sustainable fashion

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MADE IN AUS: 5 Aussie labels with ethics we love

posted by Karlicca Culalic January 18, 2018 0 comments

In 2018, our fashion faux pas go beyond our style choices. There is a much darker side beneath fashion’s sparkling façade, where labels mean luxury and more shoes equal more happiness (and it’s not blisters and bank accounts in anguish). It is discovering the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Yikes. That’s why we LOVE uncovering labels with sustainable intentions, especially Australian ones. Here’s five that absolutely need to be on your radar…

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Trending: Sleeve Mania + Intro to BT STYLE HUNTER

posted by Karlicca Culalic December 15, 2017 1 Comment

Red carpets and runways. That’s where it begins. Then it’s the shoe silhouette haunting fashion magazines and the article slinging around the arms of fashion’s elite. It’s the colours creeping into your Instagram feed and the way beauty vloggers create their makeup looks. Influencers are wearing it. Your friends are wearing it and before you know it, your subconscious fashion self is staring down your wardrobe telling yourself things like, wear those tennis shoes with that dress! Put denim on denim!  Wear that school scrunchie! Buy the Birkenstocks! And why? All because it’s #TRENDING. Continue Reading

VIHN | Brisbane Threads

VIHN – Made By Humans

posted by Katie Tillson June 22, 2015 0 comments

Imagine this: we’re friends. You’ve come to my house so that I can proudly detail how my newfound love of sewing means that I’m making clothes now.  Would you offer me a paltry few dollars for something you now know I’ve poured over for hours, broken two needles on and practically severed a finger whilst sewing?

I’d like to think your answer goes something like this: “No Katie, you goose, I’d pay you what I thought it was worth considering the time and effort you invested in making it*.” (*If that wasn’t your answer then I hope that by the end of this article, you take pause for thought and reassess.)

Edda, Judith, Ryan, and Monique – known collectively as the team behind sustainable fashion label VIHN – recognise that conversations like the one I’ve imagined above rarely precursor clothing purchases. Instead, we’ve become obsessed with the notion of bargain hunting; driven by an insatiable and unobtainable need to keep up with the ever changing world of fashion. Obliviously pursuing this goal, we have little or no concept as to the real life impact our decisions are having on those who make the very shirts on our backs.

VIHN | Brisbane Threads

VIHN’s mission is simple on paper and echoes those such as Stella McCartney and Suno who have long focused on the environmental impacts of production: VIHN want to transform the lives of those who work in the garment industry. But as The True Cost details – with 1 in 6 humans on the Earth today involved in the fashion industry and an average of eight million items of clothing sold every year – transforming the garment industry is no mean feat.

As I sat among a crowd of other twenty to thirty something’s watching the documentary at VIHN’s recent screening night, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable about pretty much every item of clothing I’ve ever bought. The film pairs shots of frenzied American shoppers at the Black Friday sales with those of the bodies of the 1,100 workers crushed when a factory collapsed at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh two years ago. Mr Morgan captures the story of a single mother who tried to organise a labour union in her factory and was locked in a room and beaten by her employers. We meet mentally handicapped kids in India, who are reportedly suffering from the impact of pesticides used to grow the cotton for our clothes. And, we’re presented with images of entire villages suffering from hypopigmentation due to the chemicals that are reportedly pumped into their only source of drinking water by a factory upstream that manufactures cheap leather. It was difficult, uncomfortable, and, at time, gut-wrenching viewing.

Style.com reports, that Mr Morgan swears the movie isn’t designed to “bum you out” but is instead here to “pose [a] simple idea: There are human beings who make what we wear.” And it is this idea that VIHN are desperate to communicate to the Australian world of fashion.

Derived from the Icelandic word meaning “friend”, VIHN is a label that goes beyond your wardrobe with each and every purchase funding a project at Lotus Silk, an ethical workspace in Cambodia:

  • Buy a VIHN dress; you provide child-care to the workers.
  • Buy a VIHN jacket; you add solar panels to the workspace.
  • Buy a VIHN shirt and you fund education programs for the workers.

VIHN’s mission is to create opportunities for mainstream garment workers to move into ethical workplaces – and transform their lives. Their premise is about seeing the people that make our clothes as just that: people.

Watching The True Cost I realised how I, like pretty much everyone I know, take for granted the workforce making my clothes as an extension of the machines they’re made on. VIHN don’t do that; their clothes –which are statement pieces designed to empower both the maker and the wearer – are designed by humans, sewn by humans and should be worn by humans.

