Ethical fashion has become an increasingly important concept in the fashion industry in recent years. It is a term used to describe fashion that has been produced in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible. The fashion industry is known for its negative impact on the environment and for exploiting workers in developing countries. Ethical fashion seeks to address these issues by creating a more sustainable and fair industry.


There are many different aspects to ethical fashion. One important aspect is sustainability. Sustainable fashion involves using materials and processes that minimise the negative impact on the environment. This can include using organic or recycled materials, reducing waste, and using renewable energy sources. Another important aspect of ethical fashion is fair labour practices. This involves ensuring that workers are paid a fair wage, have safe working conditions, and are not subjected to forced labour or other forms of exploitation.


There are several reasons why ethical fashion is important in the fashion industry today. Firstly, the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world, contributing to climate change, pollution, and waste. Ethical fashion seeks to reduce this impact by using sustainable materials and production methods. Secondly, the fashion industry is known for exploiting workers in developing countries, where many of the clothes we wear are made.


Finally, ethical fashion is important because consumers are becoming more aware of the impact of their purchases on the environment and on people's lives. As consumers become more conscious of these issues, they are looking for brands that align with their values and that offer products that are both stylish, practical and ethical.


Here, we look at 5 Australian and New Zealand handbag brands you should know about.


  1. Karuna Dawn – is a Melbourne based sustainable and ethical bag and accessories brand with the people and the planet at the heart of its business model. Their vision is to uplift and transform lives through partnering with ethical production houses that provide employment and opportunity to those marginalised and vulnerable in society.

Fun Fact: Founder, Sridevi Blair, after seeing the story of an inspiring young women, Nazreen Sheikh, and her ordeal as a child labourer being forced to work 16-hour days took the plunge to create her brand to show there is another way where profit and purpose can co-exist.  




  1. A_C Official – A Melbourne based brand offering animal-leather alternative bags with design principles based on a circular economy. For every product sold, the brand plants one Mangrove tree in partnership with Sea Trees.

 Fun Fact: A_C is an acronym for Ahimsa Collective. Ahimsa is a Sanskrit (ancient Indian language) word which means to do no harm.



  1. Velvet Heartbeat – a New Zealand based, slow fashion brand working with fabrics that are 100% Peta Approved Vegan, eliminating waste as much as possible in the production process. Each bag is handcrafted in NZ where workers are paid a living wage.

 Fun Fact: Founder, Suzie Eggleton, was always doodling ideas, creating mood boards and imagining her workspace, a dream that would become a reality when she founded Velvet Heartbeat.


  1. Sans Beasts – Sans Beast is a vegan and ethical fashion brand that was founded by a former accessories designer who wanted to create a line of stylish and sustainable bags and accessories. Their purpose is delivering pieces that had beauty – without the beast.

 Fun Fact – Founder Cathryn Wills worked in the Australian fashion retail for nearly 30 years, however began to disconnect between her occupation and her ethical stance on animal welfare and the environment which helped launch Sans Beasts in 2018.


  1. Svala – based in L.A however has its roots in Sydney, this vegan brand offers bags made from PVC free fabrics such as Pinatex (Pineapple leather), cork, organic cotton and recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. All products are manufactured in L.A. and are handcrafted. All workers are paid a fair wage and work in safe conditions.

 Fun Fact – Inspiration for the brand name came from founder, Helga Douglas’ mother who is Icelandic. Svala  means “swallow” and it is a symbol of love, hope and freedom in many cultures – everything that Helga wanted her brand to stand for.


Ethical and sustainable production in the fashion industry is the way of the future. The brands mentioned above all focus on people, animals and the planet when designing and manufacturing their products.

Karuna Dawn is excited to be part of this collective movement towards a conscious and considered approach to fashion. Whilst no one brand is entirely perfect, change is achieved one step at a time, in the direction of kindness.