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Gone are the days where fast fashion reigns supreme, particularly on the Gold Coast where conscious, healthy lifestyle choices abound. With those has come the rise of a slew of locally born, ethical fashion labels creating intentional collections filled with beautifully made pieces that surpass trends and last far longer than a season.

By Kirra Smith

Creating an ethical fashion label involves making conscious choices in design, sourcing, production, distribution, and consumption, with the goal of promoting fairness, transparency, and responsibility within the fashion supply chain. This can include using eco-friendly materials, ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions for workers, minimizing waste and pollution, and promoting animal welfare seeking to create a more positive and responsible impact on both the industry and the world at large.

Today ethical fashion is less a movement and more the norm, particularly within emerging brands. In Australia alone there are countless fashion and accessories brands committed to sustaining an ethical practice when it comes to designing and manufacturing their collections and excitingly, a number of those brands were born right here on the Gold Coast.

Peony Swimwear is one such brand and one of the Gold Coast’s first when it comes to creating with ethical practices front of mind. Owner Becky Morton kick-started one of Australia’s most beloved swimwear brands at the Coast’s premier fashion and lifestyle markets, The Village Markets. Born in Burleigh Heads and now reaching the farthest corners of the world, Peony Swimwear follows a progress-over-perfection model when it comes to sustainability.

Their commitment to ethical fashion is derived from a deep love of the environment and local community. Their approach is “to create consciously, engage in ongoing reflection and continually drive progress towards sustainability, circularity, inclusivity and transparency”.

All pieces are made from recycled materials, packed in compostable and biodegradable materials and all excess stock and samples are donated to social enterprise Worn For Good. These practices, along with plenty more have earned the brand a Carbon Neutral status and, with Becky at the helm, the business continues to progress as a leading ethical fashion label.

Outland Denim is another Gold Coast-born brand committed to the care and protection of the planet and its people. Founded in 2011 as a way to combat the human trafficking trade by creating a haven for its survivors, and with a passion for good jeans, Outland Denim also became the first Australian, and second denim brand globally, to become B Corporation™ certified - meaning the brand are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.

Not only that, every Outland Denim piece is made with the cleanest raw materials sourced from across the globe with care and integrity by designers who are passionate about sustainability. They prioritise sustainable, vegan-friendly raw materials, and biodegradable packaging and all staff are given fair, safe and fulfilling employment.

Each year Outland Denim releases a detailed report outlining the full extent of their social impact so absolutely nothing is hidden from consumers. They are a brand truly leading the way when it comes to ethical fashion and one for the Gold Coast to be extremely proud of. Jewellery brand YCL Jewels is another Gold Coast expat, led by Fabienne Costa, with adoring customers across the world. The brand offers unique, intentional pieces in solid gold and silver as well as gold vermeil designed to symbolise unforgettable moments in time. Committed to sourcing and producing jewellery with a lower impact on the environment, YCL uses moissanite stones over diamonds as they are not mined - meaning there is no risk of unsustainable gem mining, lack of rehabilitation to the environment, exploitation of human labour, or direct support of conflict. As of 2022, 85% of YCL’s products are produced through manufacturing partners who are RJC certified, the world’s leading sustainability certification in the jewellery industry.

Prae in Tugun’s Cornerstone Stores precinct is home to a carefully curated collection of sustainable fashion, accessory and lifestyle brands and is the first of its kind on the Gold Coast. The premise of the brand, founded by Bec Conforti, is to work with brands that share a passion for sustainability. Meaning each product within the store offers a sustainable touch point, whether it’s the packaging, the ingredients or the process, and online shoppers can expect orders to be packaged using only recyclable elements.

Brands like Alfred’s Apartment, White Bohemian and Sabo Skirt are also much-loved Gold Coast locals, and all are committed to ethical practices that place the health of both the planet and the purchaser front of mind. As we become more aware of the importance of using our dollars to help the planet and its people rather than hinder them, we’re paving the way for more and more ethical fashion labels to grow and flourish. When the clothing we choose not only makes the world a better place but lasts longer, feels better and puts our thriving city on the map, supporting ethical fashion brands is the only thing that makes sense.


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