I can’t encourage you enough to donate to VIHN’s StartSomeGood campaign; and, if you’re still not convinced, watch The True Cost on Netflix when it’s available later this month. If that doesn’t move you, I’d recommend you see a doctor or a mechanic because I’d hazard a guess that you’re not human at all.

VIHN | Brisbane Threads


BE GREEN in February

posted by Teagan West January 29, 2015 0 comments

Can you believe it’s almost February already!? Oh how time flies when you’re having fun conquering your new year resolutions.

Traditionally, January is the it-time to concentrate on yourself, set new goals, enjoy “me” time and work to make your dreams come true. So now that it’s February and your January goals are a work in progress, what’s your new micro-mission? Ours is to have a “green February” (don’t panic, we’re not talking about kale and spinach infused juices)!

We’re making February a BE GREEN month in celebration of our fabulous planet. We’ll be living more sustainably next month, starting with a few earth-conscious changes in our daily routine. It doesn’t take much to work towards a more ecofriendly lifestyle that fosters moral and ethical consumption. We hear the karma is also good when you consider the longevity of the earth in your everyday tasks.

Here are our top tips on how to BE GREEN next month…

1. Use a glass water bottle instead of a disposable one. Eco-friendly Brisbane store Biome stocks Australia’s best (and most stylish) range of top quality, long lasting, leak-proof, BPA free water bottles that’ll have you saving money, reducing plastic waste and looking as stylish as ever. We love the Lifefactory glass water bottles.


2. Instead of snapping up a fast fashion bargain this month, purchase an ecofriendly investment pieces from our fashionable favourites flying the eco-loving flag including AnnukkaHarriette Hill, Pure Pod, Sinerji and the sustainability stylish crusaders at Undress Runways.

3. If a stylish, comfortable, functional bra update is on your horizon you must check out Nico Underwear first! Nico is the first Australian underwear brand to be accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia for their use of sustainably sourced materials and onshore production. And the best part – price points are on par with mass-produced designer lingerie!


4. When your everyday cosmetics and toiletries run out, head to LUSH to replace them. Among many things, LUSH uses ethically sourced quality ingredients on their locally handmade products and they support grassroots charities, reduce landfill and are a key player in the fight against animal testing. AND, their complete range of products always attracts a crowd at the local shopping centre (they’re really that great).


5. BYO everything – whether it be an environmentally friendly shopping bag for your groceries, a travel mug for your morning coffee or a packed lunch full of fresh food and no waste.

6. Ditch the polish’s with nasty chemicals and get your nails in shape with Kester Black’s range of vegan nail polishes in bright colours.

7. Put down your car keys and get behind the wheel of a bike one day a week (or more for bonus karma and health points). 99 Bikes have you covered when it comes to swapping four wheels for two, especially if you’re choosing something from their Pedal range (our favourite is the Pedal Uptown). Check out our collaboration with 99 Bikes here.


8. Shop at your local farmers market when you can. Fresh fruit and veg direct from the producer is often cheaper, tastes better and ensures your produce stays fresh and crisp for longer. Plus, by shopping at a farmers market you’re supporting our local growers and their livelihood. Check out our post on Brisbane’s 17 best markets for some inspiration and direction.

9. Pick up and devour the current issue of Peppermint for all of your sustainability inspo – from DIY projects, slow fashion appreciation, discussions on social issues and informative features to the best in eco accessories, natural beauty, art, film, design, lifestyle and culture. It’s a fashion and lifestyle magazine that is green to it’s core – printed on an FSC-certified printing press, 100% carbon neutral and with editorial integrity, meaning they only support and advertise those whose values are in line with their own. The summer issue “You Are Enough” is out now!


How are you going to make February a little more “green” for yourself, and the world around you? Everything counts!



posted by Danielle Lewis August 4, 2014 0 comments


In 2013 I made it my personal mission to care. To care about how the products I purchased were made and where they came from. To care about the food I put into my body. To care about the products I put onto my skin. So I have been on a mission to find places that stock things I can feel confident about purchasing and know that they do right. I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon Ecobella to find that they operated right here in Brisbane!! Ecobella is a fantastic online boutique for all of your organic, fair trade, eco-friendly needs!! They stock the most gorgeous range of jewellery, home & living items, things for the little ones…. all organic or fair trade of course! So excited, I spent time with Irene Valentine, one of the founders to hear more about their wonderful story….


