion > Womens Fashion
Womens Fashion
Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop. (A global spend of $2.6 billion each year). This is more than 10 per cent of the world's pesticides and nearly 25 per cent of the world's insecticides. Many of these are the most hazardous pesticides on the market including aldicarb, phorate, methamidophos and endosulfan. These pesticides can poison farm workers, drift into neighboring communities, contaminate ground and surface water and kill beneficial insects and soil micro-organisms.
  • Look for organic cotton products from brands like Certton, Blessed Earth, Organic Embrace and Gaia Organic.
An average of 40 animals is required to make one fur coat. Whether the animal is trapped in the wild, bludgeoned on an ice floe, or bred on a factory farm, fur represents death and suffering.
  • Remind any fur-wearing friends that it's not cool!
  • Check Animals Australia Fur Free Shopping List for retailers and designers with fur-free policies Animals Australia
  • Be alert! More and more real fur is 'hidden' in mainstream clothes as trim or lining. Test before you buy. The Fur Test
  • Take the Animals Australia Pledge to be Fur Free! The Pledge
The global leather industry slaughters more than one billion animals for their skins each year. Leather commonly comes from cattle and calves, and from other animals slaughtered for meat such as horses, sheep, lambs, goats, and pigs. Wild animals are also hunted for their skins. Kangaroos can also be commercially shot purely for their skins in Western Australia and Queensland (skin-only commercial hunting is banned in other Australian jurisdictions). Other species hunted worldwide for their skins include zebras, boars, elephants, crocodiles, and lizards.

Additionally, the modern process of tanning, involves toxic substances and pollutants.
  • There are many alternatives to leather, including cotton, linen, rubber, ramie, canvas, and synthetics. PETA
  • See Alternatives to Leather at the Animals Australia Unleashed Faux Shopping Guide Unleashed
  • Look for polyurethane-based materials rather than PVC. PVC is not degradable, involves production using toxic additives and emits carcinogenic dioxin when incinerated.
Mulesing is the practice of cutting the skin from the buttocks of lambs to produce a scar, which is done in response to the problem of 'flystrike'. Blowflys lay eggs in the skin of the sheep which hatch into larvae and feed on the sheep's tissue - resulting in the painful death of around 3 million sheep each year. Mulesing is a controversial practice, as it is done without anesthetic. After international campaigns by animal activist groups and the threatened boycott of Australian wool by European retailers, the Australian Wool Industry stated it would phase out mulesing but has since scrapped this earlier promise.
  • Find brands and retailers specialising in supplying wool certified as non-mulesed, such as NewMerinos, Plevna Downs and Merino Company.
  • See Alternatives to Wool at the Animals Australia Unleashed Faux Shopping Guide Unleashed
In Australia, the use of home-based outworkers in the cut make and trim stage of production is common. The Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia estimate that 50-70% of clothing made in Australia is outsourced, usually to migrant women working at home or in backyard sweatshops.

Long supply chains mean designers and clothing labels contract work out to factories, who subcontract work out to other factories, backyard sweatshops or outworkers. Often outworkers receive payment and conditions significantly below their award and statutory entitlements. Outworkers are almost always paid in piece rates, usually equating to $5-8 an hour, but sometimes as little as $3 an hour. The low rates of pay that outworkers receive, combined with routinely short deadlines, results in many outworkers having to work extremely long hours, sometimes around the clock, or 7 days a week.
  • Check out the Issues section of our website for more about outworkers in Australia ethical.org.au/issues
  • Support Ethical Clothing Australia accredited businesses who have taken practical steps to keep their Australian-based supply chains transparent and ensure that they and any sub-contractors are compliant with the relevant Australian laws. Ethical Clothing Australia
Sandblasting is what gives your jeans the worn-out look. Under the sandblasting process the denim is smoothed, shaped and cleaned by forcing abrasive particles across it at high speeds. This fashion however comes at a price: the health and even the lives of sandblasting workers.

Sandblasting causes silicosis which the World Health Organization states leads to lung fibrosis and emphysema. In later stages the critical condition can become disabling and is often fatal.

The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation launched its campaign to eliminate the use of sandblasting in the garment industry in 2009. In 2010 both Levi's and H&M jointly decided to eliminate the process from their supply chains representing a major breakthrough in the campaign.

  • See Clean Clothes Campaign's Deadly Denim report which investigates nine Bangladeshi factories Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Read more about sandblasting at The Lancet The Lancet
There is little transparency as to which clothing items are made by workers who are paid fairly and which clothes are made in sweatshop conditions. Modern-day slavery, which currently affects more than 30 million people, is used throughout the production of many clothing products sold on Australian shelves.

