Manufacturing – Kuwaii


We chose to produce every single Kuwaii garment in Melbourne. Not only in Melbourne, but within a 15km of our Brunswick head office.

Producing Locally

 Producing locally means we can support our community by providing jobs and keeping trades alive. We love that we are able to be a genuine contributor to the local industry and local economy, not to mention that we have such strong and loyal personal relationships with our makers, who work on each Kuwaii piece with an outstanding level of skill and a genuine level of care. By taking this hands-on approach, we are able to ensure the quality and integrity of our garments and footwear. It also means that we can keep a close watch on our production practises and make sure that everyone involved is being paid a fair wage, and working in fair conditions.

 We believe the human cost of fashion is high and that we all have a responsibility to question the murkier end of supply chains. By producing locally, we can be sure that we’re not contributing to the problem, which means a lot to us. It also means we are able to generate income and improve the quality of life for others in our community, and build lasting, quality relationships with them.

Facts and figures:

– We have a total of 14 staff on our payroll. This is made up of our designer/business owner Kristy, 5 people in our production and design team and 10 people on our retail staff
– We have three clothing makers all based in Melbourne
– We have one footwear maker based in Abbotsford, Melbourne
– We purchase our fabrics from 12 Australian & NZ fabric agents, with most of our fabric being produced in China
– We produce an average of 9,000 garments per year and 700 pairs of footwear. In contrast to Zara, who produces around 450 million items a year
– 100% of Kuwaii pieces are made in Melbourne, actually within 15km of Brunswick
– Number of garments repaired: over 400
– Number of pairs of shoes repaired: over 170

Price Transparency

“The fashion industry was built on secrecy and elitism; it was opaque. Transparency is disruptive – in that sense, it’s a breath of fresh air and a useful weapon of change” Orsola De Castro, Fashion Revolution.

We believe that our customer deserves price transparency through the supply chain. When you purchase any item of Kuwaii, this is where your money goes. Instead of giving our customers a per-product breakdown, we think that showing our total sales and expenses from our whole business over a year will give the most accurate information for our customer, as this way you can also see the profit we are making on each piece.

Goal: To have price transparency information readily available on our Product Pages by 2023.

Cost Breakdown of A Kuwaii Garment

Raw material costs — This is the cost of every single component or raw material we need to purchase to make a Kuwaii garment. This would include fabric, buttons, zippers, fusing, elastic, threads, trims and anything else that might come up!

Wastage — This is a small allowance we add in per garment to cover any thing that might go wrong in production. This could include such things as sections of the fabric that is faulty, finished items that may have a flaw or fault in them, cleaning fees for stains on garments, and lots of other things that can go awry in the production process.

Manufacturing costs — This is the cost per item that we pay to our makers. The way we calculate the cost per garment is by working out with our manufacturers how many hours it takes to make one Kuwaii garment, then calculating that time by the TCF award wage per hour. We pay our makers on TCF level 5 which is the highest level on the award.

Wholesale Margin — This part of the income from the sale our garments goes to cover everything in the behind the scenes running of our business. In summary: the rent of our Head Office studio, the wages of the production team (5 x permanent & 1 x casual), the design and sample making costs of our products, the wage of our designer, photography, hair, make up, model and studio fees, graphic design fees, parades and other events, bank fees, insurance, motor vehicle fees, postage, legal and web development fees, amongst a long list of other expenses.

Retail Margin — This part of the income from the sale our garments goes to cover everything to do with the running of our three stores and our online store. These expenses include the following: rents of our three stores, plus outgoings, rates and bills such as electricity, phone and internet, repairs and maintenance in our stores, our retail staff wages (9 people) plus superannuation, workcover and taxes related to those, supplies and other expenses such as packaging, events and promotions in store, merchant and bank fees, and other expenses to do with the running of our stores.

Profit — Every cent of profit we make is invested back in our business to improve our products, processes and customer experience.

Our Makers

We use just three clothing makers and one footwear maker, which means our supply chain is small and beautifully simple. We work with these people closely to make sure we are always paying them fair prices, and that their work conditions are healthy and safe. Over the years we have worked together our brand has grown considerably. We’re happy that we’ve been able to support our makers along the way, and have seen their businesses and families flourish with the work we have provided them. We know that they are proud of their work for us, and enjoy working with us, because we are fair and equitable, always, in our dealings with them.

LCN – Sunshine, Victoria

Our newest factory, we began working with LCN in 2019 when our production demand had increased due to the opening of our third store. LCN’s owner is Jimmy and so far Jimmy has made our knits for us such as the Heide Tee, Rib Turtleneck and Eternity Tee. Jimmy’s factory is also independently accredited by the ECA.

Thanh Duong (Pictured) — Bundoora, Vic

These are our original makers who we have used since 2010. It’s a mother-son team, and we are very close to them. Thanh has an amazing personal story as she was an engineer by trade who taught herself to sew after arriving as a refugee by boat into Australia in the early 80s. She is very talented seamstress and produces our smaller runs, more specialised items and also all of our samples. Thanh has 4 grandchildren who are simply adorable.

Quang Thanh — Maribyrnong, Vic

We have been working with Thanh and her sister since 2013 and Thanh makes most of our Classic pieces for us, which are what we consider our larger production runs. Thanh has an amazing level of skill and detail and she can make a pair of Tailored Pants like no-one else. Thanh has a baby granddaughter who she is very proud of!

Our Fabric Suppliers

The supply chain of fabrics is incredibly complex. Due to our principles of slow fashion, we are still considered a very small consumer of fabrics, and this means that we often cannot reach the minimums required to purchase directly from the international fabric mills (mill minimums is often 1000m per fabric, and we usually purchase much less that this) This means that we work closely with our Australian and New Zealand fabric agents who help us source our fabrics from different suppliers all over the world. What this means is that our fabric purchases go directly to support the local industry here. We realise that to move towards a truly circular model we will have to eventually source all our fabrics directly from the mills, to ensure that we know the exact conditions in which they were produced. Our goal is to switch our materials to this model by 2025.

Until such time, we are proud to be able to show you information on two of our fabric manufacturers, please see below for detailed information where our print and jacquard fabrics are made.

You can read more about the fabrics we use, and why we use them here.