I got asked about sustainable clothing brands in New Zealand. Here are my gatherings from a nine-hour online shopping session.
Is online shopping sustainable?
Honestly? I don’t know.
My initial reaction is not. The number of things people buy online that ends up never being used just because the size or shape was odd and the shopper was too lazy to ship it back. Not to mention, the number of things than ends up being shipped back (shipping carbon footprint).
Shipping is one of the most polluting parts of the clothing industry’s carbon footprint.
Online shopping potentially increases the number of trips your garment takes during its lifetime: from raw materials to manufacturer, from manufacturer to a warehouse, from a warehouse to a seller, from a seller to person. And potentially back.
And then there are the greenwashers. Not even saying any more.
On the bright side, there are lots of businesses that ensure sustainable practices, for example only manufacturing products as per orders. Some businesses produce garments close to warehouses and/or sellers. Others relocate manufacturing far away from the actual company’s location, but compensate in other ways, like making sure the raw material production and collection doesn’t harm the local environment, people or economy.
How do you know which way is the right way?
Honestly, I still don’t know.
I think we can all agree that the clothing industry as such is not sustainable. Probably the only way to be fully sustainable and ethical is to only buy local and ideally only buy local second hand. But the reality of that happening just is what it is — sometimes we have to be a bit flexible.
Sustainable shopping really comes down to awareness and making informed decisions based on that awareness.
Sometimes the right way is this, sometimes that. That’s okay. As a recovering ‘anti-consumerist’, I think it is essential to give ourselves some slack and accept we are doing the best we can with the resource we have.
Like, if you are in a COVID-lockdown, your big toe cheekily pops a new hole to the last pair of unbroken socks you have, and the winter decides to arrive three weeks early, what are you gonna do about it??
That being said, here are some resources for you to be the best sustainable online shopper you can, with the resources you have.
My favourite ethical and sustainable clothing stores in New Zealand
Here’s a quick list of shops that I accepted as not greenwashed. Each of them has some kind of a sustainability policy on their website for your consideration. Note, I haven’t tested out all of the below, please know my list is based on pre-testing the products! :-)
- For beautiful design pants, shirts, dresses and tops. These items are only designed and not made in New Zealand, but the company has a transparent system to trace down where the clothing was made, by whom, and in what conditions. It’s a story worth reading. The website has a lot of material about the processes (ReCreate).
- The world’s most comfortable and prettiest granny underwear! Honestly, I can’t preach my love for this brand enough. They even have a line of underwear made from scrap materials. This brand I have actually tested and can fully stand behind it (Thunderpants).
- The most beautiful knitted wear, made in New Zealand (EcoWool).
- Ethical intimates and socks by a Wellington-based small business (Nisa).
- Ethically sources t-shirts to empower communities (Liminal).
- Cute casual tops and hoodies (Humanity).
- Active (yoga) wear and loungewear. This company looks very appealing to me and while I haven’t tested it out yet, it’s definitely on my list when I next need exercise clothing. One danger of online shopping is to buy things when you don’t necessarily need them — so I am doing my best to resist here (Sooti).
- This is another activewear brand that I adore, and I am looking forward to needing new yoga gear (SaltySea).
- Awesome winter sport clothes from the South Island (Mons Royale)
- And of course, Wellington’s very own Kowtow. Most products are not made in New Zealand but the brand is aiming for a transparent and sustainable practice (Kowtow).
Some companies I would support or have supported in Australia
As much as I’d like to buy only local New Zealand, sometimes it’s really hard to find specific products in this small country. For me, the trouble was finding suitable sports and lace underwear. If I have to expand to Australia in my online shopping, here’s a couple of brands that I’d support.
Mighty Good Basics
- Ethical basic underwear for all genders with good transparency policies. I like the brand name (Mighty Good Basics).
- Ethical shoes and cotton products. Not sure how comfortable the runners are but once the summer comes back I hope to try a pair out (Etiko).
- Gorgeous ethical underwear, and something a bit sexier than granny pants. These are quite expensive though, which sometimes is the problem with sustainable clothing. Hope to save up some pennies for these someday soon (Eco Intimates).
A few people asked me about eco intimates in particular. I found this one blog post that lists 15 sustainable made underwear in Australia/New Zealand, I thought you might find this useful.
Have I missed a gem?
If there’s a gem sustainable clothing store that I have missed, please let me know! I am getting more and more into this topic and would love to continue the conversation.
In the meantime, happy sustainable shopping!