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Bassike co-founders Mary Lou Ryan and Deborah Sams talk conscious consumption and the importance of Australian-made


Co-founders of bassike, Mary Lou Ryan and Deborah Sams on style transcending trends, and how the changes sparked this year could help future-proof fashion. 

Mary Lou Ryan and Deborah Sams co-founded bassike in 2006 with a line of classic organic cotton T-shirts. While the brand has grown exponentially since then, to be housed in around 60 retail locations around the world along with eight stores right here in Australia, the values they hold around the connection between sustainability and style invariably remain the same.

Mary Lou Ryan – bassike cofounder & director of supply chain and sustainability

How do you incorporate and encourage circularity, both in bassike’s own practices and what you try to instil in customers?

At bassike we actively encourage quality over quantity to our customers as the first step towards becoming a more conscious consumer. It’s the quality of our materials, locally made collections, and the considered design process where each season connects to the next that makes bassike a feel-good choice for your wardrobe. This longevity also lends itself to the concept of pre-loved fashion and being able to give a new home to a piece you no longer desire to have in your wardrobe.

We are also conscious of end-of-life initiatives for bassike fabric and garments. One successful project for us has been the ‘take back’ incentive at our annual warehouse sale, where we encourage customers to bring along their pre-loved bassike jersey pieces that we then repurpose into cleaning rags by donating to a local supplier.

What are some guiding principles you keep in mind when it comes to building your own wardrobe?

I always look for Australian made so I can support our local industry and be confident that workers are being paid fair wages and treated with respect. At bassike, we want our customers to have a garment in their wardrobe that they look forward to wearing again and again.

What do you think the single most important thing a designer or brand can do to be part of creating a more sustainable fashion model? What are some other brands you respect when it comes to their sustainability efforts, both here and overseas?

Sustainability has become a non-negotiable for brands with demand coming both internally from the industry and the wider community. While this presents its own set of challenges for a business, it aligns with the bassike ethos and how we create collections. I believe the single most important thing for a designer or brand is to continually ask ‘how can I do better?’ by evaluating your processes and striving to always lessen your impact on people and our planet – technology and our knowledge in this space is constantly evolving, so it’s key to keep your ear to the ground and be open to embracing change.

Some other contemporary brands whose work I follow and admire in this space are Dinosaur Designs and MUD – they embody a sustainable mindset across every aspect of their business and really show that every little bit does count.

Deborah Sams – bassike cofounder & creative director

We’re seeing a distinct shift away from seasonality and the pace of trends – do you think this will continue to slow?

I think the global discussions surrounding the future of the fashion industry that have evolved this year are very healthy. We have uncovered flaws in the speed and pace at which fashion usually moves on a seasonal cycle, and I truly believe that we will start to see a positive change as brands produce and people consume more consciously.

I hope and think that we will see a shift towards quality over quantity when it comes to selecting pieces for our wardrobe, which will include a greater focus on Australian made and the longevity that comes with buying and wearing well-made and timeless designs.

How have your own perceptions around trends and their purpose changed? What place do trends still have for Bassike?

bassike has never been about following trends, we’ve always designed bassike to feel timeless and work back with other pieces in your wardrobe – both old and new, bassike or other. Looking back through history it’s very easy to see that true style usually transcends trends!

Favourite second-hand purchase? 

I have lots of amazing vintage denim from my travels to Japan.