Over nearly a decade, Byron Bay’s Thrills has evolved from three friends selling a handful of vintage-style men’s T-shirts on the side, to a growing streetwear label peddling laidback, ’90s-inspired looks for men and women.
Its latest collection features worn-looking organic denim, relaxed hemp tees and tanks, bold-print button-ups, and breezy maxi and mini dresses – all of which would easily blend into the crowd at the 1992 Big Day Out but still manage to be refined.
“This season we shifted our focus more on fabrications and timeless silhouettes,” says Thrills women’s designer Tabitha McGregor, who co-founded the company in 2011 with her husband Brooke McGregor and friend Ryan Collins.
“[The] denim fits and washes have been perfected and we’re really proud of what we’ve created. The muted earthy tones we’ve worked with bring an air of sophistication to this range. [We’ve] also paid a lot of attention to custom fabrics, finishes and yarn dye designs, providing nuanced textures and a more elevated look compared to previous seasons.”
Thrills was started as a way for its founders to import Harley-Davidson and other motorcycles from the United States and Japan, which they’d then customise and sell in northern New South Wales. Even now, the label’s faded branded T-shirts adorned with eagles, snakes and pumas have a distinctly nostalgic Americana feel.
While some its designs may have a foot in the past, Thrills remains focused on the future, increasingly improving its design and production processes to have less of an environmental impact and more ethical and transparent supply chains.
“We’ve grown our ratio of sustainable, environmentally conscious fabrics and processes dramatically and plan to continue doing so,” says McGregor.
Thrills also follows a “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra. For example, the label’s recycled cotton tote bags are made from garment offcuts, its deliveries come in biodegradable packaging, and all its hang tags and accessory boxes are made from recycled cardboard. Later this year it also plans to introduce swimwear made from nylon repurposed from fishing line and ropes.
Increasingly, the label is opting for organic hemp (grown in Qingdao, China), cotton and ramie (a linen-like fabric made from a type of nettle). The organic certification means crops are grown without chemical fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides that may contaminate soil and water supplies or harm biodiversity.
Its use of organic-cotton denim since February 2020 is particularly notable given how notoriously unsustainable denim is to produce (the cultivation of conventional cotton accounts for 24 per cent of the world’s use of insecticides).
“This is a massive win for the environment and the future of our planet,” says Thrills design manager Mike Fishwick. “We are very proud that the cotton for the majority of our denim styles does not use huge amounts of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. This is way healthier for the communities living around the farms as well as the organic cotton being much healthier to wear against your skin.
“We are still on a long mission to have a majority of our tees and fleece in organic cotton too.” The goal? To use entirely sustainable fabrics by 2021.
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