10 Byron Bay-Born Fashion Labels You Need To Know
Byron Bay is home to many unique, independent clothing stores | © martin berry / Alamy Stock Photo
Byron Bay has always been a magnet for creatives, with the past decade seeing a new wave of fashion designers helping transform this northern NSW town into a major player on Australia’s fashion scene. With a little help from social media, these Byron-born brands have captured the attention of free-spirited yet fashion-conscious consumers the world over – and all have a store in town.
Byron Bay has become a major player on Australia’s fashion scene | © camac / Alamy Stock Photo
Spell and the Gypsy Collective
Dreamed up by sisters Isabella Pennefather and Elizabeth Abegg in 2009, Spell’s bohemian designs have been worn by everyone from Alessandra Ambrosio to Kate Hudson since the label’s humble beginnings at Byron Bay markets
in the late noughties. Despite achieving global success, with collections sometimes selling out online in hours, the clothing company has only one physical store – in the town where it all began.
Founded off the back of a screen-printing business – which produced merchandise for local punk and hardcore bands – owned by locals Declan Wise and Jono Salfield, Afends has evolved into one of Australia’s best streetwear brands, with two stores in Byron Bay. Influenced by the punk and hardcore music scene, surfing and skateboarding, Afends is known for its edgy, youthful designs for men and women, constructed from sustainable fibres such as hemp.
As Australia’s unofficial wellness capital, it was only a matter of time before Byron Bay birthed a cult activewear brand. Having made an international splash with the 2017 launch of their first ready-to-wear collection of functional activewear in jewel-toned knits and fashion-forward silhouettes rooted in sustainability, NAGNATA’s owners – sisters Laura May and Hannah Gibbs – opened their first store in Byron Bay’s Arts & Industry Estate in late 2019.
Founded by self-taught designer and Byron Bay native Rowie Moore, this independent womenswear label got its start at regional markets, where Moore would sell her handmade, laid-back feminine designs. Now ethically manufactured by family businesses in Bali and China, ROWIE, which is inspired by the colourful streets and the eclectic women of Byron, has stores in Byron Bay and nearby Bangalow.
Founded by Byron Bay local Ebony Eagles in 2015, Auguste is known for its floaty floral dresses, which now have a cult following well beyond Byron Bay. Supermodels Jess Hart and Nicole Trunfio have added star power to collection launches over the years, with the label also known for its high-profile environmental campaigns, including a 2017 collaboration with the Australian Marine Conservation Society, which saw 100 percent of the profits from its ’70s-inspired ‘Protect Our Reef’ T-shirt donated to the organisation. There’s also a Little Auguste line for girls.
Although Australian surfing legend Bob McTavish sold the clothing rights to his brand to Rip Curl in the late ’90s, he bought them back in 2006 to launch the independent men’s surf apparel line that encapsulates the Byron Bay surfing lifestyle. The famous shaper opened McTavish Outpost in the centre of the city in 2018, but if you’re after a new board along with some muted-toned board shorts, T-shirts and flannelettes, you’ll find more to choose from at McTavish’s Arts & Industry Estate store, just north of town.
Known for its cult handmade footwear – particularly its Instagram-famous woven slides – this husband-and-wife brand, named for designer Lara Fells’ grandmother Agni, also produces stylish, minimalist womenswear and menswear in luxe fabrics. Launched in 2014, St Agni went big in 2019, moving into a brand-new – and much larger – store and opening a flagship boutique on Brisbane’s trendy James Street.
What started as a T-shirt line as part of a new business importing vintage motorcycles from the US in 2011 has evolved into one of Australia’s best-known streetwear labels for men and women – inspired by music, art and the biker lifestyle. Thrills’ trademark palm-tree logo was recently adapted by designers Brooke and Tabitha McGregor to form the label of the local Byron Bay Brewery Premium Larger.
If you’ve given up looking for the perfect timeless basics – from well-cut white T-shirts that aren’t see-through to flattering shorts – Annukka has you sorted with its range of certified organic cotton threads for men and women in a palette of white, black, grey and navy. In 2018, the brand opened its first store in the Arts & Industry Estate’s Habitat retail and hospitality hub.
Inspired by designer Arnhem Bickley’s childhood of travelling around Australia with her parents, and the natural beauty of Byron Bay where she’s now based, this womenswear label is characterised by relaxed feminine silhouettes and bright, bohemian prints. There’s also an Arnhem range for kids, shirts for men and a ’70s-influenced swimwear line.
Many designers have found inspiration in Byron Bay | © camac / Alamy Stock Photo