The Byron label taking a better approach to transparency

Words by Maeve Kerr-Crowley

Shop on the bright side.

In a one-two punch of great Australian talent, Frank & Dollys has teamed up with multidisciplinary artist Andrea Shaw on its new summer collection, Where We’ve Been

If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, Frank & Dollys is a transparent, ethical operation based in Byron Bay. Founders (and loved-up married couple) Rachel and Joel Cooper were inspired to start the label during a time when ‘sustainability’ was just a little-heard buzzword.

“It’s so easy to turn a blind eye and become desensitised when it comes to shopping,” Rachel explains. “So we wanted to turn the tables and create a label that not only produces incredible garments, but also authentically shares the story of each garment.”

These garments are designed both lovingly and locally, relying on the Coopers getting their hands dirty and being heavily involved in the entire process. Every design starts its life on the Frank & Dollys studio table, where patterns are conceptualised and perfected.

The baton is then passed to the brand’s trusted circle of seamstresses and manufacturers. Despite setting up these points of production all around the world, the pair has made it a priority to meet and form a relationship with everybody involved.

Doing so with three kids in tow is admittedly unconventional, but it’s a commitment that ensures both the quality of the brand’s garments and the happiness of the people making them.

“We’ve pursued the path less travelled, seeking out small scale, independent and family-run workshops where, like ourselves, these creatives thrive off the universal language of design and genuine craftsmanship.”

The Coopers’ passion for ethical production applies equally to the environment and the people living in it, because, as they put it, “Everything we consume has an effect on someone.”

Whether that effect is positive or negative, they firmly believe people have a right to know. Which is why Frank & Dollys’ customers can find out exactly who made the clothes they’re thinking of buying, what materials they used, and how well they were treated in the process. 

This kind of transparency is a huge driver in the rising sustainability movement, and ensures brands aren’t greenwashing or making promises they don’t intend to keep.

“Some people really care, others not so much,” Rachel admits. “But we wanted to make sure the information was there so that we, as a label, were accountable to our core values.”

Collaboration is a new move for the brand, but the duo saw longtime friend Andrea Shaw as the perfect fit for their first joint collection.

“I love Andrea’s work and the forms, lines and motion she creates through her art,” says Rachel. “I also love how different Andrea’s work is to something I would personally create, and thought this would be a really exciting element to project into a collection.”

The result is a range of breezy cotton and rayon pieces, covered in Shaw’s delicate and playful prints. The collection was designed to accommodate a huge range of quintessential summer activities – a maxi dress for holiday parties, a jumpsuit to throw over your bathers, a bum bag to take to festivals.

Rachel points to a summer spent in Italy as the inspiration for these garments, saying she was “drawing upon the notion of timelessness with a touch of European style and grace”.

The colour palette and print were left in Shaw’s hands, with only the intended season as a prompt. What she came up with is a light, airy palette of lilacs, yellows and blues, elevated by minimalist, line-based prints.

You can find Where We’ve Been online now.


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