Byron Bay isn’t just a surfing nirvana and a place to chill out – it’s also a thriving hub of entrepreneurs striving to build sustainable, ethical businesses and motivating each other in the process. Among them are more than a dozen fashion designers committed to doing their bit to making the fashion industry more sustainable via a range of innovative methods.
The fashion industry is arguably one of the world’s most wasteful; the industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. Having become increasingly uncomfortable with this reality during her 15 years working in fashion, Byron-based designer Laura-May Gibbs wanted to ensure that her own high-end activewear label Nagnata would not be a part of the problem.
“It was important for me to do things differently from the existing model, especially being a lifestyle brand that was founded around the principles of yoga and movement practices,” says Laura-May, who launched the label in 2017 with a collection of organic cotton technical knitwear styles designed with zero yarn waste. “I wanted the ethos of the brand to reflect these same ideals,” she adds.
Each Nagnata collection takes a different approach, often experimenting with artisan textiles with a high content of organic and renewable materials that have never been used by the activewear market before.
“The movement knits were to challenge the idea that workout wear had to be made of high contents of synthetics, which is common practice for activewear,” says Laura-May. “For the collaboration with The Woolmark Company, we developed a new fabric using Australian Superfine Wool and Tencel with minimal synthetics on seamless machines.”
Just two blocks east of the Nagnata boutique in Byron Bay’s Arts & Industry Estate, streetwear label Afends isn’t only on a mission to become a more environmentally sustainable brand, but also to inspire other fashion brands to embrace the virtues of its core fabric, hemp, via its ongoing Hemp Revolution campaign.
“Even if we lose sales because everyone else starts using it, we’d still see that as a win,” says Jono Salfield, the band’s co-founder and marketing director. “We’d just be happy to play a role in the planet becoming a healthier, happier place.”
Sustainable fashion isn’t just about environmentally-friendly textiles, of course, but also the people who make them. For local lingerie designer Madonna Bain, owner of Eco Intimates, human rights are at the core of her brand ethos.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
“It’s important to me that the people making my designs are paid well, looked after, work in safe and clean spaces, can choose hours that fit in with their family life, and have holiday and sick pay,” says Madonna, who works with a small, family-owned production house in Bali to produce her designs, with most made from GOTS organic cotton. “Thanks to a new law passed in Indonesia in 2019, our Bali suppliers are also now required to use dyes that comply with new laws on the use of harmful and organic dyes,” she adds.
As part of her goal to become a plastic-free business, Madonna only ships online orders in compostable bags. This initiative has been embraced by many other Byron labels including Nagnata, Afends, Spell & the Gypsy Collective, Rowie, Auguste, St. Agni, and more. St. Agni even goes a step further by planting a tree in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor in Western Australia for every online purchase made.
Along with Afends, which built a skate ramp in the middle of Australia’s largest hemp field as part of a documentary introducing its Hemp Revolution campaign, Auguste is known for its environmental campaigns – including a 2017 collaboration with the Australian Marine Conservation Society which saw 100% of profits of its ’70s-inspired “protect the reef” tee donated to the AMCS. Another local brand, Spell – arguably Byron’s most successful conscious fashion export – took home the 2019 Banksia Sustainability Award in the small business category for its strong commitment to becoming more sustainable.
While all local fashion brands will admit they’ve still got work to do in the sustainability space, their collective achievements are certainly nothing to be sniffed at.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.