Established in 2006, our very own Australian brand bassike set out to provide sustainable and high end clothing. X Files interviews co-founders Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan, who discuss bassike's beginnings and its future. The co-founders detail their motives and visions for the brand, how their roles shape the brand and the new bassike x Parlour X exclusive leather collaboration.
Where did the inspiration for bassike originate? Please elaborate on your journey to the brands launch in 2006.
Lou: Deb and I worked closely in the industry for many years before starting bassike. The initial idea that launched the brand was to create jersey basics that were design led, wearable and easy to care for. We wanted classic pieces that you could wear every day and looked just as great styled with tailoring or back with a pair of trainers.
The importance of being made in Australia was, and still is, integral to the brand and the use of organic cotton was a new concept at the time – the availability of organic cotton was limited, and no other contemporary Australian designer was using it in their collections. We saw the opportunity to become the leader in sustainable fashion and are continuously reviewing our processes and practices to propel the brand forward in this space.
bassike has become one of Australia’s Leading Fashion brands with a considered & effortless approach. How has the brand evolved since the beginning?
Deb: First and foremost, we are a design led brand, with a commitment to producing responsible and sustainable collections. What started as organic cotton jersey essentials, has since evolved to include women’s and men’s mainline collections, denim, mini, footwear and accessories – all with the same contemporary bassike aesthetic and signature detail that our customer has always loved. We continue to work closely with our makers and suppliers to ensure we are sourcing the finest fabrications, producing the highest quality garments and implementing the most considerate practices and technologies to be kind to people and our planet.
Please explain your differing roles as co-founders.
Deb: As Creative Director, I oversee the entire look and feel of the brand, which includes the design and marketing of bassike collections from end-to-end.
We do 4 women’s and men’s collections a year, on a 3-month cycle. This process involves creating seasonal concepts and new fabric developments, as well as the actual design process, fittings and range review to ensure the collection works and is aligned with the commercial needs of the business. It is a big puzzle to put together. From there I am involved in the direction of all marketing and styling, and how we visually present this to the business and our customers.
Every day is different, and often involves working alongside every department in our business – which I love. On the other side, there are broader strategic elements that come with being the co-owner of an independent business; planning, finances and the development of our brand and team.
Lou: As Director of Supply Chain & Sustainability, my role sees me working very closely with our development and production teams overseeing all aspects of our manufacturing process, including the environmental impact from fabric sourcing to final garment. I am very passionate about instilling responsible and ethical practices in every area of the bassike business and have been working behind the scenes to push us forward in this arena with a number of new initiatives.
We are very proud that bassike is made in Australia and has been since the beginning, so a big part of my day to day is spent working closely with our team of local makers and suppliers, many of who we have worked with since we started bassike.
Deb and I are both very involved across every part of the business – it goes hand in hand with being the co-owners and is something I am so grateful for.
bassike continues to defy & surpass trends. Where do you gain inspiration?
Deb: My designs are a reflection of my own personal style, it is an intuitive process, which is fairly uncomplicated and centred on the idea of ‘high-low’. I am often inspired by the feel and form of the fabrications selected for each collection, and constantly come back to thinking about the women who wear our brand and what will resonate with them each season.
Deb, please elaborate on the brands aesthetic & DNA
Deb: An integral part of bassike is that we design our collections to be seasonless, with each collection an extension of what has come previously and connecting to what will come next. bassike has always been known for our slouch, androgynous shapes and the play between masculine and feminine. Signature details such as twisted side seams and contrast topstitching are also deeply embedded in the bassike DNA.
Mary Lou, please explain the importance of sustainability for bassike & elaborate on key approaches.
Lou: bassike has been committed to responsible business practices, including ethical and sustainable production, since inception in 2006.
One of the most poignant decisions for us when we launched the brand was the use of GOTS certified organic cotton; it’s better for our health, for the farmers in the supply chain, and the environment through the ban of insecticides and pesticides. Our organic cotton jersey that was developed exclusively by us for that very first collection is still part of our collections today – almost 15 years on!
We have recently created and implemented a new metric to audit our collections for sustainable and responsible best practice at every stage of production. This product ‘health check’ informs our designs and ensures all of our partners align with our values. Anything that doesn’t meet our strict standards is substituted with a more sustainable option.
Other initiatives within our business include: offsetting transport emissions by planting trees with the nonprofit Greenfleet; introducing compostable packaging; switching our retail stores, warehouse and head office to efficient lighting and renewable energy through GreenPower; launching a centralised recycling program for our stores; and developing new sustainable fabrics.
The bassike x Parlour X leather capsule is an exciting exclusive collaboration. Please elaborate on the design, sourcing & production.
Deb: I love the leather and jersey combo – it is part of our DNA – so this was a very exciting collaboration to work on.
All of our bassike leather garments are designed to be an investment – classic pieces that will last season after season, contributing to the circular fashion economy. Each piece in the capsule has been designed with luxury and longevity in mind. I am still wearing leather pieces designed 10 years ago.
We source all of our leather from a reputable Italian tannery, and each garment is constructed by-hand locally in Sydney.
Please detail your personal styles:
Deb: Relaxed and effortless is how I design bassike and this is mirrored in the natural, understated approach I have to getting dressed – a mix of high-low, with a preference for androgynous shapes and styles. It needs to be easy.
Lou: My personal style has a definite menswear influence. For the office, I love wearing Japanese denim, with a mix of knitwear and organic cotton jersey.
What is next for bassike?
Lou: We have some big announcements to make this year about our responsible business journey – watch this space.
Check out bassike on Instagram @bassike