by Emily Millett
Originally from London and Northampton, board sports enthusiasts Ludi Ludlow and Amy Roberts are now proud to count themselves amongst the colorfully diverse residents of Brighton in southern England. This surf-friendly coastal town is known for its environmental conscience and its quickly growing skate and surf communities—so the dynamic duo's decision to launch their "boarding-inspired" ethical clothing line Bamboo Bay in their adopted new home was an easy one. As the UK's center of laid-back, bohemian eclecticism, Brighton is bursting at the seams with Bamboo Bay's target market—people who, according to Ludlow, "like to have fun, ride boards, be outside and live a particular lifestyle."
The couple met in Whistler during a snowboarding season and have subsequently traveled to all four corners of the planet together. From Hossegor in France, to Byron Bay in Australia, Ludlow and Roberts are constantly on the lookout for new places to jump on their boards. And, while opening their minds to appreciating the world's diversity, their travels have also opened their eyes to the devastating damage our presence is having on the planet. "We have seen a lot of destruction and poverty on our travels, which definitely made us ask questions about how we do things," explains Ludlow.
One year ago they decided to combine their strong environmental morals with their enthusiasm for trying new things and their love of the outdoors, to start their own eco-fashion label. Unsatisfied by the "slim pickings" that bigger board sports brands offered in terms of ethical clothing, Bamboo Bay was the duo's opportunity to give back to the boarding community and the planet. "Ethical board-rider fashion is extremely limited. Now as an independent brand we have a great opportunity to do our own thing, offer people more choice and bring something new to the scene," says Ludlow.
Nowadays, the couple can be found in their little studio—inside an abandoned old fire station—making uniquely designed, comfortable and environmentally friendly clothes and accessories. "We did a lot of research in the fashion industry when we started, especially the ethics of it, and to be honest a lot of it is pretty shitty. That's why we wanted to do it differently and hopefully make a change," says Ludlow. Bamboo Bay uses highly sustainable, eco-friendly materials such as bamboo and Tencel—a biodegradable, exceptionally comfortable, natural fiber created using wood pulp from sustainable tree farms. Further, all packaging, tags and stickers are biodegradable and made from recycled material, and all inks and dyes are water-based and non-toxic.
Ludlow and Roberts are also keen to promote Bamboo Bay's "rad" boarding label status. "I always liked aspects of board-rider fashion as I was growing up. The '80s surf stuff was awesome with all the bright, obnoxious colors and designs—it was just totally new and different. So now I look back at that and try to put our own spin on it with our range," explains Ludlow. While his pre-Bamboo Bay claim to fashion fame was his ability to pull off second-hand thrift store combinations, Roberts has a background in textiles and design. Roberts jokes that she only keeps up to date with high street fashion to know what to avoid with the Bamboo Bay collection: "I have always been interested in the production and creativity of the fashion industry, but never the high street trends—I'd rather be a bit different than following what everyone else is doing," she says. "We do keep an eye on popular fashion and some things make the cut, but mainly we do what we want to do."
When it comes to the actual illustrated prints, Bamboo Bay enlists local artist Ranulph Horne. "Although Amy has a good eye for design, neither of us are amazing artists so for all the illustrated designs we work together with Ranulph," Ludlow explains. "Sometimes it's a design straight from his sketchbook or we give him a brief of what we want and then go back and forth until we get it right. If it's a digital design, I'll put something down on the computer. We then think about the best style of clothing to suit the design and the best printing method and put it all together piece by piece."
As for the future of the company, the couple's insatiable wanderlust and thirst for fun and adventure will not get in the way of Bamboo Bay's growth. "In the longterm, I want to get Bamboo Bay to a strong point here in the UK so that me and Amy can then go to different spots around the world and set it up as we travel—that would be the dream," explains Ludlow. "I just hope we can keep having fun while Bamboo Bay grows. We love working for ourselves, the challenge and the freedom of it all. We are both learning lots of new skills and if we can make a difference along the way, then that's grand!" For now though, the couple is excitedly preparing to launch their new winter range. "I can tell you we are going to have some new styles that aren't seen much in this country and we are very excited. Roll on winter!"
Bamboo Bay apparel and accessories are available online with prices starting from $16.
Images courtesy of Bamboo Bay