Updated April 2020
Obus is proud to offer affordable, high quality garments to our customers while at the same time supporting local businesses, the Australian manufacturing industry, and social causes we believe in.
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Around 80% of Obus’ products are manufactured in Australia, including the majority of our garments and selected accessories. Our knitwear (excluding some Traveller and Merino items) and accessories such as footwear, jewellery, socks and leather goods - comprising approximately 20% of our annual product line - are produced offshore, and we work hard to ensure we engage businesses who comply with our high manufacturing, environmental and ethical standards. We care who made your clothes, and we aim to offer as much information as we can about our production processes to customers through our website, blog and social media.
Read on for more information about Obus’ manufacturing information, environmental and labour policies, and commitment to ethical clothing production.
What you buy, and how long you wear it, impacts on the environment in multiple ways. Obus’ commitment to producing small runs of high-quality, well-made clothing that transcends seasonal fads is at the heart of our business model. Our Swap Shop is an annual ongoing initiative where we will exchange your pre-loved Obus items for store credit!
Within each seasonal collection, Obus prioritises the use of natural materials such as cotton, organic cotton, linen and wool, as well as eco-friendly fibres such as Tencel and Ramie. Leather used in our accessories and footwear is vegetable dyed (not chemical dyed and without chromium).
We are well known for our bold and original printed textiles, which are present in each collection. As technology in the digital textile printing space improves in leaps and bounds, we have been increasingly favouring this process to produce all of our custom-designed fabrics, as it consumes less water than traditional screen printing and produces far less toxic waste water. Now our soft cotton jersey fabrics are the only textile that we are still screen printing on, but we are working hard and continually testing and sampling to find a digitally printed jersey that will match our quality standards and continue to feel super cosy and comfortable for you to wear.
Each Obus collection is designed to ensure the most efficient use of fabric in the manufacturing of each piece, and we often produce small ranges of accessories from fabric offcuts. Most recently we have been making face masks from our leftover fabrics for people in our community to use during the COVID-19 crisis. We also strive to find creative uses for fabric offcuts from our Melbourne studio - such as our partnership with Tangentyere Artists - and have donated excess fabric rolls and yarn spools to community organisations such as ASRC and The Social Studio. We strive to ensure none of our clothing ends up in landfill, a problem that is commonly associated with clothing production and the fashion industry.
As part of our commitment to reduce our business’ impact on the environment, from 2015-17 Obus was a partner of Seed The Change’s tree-planting program. Over two years Obus funded the planting of over 7500 trees in rural regions of Haiti, Madagascar, Ethiopia and Nepal; restoring their environments, enhancing agricultural output and offering sustainable employment opportunities for their citizens.
Obus consistently reviews practices and implements policies to reduce our environmental impact at our head office and in our stores, especially in regards to order packaging and studio waste. Although we haven't been able to transition away from our biodegradable plastic bags to send you your online orders just yet, we have been working extremely hard to tackle the bigger impact of how our supplies and products are shipped and delivered to us. Sadly it is common practise for each and every item big or small to be wrapped in plastic, sometimes even in multiple layers for one item. We are excited to say that our determination and persistence to reduce huge amounts of waste has paid off with close to none of our deliveries arriving to us with plastic packaging now.
WHERE IT'S MADE
Obus clothing (excluding most of our knitwear) is made in Melbourne by family-run businesses. We have contact with our manufacturers on a daily basis and ensure they comply with Australian labour and wage standards via an annual review. All design, pattern-making and sampling is done in our studio in Northcote, Melbourne.
Obus swimwear is manufactured in Sydney. The polyester component of our swimwear, comprising almost 80% of the total garment, is created using a cutting-edge manufacturing process that regenerates post-consumer waste such as carpets, clothing and fishing nets and transforms it back into a raw material without any loss of quality. The Lycra component of our swim range is manufactured to ensure extra longevity in the life of the elastine, meaning your swimwear will continue to fit and flatter for many seasons despite contact with chlorinated or salt water.
Obus’ nail polish is manufactured in Queensland, Australia. We’re proud to say our nail polish is now a ‘Seven Free’ Formula meaning it does not contain the toxic chemicals Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, Ethyl Tosylamide or Andxylene. Our nail polish is also Vegan, meaning it is not tested on animals nor does it contain any animal products.
