Manufacturing facts

  • Kuwaii clothing has earned ethical accreditation from Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA).
  • We have four clothing makers, all based in Melbourne. 100% of Kuwaii clothing pieces are made in Melbourne, within 15km of Brunswick
  • We have two footwear makers - one is based in Abbotsford and the other is in China. 80% of Kuwaii footwear is made in Melbourne, 20% is made in China.
  • We purchase our fabrics from 12 Australian & NZ fabric agents, with most of our fabric produced in China, Korea and Japan.
  • We incorporate deadstock fabric and our own fabric remnants into our garments.
  • We produce an average of 8000 garments per year and 600 pairs of footwear, in contrast to Zara, which produces around 450 million items a year.

Our approach

Kuwaii’s ethically accredited slow fashion approach contrasts with fast fashion’s environmental and ethical havoc. It ensures we build robust, respectful and loyal relationships with our makers. Our entire product range is built on an ever-evolving basis of ‘Classics’: timeless, well-made, eternally flattering and wearable pieces. We minimise waste during production and excess stock at the end of each season by producing small runs in limited editions.

Our accrediting body Ethical Clothing Australia is committed to collaborating with local clothing businesses, ensuring the protection and promotion of the rights of Australian garment workers. To secure ECA accreditation, we underwent a thorough audit of our operations, spanning from design to dispatch. This comprehensive review ensures that all our workers, including outworkers, are fairly compensated, receive their legal entitlements, and work in safe conditions.

When you shop with us, you can be assured that 100% of our clothing pieces are locally made in Melbourne and hold the prestigious ECA ethical accreditation.

Producing locally

Being an ethically accredited local manufacturer means supporting our community by providing jobs and keeping trades alive. We love that we can be a genuine contributor to the local industry and local economy whilst also minimising the carbon ‘miles’ our clothing travels & being sure that we are not contributing to murky supply chains.

We have such strong and loyal personal relationships with our makers, who work on each Kuwaii piece with outstanding skill and care.

By taking this hands-on approach, we can ensure the quality and integrity of our garments and footwear. It also means we can watch our production practices closely, including wages and working conditions.

We believe the human cost of fashion is high, and we all have a responsibility to question the murkier end of supply chains. We can be sure that we’re not contributing to the problem by producing locally, which means a lot to us.

You can read more about our accrediting body ECA here

Our Makers

We use just four clothing makers and two footwear makers, which means our supply chain is small and beautifully simple.

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.

20% of our footwear production now takes place in China due to the increasing manufacturing costs in Australia. We want you to know that our offshore footwear maker in China shares our values of social sustainability.

This family-run factory specializes in crafting small batches of handmade shoes. They prioritize sustainability in several ways:

  • Accepting small orders to prevent overproduction, with no minimum order requirement.
  • Using the finest materials and employ handmade manufacturing techniques.
  • Giving us access to eco-friendly options like vegan leathers, recycled leather, and other sustainable materials.

Furthermore, our new factory is committed to ethical working conditions, including:

  • Respecting fundamental human rights, such as fair wages and safe working conditions.
  • Offering training and opportunities for improvement.
  • Maintaining a transparent supply chain.
  • Undergoing ethical audits by SMETA to ensure compliance with these standards.

Our dedication to quality and sustainability remains unchanged.

Our Fabric Suppliers

We know that the fabrics we use —and how we source them — has huge environmental and ethical implications. We chose each material we use with intention and care, carefully considering what they are made from and the environmental impacts of their production, but importantly we also consider the fabric’s overall life: how durable it is, how long it will last, how easy it will be to care for, and the overall quality of each particular material.

As fabric supply chains are incredibly complex, we work closely with our Australian and New Zealand fabric agents, who help us source our fabrics from different suppliers worldwide. We have incorporated the use of production deadstock fabrics — essentially fabrics left over from other production runs — into our ranges, as well as our own fabric remnants, and we source organic and recycled materials for our collections.

Our goal is to source all our materials from traceable, certified, organic or deadstock sources by 2025.

Korean Print Mill with Bluesign and Oeko-tex certifications, printing on Lenzig Tencel

French textile mill with an incredible history. Their production certifications include ​Step by Oeko-Tex, Oeko-Tex Standard and Made in Green, with many of their fabrics being certified GRS, FSC, Eco Vero, OCF and Better Cotton Initiative

A Japanese textile company founded in 1966. They have many organic, recycled and certified products in their range.

Australian textile agent we work with to secure natural fibres and deadstock materials.

Wall Fabrics
NZ textile agent we work with to source deadstock textiles.

Chinese textile agent we use to find speciality stock items.

NZ textile supplier

NZ textile supplier

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 our customers deserve price transparency through the supply chain. When you purchase any item of Kuwaii, this is where your money goes.

Cost Breakdown of A Kuwaii Garment

Raw material costs: 13%
The cost of every single component or raw material we need to purchase to make a Kuwaii garment, including fabric, buttons, zippers, fusing, elastic, threads, trims and anything else that might come up!

Manufacturing costs: 17%
The cost per item that we pay to our makers. We calculate the cost per garment by working out with our manufacturers how many hours it takes to make one Kuwaii garment, then multiplying that by the TCF award wage per hour. We pay our makers on TCF level 5 — the highest level on the award.

Fabric Recycling : 0.1%
We add a small allowance for every item we make to cover the costs of responsibly recycling it at the end of its life.

See how we’re combating Wastage with our Textile recycling program

Overheads: 27%
Everything behind-the-scenes of running our business. In summary: Head Office rent, production, marketing & e-commerce team wages plus superannuation, WorkCover and taxes related to those, graphic design fees, bank fees, accounting and bookkeeping fees, subscriptions, running our vehicles and other events, amongst other expenses.

Retail Expenses: 25.4%
Everything to do with the running of our three stores, such as store rents plus outgoings, rates and utility bills, repairs and maintenance, retail staff wages plus superannuation, WorkCover and taxes related to those, supplies, packaging, in-store events, and other expenses to do with the running of our stores.

Tax: 3%
Everyone pays tax!

Profit: 9%
We invest every cent of our profit back into our business to improve our products, processes and customer experience.

Photoshoots and Marketing: 2.9%

Design and Development: 3.5%
This is the allowance for the design and development of new products. It includes sampling fees, design staff wages, new fabrics, and the huge effort that goes into making each and every Kuwaii piece.

Logistics 3%
For freight coming from overseas, local postage and so on.