Pronounced ‘basic,’ women-led Australian fashion company bassike is anything but. Creating sustainably sourced wardrobe essentials since 2006, this proudly design- and values-led team headed up by Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan are pioneers in responsible fashion production.
Built on the belief that supporting local makers and valuing organic and natural fabrics is not only good business but good for the world, they have been busy challenging the fashion industry’s fleeting and ‘trendy’ status quo by creating pieces with intention and longevity in mind for a decade and a half.
Now a Certified B Corporation, we sat down with the bassike team to learn more about their sustainable manufacturing processes, how they’re managing their environmental impact, and what they think needs to change in the fashion industry.
B Lab: So, let’s go back to ‘basics’. Tell us more about your clothing and sustainable manufacturing philosophy.
bassike: Maintaining the fundamentals of considered design, responsible business and sustainable manufacturing have been embedded in our business practices from day one.
Over 95 per cent of our clothes are made in Australia, which contributes to our low carbon footprint due to the short supply chain. 100 per cent of our cotton jersey garments are organic, meaning they are 46 per cent less emission-intensive than their conventional counterparts.
The fashion industry is notorious for being a large contributor to landfill. How is bassike tackling this issue?
We want to set a new precedent in the fashion industry and we are very passionate about mitigating the fashion industry’s landfill problem. Currently we are on track to reduce excess raw materials by 50 per cent by 2025.
Through a lot of hard work, we have achieved zero waste with our jersey products, with 97 per cent of the fabric being used to make garments and the remainder being reused in the form of fibres within other industries.
“The fashion supply chain is complex. Going beyond legalities, we work closely with our partners to ensure they uphold ethical standards in areas such as animal welfare, energy efficiency, material sourcing, chemical and water use, waste, reuse and recycling.”
Recently, we created our own Sustainable Ethical Manufacturing Index (SEMI). The SEMI enables us to audit our garment collection at every stage of the production process, ensuring that everything meets the high sustainable standards of our business. It informs our designs, highlights areas for improvement and provides a product ‘health check’ so that anything that doesn’t meet our strict standards is substituted with a more sustainable option.
Why was certifying as a B Corp important to you?
The B Corp movement aligns with the bassike ethos to treat people and planet with respect, which has been embedded in the heart of the brand since launching in 2006.
We have always designed and produced our collections in a considered way, but this is a constantly evolving and innovating space, which is why we have committed to a path of continuous improvement.
This milestone reflects the many commitments we have made over the years to make better choices and foster systems and processes to sustain people, planet and prosperity.
“What started as supporting our local industry and working with organic cotton, has evolved into a culture of continuous improvement and innovation across our design, production, and operations.”
We are a proud, women-led business who supports our local community, our team and our customers. We are only just starting to unlock the true potential of the foundations we put in place at bassike over 15 years ago, and we look forward to forging ahead on our path promoting benefit for all.
Your production processes are grounded in sustainability. What other areas of impact does bassike hope to have?
On Earth Day 2021, we announced a number of formal responsible business commitments in line with our path of continuous improvement. We actively chase and encourage positive change within our supply chain and greater transparency on sustainable and ethical initiatives with internal teams, stakeholders, customers, and our bassike community.
Our team is passionate about preserving biodiversity partly because bassike was born in a beachside cottage in Sydney’s Palm Beach. We are honouring this connection to nature through our production processes and work culture.
Some of the initiatives we have implemented include:
- Offsetting our transport emissions by planting trees through the not-for-profit Greenfleet
- Introducing compostable packaging
- Reusing plastics
- Installing efficient lighting and renewable energy through GreenPower in our offices, warehouses and stores
- Utilising reclaimed materials in retail spaces
- Launching a centralised recycling program for our stores
- Ensuring all paper is either recycled or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council
- Developing and innovating new sustainable fabrics
As part of our Carbon Neutral Certification and B Corp journey, we also support projects that align with our organisational footprint including:
- Orana Park Natural Capital, supporting regenerative farming north-west of Bendigo in Victoria
- The Aboriginal Carbon Foundation, building wealth for First Nations people and keeping the land healthy
- Gujarat Indian Wind Power Project, generating renewable electricity through wind power, which improves access to electricity in the Gujarat region and promotes social and economic development
- Mytrah Energy Wind Power Project, providing clean energy and improving the wellbeing of communities in India
We also believe in the importance of giving back and supporting local charities such as the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter, who protect women in crisis, and the Mirabel Foundation, which helps children who have been orphaned or abandoned due to parental substance abuse.
bassike is doing so much to accelerate and amplify positive change in every facet of the business. What business practices do you want to see become the norm within the fashion industry and beyond?
We still have many goals to achieve, aligned with improving our operations to be even better for people and the world around us. We are committed to having a positive impact and have achieved this so far by approaching responsible business holistically and transparently. In terms of our industry, we want to see more businesses:
“Creating an inclusive, sustainable, and regenerative economy with industry-wide cooperation and consumer education on a global scale. We need greater transparency along every step of the supply chain, so businesses and consumers can both be confident in what they are producing and purchasing.”
Finally, do you have any tips for aspiring B Corps about the certification process?
This is a journey of constant learning, and we would encourage everyone to start the conversation in their business. Every small reduction or change for the better is a step in the right direction, for the future and prosperity of our industry and our planet.
A big thank you and congratulations to bassike for achieving B Corp certification. To find out more about their work, visit: bassike.com
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