With considered collections of organic wardrobe staples, bassike has cemented its reputation as one of Australia’s leading fashion brands. Established in 2006 by Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan, the label now boasts 11 stand-alone stores while maintaining its fundamental commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly production.
My Chameleon sits down with founders and designers Deborah and Mary Lou to discuss the bassike story, and the lessons they have learned along the way.
- Tell us a bit about yourselves - where were you born and raised?
DS: I grew up in Whale Beach, on the Northern Beaches of Sydney - the middle child of 3 girls. Growing up on the beach really shaped my life and my values today. My father worked in fashion, so I was exposed to the industry from a young age.
MLR: I grew up in Brighton in Melbourne where my family all still live. I’m now living in Tamarama, Sydney and have been for the past 20 years.
- How did the idea of bassike come to be?
At the time of bassike’s conception, fashion was heavily logo’d and busy. It was difficult to find simple, minimal, well-made clothing in Australia, so we identified a gap in the market that we felt needed filling. Through this, the idea of bassike was born.
- Bassike is one of the rare labels that has stayed true to its foundations from day one. Could you tell us about the brand’s ethos and why this has remained such a pivotal part of your story?
Our ethos has always been about timeless & beautiful, ethically produced clothing – it’s part of our DNA. This is something that runs across all aspects of our business and helps guide us in all our decision making. It keeps us on track.
- Tell us about the role of cultural influence across your collections?
We are both very well-travelled and this is where the creative process starts for us. Spending time in Japan and Italy where we produce fabric and our accessories lines is inspiring in so many ways. The creativity that comes from both countries is ingrained in their culture, and we absorb that when we visit. They are both places that really resonate with us and we are constantly drawn to them.
Charlee Fraser wears bassike, by Beau GrealyWide Heritage French Seam Long Sleeve Tee
- How have you successfully scaled your business while maintaining your commitment to the environment and responsible manufacturing?
Bassike has always been committed to creating a sustainable future. We strive to be ethical, socially responsible and environmentally conscious, and we expect our partners to do the same.
We have developed a sustainability agreement for our supply chain that they must follow. It covers ethical trade, animal welfare, climate change, energy efficiency, ethical raw material sourcing, waste-water reuse, recycling and chemical use.
For example, our jersey production category runs on a zero-waste process. We produce 96% of total bassike products, and 100% of our jersey garments, locally in Australia.
- Opening your first international store is testament that your aesthetic connects with people the world over.
Yes, we felt that the brand would translate well in California, hence our decision to open a stand-alone store in Venice, CA.
- What is the most important lesson you have learned during your journey?
Wow, there are so many! That success does not come easy… you need to work hard and surround yourself with the best team. Build a healthy culture within your business and it will flourish.
There will be highs and lows along the way but it is about how you navigate through them that will get you the end result. Mostly though, you need to enjoy what you do and have fun along the way.
- What are you currently reading, watching and listening to?
DS: Anything and everything by Ekhart Tolle.
MLR: Being a busy working mum and co-founder of bassike, I find myself currently reading children books by Dr.Seuss, watching kids movies and listening to Childish Gambino.
- Are there any words of wisdom you live by?
That you can do whatever you put your mind to. Cultivate your own garden & create your own universe – it’s all up to you.