1.    What inspired you to launch Ecobella?

We’ve always been attracted to the idea of having a little shop, selling gifts which are beautiful and high quality; but which also have eco friendly and ethical standards. Ultimately, we wanted to bring highly desirable “designer” products, which have clever and ethical use of sustainable materials to the market place in a gift shop setting.
We also wanted to challenge ourselves by opening a business. It has been its been 7 years since we first dreamt up Ecobella, and 2 years since we launched with the aim of creating a destination for women who wanted great service and did want to compromise their ‘green values’ when they shopped. We are proud that we have not wavered from these core goals and values that first inspired us to create Ecobella. It has been an amazing learning process.

2.    Why Eco? What does this mean to you?

Ecobella aims to search for products that are ethical, sustainable and can be locally sourced. We are committed to reducing our footprint, and feel compelled to consider our social responsibility before making everyday decisions. It is also important that our business reflect our own personal ethics.
Elena has a great interest in environmental design, having worked designing green star commercial interior fit outs. Irene fosters a love for our environmental heritage in her students, as one of the subject areas she teaches is environmental studies. Ros still regards herself a country girl in many ways and loves home cooking with fresh produce from her organic veggie garden.
We all appreciate the natural world around us, and realize how important it is to ensure it is well cared for so that natural balances are maintained, and the natural world continues to sustain us and future generations. With young children in the family, and the prospects of more in the coming years this is especially close to our heart, and we seek out safe, and quality products which will have a minimal impact on the earth.

3.    How did your team come together?

Well, we are a close family, and had been talking about starting a business for many years. With our personal interests in the environment, design, art and retail therapy, the idea of starting Ecobella was just a natural progression for us.

4.    Give us a brief background on each team member and why they are passionate about Ecobella.

Ecobella is is a family business, owned by three women & mothers – Ros an artist and teacher, Irene an entrepreneur and teacher, and Elena an interior architect. We are a close-knit family, even though we are spread all over Australia. Ros and Irene are based in Brisbane but Elena is based in Perth. Despite the distance, we have embraced the challenge of living on opposite sides of the country and are truly committed to building a successful online business featuring quality sustainable goods. What binds us together is our shared vision and hope for sustainable future for our business, our families and our community.

5.    What is your favourite part of running on online business?

This is a tricky one as launching a e-store has been a huge learning curve. But, as the business has evolved, each of us has found great rewards and something we love. Irene enjoys searching for products and speaking to producers who create our wonderful goods. Ros normally does the dispatches of customer orders, and she really loves wrapping the parcels (a little surprise gift wrapping) and imagining the delight of the customer when they receive the parcel.  Elena loves discovering and supporting new local designers. And the work life balance and flexibility that running an online store brings is fantastic. I get to be home with my daughter most days, and that is important to me whilst she is so young.

6.    Who is the Ecobella customer?

Ecobella is a destination for women who love quality and see the value of products that are made ethically and sustainably. They come from all walks of life. Sometimes, when we have a pop-up shop (in Brisbane) , we get to meet our customers face to face who come to have a look at our merchandise and drop in for a chat. It’s wonderful that our customers are so supportive of our philosophy.

Ecobella has responded to the growing awareness of ‘green and ethical issues’ in the wider community.


Ros and Irene

7.    What are your must-have products for Winter?

Uimi’s range of bright geometric blankets for the home & for children.

8. What is your goal for the business in 2014?

There is a misconception out there that eco products can be dull or unfashionable – we’d like to change that.  We want to put the spotlight on great design and beautiful wares, so our concept is more akin to a boutique style store. Our goal is to to promote our eco-boutique to a wider community and bring even more fabulous eco-friendly and ethically made products to our customers.

9.    How does living in Brisbane impact your business?

Our business is based in Brisbane (with Elena working remotely from Perth). They are very similar in some ways. In both cities, people are quite relaxed and the sense of community is evident. Ecobella appreciates the support from our customers who love their local businesses.
10. Where is your favourite spot in Brisbane to EAT/DRINK/SHOP?