The Merino wool used in our Traveller range is sourced from a mix of Australian and Vietnamese producers. We work with a Melbourne-based producer, committed to producing Merino with a low environmental impact, to manufacture and dye our Merino into custom colours. Merino produced in Vietnam is done so by a Bluesign® system partner, which means the company producing the wool complies with strict ethical and environmental standards right from the beginning of the manufacturing process. Raw wool for all our Merino collections is sourced from New Zealand and Australian sources where possible.
We are signatories of the Uzbek Cotton Pledge, meaning none of our cotton is sourced from Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan. Our jersey cotton yarn is BCI Certified and our organic cotton is GOTS certified.
Sadly, in 2014, the diminished state of the knitwear and leathergoods industry in Australia encouraged us to look overseas for specialised businesses to meet our exacting production standards, and maintain our commitment to producing high-quality garments at an affordable price. Our knitwear is manufactured by a specialist factory in China who we began working with after Kylie visited on a factory research trip in 2018. The factory is BSCI accredited and audited annually to confirm all aspects of their workplace conditions are in accordance with human rights, ILO conventions and national labor law.
Our socks are manufactured by a specialist factory in Turkey. The factory is an ISO 9001 Registered company which means that the company meets both statutory and regulatory requirements related to any product. The factory is also certified STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX, meaning the textile production process uses no unwanted or harmful substances which remain as a residue on the final product.
Our stockings are manufactured in New Zealand from Australian and New Zealand wool.
In an effort to increase transparency around our footwear production processes - for both our own and our customer's peace of mind - in 2018 we moved our footwear manufacturing to Dongguan, China. Obus footwear is now made by a small team dedicated to producing made-to-order limited runs of bespoke shoes in an ethically and environmentally conscious way. Having chosen our manufacturers after an extensive research process and site visit, we can be confident that those who produce our footwear are respected, have safe working conditions and are remunerated fairly. Similarly, leather comes from tanneries that have strict environmental control and all material comes from farmed animals. We continue to build a strong working relationship that uses their decades of specialist craftsmanship and passion for investigating new ethical materials and processes.
Our Sunhats and Tote bags are made in India, and the manufacturers are regularly audited by SMETA for labour standards, health & safety, and environmental compliance.
We do not use fur, mohair or down in any of our products.
The majority of our marketing collateral is produced in Australia, and our store fit-outs use recycled or repurposed furniture and materials where possible. We regularly reassess and redesign our packaging in an effort to reduce plastic and waste.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, Obus has been working extremely hard to keep on supporting and doing the right thing by every person and company in our supply chain, both overseas and locally. We have not cancelled any of our orders and we are committed to continuing to help and work alongside everyone connected to Obus, so we can all get through this difficult time together.
Each year at Obus we partner with social enterprises and/or not-for-profits in an attempt to impact our local and international community in a positive way.
We achieved some amazing new things in 2019 with the environmental and social impact of our business at the front of our minds more than ever: raising almost $4000 with Beehemia for the ASRC; designing an exclusive garment to raise funds for Breast Cancer research; joining you on the streets at Melbourne's Climate Marches; and committing to plant 200 trees with 15 Trees in 2020.
Through our recent OLANA X OBUS collaboration with Ethiopian-born, Melbourne-based artist Olana Janfa, we were introduced to the fantastic work of Create Impact — an Australian-based non-profit organisation that provides education, clean water and health care to remote communities in Ethiopia. In conjunction with our OLANA X OBUS collection launch, we held an exciting online group art auction with all of the funds raised going to Create Impact and their Medagi school building project. Six contemporary Australian artists (Olana Janfa, Casey Burrill, Zan Wimberley, Jasmine Mansbridge, Stanislas Piechazek and Emma Gale) each generously donated one of their stunning works of art for the auction and together we were absolutely thrilled to raise a total of $11,700 in just seven days for Create Impact.
We were watching with breaking hearts along with all of you when the bush fires were destroying so much of our precious country. The Obus team all found ways to donate and help out in as many ways as we could, dedicating a weekend of profits from all sales to give to Australian Red Cross, as well as donating fabrics for much needed wraps and pouches for injured native wildlife.
Since 2012 we have run an annual Winter clothing drive for Brotherhood of St Laurence, gathering donations of quality coats, blankets and other clothing from customers to distribute to those in need. Other organisations we have worked closely with are We Care Nauru, The Unicorn Foundation, One Girl, Tsuno, and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).
We love introducing our loyal and big-hearted community to these social causes and organisations and collaborating with them to make a difference.
Want to learn more about Obus? Visit our Blog.