My Experience with Banks Journal: A Surfer’s Guide to the Chill Sustainable Brand

As both an avid surfer and someone who cares about fashion‘s impact on the planet, I‘ve been on the hunt for eco-conscious apparel brands that truly walk the walk when it comes to sustainability.

Let me tell you—Banks Journal checks all the boxes! Launched in 2014, Banks Journal fuses Japanese minimalism and Aussie surf vibes into kickback clothing made with the earth in mind. I recently tested a bunch of their products first-hand, and I had to share my insights with my fellow wave riders and conscious shoppers alike.

After falling in love with the brand‘s mission and aesthetic, I ordered a handful of staples to see if the quality and comfort matched Banks Journal‘s sustainable reputation. Spoiler alert: I was beyond impressed on all fronts!

Keep reading for a breakdown of my experience discovering Banks Journal, from their eco efforts and surf style to fit, quality and where to find deals. Let‘s dive in!

Overview of Banks Journal‘s Origins and Values

Banks Journal was born when four friends from opposite corners of the globe united through a shared passion for art, design, travel and protecting our fragile environment.

  • Tim Cochran and Rama McCabe grew up surfing the iconic beaches of Byron Bay, Australia
  • While Masa Shibahara and Motoo Noda were raised in Tokyo, Japan‘s bustling, style-centric capital

Together they launched Banks Journal in 2014 to fuse their love for coastal culture into a sustainable fashion brand focused on considered design.

The name itself honors the ever-changing sandbanks scattered along Australia‘s Gold Coast that influenced their flexible approach to creating clothing.

And having built strong connections to surf havens in Australia and Japan, Banks Journal stays true to its roots by translating laidback, adventure-ready style for boarders and beachgoers across the globe.

Today their small but mighty team operates offices, warehouses and stores in Byron Bay, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Newport Beach. This grassroots startup vibe allows them to focus on quality over quantity.

And most importantly, Banks Journal walks the walk when it comes to sustainability. They actively avoid waste, use eco-friendly materials whenever possible, and invest in processes that reduce environmental harm across production and distribution.

While they admit there‘s no such thing as a perfectly sustainable clothing brand just yet, Banks Journal strives for transparency about areas needing improvement—and take steps to progressively make more ethical and eco-conscious choices year to year.

Next let‘s explore the fabrics, manufacturing, waste diversion processes and more that make this such a standout sustainable surf style brand.

How Banks Journal Is Revolutionizing Sustainable Streetwear

Sustainability sits at the core of everything Banks Journal produces. Their about page best sums up the mindset driving each design decision:

“We believe that as a contemporary coastal apparel brand we have a personal responsibility to help preserve the environment around us. We aren’t perfect, but we are actively working to improve our environmental footprint everyday."

So what exactly sets them apart from fast fashion brands or other apparel companies simply greenwashing their way through collection after collection? Here are some impressive ways Banks Journal walks the walk:

Eco-Friendly Materials & Fabrics

The brand exhaustively researches materials to select the most sustainable, highest-quality options possible for every piece:

  • Organic cotton: A natural fiber free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that deplete soil health. Banks Journal uses 100% organic cotton jersey and knits for many t-shirts, sweaters, crewnecks and bottoms.

  • Recycled polyester: Transforming post-consumer plastic bottles into durable, water-resistant fabric for boardshorts and outerwear. Recent collections used the equivalent of 5 million bottles!

  • ECONYL® nylon: Made entirely from industrial plastic waste recovered from landfills and oceans. Banks Journal blends this regenerated nylon into high-performance waterproof jacket linings.

  • TENCELTM Lyocell: A biodegradable fabric crafted from sustainably grown wood sources using a closed-loop manufacturing process. Banks Journal blends Tencel lyocell and organic cotton for exceptional softness and breathability in button-downs and polos.

Alongside third-party certifications to validate responsible sourcing and production methods, Banks Journal conducts site visits and audits for all Tier 1 factories (and the majority of Tier 2 suppliers). This ensures safe, ethical working conditions across their supply chain.

Sustainable Production & Manufacturing

With core apparel factories in China, Banks Journal seeks out partners aligned with their Earth-first mission:

  • Bluesign® certified production facilities prioritize worker safety while reducing energy, water use and air emissions
  • Factories operate under SA8000 standards for fair wages, reasonable hours and collective bargaining rights
  • Localized manufacturing means lower carbon emissions from transportation

Plus the brand coordinates fabric orders across seasons to avoid overproduction waste. And any fabric scraps or discarded products get collected for recycling back into raw materials.

Eco Packaging & Delivery

Banks Journal‘s fulfillment centers run on 50% renewable electricity. Packaging utilizes FSC-certified paper printed with non-toxic inks alongside 100% recycled plastic poly mailers and tape.

They ship orders in reused boxes or biodegradable bamboo cellulose mailers to cut single-use waste. And to increase efficiency, the brand groups apparel into consolidated shipments transported through lower-emissions routes.

