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Co-founder, Mary Lou Ryan on 12 years of Australia’s much-loved brand
In the world of fashion, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. Instagram has invaded our lives, influencers dictate trends and a carefully curated celebrity front row holds as much weight as designs on the catwalk. But in a quiet studio on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, one brand has managed to transcend the noise. They have been the quiet achiever, adopting policies of sustainability long before it was a buzzword, were one of the first to use organic cotton and produce their garments in Australia. They create collection after collection based on the fundamentals of quality and longevity and continue to inspire their loyal followers both here and overseas. That brand is Bassike.
Despite being one of the early adopters of sustainable business and production practices, you won’t catch designers, Mary Lou Ryan and Deb Sams singing their own praises. In fact, for the past 12 years it has hardly shaped their narrative at all.
“It wasn’t an overly conscious decision, it was something that felt right,” co-founder, Mary Lou explains of their decision to implement sustainable practices from the brand’s inception.
“We were one of the first brands to use organic cotton in this space and we knit and dye our jersey locally and produce our garments all here in Australia.
“Even though it’s not something we voice loudly, Bassike is committed to creating a sustainable future.”
Unless you dig deep, you’d be hard pressed to know that Bassike’s jersey production runs on a zero-waste process or that they’ve implemented an environmentally friendly denim production, which focuses on eco-technology water systems. Then there’s the swim collection produced by an environmentally conscious factory that focuses on water recycling, energy efficiency and waste recovery.
“Our focus as a brand was on making sure we produce our garments in the most ethical and sustainable way,” explains Mary Lou. “While the business has grown and changed shape over the years, our core values and brand DNA have remained consistent since our inception. We feel really proud of that.”
While most designers will rattle off a list of celebrities or influencers whose personal style they admire, Mary Lou and Deb will tell you it’s each other’s style they regard the most.
Inspired by greats like Yohji Yamamoto and Helmut Lang, Mary Lou says it has always been their vision to create wearable everyday pieces that would fit in with a structured wardrobe as seamlessly as it would with a pair of sneakers.
As a result, you won’t find fast-fashion trends among the racks of their 11 bricks-and-mortar stores dotted throughout hip little enclaves across Australia, to one of their – and our – favourites places, Venice, California.
“Our Venice store is on Lincoln Boulevard, among art galleries, farm-to-table restaurants and other independent fashion and lifestyle shops. The store opens up onto a shared courtyard space with Superba Food + Bread. It’s a beautiful and relaxed environment,” chimes Mary Lou.
If the past is anything to go by, you can rest assured that the future of Bassike is bright. “We’re continuously working on ways to grow as a business, whether it’s opening new stores, growing internationally or developing our design collections. We hope the next five years will hold many more milestones to celebrate,” says Mary Lou.
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