This year’s Ethical gift guide, which once again highlights the work of designers whose work is sustainable, socially inclusive, charitable or otherwise ethical, has been put together with the help of Nicky Lobo and Jess Noble from The Good Outfit, an ethical fashion news source “without all the beige”. Thank you Nicky and Jess for this stellar list of items, all of which are available now to help you make your Christmas shopping an all-good affair.
1. If your present wrapping usually makes people cry on Christmas Day, Ashira and Kin has a solution that will put you in a new light. This brand-new Sydney-based collective aims to ‘explore diversity; educate and empower makers and consumers; and encourage intercultural exchange’ by bringing products from artisans, makers and designers across Nepal and The Philippines to Australia. These LOK-TA reusable gift bags and wine bags are crafted in ethically grown and sourced handmade LOK-TA paper made from the local Nepalese Daphne plant. Adding panache to the paper, original artworks preserve and celebrate painting traditions that have been passed down through generations of women in the Mithila regions.
2. The social season is well and truly here and nothing says you care like forgoing the proffered plastic straw and instead taking out your own reusable bamboo straw at the Christmas cocktail party. In this Yourstraw Party Pack from Koskela you’ll get 8 straws (and 7 quick ways to make new friends), each 20cm long and with differing diameters, depending on the size of the bamboo stalk from which the straw was cut. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial, and the pack, encased in a convenient calico pouch, also comes with a stainless steel straw cleaner that is dishwasher safe, or can be hand-cleaned with a simple vinegar solution in between uses.
3. Herbs are much more than the tastemakers of the plant world — they also have natural properties that are supremely useful in the home. There’s a great range of natural herbal products at Planet, sourced from Thurlby Herb Farm in Walpole, Western Australia. Ranging from moth balls to clothing protectors, they are filled with nature’s best, like this handmade Bloke’s Soap containing a potent blend of anise, cinnamon and citrus essential oils. Mixed with glycerin, saponified vegetable oils, perfume oils and organic botanicals, the all-natural soap mixture is stirred, poured into moulds, cut into slabs (see? it is blokey!) and air cured for several months.
4. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a dangerous, swirling mass of plastic waste in the ocean, is the unlikely material source for this beautiful range of homewares by Supercyclers. Washed up on to Australian shores, plastic waste is collected and processed into designs by a select group of international designers for the Marine Debris Bakelite Project. Using small-scale industrial and hand-manufacturing processes, the waste is turned into a material similar to early Bakelite in appearance, weight and density. Like all the pieces in the collection, the Bento Box lunch box with two compartments and lid is created from 100% plastic waste — plus a simple rubber band to seal it tight for easy transport.
5. The hero of Italian Uashmama brand (pronounced ‘washmama’) is a unique paper material that looks and feels like leather. With a range of bags, wallets, and accessories for the home (including dog collars!), paper-philes can deck their whole place out knowing no animals have been harmed in the making. The machine-washable paper is made from a cultivated fibre sourced from Scandinavia, which is then stretched, tanned and sewn in Tuscany. The Luxe Laundry Bag comes in waxed paper — both water and stain-resistant — and multiples can be joined by a press stud interlocking system, to suit growing needs or a growing family. These tall and narrow receptacles are handy to fit in tricky spaces around the home; just give it a function and a cute name with removable interchangeable labels.
6. Supporting local design and manufacture is a strong ethical statement, meaning less miles travelled, greater transparency in supply chains and continuation of local industry. And although they made the list last year, we couldn’t resist giving a Christmas big ups to The Social Outfit. With studios in Melbourne and Sydney training refugees and new migrants in practical skills, each season The Social Outfit collaborates with Australian fashion designers, emerging artists and the community to create exclusive digital prints. This year it’s a double-icon whammy — Romance Was Born and Linda Jackson, who together re-released an archival print for this silk scarf, digitally printed on silk crepe de chine for our neck-wearing pleasure.
7. Travel often inspires creativity and this is exactly what happened for Danny Ben-Nun when he came across a pair of shoes made from authentic local fabrics, while wandering through the alleyways of Cusco in Peru. The result? Inkkas. Founded on principles of fair trade and global philanthropy, Inkkas works with artisans to source and create fabulous designs such as on these Slate Slip-On Sneakers / Blake Slip-On Sneakers, thereby supporting their craft and community. The brand also donates one tree per pair sold, contributing to the evolution from destructive farming techniques to a more sustainable forest garden system — thereby empowering communities well into the future.
8. There is more than one yellow brick road to ethical fashion city and we love the philosophy of custom design i.e. ‘Buy Better By Buying Less’. Each Citizen Wolf Tee, such as The Moss, / The Styles, pictured, is handmade and custom fitted — they can tweak up to 12 separate measures for the perfect fit. Citizen Wolf fabrics are knit in Melbourne, and cut and sewn in Sydney; fabrics are sourced from Ethical Clothing Australia accredited mills and un-mulesed sheep; and make everything on demand (using deadstock where possible) to ensure minimum wastage. It’s a trifecta of awesome! Create a profile online or book a tailored fitting in the Sydney concept store — imagine how fancy fresh your family/friend/lover will look and feel in a t-shirt that’s absolutely made just for them!
9. They say it’s ‘like art for your ears’ and we have to agree. Handcrafted in upcycled brass using traditional techniques, the organic shape of the Soko Sabi Jacket Studs bring a modern sensibility to ethical jewellery. Soko was created by women, for women, with the equitable direct trade of goods between artisans in the developing world and consumers worldwide. This marriage of hand-crafts and technology helps to disrupt systematic patterns of poverty seen through much of the developing world, and establishing a new creative economy for the women that live there.
10. Sydney-based designer Adrian Lawson grew up on a small island off the coast of west Scotland, and it was this that sparked his range of lighting pendants made from upcycled venetian blinds. “Because of the difficulty in getting things to the island, people had to constantly improvise by recycling in order to get by.” Adrian’s lights are available from Object Shop at the Australian Design Centre, along with a range of other locally-made items.
Thanks and happy shopping!