Banks Journal‘s Signature Surf Style Aesthetic

Beyond their ethical practices, Banks Journal also wins points by filling a void for minimalist surf streetwear with a laidback edge. They describe it best themselves:

"We have an understated design aesthetic and considered approach to fashion. Focusing on premium raw materials and considered fits over flashy graphics."

Through muted color palettes, high-quality fabrics and flattering silhouettes, each piece embodies effortless cool refined enough for coastal cities yet rugged enough for all-day surf sessions.

Subtle branded details add heritage appeal without screaming for attention. And playful pops of retro surf vibes, desert hues, artsy photo prints and collab graphics balance Banks Journal‘s pared-back foundations with artful creative flair.

Now that you have the lay of the land regarding Banks Journal‘s brand background, let‘s get into the nitty gritty of my experience testing their threads!

Trying Banks Journal Clothes: My Review

I won‘t sugarcoat it—I ordered A LOT of stuff during Banks Journal‘s last end-of-season sale. But can you blame me when these sustainable staples are already so affordable?

To provide the most helpful review possible, I got a wide assortment: t-shirts, button-downs, hoodies, boardshorts, trucker hats, beanies and a jacket. After unboxing each piece with excitement, I styled different outfits for beach days, bonfires, errand running and just casual chilling at home.

Here I‘ll break down sizing, materials, must-have pieces, prices compared to competitors, care instructions and more vital intel for anyone curious about Banks Journal quality.

Let‘s start with…

Fit & Sizing Guidance

First I‘ll cover universal sizing and fit across all Banks Journal apparel categories:

As a 6 foot tall guy who works out semi-regularly, I usually fall between a large and extra large. I‘d call my body type athletic or muscular lean.

Based on Banks Journal‘s detailed size chart, I went with a mix of large and XL pieces to assess the fit range.

My verdict? Their size chart is super accurate!

I‘d summarize sizing as follows:

  • Length runs true to size
  • Lean more fitted through shoulders and sleeves
  • Excellent roominess through chest and waist without looking boxy

My large tee and button-down felt tailored but not tight whatsoever. While the XL allowed a bit more drape through the body.

For bottoms in size large, the boardshorts and pants fit slim without hugging or looking overly baggy. Again, moving up to XL added more relaxed room through the hip and thigh area without drowning my frame.

If you fall between sizes, I‘d recommend sizing up for a more easygoing silhouette. But both the large and XL worked great for my body type.

Onto specific must-have pieces…

Top-Notch Organic Tees

Banks Journal has organic cotton tees perfected to a tee (pun intended). I‘m convinced their Compass Faded Crew is the ultimate surfer staple!

I love the boxy-but-not-oversized fit, while the midweight cotton has the softest handfeel right out of the package. It‘s somehow substantial enough to avoid going sheer, yet breathable for long summer days. No graphics crack or fade after multiple washes either.

For $38, Banks Journal offers premium tee quality on par with brands charging upward of $60. And made from 100% organic cotton, it meets the surf community‘s demand for sustainable apparel.

The verdict? Size up and stock up on these eco-friendly essentials before your next surf trip!

Surprisingly Stretchy Boardshorts

Boardshorts tend to fit inconsistently across brands, running too long or extremely tight and restricting. So I was thrilled when Banks Journal‘s Highline Hybrid Shorts proved perfect walking around shorts both on and off the board.

Constructed from a stretchy quick-dry fabric blend, these shorts provide a slim yet flexible fit. The material feels like a high-tech swimsuit thanks to spandex woven in with recycled polyester and organic cotton.

Despite the slim cut, the shorts allow free range of motion for paddling and popping up on my surfboard. Four-way stretch means they move with me from yoga session to backyard BBQ without a hitch.

For only $89 a pair during sales, these boardshorts deliver performance and sustainable style in one!

Bomber Beach Jackets

Even coastal dwellers need a solid jacket to combat wind and nighttime ocean chill. Enter Banks Journal‘s Cloudline Bomber.

Made from a polyester/organic cotton blend, it‘s the ideal lightweight top layer for throwing on at the beach bonfire. A slick water-repellent finish shields against sea spray, while breathable cotton and mesh lining prevents stuffiness.

I also appreciate the sweater-lined hood, multiple pockets and subtle wave print under the back collar. Little design details like that separate Banks Journal from boring basics.

For $128, this bomber adds function, sustainability and personality to standard surf outerwear.

And So Much More!

Beyond the staples above, everything from Banks Journal button-downs and pullovers to five-panel caps and beanies proved to be obsessively well-made.

The craftsmanship and attention to detail shines through no matter the product category. Not to mention their collections cover a diverse range of colors and prints—from neutral, earthy, black and grey basics to punchy tropical motifs and vibrant collab graphics.

Browse the BNJ website for a full scope of their offerings broken into short sleeve shirts, long sleeves, jackets, sweats, trunks and accessories to mix and match a unique look.

