Anyone who has bought a piece from Bassike’s cotton-jersey range will know it’s hard to stop at one. Remarkably soft, breathable and easy to care for, it’s the kind of clothing we want to wear in bed, before heading out to breakfast without changing. The label’s organic cottons may have launched our obsession with premium basics 10 years ago, but for us, the affair never ended.
Bassike is a made-in-Australia success story. Designers Deborah Sams and Mary-Lou Ryan started the label in 2006 as a range of superfine jerseys, quickly filling the gap for quality basics in high-end designer stores such as Paddington’s The Corner Shop and Belinda. “We couldn’t find any jerseys you could wash and wear that would get better with age,” Sams says. “When the opportunity came to develop our own jersey, we took it.”
Now they have six stand-alone boutiques, spread between Sydney and Melbourne, plus a newly minted LA store. They all echo the brand’s clean lines and warm, Scandinavian minimalism. They’re stores we can relax and take our time in, which is rare in a retail world often filled with over-excitement and multiple exclamation marks.
We were excited to see the duo expand into ready-to-wear, producing seasonal drops of clean and crisp shirting, fine knits and tailored outerwear (for men and women), and an in-house denim line. But the brand’s light, made-for-summer jerseys have remained the core of the business and a favourite of ours – a sure-fire winner in our extreme Australian climate.
We’re not surprised to hear from Sams and Ryan that some of the pieces from their first ever range are still in hot demand, and are being produced year after year. Take a walk around Bondi on any given weekend and you’ll see it for yourself – guys in the label’s original button pocket T-shirts, and girls in their jersey dresses or slouch pants. We keep returning to Bassike’s clothes because they’re just classic wardrobe staples. “Customers come back for new colours, and to update their inventory each season,” Ryan says.
So what is it doing that has us hooked? It’s really not that complicated. Bassike’s design philosophy has remained constant throughout its evolution: modern silhouettes and clean designs in wearable but luxurious fabrics.
The beauty of Bassike’s pieces is that they function as wardrobe building blocks – versatility is key. You can pair a Bassike T-shirt with some slouchy jeans for weekend wear, or for a more dressed up look, wear it with tailored pants and a structured blazer from the “mainline”.
Another part of why we love the brand is the fuss-free care instruction. Unlike a lot of luxury labels, there’s no hefty dry-cleaning bills that come with your purchase. That’s because the majority of Bassike’s pre-shrunk cotton shirts and pants can be chucked in the washing machine and dryer, without risk of shrinking.
It has to do with Sams and Ryan’s attention to fabrication. They’ve been committed to organic cotton and local manufacturing since Bassike’s beginnings, and we think it’s paid off.
Ten years ago, organic and local weren’t as big a factor in a shopper’s mind, but as we’ve all become more conscious of what we buy and how it’s made, learning about Bassike’s dedication to producing in Australia is another reason to love it. “We produced 95 per cent of our collection here,” Ryan says. “We’ve always wanted to support local industry. This is our way of doing our little bit.”
The brand works with suppliers to buy yarns from organic cotton farms overseas, then gets the yarn knitted into a fabric in Australia, before it moves on to get cut and sewn in local factories. There aren’t many brands that can do that now. We applaud this.
Having found a loyal fan base locally, we’re excited that Sams and Ryan are now looking to take on the international market. What was once a small jersey collection now includes full men’s and womenswear ranges, and a host of retail stores. Amidst the brand’s evolution, Bassike’s foundations of quality and functionality have remained unchanged since its beginnings on Sydney’s northern beaches.
After all these years, it still makes great T-shirts. “People identify with the brand’s iconic pieces,” Ryan says. “It’s something they can come back to.” And that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do, time and time again.
This article is presented in partnership with Stella Artois.