Starting Simply: A Guide to Sustainable Basics

If you’re looking to make a difference with your wardrobe, why not start from the bottom up? Opting for sustainable basics is the perfect way to dip your toes into the world of ethically-made clothing.

By choosing your underwear, socks, and camisoles from brands that do right by people, the planet or animals it’s easy to begin your journey as a conscious consumer without sacrificing anything – except for those ratty old knickers that are ready to be tossed anyway!

Each brand is rated for its impact on the ethical and environmental issues you care about – check the Good On You app for more detail.


Switching out your undies for their ethical counterparts is the easiest place to begin. You can start small by purchasing eco-friendly or fair-trade underwear whenever items in your current collection need replacing. Since underwear is something we’ll continually need to repurchase, opting for brands that produce sustainably makes a huge impact over time – and we promise they’re just as fun to dance in on those nights out (or in!).

Thunderpants GoY-Ratings_4pt9

ThunderpantsShips internationally from New Zealand
Price range: NZD $15-$70

Thunderpants is a family-owned business based in Wairarapa, New Zealand. On a quest to create the ultimate undie, Thunderpants promise their wearers no wedgies and no visible panty lines. Better yet, Thunderpants support local businesses at every stage of the production line.

The fabric is knitted just two hours away in Levin and the printing is done in Auckland. Thunderpants also sponsor several charitable organisations, through donations from their range of philanthropants. Organisations they support include Kaibosh Food Rescue, 100% OK and Samoan Victim Support Group.

Their cute designs are produced on-site – using Global Organic Textile Standard certified cotton, inks and dyes – with patterns like bananas, goldfish or even a colour-your-own option!

Boody GoY-Ratings_4

BoodyShips internationally from Australia
Price range: AUD $10-$30

Stretchy, soft and sustainable, Boody basics are made from 80% organic bamboo yarn. Bamboo is a fast growing and high oxygen-producing plant, and Boody create their garments with very little waste. They’re also Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production certified, which is an independent non-profit team of global social compliance experts dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing around the world.

Etiko GoY-Ratings_4pt9

etikoShips internationally from Australia
Price range: AUD $10-$25

Etiko was the first non-food brand to receive Fair Trade certification in the Australia/New Zealand region and has been on an impressive trajectory ever since. Feel extra comfortable in these cotton undies knowing that they are Global Organic Textile Standard certified and adhere to the strict organic and low impact standards that come with that. Etiko gets a “Great” on the Good On You scale, the best possible score.

Mighty Good Undies GoY-Ratings_5

Mighty Good UndiesMen’s/Women’s
Price range: AUD $15-$18

We think Mighty Good Undies are, well, mighty good. They’ve received a rating of “Great” in the Good On You app, meaning they tick all boxes! Their comfy basics are made from fair trade and organic certified cotton, their dyes are colourfast and eco-friendly, and for each pair of undies you buy from them, a donation is made to the South Pole Group, helping offset carbon emissions from their production process.

At the moment Mighty Good are taking pre-orders, and their next round of deliveries will be sent out in October. Get in quickly to dibs your new favourite pair of knickers.


Support the planet and its people while, you know, supporting yourself! Whether you’re looking for simple designs or flirty fabrics, bras that suit your tastes and values definitely exist. So go on, lift your game with these gorgeous ethically sound choices!

Luva Huva  good on you great rating

Luva HuvaShips internationally from UK
Price range: GBP £20-£70

Natural beauty has never been so sexy. Luva Huva (pronounced Lover Huva) offers comfortable lingerie in an elegant feminine style; all handmade from more sustainable and environmentally friendly fabrics like 100% organic cotton, bamboo, soy, line remnants and vintage lace.

NICO GoY-Ratings_4pt9

Nico_img1Ships internationally from Australia
Price range: AUD $25-$80

NICO produce high-quality underpants and bras in monochrome colours and minimalist design that will make you feel luxurious every day. NICO is ethical and sustainable, and transparent with their practice. They were the first underwear brand that achieved Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation.

Discover more ethical clothing brands with the Good On You app.

Socks & Stockings

Interested in combining comfort, style and ethics as you walk through life? Put your best foot forward with these excellent options.

Conscious Step GoY-Ratings_5

Conscious StepShips internationally from US
Price range: AUD $15-$20

Conscious Step believes that an ordinary purchase can have an extraordinary purpose. Their socks are made from organic cotton by farmers who are guaranteed minimum wage compliance, overtime compensation and freedom of association. No chemicals are used in its production processes and trees are planted to offset its environmental impact. Conscious Step really is a front-runner when it comes to ethical brands.

