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Death, Taxes and Underwear

gold underpants

Pants in the Park (Flickr/Conerwithonen)


We wear them every day, they don’t last forever, and they’re not something you can easily buy second hand or make yourself.

When it comes to unavoidable purchases, socks and undies are at the top of the list! While it can seem like there are few ethical options out there for basics like socks and undies, a number of local and international companies are working hard to provide fair and green underwear options for lads and ladies alike. As we approach the silly season (where socks and undies are stocking-filler staples), what better time than now to check out a few ethical options?

Depending on your ethical concerns, there are a number of things to keep in mind when choosing ‘good’ undies.

  • Keen on green? Go local, and pick sustainable fabrics.
  • Worried about workers? Make sure the manufactures are certified as worker friendly.
  • Want underwear that will have an impact? Check out undie fundraisers.

Here’s some brands that tick one or more of those boxes.

First up, let’s take a look at Pants to Poverty. This UK-based brand has been around since 2005 and make fair trade and organic-certified undies, tank tops and pyjamas for men and women. They buy their cotton direct from villages and support local schools, and manufacture in a carbon-neutral facility in India that provides strong living wages for workers. Neat! In Australia, Pants to Poverty underwear and tanks are available through the Etiko Fair Trade Shop online.

If you’re after something local, Tuffy’s and Tuffett’s have great everyday undies for men and women, made in Australia from home-grown cotton. Urban Earthwear have a range of organic undies using sustainable fabrics and dyes. Both of these brands are certified by Ethical Clothing Australia, which ensures legal working conditions and wages for garment workers.

Looking for something a little slinkier? Nico Underwear is an Australian company (also certified by Ethical Clothing Australia) that make everyday, stylish lingerie right here in Oz. Their ECA certification ensures an ethical, sustainable and transparent supply chain, and founder Lis Harvey’s background in fashion means Nico’s collection pieces look a little more grown up than your basic cotton undies. Nico Underwear are available online, and will be available at a range of market stalls in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in the lead up to Christmas.

If you’re feeling crafty and want a real one-of-a-kind gift, why not make your own undies?! You can find a nice easy set of instructions and printable PDF patterns online. If you’re recycling an unwanted t-shirt, that means double the sustainability brownie points. Your loved one certainly won’t forget that time you made them undies for Christmas. And if they’re the crafty one, how about giving them a voucher for a lingerie sewing class? It might be a little more expensive than a pair of knickers, but it’ll still fit in their Christmas stocking. There are classes in Melbourne (South Kingsville and the City) and in Sydney (Rozelle and the Northern Beaches).

Now, let’s head further south. Socks have long been a stalwart of the Christmas stocking, especially for hard-to-buy-for dads. The guys over at Conscious Step have recognised the need for an ethical version of this everyday garment, and having hit their crowd funding target last week, they are now in their first production run of “socks that solve social problems”! These socks are made under Fair Trade conditions from organic cotton, and each design supports a different cause – child hunger, reforestation, and providing clean water. While these socks won’t be ready for this Christmas, keep an eye on their website for their online shop which will be coming soon.

For lady-legs, Tightology is an Australian company making stylish, sustainable and ethical legwear. Their range of tights and socks is available online and at a number of stores nationwide. With coloured, patterned and basic options, these are perfect for work or play, making them a great fun-yet-practical gift.

Christmas should be a time of good giving, not gift guilt. It’s a great time to consider the impacts of your purchasing choices, especially when buying and giving something that we wear every day. If you’re not sure about your wish list or what you’re getting for your loved ones, be sure to check out our gift advice service, “Checking it Twice”, for more green and ethical gift guidance!

By Alex Peters

Note: neither Alex Peters nor Otter have any affiliation with these retailers and manufacturers.

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