Must have items for winter: what we learned this year.
As Melbourne welcomes the first few days of spring, and the trees begin to erupt in a thousand flowers, we thought it might be useful for our Northern Hemisphere readers if we passed on our notes of which items we found useful over winter this year.
We found some game-changers! Of course, they are all fairly made, as per our own personal preference to source out items which are produced in the kindest way possible. When Henrietta and I first became vegan, some 5 years ago, we weren’t so knowledgable about which fibres were the least harmful for the environment, but as the science has evolved, so too has our understanding of the need to choose garments which have the least environmental impact on our delicate earth. Thus, both Henrietta and I have discovered some wonderful apparel this winter which ticks the boxes for kind production:-
Vegan and cruelty free materials.
Fairly made by workers who are paid a living wage in fair conditions.
High quality which means the garments should last longer, which is better for the environment.
Thoughtful materials: natural or recycled fibres to minimise their ecological footprint.
Products which are packaged with minimal waste.
Importantly, they are a joy to wear. They are comfortable, elegant and classic in style, so they won’t date but can be worn over many winters.
So, what did we discover and wear this winter, that really worked to keep us toasty warm all season?
It’s maybe funny, but we both bought the same boots which we pretty much wore most of the week throughout winter. Zette is the house brand of the much-loved cult local vegan shoe store, Vegan Style, and it’s fair to say these are the most comfortable boots that I have ever worn. Designed in Melbourne and made fairly in Spain, these Jacqui boots are made from a very flexible material, with soft rubber soles that provide grip on wet city pavements. They instantly dress up an outfit, and work just as well with jeans as they do with swishy long skirts. Importantly, they are superbly comfortable. I have bought a few vegan short style boots over the last few years, forever hunting for the perfectly comfortable chic pair - I am pleased to say my hunt ends here, as I’m super happy with these.
We both bought the chocolate versions (!!), but they come in black as well.
For the last couple of winters, both Henrietta and I have toyed with buying a Hood Lamb coat. We hesitated, as they are not cheap, and as we are in Australia, they had to be shipped a long way - meaning it wasn’t simple to send them back if they didn’t fit. But this year, the combination of sustainable materials and the desire to be properly warm won out, so Henrietta purchased one of these fantastic Long HoodLamb coats in blue at the beginning of winter. When it arrived, I was so impressed that I immediately bought one for myself. Total game-changer!
No more frosty morning site visits for me - the attached hood and lined pockets are very appreciated, and the dense weave of the coat stops even a tiny rustle of chilled wind from penetrating.
The outer lining is made from 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton, woven in a twill weave, which is waterproof. The coat is lined with Satifur, a faux fur made from 20% hemp, 35% recycled PET and 45% acrylic. It is SO soft and cosy. The coat has clever pockets too, with side pockets, a flap pocket (which fits a phone) and a secret pocket. The side pockets are lined with Satifur, so they are a very welcome place to keep your hands on a chilly winter’s day or evening.
We were so impressed with these Long coats that we each independently purchased a second coat from Hoodlamb, in the slightly warmer Nordic Puffer series, for days when we want to wear a lighter dress underneath but still need to be warm when outside. Oddly, we both chose black for these - and have laughed all winter long as we often end up wearing the same coats when we go out together. Having the two coats in slightly different warmth factors has allowed us to breeze straight through winter - whatever the Melbourne weather has thrown at us.
In fact, both my husband and my son have decided that this would be life-changing for them too, and were very disappointed when their sizes sold out of the menswear range of HoodLamb coats at the beginning of our Australian winter. Fair to say though, that when they come back into production for the Northern hemisphere winter season, I know what I’m purchasing both of them for Christmas presents this year….
A sock made from natural fibres is obviously SO much better for the oceans than those made from synthetic fibres. Every time synthetic garments are washed, tiny microfibres make their way into the ocean - so as I learnt more about this issue, my hunt began for socks made from natural fibres which were sustainably and ethically made. Whilst a natural fibre, I’m not comfortable with the cruelty involved in wool production (I grew up on a sheep station, so I know what is involved), so woolen socks might be better than synthetics at not releasing micro-fibres, but for me that’s not an option.
Happily, these absolutely fabulous socks from Ecorganix are made in Ukraine from organic linen - and yep, they have also been a game-changer for warmth and comfort this winter. In fact, they are SO GOOD, that my son keeps stealing them from my sock drawer. I honestly cannot recommend them highly enough.
4. 100% organic cotton knitwear from Kowtow.
Under my warm HoodLamb coat, with linen socks and Zette boots, the other staple in my wardrobe this year has been a collection of thougthful 100% organic cotton knitwear pieces from the much-loved Kiwi brand Kowtow.
At the beginning of the season, I purchased a couple of these long dresses, jumpers and cardigans, and they have been on regular rotation throughout my working week. The quality of the product probably doesn’t really show in images, but in real life, these are seriously classy, classic pieces which I will wear for many seasons yet.
It’s surprising how warm these garments are, but it’s all about the knitted texture. They are chunky cotton knits, and the knurled textures trap warmth, as well as looking chic. Layered up under a coat and linen scarf, they have taken me through the season.
Kowtow do make knitwear from Merino wool too, but for me these 100% organic cotton pieces are just the ticket for a cosy winter’s day, made without animal products. Kowtow have a seed-to-garment philosophy, and approach their clothes with a life-cycle in mind. Well regarded amongst international auditors and accreditors, Kowtow garments are truly ethically made - no child labour, Fair Trade certified cotton production, and workers are paid a living wage. There is a lot to love about this brand, and the quality of the clothes is just one of those elements.
A collaboration between Adelaide based Good Studio and Melbourne based Well Made Clothes, these hemp jeans are amazing warm - and have been my best friend this winter.
Made from 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton, the former creates the warmth and the latter creates the softness. They are fairly made in Melbourne, with a washable paper tag (so they are truly vegan) and a recycled zipper for additional eco-cred.
Apart from their comfort, when I’m wearing them it’s fun to tell people the provenance of jeans that are made from sustainable materials, as it starts a conversation - and who knows how that might change the world, one little garment at a time.