Each new drop leaves me wanting EVERY style and colorway!

How Banks Journal Prices Compare

Even with premium fabrics and manufacturing, Banks Journal keeps price points affordable—undercutting similar sustainable brands focused on ethical production and quality materials.

Here‘s a breakdown of standard Banks Journal price brackets:

  • Short sleeve t-shirts: $38-45
  • Long sleeve button-downs: $65-85
  • Crewneck sweatshirts: $75-95
  • Insulated jackets: $120-140
  • Boardshorts: $85-95
  • Hats: $25-35
  • Beanies: $30-40

For comparison, tentpole sustainable fashion labels like Everlane and Reformation charge $50+ for basic tee shirts made with organic cotton. Button-downs run upward of $100 while their outerwear frequently hits $200+ price tags. Even staples like sweatpants and ball caps go for a premium.

While I love those brands as well, Banks Journal offers noticeably lower everyday pricing (outside of big sales) for clothes meeting the same ethical manufacturing benchmarks.

When items do go on sale, discounts frequently slash 40-60% off making boutique sustainable fashion more affordable than ever. For the quality and conscience, BNJ cannot be beat!

Care & Washing Instructions

To help Banks Journal clothes stand the test of time, follow these care instructions:

Top tips:

  • Wash garments inside out
  • Line dry when possible
  • Avoid heat drying 100% cotton items

Material-specific guidance:

Organic cotton: Machine wash cold with similar colors; tumble dry low

Recycled polyester: Machine wash cold gentle cycle with similar colors; line dry for longevity

Blended fabrics: Refer to clothing label for ideal wash method

With proper laundering, Banks Journal pieces withstand years of adventure at your favorite surf spot and beyond.

Where To Buy Banks Journal

Banks Journal sells through their official online store at with new styles landing each season.

Brick-and-mortar shops populate Byron Bay, Tokyo, Melbourne, Los Angeles, San Diego and other coastal cities. Or if close by, visit their Los Angeles flagship store in Culver City!

No matter how you shop, BNJ offers speedy fulfillment plus easy returns and exchanges by mail.

Pro Tip: Sign up for email or SMS alerts to get early access to the latest collabs and sales for first dibs on inventory.

Weighing the Pros and Cons


  • Premium quality and craftsmanship
  • Eco-friendly materials and ethical factories
  • Cool surf vibes across all products
  • Very affordable compared to competitors
  • Excellent sizing consistency
  • Styles released every season
  • Easy and fast shipping


  • Limited color/print options for some staples
  • Few tall/big sizing options
  • No physical stores nationwide
  • International shipping adds costs

The Verdict?

Banks Journal brings together everything I love as a lifelong surfer who cares about fashion’s footprint: laidback coastal style, premium ethical production and adventure-ready practicality built to last.

Their curated selection makes sourcing quality sustainable threads effortless season after season. While approachable prices open the door for more mindful consumption habits.

In short, I can‘t hype this brand enough! And I‘ll definitely be a Banks Journal loyalist for years to come.

Have Questions Before You Shop? Check The FAQs!

Who owns and runs Banks Journal?

Banks Journal launched in 2014 by four friends:

  • Masa Shibahara
  • Motoo Noda
  • Tim Cochran
  • Rama McCabe

Together they direct design and branding from offices across Australia, Asia and North America.

Where are Banks Journal clothes made?

Using certified ethical factories, Banks Journal produces most apparel in China along with some accessories made in Vietnam, Bangladesh and Turkey.

What payment methods does Banks Journal accept?

Banks Journal securely accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, PayPal, Apple Pay and Shop Pay online or in their Los Angeles retail store.

What‘s the return and exchange policy?

BNJ offers free returns and exchanges within 14 days of receiving your order. Items must have tags attached in original condition. Exchanges are available within 30 days if sizing doesn‘t work out.

Does Banks Journal offer free shipping and returns?

Yes! Receive free standard shipping and returns on all U.S. order over $150. Below $150 orders add a flat $10 shipping fee.

Who do I contact for support questions?

Reach out to Banks Journal’s customer service team via email at [email protected] or through their online contact form.

Ready To Try Banks Journal? Shop My Top Picks

Hopefully this firsthand review got you pumped to add some Banks Journal goodness into your wardrobe!

Here I compiled links to a few staple pieces I wear on repeat that you‘ll absolutely love:

Compass Faded Tee
Highline Hybrid Boardshorts
Cloudline Bomber Jacket
5-Panel Trucker Cap

Or explore the entire shop to curate your own ultimate Banks Journal haul. Once you try their sustainable threads for surf, beach, street and just chilling at home, I have a good feeling they‘ll earn permanent spot in your everyday rotation!

Have any other questions before you shop? Don‘t be shy reaching out to me here in the comments or DMing me @BanksInsider on Insta. I‘m always happy to chat BNJ!

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