Swedish Stockings GoY-Ratings_4

RS 1-swedish-stockingsShips internationally from Sweden
Price range: USD $9-$26

Swedish Stockings is a brand aiming to mend the way we wear and discard our stockings. They recycle by-products from other nylon products and use solar power for a large part of their manufacturing process. They minimise their footprint by ensuring no extra water is used during production, their factories are zero waste and all water in the dyeing process is purified and treated. We spoke to one of their fabulous creators, Saskia, to find out more about our new favourite hosiery.

Trenery good on you great rating


Ships internationally from Australia
Price range: AUD$9-$13

These beautiful socks are created without the use of hazardous dyes – that’s good news for your feet and for the hands of the people who made them. It has also been awarded a “Good” from us, in part due to its strong labour rights policies.


We spend a huge amount of our time in bed – make the most of it with these cute and conscious sleepwear brands.

Moonbird GoY-Ratings_4pt9

moonbirdShips internationally from Australia
Price range: AUD $49-$200

The team at Moonbird are big dreamers – they’ve created plush pyjamas from certified organic cotton at production facilities in India that are Fair Trade Federation members. Their range includes dressing gowns, matching sets and separates for both him and her. That deserves a double thumbs up from us!

ALAS GoY-Ratings_4pt9

ALASShips internationally from Australia
Price range: AUD $29 – $200

This gorgeous sleepwear range has also been awarded our highest rating – not just for its funky style, but for its outstanding commitment to the environment. ALAS products are made from certified organic cotton and low-impact, solid dyes through energy efficient and low waste processes. Their factories provide fair labour conditions for their workers.


There’s nothing quite as versatile as that chic but simple tee that you can pair with almost everything in your wardrobe.

Bon label GoY-Ratings_5

Bon LabelShips internationally from Australia
Price range: AUD $79-$99

Born from brand owner Linda Smyth’s search for the perfect white tee, Bon Label’s products emulate that timeless French simplicity and elegance. Their 100% organic cotton t-shirts are perfectly matched with your favourite denim on the weekend or a classic pin skirt in the office. Bon Label uses no animal products in their manufacturing and has a strong focus on ethical labour practice, everything we like to hear.

Make An Impact Clothing GoY-Ratings_4pt9

Make An Impact ClothingShips internationally
Price range: AUD $25-$60

Long sleeve, short sleeve, crew neck, v-neck, scoop neck – whatever it is you’re looking for in a t-shirt Make An Impact Clothing  has got it! Order online for boys, girls, men and women and let your skin breathe with sustainable fibres like certified organic cotton, bamboo and Tencel, made from wood pulp.

Dorsu GoY-Ratings_5

DorsuShips internationally from Australia
Price range: AUD $49-$59

Dorsu makes their simple but smart t-shirts from fabric remnants discarded by other manufacturers in Cambodia, use recycled packaging and run a completely plastic free workshop. The brand prides itself on its fair labour practices – paying their workers a living wage and providing them with a number of benefits. You’ll even find the name of the employee who made each item printed on the swing tags! Whether you’re lounging, brunching or lunching, you’ll look effortlessly classy in one of their tees.

This article was originally published on 12 January 2016 and updated on 10 September 2016. Contributors include: Alexis Farr and Kendall Benton-Collins.

Now you’re set for basics, what about some ethical outerwear? Find your best match with the Good On You App.

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Trusted ethical ratings in the palm of your hand.




Julia McAlpine is a freelance writer of copy, journalism, poetry, fiction & lists. She recently moved from California to Sydney to pursue new adventures and drinks far more coffee than the recommended daily intake. 


Image via brands mentioned and Pixabay.

3 replies on “Starting Simply: A Guide to Sustainable Basics

    • Gordon Renouf

      Hi Tamzin
      Thanks for your comment. We checked and guess what .. we made a mistake in this article. Lululemon has always been rated by Good On You as ‘It’s a Start” ie 3 our of 5 (not the 4 out of 5 that was stated in earlier versions of this article). It’s environment and labour ratings are middle of the pack. Like many similar brands it gets a high rating for animals as it does not use any animal products. We have removed the brand from this article accordingly.

      Thanks for picking this up.


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