WORKING HOURS. Long working hours and forced overtime are a major concern among garment workers. Factory managers typically push employees to work between 10 and 12 hours, sometimes 16 to 18 hours a day. A seven-day working week is becoming the norm during the peak season, particularly in China, despite limits placed by the law.

WAGES. The majority of workers in the global fashion industry, rarely earn more than two dollars a day. Many have to work excessive hours for this meagre amount and struggle to properly feed, clothe and educate their families. The problem is complicated further when the millions of piece- rate workers and homeworkers within the industry are considered. When workers are paid by the number of garments they produce, rather than the number of hours they work, it becomes near-impossible to earn a living wage during a working week.

Women in El Salvador are paid just 29 cents for each $140 Nike NBA jersey they sew. To pay them a living wage, they would earn 58 cents per shirts, 4/10ths of one percent of the retail cost of the shirt.
  • Check out the Issues section of our website for more about labour exploitation in the apparel sector ethical.org.au/issues
  • See the Simple Plan and MTV EXIT video for 'This Song Saved My Life' MTVexit
  • See 'Behind the Swoosh' documentary and more about the fight against Nike's sweatshops at www.teamsweat.org Behind the Swoosh
There is little or no transparency on the conditions behind common processes in most supply chains in the clothing industry. Baptist World Aid and Not For Sale's 2013 document, The Australian Fashion Report, identified that out of 128 clothing brands, 61% of companies do not know where their garments are manufactured; 76% not know where their garments are weaved, knitted and dyed; and 93% do not know where their cotton is sourced from.

[Please note the ratings in our guide indicate praises or criticisms in one or more issue areas in the ownership tree, but not necessarily the area of labour conditions. For many companies we don't have any information about the conditions their clothes are made under. We don't automatically allocate criticisms to companies for this, even though it is quite likely the company is sourcing from overseas sweatshops.]
  • See the Clothing: Alternatives table on our website for alternative retailers and brands with positive features such as Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation, Fairtrade certification, and use of sustainable materials. Alternatives
  • See Ethical Clothing Australia's list of accredited brands here ECA
Uzbekistan is one of the world's largest exprters of cotton. For decades, Uzbekistan has forced adults and children as young as 10 to pick cotton under appalling conditions each harvest season. The human rights concerns surrounding Uzbek cotton production has lead to a 'call for a boycott' of Uzbek cotton from Uzbek and international activists. Around 70 per cent of Uzbekistan cotton is sold to Bangladesh and China, where it is turned into fabric to be used in clothes, sheets and other cotton products to be sold into countries such as Australia.

