Winter is soon upon us! I don’t know about you guys but even here in Brisbane we are feeling the chill and the need for some ethical wool! Couple that with the sudden need to stay inside and remake our routines. Well it looks like comfortable clothing is on the menu! And what can be cosier than some comforting wool to wrap around you. Even better though, is the option of comforting AND ethical wool.

At Bowerbird we have a focus on sustainable practices, and consciously choose our materials to work with. We offer natural fibres for our clothing, vegan alternative handbags and leather pieces that utilise offcuts. We are not perfect. But we try to do our very best. To read more about what we do, check it out on our blog post about sustainability.

Wool itself can be a controversial material. Couple that with companies greenwashing and you might find it incredibly difficult to navigate the brands. We believe in quality over quantity and support high quality garments with a slow-fashion mentality. After all, leather shoes you buy to last a lifetime are certainly more sustainable than 20 pairs of synthetic, trendy ones. But what does it mean to be ethical wool?

Photo Credit: Jeff Whitlock, Pinterest

What makes it ethical wool?

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Wool is a tricky one when produced large scale. But there are some incredibly sustainable and long lasting features of it too! It’s a natural fibre, already better than synthetic materials. Merino wool is regenerative and breaks down in water and soil! It naturally lets your body breathe! Wool keeps you warm! Don’t forget it doesn’t smell! Try and find me a synthetic fabric with these qualities that you want to cuddle up in! If you’re set on the material, and commit to maintaining it as a lifelong staple, here are our tips.

Soft and fluffy!
Photo Credit: Alibaba

  • Buy Local, Buy Small

    Support the local makers around you who are producing garments at a rate of demand. These are much better alternatives to the fast-fashion options, and buying handmade ensures you have a unique piece of clothing that has been carefully considered. It also helps support the local makers around you.

  • Find Non-Mulesed Wool

    Without going into too much detail, the mulesing process is a cruel practice in the wool industry involving restraining and control over the sheep. The sheep live on their back, their legs are kept in place and parts of their skin are removed to prevent flies. This is not the answer to the problem of flies. Instead better husbandry and care of the sheep should be considered. Where possible, we believe it is best to buy non-mulesed wool.

  • Buy With Intent to Last

If you have been following us for a while and reading our posts, you already know the drill. We firmly believe that you should only buy items that you will cherish for a lifetime. We believe in slow fashion over trends. But we’re all human. If you do buy something that isn’t the right fit or colour, pass it on. There are so many opportunity stores and initiatives to allow the clothes swap circuit to thrive!

All the different possibilities with dyed yarn!
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Smitten Merino

Smitten Merino is a Tasmanian based clothing company, specialising in Merino wool. With an emphasis on sustainable and ethical practice, Smitten Merino are committed to aim for zero waste! As they cut the fabric for the garments, they ensure to utilise all pieces leftover. All the spare merino is repurposed into beanies, headbands or mittens! They even make an effort with their packaging, using certified worm-friendly 100% biodegradable postage bags!

This company is a great way to find your cosy winter outfits without the guilt of an unethical company. They also stock a huge variety of looks! For both men and woman, in pants, shirts, pyjamas, skirts, coats… Our favourite of their new products? This Comfort Snuggle Wrap. All we want to know is how something can look so comfortable and stylish simultaneously!

The Smitten Merino Comfort Snuggle Wrap.

Shop Smitten Merino here.

Uimi

Uimi! One of our favourites! Not only fashion but homewares as well, all Uimi products are designed and manufactured in Thornbury, Melbourne. Utilising a range of different ethically sourced fabrics, Uimi’s wool products are extra fine merino wool. Focusing on slow fashion and textiles. Uimi chooses to work with natural fibres. They are are naturally biodegradable, wearable and breathable fibres.

The Uimi ethical wool products are fantastic for us to recommend as they are such classic cuts that they won’t go out of style. Uimi has carefully designed timeless woolen garments. They will keep you feeling warm, stylish and completely attached to your new lifelong knit. Our favourite has to be their Amber Bellamy Shrug. The colour already incites a feeling of warmth, while the waffle style adds texture to an otherwise simple throwover!

The Uimi Bellamy Shrug in Amber, made from fine merino wool!

Shop Uimi here.

McIntyre Merino

McIntyre Merino is an Australian grown and made brand, beginning with the desire to turn a family merino farm into a pursuit of ethical fashion. Husband and wife duo are passionate about independent and ethical decisions. McIntyre are confident that they are delivering a quality garment made with love. For them, wool is a wonderful resource when ethically collected. It is a renewable fibre, naturally biodegradable. Wool is breathable to wear and naturally reacts to body temperature, suiting your needs. Bonus: wool is also naturally wrinkle, odor and stain resistant! For McIntyre Merino, these are products worth investing in and products made to last. Something we love!

One of our favourite things about the Mcintyre Merino range is that it finds a way to make the basics fun! Pops of colour, attention to the details and unique knit structures. McIntyre has basics for your wardrobe without being basic!

The Mcintyre Merino loungewear range is perfect for those lazy days at home, when you still want to look the part!

Shop McIntyre Merino here.

Kowtow Clothing

Kowtow Clothing is a New Zealand based ethical clothing brand, working with sustainable fabrics and emphasis of thoughtfully constructed clothing. In their range of premium merino clothing, Kowtow sources certified New Zealand Merino with a commitment to no mulesing and basic freedoms for the animals. Their yarn is dyed and processed using the Bluesign system (a sustainable approach overseeing water usage, air emissions and health and safety). Kowtow Clothing ensures they have a high commitment to their environmental responsibility. Across all stages of production the end is result is a stylish, wearable and timeless range made with ethical wool.

The Kowtow Henri Crew Knit is one of our favourite basics to wear this winter, and the next, and the next.

Shop Kowtow Clothing here.

Woolerina

Just venture onto the Woolerina website. There you will find their distinct nod towards slow fashion. Woolerina are advocates for the slow fashion movement. They understand that slow fashion means carefully selected pieces that are cared for to ensure they last longer. They believe that slow fashion is crucial. To help minimise waste, exploitation in the industry and damage to the environment. Woolerina personally selects the merino fleece for their locally crafted garments. They make a promise to the consumer: your garment will grow with you. Accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, Woolerina carefully select their farmers. They also share their belief in the no-mulesing practice to provide you with a quality ethical wool.

The Woolerina Longline Sleeveless Shawl Cardigan is perfect for the Autumnal chill!

Shop Woolerina here.

And that’s a round up of some of our favourite ethical wool brands to keep you warm while staying ethical! We hope that we have helped shed some light on what it means to buy consciously. Or that it has helped direct how to find ethical wool! As a business with a strong focus on ethical buying, we always try to think first what it is that we need and what will last. We believe that avoiding fast fashion trends is an excellent way to shop consciously!

Isn’t this little fellow sweet!
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Keep an eye out for our next blog post, and drop a comment if you have anything you want us to explore in the future! Want to know more about some local makers we love? Check out one of our most recent blog posts on the subject here!

Until next time x