Born in Byron Bay
- BY: RACHEL O'BRIEN
- Jan. 21, 2020
When it comes to fashion capitals, most think of Paris, Milan or New York. And on the domestic scene, Sydney and Melbourne are regarded as our fashion hubs. But a new destination is making its mark on the fashion map. So, shake the sand out of your towels, reapply the sunscreen and hop over hot bitumen to usher in a new player, Byron Bay.
A transformation over the last 10 years or so from tie dyed, patchouli scented grommet to glamourous, photogenic beach babe is complete. Byron Bay has developed the cache that put such destinations as St Barths and St Tropez as idyllic lures for the glitterati. And where the cool kids play, fashion follows. We chatted to a couple of businesses that have their roots in the swaying tea trees of Byron Bay.
Founding CEO of Outland Denim, James Bartle’s family have been living in the Byron hinterland, Mt Tamborine to be precise, for five generations. “The rural and remote Mt Tamborine scene is certainly a world away from the hustle and bustle of the mainstream fashion world, and not where you expect a denim label to be based, but that’s also why we love being here. Denim is hardy, industrious and crosses from city to country settings, which is what Outland as a brand is all about,” Bartle stated.
This denim brand with a difference generates training and employment opportunities for Cambodian women vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Outland Denim received the royal seal of approval when the Duchess of Sussex chose to wear the brand on her 2018 Royal Tour of Australia. He added: “People are increasingly wanting to support brands who offer something local, sustainable, human made, and that are a part of a community they can be proud to belong to. These values are very much shared by the Byron Bay public and entrepreneurs. As like attracts like, I only see Byron and its fashion and creative industries growing in the future.”
Another brand that is proud to call Byron Bay home, is skin care company, Biologi. Dedicated to creating ethically sourced and manufactured products, Managing Director, Lucy Kuper told us that the location of her business grew organically. “We were already living in the Northern Rivers/Byron Hinterland area and a lot of the plant material we needed such as Finger Limes and Davidson Plum grow in this region. For our plant to bottle process it was much easier to keep it all in the one place! Byron Bay sort of came first but it’s the perfect place for us and our brand,” she stated.
The lure of Byron was felt by designer duo of Lara and Matt
Fells, of stylish accessories label, St AGNI.
“My husband Matt and I moved to Byron Bay in 2011. He is originally from the UK and I grew up in
Tasmania. We visited Byron together and
fell in love with the place. It wasn’t
until 2014 that we began St AGNI, but we had always wanted to create something
of our own and when the timing was right, we jumped,” Lara said.
Perhaps the last word on the subject should go to Simon Richardson, the Mayor of Byron Shire Council: “Byron has long been a hotbed for creatives. Whether there is something in the water, something in the air or simply something in the spirit of the community, designers of all persuasions have found inspiration here. Now, with more connected people visiting and seeking out designers, coupled with the ability to showcase works globally online, it is not only a great place to create, it is also a great place from where to centre a label, business and life.”