There are 14 countries where cotton is produced using child labour. Child workers in the cottonseed industry are often in a state of debt bondage and work at least nine hours a day. Pesticides used during production cause health problems for the children and they report experiencing headaches, convulsions and respiratory problems. The long-term effects of exposure to toxic chemicals have not been measured.
  • Check out the Issues section of our website for more about child labour in cotton production ethical.org.au/issues
  • Watch White Gold - the true cost of cotton (video) White Gold
Features: Fairtrade, Australian made
Organic, water-based dyes, solar powered studio. Based in Byron Bay, NSW.
Manufacturer: Bird Textiles
Features: Certified organic textiles
Organic cotton and wool textile products, including bedding and clothing. Based in Maleny, QLD.
Manufacturer: Blessed Earth
Features: Alternative fibres, Organic
Most of their clothing is made from hemp or bamboo, but they also use pure hemp, organic cotton, hemp cotton, hemp rayon, bamboo cotton, and soy cotton. Based in Silverwater, NSW.
Manufacturer: Braintree
Features: Fairtrade, Alternative fibres
Fair trade, hand-woven cotton and hemp, from alternative fabrics. Based in QLD.
Manufacturer: Daksha
Features: Australian made
Manufactured in Sydney since 1992. Based in Sydney, NSW.
Manufacturer: Dragstar
Features: Organic
Organic clothing label for babies, kids and adults. Based in WA.
Manufacturer: Eco peko
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited
New women's fashion label. Clothing is made in Australia and accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia.
Manufacturer: Gina Barjeel
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited, alternative fibres
As of 2019 all of their garments are manufactured in Ethical Clothing Australia accredited facilities. Alternative fibres they use include hemp, mulesing free wool and recycled nylon.
Manufacturer: Good Studios
Features: Organic, Australian made, Second hand-reclaimed-recycled
Screen-printed clothing; organic, recycled or locally produced fabrics; run workshops. Based in Brunswick, VIC.
Manufacturer: Harvest Textiles
Features: Alternative fibres
Hemp, silk, linen and cotton clothing. Based in Byron Bay NSW.
Manufacturer: Kashi
Features: Organic cotton, recycled cotton, fair wages
Denim and general apparel made from organic cotton and recycled materials. Based in Netherlands.
Manufacturer: Kuyichi
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited, alternative fibres
Garments are made in Brisbane by a manufacturer accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia. Fabrics are certified toxic free by Oeko-Tex, plus they use organic cotton and linen. Their packaging materials are all non-plastic and are recyclable or compostable.
Manufacturer: Luna + Sun
Features: Alternative fibres, Australian owned
Hemp and bamboo clothing. Family-owned Australian company based in Islington, NSW.
Manufacturer: Made In Hemp
Features: Hand made
Online market for handmade & independently created items. Based in NSW.
Manufacturer: Made it
Features: Alternative fibres
Hemp clothing. Based in Margaret River, WA.
Features: W.R.A.P certified, Made in Australia, Some stock Organic. Social enterprise.
Designs read differently in the mirror to quite literally cause people to "Stop and Reflect". Designs spark conversation and promote positive values. $3 from every purchase is donated to development projects. Screenprinted in Brisbane with enviro friendly (water soluable) inks using 100% renewable energy. All clothing is W.R.A.P certified, and Made in Australia. 20-30% of the shirts we stock are Australian made Organic. Based in QLD.
Manufacturer: Mirrogram Clothing
Features: Supporting Cambodian artisans. Some products organic.
Modimade connects consumers with Cambodian artisans that are creating ethical and fair employment.
Manufacturer: Modimade
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited, alternative fibres
Nya is 100% Australian Made and proudly accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia. Fabric is both screen printed and sewn in Melbourne, using GOTS certified organic cotton & hemp.
Manufacturer: Nya
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited, alternative fibres, Fairtrade
All their garments are made using 100% organic cotton in Melbourne, Australia and Tirupur, India. They have the following certifications : GOTS (organic); Ethical Clothing Australia & Fair trade.
Manufacturer: Organic Crew
Features: Fairtrade, Organic
Fair-trade, organic cotton products, certified by ACO. Based in QLD.
Manufacturer: Organic Embrace
Features: Fairtrade, vegan
Fair Trade and environmentally sustainable fashion. Based in UK.
Manufacturer: People Tree
Features: Pre-loved fashion
Pre-loved fashion market in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide. Based in AUS.
Manufacturer: Round She Goes
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited, alternative fibres
All garments are made in Melbourne from bamboo and accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia.
Manufacturer: Sha-de
Features: Fairtrade, Organic, Alternative fibres
Fair trade and sweat-shop free, hand loomed organic cotton, thread is dyed using natural dyes, and loomed into fabric, no pesticides are used in the process of growing, dyeing and looming this fabric. Based in QLD.
Manufacturer: Sinerji
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited
"Ethical luxury women's wear" label accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia. There are more claims of ethical practices on their website, but without accreditations to back them up.
Manufacturer: Sista of Jac
Features: Organic, Australian made, Alternative fibres
Sustainabilty focus label, manufacturing in Melbourne. Based in Melbourne, VIC.
Manufacturer: Sosume
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited
Fashion. Based in Melbourne, VIC.
Manufacturer: Tatyana Design
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited
Australian made women's fashion label accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia. Available online and in selected stores. Based in VIC.
Manufacturer: The Ark
Features: Second hand
Clothes Swap events in Melbourne and Sydney. Based in Melbourne, VIC.
Manufacturer: The Clothing Exchange
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited, social enterprise
The Social Outfir is an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited ethical trading social enterprise that provides employment and training in the fashion industry to people from refugee and new migrant communities in clothing production, retail, design and marketing.
Manufacturer: The Social Outfit
Features: Australian made, Made from reclaimed, Ethical Clothing Australia accredited
Social enterprise; upcycling waste; online store. Based in Melbourne, VIC.
Manufacturer: The Social Studio
Features: Employing the disadvantaged, empowering women, organic, upcycled, cause supporting
Social enterprise that source products from social projects all over the world. B Corporation. Online store.
Manufacturer: Thread Harvest
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited
Australian owned and made women's fashion. Family-owned direct selling company. Based in VIC.
Manufacturer: Veducci
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited, non-mulesed wool.
Australian owned and made wool garments. Online store. Based in NSW.
Manufacturer: Woolerina
Find farmers' markets, food coops, farm gate products at Local Harvest
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A Praises, no criticism
B Some praise, no criticism
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C Praises, some criticism
D Criticism, some praise
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Note: Ratings are based on company record, including parent companies. They are not a comment on the product itself.
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