HomeOPINIONSave money or save values?

Save money or save values?

As the next generation become top spenders, it is up to them to communicate their values to the market. Below you’ll find examples of local, ethical, mindful and sustainable retailers to support, well also upgrading your wardrobe. 

Okay so, you’re now a working professional. You’ve (hopefully) grown out of your Jay-Jays phase and are on to bigger and better things. Thrown into the workforce, you are now trying to merge your own style with something that moderatly resembles professional, all well sticking a budget.

Starting into the life of a working professional is enough of a culture shock as is. Suddenly you need to pack lunches again, you are responsible for your own workloads, bedtimes, social life and now; work-appropriate attire.

Sure, you can trawl through Asos, Boohoo, Princess Polly, Missguided, PepperMayo, Showpo, Verge Girl or Pretty Little Thing for hours and load up your cart with work appropriate Ponte pants, flair shirts, and stupid tiny sunglasses. OR, what you could do, is take the time to research those same items that may be from a local designer, or come from more sustainable, ethical practices. (sans-tiny sunglasses, they are not work appropriate)

I know it sounds like slightly more effort, which I know for fact our generation isn’t cool with, but the effort means you can do your part in supporting brands that need it, while also communicating your values through what you buy.

Need a place to start? Below are some brands that are either New Zealand made or produced, ethically sourced, sustainable or something a bit different yet still close to home.

Well Made Clothes:

Well Made Clothes has a really cool model, it is an online clothing retailer which curates ethically-sourced fashion brands into a one-stop shop.

Any clothes that are stocked must meet some of the eight values decided by the company: sustainability; fairness; transparency; vegan; gender equality; handcrafted; locally-made; and minimal waste.

The site offers tabs for the eight values, meaning you can browse each tab depending on what’s most important to you. Well Made Clothes also includes editorial features discussing fashion and sustainability, so for those looking to read some top information on the latest textile or environmental news, it’s a great place to start.


With collections made completely from sustainable and ethically sourced materials, Kowtow is a safe place to go for professional and casual clothing that still maintains its values.

Scoring high on the ethical fashion guide every year, the clothes are unbeatable comfortable while still having an air of formality to it. Influenced by architecture, street style, and interior design, Kowtow has a distinctive minimalist aesthetic that is easily recognisable in New Zealand fashion press. Each item sports a notable lack of embellishments and zips.

Although a little higher in price, the sales are a great place to start; yet full priced well-made clothing is usually worth the investment.

My Boyfriend’s Back:

Designed and made in New Zealand, this label is partially good for multi-purpose pieces. Collections are focused on function, comfort, and quality. The items, although a lot of them are see-through, can be modified to suit a work environment while also supporting a local designer.

Items are made from higher quality materials such as silks and wool blends, which means they should hold their shape as you throw them in the washing machine after spilling work-grade coffee on yourself. 

Leo + Be:

Leo+Be strikes a balance by staying authentic to Kiwi roots and presents a collection of ever-changing must-haves to the girl seeking mix and match pieces with flair. It is a collection of youthful, approachable basics and for younger women that can easily be dressed up or down. 

Working at a more reasonable price range, the collections are made from high-grade materials while also being locally designed and sold.


While Commoners definitely falls into the category of investment clothing, it is one of New Zealand’s most ethical, comfortable and stylish brands that you need in that closet of yours.

Commoners are not only all about providing the world with classic staples, they also advocate an ethical background that allows a totally guilt-free purchase to be made every single time you’re in the store. They offer staple items that are timeless, classic and perfect for both work and weekend wear.

Ps. Their outlet store is particularly good.

Freedom Kids:

For mothers looking to include their children within the turn to ethical clothing; Freedom Kids is ahead of the curve. Offering a completely genderless site, the online retailer offers childrenswear sorted by age, rather than gender.

Freedom Kids, a family run business, works only with other small businesses: many of the labels it stocks are owned and operated by a single individual. All clothing it stocks is ethically made, gender neutral and allows children to play freely. With a strong ethos centred around social and environmental responsibility, the site also lets consumers shop by values; organic, fair trade, and made in New Zealand.

Now, these are just starting points, do your own browsing and see what suits your style, price point, and values. Just don’t settle for fast fashion because it’s easier, you have a chance now to support your local designers while upgrading your wardrobe.

If you still want to buy fast fashion and replaceable basics from larger, international retailers, then there is nothing wrong with that. It is about balance and spending the money on good quality items when you can, and when you need them. It is about a conscious choice of where you spend your money, and what you are communicating through those choices.

You’re part of a generation that is just finding its voice, so make sure you’re using it to say something useful.

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Courtney Devereux is a Communication Consultant at Clear Hayes and freelance business writer.