Bassike (pronounced basic) in both name and nature, the Australian-based label brings a taste of balmy Sydney summers to Coverture, with its collection of high quality, sustainably sourced wardrobe essentials inspired by life by the Coastline.
Founders Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan put sustainability at the forefront, working with organic cotton, Australian makers and making sure the label carries responsible business practices. We spoke to the duo about wardrobe philosophy, inspiration and, of course, their eco-friendly approach to design.
Couverture: How did bassike come about?
Bassike was founded in 2006, as we noticed a gap in the market for quality, design-led wardrobe essentials. Organic cotton wasn’t widely used at the time, so this was a conscious decision for us when developing our very first collection – we still use this same, exclusively designed, jersey fabrication today. We also knew we wanted to support local industry, by making our garments onshore in Australia.
Couverture: Where do you take inspiration from?
Deb: I have always lived close to the ocean, and I am constantly inspired by nature in my creative process. We have also always been really influenced by Japan– both stylistically and its approach to design and garment construction.
Couverture: What is your design process? Is there a particular routine you follow?
Deb: The design process, for me, starts with the fabrications. I design for practicality and necessity, re-thinking what consumers need in their wardrobe and styles that will translate beyond a season. Bassike designs are a reflection of my own personal style, which is fairly uncomplicated, relaxed and centred on the idea of ‘high-low’. 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.
C: We have seen Bassike has formally become a Carbon Neutral company which is fantastic! Could you talk us through the actions that were implemented to create such a sustainable environment/workplace?
Lou: Yes, I’m so thrilled to be able to share that our organisation has been certified Carbon Neutral by Climate Active. Climate Active is Australia’s most rigorous and credible carbon neutral certification, working in partnership with the Australian Government to encourage voluntary climate action in the Australian business community.
Our Carbon Neutral certification covers our operational emissions including: utilities for our head office and eight retail stores; global freight between customers, partners and suppliers; staff travel and commute; paper and office equipment; consumer and supplier packaging; third party services such as cleaning and printing; and waste and recycling. This shows that we have taken action to reduce and remove the carbon emissions associated with our operation and from here we will continue to work towards expanding our measurement of scope 3 to include upstream emissions embodied in our supply chain.
C: Our selection mainly includes your signature cotton jersey. Could you tell us how it became the core fabric of your designs?
Lou: Producing with people and the planet in mind has always been central to our ethos and remains something we are committed to. Certified organic cotton has a notably lower carbon footprint and ensures safe and fair working conditions for farmers and workers. The use of organic cotton was a conscious decision for us when developing our very first collection and was a new concept at the time we started our brand – the availability of organic cotton was limited, and no other contemporary Australian designer was using it in their collections.
More and more we find ourselves referring to our heritage and signatures – from the dry hand feel of our jersey, twisted seams, slouchy fit and the contrast chain stitch. We are still using the same exclusive jersey fabrication we developed for our very first collection today, 15 years on!
C: We love the minimal style of Bassike with the subtle details. If you had to describe your latest collection in a few words, what would they be?
Deb: Playful and vibrant, with an emphasis on colour, movement, and depth of our exclusive prints.
C: What is your wardrobe philosophy?
Deb: Relaxed, effortless and designed to last from season to season is central to bassike collections and this is mirrored in the natural, understated approach I have to building my wardrobe – a mix of high-low, with a sense of utility and a preference for androgynous shapes and styles.
Lou: My personal style has a definite menswear influence where universal pieces designed for longevity such as Japanese denim, knitwear and organic cotton jersey are on high rotation.
C: If you had to pick one item from your recent collection, which would it be?
Deb: The sunburst dye cap sleeve dress with its colour and minimalist silhouette encapsulates the everlasting feeling of summer.
Lou: The front seam superfine tanks are a perennial favourite, complete with exposed seam detail in our signature organic cotton jersey.
C: For the aspiring designers out there, what advice would you give them to start their own brand?
To be successful in fashion we believe it is imperative to strike a balance in your experience and understanding of both the creative process, and the commercial side of the industry. We would recommend that any up-and-coming designer take the time to work in the industry with an established brand for a few years, before taking the leap to go out on your own. Stay focused, be patient and remain true to your brand DNA.
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