Shop Feel-Good Fits With 11 Sustainable NZ Clothing Brands

This is feel-good clothing in more than one way.

Woman wearing gingham hat and dress from Mina.

Words by: Jess Willemse

Photography by Neat Places and Supplied

‘Sustainable fashion’ as a term could seem contradictory. After all, consumer attitudes of ‘more is more’ is a key reason the fashion industry accounts for 10 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a lot. 

But the thing is, fashion is still an art form, an expression of personality and an embodiment of our identity. To stop shopping altogether isn’t realistic, but there are a few easy ways we can back big change. From buying consciously to supporting ethical practices, thrifting or even shopping less. It’s on us to vote with our wallets. 

Lucky for those in Aotearoa, there’s plenty of choices when it comes to local brands doing the right thing. Go easy on our plant and get among these 11 sustainable New Zealand clothing brands.   

View inside Maggie Marilyn flagship store in Auckland.

Maggie Marilyn

Available online and various stockists across NZ

Maggie Marilyn is another industry leader behind slow, conscious fashion. Pioneered by founder Maggie Hewitt, who took to changing the fashion industry from the inside out. For them, the proof is in the action, with bold decisions to reduce waste by shifting from a wholesale model to a direct to customer business. Their motto is simple; ‘Timeless and seasonless designs, to be purchased with intention and loved for a lifetime.’

Photo credit: Maggie Marilyn

Close up of Collective Canvas shoes.

Collective Canvas

Available online

Collective Canvas is all about the three T’s; timeless designs, traceable production and transparent pricing. This is everything you’ve ever wanted from a shoe brand. What sets them apart is not only the desire to do things right but also to make their styles accessible with completely open pricing, passing any savings onto their customers. They’re a welcome counterpart to the hyped-up sneaker culture we’ve come to know.

Photo credit: Collective Canvas

Untouched World in Wānaka.

Untouched World

Available online and various stores across NZ

As the name suggests, Untouched World is all about doing their bit to leave the earth in a better place. While fast-fashion brands drop collections every week, you’ll only see two a year from the team here. Their functional, stylish designs are 96 per cent New Zealand made out of Christchurch, so shopping with Untouched World means you’re backing local communities too. Talk about feel-good fashion.

Woman wearing floral Penny Sage dress.

Penny Sage

Available online and various stockists across NZ

For fashion that lasts a lifetime, Penny Sage has got your back. Founded by designer Kate Megaw, this independent label is handmade in Auckland. You’ll find all the good things at Penny Sage—natural textiles, quality or deadstock fabrics and thoughtfully designed pieces. What really shines through is the craftsmanship behind each item. This level of attention to detail only comes from brands that care about their garments having a long, well-lived life.

Photo credit: Penny Sage

Close up of Mina trousers.

Mina

Available online and various stockists across NZ

Mina is a brand with a focus on people. It’s all about the makers and artisans behind the clothing and respect for their lives, their stories and their skills. Owner and founder Natalie Procter is influenced by relationships and community, and this guides how she’s built Mina over the years. She weaves these narratives into each piece of clothing the brand creates, surely a sign these special pieces are designed to be cherished for life.

Photo credit: Mina 

Interior view of Ruby store in Hamilton.

Ruby

Available online and various stores across NZ

Well-loved Kiwi brand Ruby is one of the changemakers in our local fashion industry. The family behind this biz has been making intentional strides over the past few years to move towards a more sustainable future. Dig into the detail with their Toolbox for Change, which outlines the hard facts on how they’re embracing a more circular business model, growing local talent, ensuring responsible manufacturing and much more. And the bonus? Their pieces are beautiful too.

Close up of man wearing Standard Issue knitwear.

Standard Issue

Available online and various stockists across NZ

You’ll know Standard Issue for their curated collections of high-quality knitwear, but what you might not know is they’re also part of the circular fashion movement. This shows up with the three R’s; renew, reuse, repurpose. They offer a complimentary mending service or the option to donate your old threads for a discount. From there, they’ll find a new home for your piece or recycle it into household and textile products. Good old Kiwi ingenuity.

Photo credit: Standard Issue

A rack of Nisa underwear on display.

Nisa

Available online and various stockists across NZ

Keep the comfy theme going with Nisa, who is in the business of making an impact on both people and the planet. Their garments are handcrafted in Wellington by talented women who come from refugee and migrant backgrounds. What’s more, sustainable materials are at the heart of what they do, offering the likes of organic cotton and recycled fabrics. Give your dollar a purpose and pick up high-quality undergarments, swimwear and loungewear from Nisa.

Photo credit: Nisa

Person wearing Beach Knickers outfit.

Beach Knickers

Available online and various stockists across NZ

Beach Knickers are backing local all the way. Founder Rosie has cultivated a community of expert pattern makers and machinists who lovingly craft each and every piece in New Zealand. Plus, their fabrics are sourced from local suppliers too. Their designs take inspiration from times gone by, with throwback influences like wide-leg pants, retro prints and billowing sleeves. Vintage clothing makes an appearance in their styling, encouraging customers that not everything needs to be new.

Photo credit: Beach Knickers

Woman wearing WE-AR clothing.

WE-AR

Available online and various stores across NZ

A sustainable wardrobe doesn’t stop at everyday clothes. When it comes to activewear and loungewear, WE-AR have you covered (and comfy). Their garments are inspired by nature, from both the form and function through to their organic textiles. They’ve been in this business for a while, so their supply chain and work practices are transparently considered, reported on and accredited.

Photo credit: WE-AR

Exterior window of Kowtow in Wellington.

Kowtow

Available online and various stockists across NZ

While Kowtow is known for its timeless shapes and styles, the brand’s purpose goes a lot deeper. They’re an advocate for slow fashion, a value embedded all through their supply chain, with collections taking 18 months to deliver. Instead of being driven by trends, they’re all about doing the good mahi, so their processes are independently certified and accredited.

Features