At Ecobella, we all have different likes.  Irene loves local area shopping. I support the Martha Street Precinct in Camp Hill where I can have a coffee, go to dinner and browse some cute shops and support local business.
Ros enjoys Oxford St, Bulimba cafes, because it is an easy walk from where I live, but I do enjoy the occasional visit into the city, or Southbank as well.
Elena loves the wholefood cafes in Teneriffe and shopping for vintage finds in Paddington. And, recommends if you are ever in WA to hit George St in East Fremantle, and the Margaret River Wine Region.
11. Anything else you’d love our readers to know?
Ecobella prefers to stock Australian made products and support our local designers. Most of our products come from Brisbane and Melbourne. Unfortunately, some of our designers are finding it hard to manufacture within Australia, so whilst they are designed here, often products are made in India or China under strict Fair Trade agreements. We also have a couple of international brands, including 31 Bits, which supports women in Uganda, who make recycled paper jewellery to provide a sustainable income.

As a business, our vision is to align ourselves with community groups and charities which have similar ethical and environmental concerns.
As a family, we have a passion for the beach. Some of us surf, some of us swim and some of us just love to watch the ocean and its many moods.


Find Ecobella online here on Facebook here and look out for them at future market locations!

elena & leighton -bw[1]

Elena & Leighton


Sustainable Fashion with east of grey

posted by Danielle Lewis July 11, 2014 1 Comment

east of grey 3

The mission of east of grey is ‘To create one-off, high quality garments using vintage, recycled, new and handcrafted fabrics for women who are seeking unique statement pieces, as timeless additions to their wardrobe.’ And one look at them you would have to agree they live up to this mission every time.

Founded in 2007 by Kim Bailey on the Gold Coast, QLD, as a clothing and accessory label, ‘east of grey’ aims to create garments which display an individual style. This is achieved using recycled, vintage, hand-printed & hand-embellished fabrics, steering away from the mass market so as to appeal to niche markets globally.

Due to the exclusivity of these fabrics each piece is a one off or part of a small supply range. Inspiration is drawn from all aspects of life and focuses on bringing back the old school methods to ensure quality and an innovative yet simple garment.

Each range features unusual trims, vintage buttons, bright clashing colours & fabrics – high quality and timeless style are always at the heart of each design. Every garment has a personality and designer Kim Bailey is often at the mercy of the fabric – it’s personality instructs what is to be done with it, not the other way around.

I was so lucky to meet Kim years ago at a little boutique launch in Fortitude Valley and I’ve never forgotten her enthusiasm for her label and sustainable fashion.

Kim generously gave us a few minutes of her time to give us further insight into what inspires her…

BT: What inspired you to launch a sustainable fashion label?

KB: I was inspired by the vintage fabrics I had been collecting throughout TAFE studies and also inspired by the running of the companies I worked. I took both the positive and negative aspects of my experiences and decided I wanted to do things way different, a way that wouldn’t impact so heavily on society and the environment.

BT: What is your favourite part of your work?

KB: My favourite part is making the garment, it always changes from the initial idea.

BT: Where are your favourite places on the Gold Coast or Brisbane to EAT/DRINK/SHOP?

KB: Eat: Mandala Organic Arts Cafe at Broadbeach Drink: Anywhere with live music Shop: hmmmm…..if I told you I would have to kill you hehe. east of grey of course….I really only shop for fabrics, rarely do I shop for clothing for myself.

The label showcased recently at the Teneriffe Festival to great success. Here are some images of Kim hard at work creating new pieces in front of festival onlookers!

east of grey eog4 eog5

Another passion of Kim’s is to pass on the skill of creation to others, Kim holds sewing workshops of all skill levels and will travel to you for a one-on-one lesson or some group fun. More on the website here.

All photos are courtesy of John Pryke Photography – you can find more of his amazing work on Facebook here.


Undress Runways Gold Coast Competition!

posted by Danielle Lewis April 21, 2014 0 comments


The countdown is on! On the 26th of April, Undress Gold Coast invites you to step into the wonderful world of sustainable fashion.

Undress Gold Coast is a sustainable fashion runway show. They believe in looking good, responsibly.

This event is a sunset, rooftop runway show showcasing the best in Australian sustainable fashion.

Runway Show: 5pm
Markets + Music: 3pm – 9pm

 The rooftop, 10 Beach Road, Surfers Paradise

 General admission is free but you can purchase VIP tickets here.

There are  18 sustainable designers involved in Undress Gold Coast.

What makes these designers a cut above the rest? They incorporate sustainable values like ethical production, organic fabrics, vintage materials and much more. They are leading the way to a sustainable fashion industry.


