Denim is synonymous with modern style. From straight leg jeans to oversized shackets and even sculptural dresses and skirts, the fabric has run rife in our wardrobes over the past decade. And while there’s a long history of denim to look at, the future is even more interesting. The conversation around sustainable styles started a few years ago but brands are continuing to push the bounds with their approach to fabrics and fits that are increasingly planet-friendly and size-inclusive.
We all know that shopping for jeans can be somewhat of a strain. But these Aussie and Kiwi brands are a good place to start when looking for your next favourite pair – or a Canadian tuxedo perhaps.
Committed to sustainable practices and local manufacturing, Nobody Denim’s collection of premium staples is an easy go-to. Using organic cotton fabrics, natural dyes and recycled yarns, the Melbourne-based label cuts its timeless silhouettes, like the Lou, Milla and Frankie jeans, in an array of classic and seasonal washes. Covering all your denim needs, there’s also a clutch of versatile shorts, skirts and jackets as well as a petite range featuring the brand’s signature fits.
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Sir might be most loved for its eye-catching dresses and modern tailoring, but the brand’s collection of denim doesn’t disappoint. There is a relaxed ease to the classic styles that arrive in varying indigo, black and ecru hues each season. But the way the label masterfully manipulates denim into trending dress and jacket silhouettes is what truly makes Sir’s collection tick.
Made on-site in its Melbourne storefront, Denimsmith’s sustainable range of (mostly) Japanese denim includes core styles like the Aubrey and Mabel jeans, along with much-loved cropped, flared and straight leg varieties. The Freida jacket, as well as denim shirts, skirts and shorts, are also part of the label’s cult collection, which is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia.
Neuw’s collection of effortless stretch denim blends Nordic design with the casual comfort Australians do best. Vintage-inspired styles with distressed finishes and raw hems rule the range. All silhouettes – with standouts including the Lexi and Edie jeans – come complete with the label’s trademark fob ring hanging from the front belt loop and a repair stitch at the back pocket.
Thoughtfully considered garments, which are made using high quality fabrics and processes that are kind to people and the planet, is the name of the game at New Zealand brand Maggie Marilyn. Its small collection of comfortable and everyday denim features three signature styles: the full, cropped and slim fit jeans.
It’s no surprise that Assembly Label does good denim. From the vintage straight, everyday relaxed and its signature slim jeans to denim overshirts and high-waisted shorts, the brand has your classics covered. Notes on fits are featured on product pages, and there is an extensive denim size guide to help you find your new favourite pair.
Known for adding a contemporary twist to timeless classics, Rolla’s is a trusty choice when it comes to hard-wearing, lasting denim. The impressive range of silhouettes spans from vintage-inspired styles, such as the wide leg Sailor and Eastcoast Flare, to skinny and straight fits like the Heidi and Dusters.
Flowers by Sister Studios
A special project from Melbourne brand Sister Studios, Flowers uses deadstock denim to create its Only Jean and coordinating jacket. The dark indigo colourway fits with everything in your wardrobe. And the high-rise, straight-leg cut leans towards vintage-inspired styling. A logo leather patch seals this style with subtle branded appeal, staying true to the minimalist mood of the silhouette.
Made from 100 per cent organic cotton denim, Marle’s range of jeans echoes the Kiwi brand’s timeless sensibility. The wide leg silhouette is a particular favourite for its high-rise fit that sits close to the waist and hips before falling to a subtly flared hem. It is recommended to size up in this style, as well as the brand’s straight leg pairs for a more relaxed look.
Experimental shapes and fabrications make up the distinctive aesthetic of streetwear favourite Ksubi. Jeans and denim jackets, skirts and shorts come in a range of worn-in washes, each detailed with the label’s telltale back cross embroidery and woven pocket tag. Oversized and ripped styles sit alongside the label’s enduring classics like the skinny Spray On and straight leg Brooklyn jeans.
Jeans that are good for the planet and you capture the essence of Outland Denim’s mission. Ethically made with organic cotton, zero harmful chemicals and vegan materials, key styles include the Lucy, Abigail and Harriet jeans. The Australian brand also focuses on supporting women by providing ethical employment, training, healthcare and education.
Dedicated to sustainable production and safe and ethical working conditions, Nudie’s collection of rigid denim is not only made from 100 per cent cotton, but also provides product transparency for every stage of production – from raw material to manufacturing and transportation. Key styles include the Breezy Britt and Lofty Lo, and are made to be well-worn and mended – with a promise of free repairs for life.
A favourite for its timeless tailoring, P Johnson’s denim collection is endearingly classic. Tailored finishes complete the label’s two key unisex styles: Tony (named for designer Patrick Johnson's father) and Chris. Both are available in light and mid indigo washes, as well as monochrome options. Each pair is made in Italy from certified organic cotton and comes pre-shrunk for the perfect fit.
Another New Zealand name to add to your denim repertoire, Kowtow cuts its signature Sailor jeans in a range of timeless and trending shades each season. There’s also a loyal following for the brand’s classic silhouette and Balloon style, as well as seasonal ready-to-wear pieces like skirts, jackets and jumpsuits.
Scanlan Theodore’s refined approach to wardrobing translates across the brand’s denim collection. Tailored silhouettes in classic indigo, raw denim and natural hues are a staple season after season. But structured cocoon-sleeved jackets and statement skirts promise to elevate the everyday fabric to higher status this winter.
Utility is at the heart of Elka Collective’s denim range. From the Elias jacket to the Odin, Edmond and Athena jeans, there is a timeless simplicity in the cut, colour and craftsmanship of the Melbourne brand’s collection. Its use of 100 per cent rigid cotton denim adds to the classic appeal of these styles.
Bassike begs you to push the boundaries in your denim collection with its artful silhouettes. This season brings a two-tone midi skirt, western-detailed shirt and cargo-inspired pants that confirm this fabric shouldn’t simply be confined to jeans.
Peachay, a brand dedicated to fitting hourglass figures just so, has recently relaunched with an updated version of its signature cut: the Aviva jean. The brand doesn’t use traditional sizing, instead it opts for names like “sunflower”, tulip” and “lily” to indicate fit. The general rule is to shop according to your waist size (that’s where the high-rise jeans will sit), as its hip-to-thigh measurements are designed to be around a size-and-a-half larger.
Read and shop Broadsheet’s men’s denim edit.
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This article was first published on May 17, 2023 and has since been updated.