Cable Conversations: Anna Byrne - For the Love of Wool

Meet Anna, a mum of two living in Geelong, Victoria. Anna grew up in Bendigo, before moving to Melbourne to pursue her career in fashion journalism. She spent more than a decade as a reporter for the Herald Sun, covering red carpets, runways, and even the royal family.

During that time, Anna also discovered a profound passion for writing about sustainability and championing local industries.

In 2020, after the birth of her daughter and on the cusp of the global pandemic, Anna decided to harness her editorial expertise and formed her own creative agency. Now, instead of writing about brands, she writes for brands, helping businesses and individuals tell their story their way.

Between keyboard strokes, Anna is passionate about fostering creativity, sustainability, and the pure joy of dressing up in her daughters.

What’s your connection to wool?

Growing up in Bendigo, I have many memories of attending the Australian Sheep & Wool show as a child and even modelled in one of their runways as a teenager.

As a fashion journalist, I've also had the opportunity to cover various stories that highlight the significance and innovation within the wool industry. These include reporting on events like the International Woolmark Prize and exhibitions that celebrate the use of wool in fashion, such as the House of Dior at the NGV.

Moreover, I've had the privilege of interviewing key figures within the wool industry, from designers to competitive sheep shearers, which has deepened my understanding of its heritage and importance.

Transitioning into freelance copywriting has also allowed me to collaborate with brands like Cable, where I've witnessed firsthand how contemporary Australian labels are not only preserving the heritage of our wool industry but also reinventing it to resonate with modern consumers.

These experiences have definitely helped me develop a profound connection to the wool industry. I love exploring its rich history but also its potential for innovation and sustainability in today's fashion landscape.

Can you recall a particularly memorable story within the wool industry?

I covered many red carpets during the 11 years I worked at the Herald Sun, and I can still remember Emma Hawkins wearing a Woolmark dress to the Brownlow in 2014.

It challenged the perception of wool as a merely practical fabric reserved for humble cardigans and sweaters and instead emphasised its potential for luxury and sophistication.

It beautifully highlighted the versatility and elegance of wool its unexpected ability to transcend traditional boundaries, from day wear to black tie.

How do you see the role of storytelling contributing to the Australian wool industry's heritage?

Storytelling plays a crucial role in both promoting and preserving the heritage of the Australian wool industry. Through storytelling, we can capture the rich history, traditions, and cultural significance of wool production in Australia, ensuring that these narratives are passed down to future generations.

Storytelling also serves as a powerful promotional tool, allowing us to showcase wool's unique qualities and versatility. By sharing stories of innovative designers, skilled artisans, and iconic moments in fashion history, we can highlight the beauty and value of wool as a fabric. These stories not only educate consumers but also inspire them to appreciate and support the Australian wool industry.

What are some common misconceptions people have about wool, and how do you address them through your writing?

One common misconception is that it is scratchy and uncomfortable to wear. This perception often stems from outdated stereotypes and memories of old-school woollen jumpers or something their Gran hand-knitted them in the 1980s.

However, in reality, wool is an incredibly versatile and luxurious fabric that can be soft, lightweight, and even hypoallergenic, depending on the type of wool and how it's processed.

I love having the opportunity to showcase the modern and innovative ways contemporary designers incorporate wool into their designs, particularly labels like Cable that skillfully balance tradition and innovation to showcase wool's true potential.

Has becoming a mum given you a greater appreciation for the traditional craftsmanship, sustainability and quality of wool?

I think parenthood naturally fosters a deeper awareness of the world we're leaving for our children. It's definitely made me more mindful of the environmental impact of our clothing decisions and purchases.

I've come to appreciate natural fibres like Australian Cotton and wool for their sustainability, durability, and longevity. Its craftsmanship and inherent qualities align with my values of wanting to support local industries and help preserve the planet for future generations. I love that all of Bessie's wool pieces maintained their integrity so well they could all be passed onto Mary and will go to friend's children after her. The quality means they last generations and stay out of landfills. I've definitely started investing in more timeless wool products for myself, too.

Living in Geelong, we also love visiting the National Wool Museum as a family.

How do you hope to spend Mother's Day?

I'm all about simple comforts and joy—a handmade card, maybe some new pyjamas, and spending the day together. And whether we are together or apart, it's also a day to celebrate my own mum and thank her for the millions of small, attentive things she continues to do for me and teach me—like how to handwash my wool jumpers.