Koru Swimwear


Madonna Bain


Tuffies and Tuffets

Eco Bird

Cameron & James

East of Grey

Fabled and True


DeLore Couture

Anna Hulm




The Green Shop

Emmanuel + Cox

Eco Darlings

VIP Undress Runways Competition

The lovely ladies at Undress Runways have kindly given us a VIP double pass to give away!

The VIP pass includes:

  • A double pass to the Undress Runways Gold Coast event
  • VIP Runway-side seating
  • Gift Bag worth over $200 including AVEDA products, beach bag and magazine!

To enter simply complete your name and email in the fields below!

Competition drawn Wednesday 23rd April, 2014 at 5pm and will be notified by email.


Sustainability with Harriette Hill

posted by Teagan West April 10, 2014 1 Comment

Harriette Hill Ace of Cards Dress

“The issue of sustainability is becoming increasingly important. With the influx of fast fashion and the turn over of trends, the global scale of waste is pretty alarming,” said Claire Goldsworthy, sustainability crusader and designer of Brisbane-based label Harriette Hill.

Claire dreamed up the vibrant label after developing a keen interest in design, falling in love with vintage style and possessing a desire to create beautiful clothes that are ethical and sustainable to their core.

Claire said Harriette Hill “doesn’t follow trends or seasonal standards, but instead delivers one-off pieces that are individual and unique… and are designed to suit a range of body shapes and sizes.”

We use a  “combination of repurposed, antique, new and natural fabrics to help minimise our carbon footprint in the fashion industry,” Claire said. Additionally, each garment is hand-made here in Brisbane and all off-cuts are donated to Little Mother Creations, another local sustainable business, to achieve zero waste.

Claire said, “I am always on the hunt for vintage and antique fabrics to reuse, so supplies are tricky but I have a spare room filled with treasures so there’s no shortage at the moment.” Are your besotted with Claire yet?

At the end of the day Claire said it’s about making people aware that there is a choice between throw-away and sustainable fashion, a choice that Harriette Hill supports and promotes.

“It’s about being aware of your garments origins, how the fibre’s have been manufactured, what you wash your clothes with, how you dispose of them, how often you buy – its huge,” Claire said.

“It’s so easy to turn a blind eye and ignore it because we’re unsure how to combat the issue or don’t think our individual contribution will change anything. (But) if every single person changed just one thing about his or her wardrobe or buying habits, it would make a massive difference.”

“We can slowly help the issue locally and globally,” starting with our own decisions.

Claire said she understands that it’s hard for consumers to resist the significant price difference of fast fashion in comparison to sustainable labels just like Harriette Hill, but is happy that she can provide a niche label that customers tend to stay loyal to once they find her.

Claire said, “It’s a battle against the mass-produced low cost fashion, because, at the end of the day, it comes down to affordability for a lot of people.”

“Some people don’t understand the cost and time involved in hand-making pieces locally, so the price deters them. You can’t please everyone, but I’m okay with that.”

And okay she is. It seems doing things differently is exactly what has made Harriette Hill a great success in its (so far) short life.

“I was hounded at university to define my customer but I’ve always been strongly against defining who I think my customer should be…. I’ve never abided by the fashion rules of trends and season and there are a lot of things I do differently with my label.”

As a result, Claire said each Harriette Hill girl is different and is just as unique as the bright print and free-flowing structure of the Harriette Hill garment they fall in love with.

“She’s whoever she wants to be. There’s only one thing that defines a Harriette Hill woman and that’s her love of a unique find,” Claire said.


Harriette Hill Flurry Ruffle Dress

What’s her inspiration? Anything and everything of course – it could be a single piece of vintage fabric that builds a whole range, or something that she is surrounded that ignites the creative process.

“When I’m designing, I think about what I would like, what’s missing from my wardrobe or how to make something that doesn’t exist yet. I think creating something different that you don’t see on someone else is very important. It makes you feel individual and special.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of person I want designing my weekend wares!

You can shop Harriette Hill at the online boutique here and at a number of market events, so be sure to follow Claire’s sustainable fashion endeavours on Facebook to stay up to date with locations and new designs. She also does private fittings, so get in touch with her and get your hands on something truly unique.

Claire’s top links to help you be more informed about sustainable fashion and the industry’s impact on the environment and global warming are:





Harriette Hill Floral Drape Kimono Jacket