In Australia, restrictions are quickly being relaxed in a bid to reopen the country, but abroad, the pandemic continues and in light of George Floyd‘s murder, protests are erupting across the globe. Though it is okay to have days when it all seems too hard or too dire, we hope to fill the void, even just for a few fleeting minutes of this article. ICON speaks with industry creatives – be it music, style, dance, writing, or even social media – on how to stay inspired during these uncertain times. And hopefully a handful of tips for you, the reader, on the way.

bassike Co-founders Mary Lou Ryan and Deborah Sams / Credit: Bart Celestino

For the local fashion industry, the pandemic inevitably rocked small and large labels and in turn has forced businesses to rethink fashion. Speaking to bassike co-founders Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan, this is agreed upon and despite the uncertainty that lies ahead, a newfound sense of beauty has been uncovered in our far more quiet, everyday lives. So what happens when you pause travel, pause events and become still? For these Australian designers, breakthroughs.

Mary Lou Ryan – Co-Founder, Creative Director Men’s
ICON: Can you explain what your role entails, day-to-day?

Mary Lou Ryan: I am Co-founder and Creative Director of Menswear at bassike. Deborah and I are both very involved across every part of the business, and is something I am so grateful for. Alongside the design, development and entire creative process of our menswear collections, I also work very closely with our team overseeing all aspects of our supply chain and sustainability initiatives.

I am very passionate about sustainability, and environmentally and ethically conscious production. We are very proud of the fact that bassike is made in Australia, and always has been, so a big part of my day-to-day is spent working closely with our local makers and suppliers, many of who we have worked with since the very beginning.

How has your daily routine changed since lockdown?

MLR: As a working mother and business owner it’s always a juggle! At the moment, just with different challenges and layers of intensity. I am a planner by nature so daily routine – where it is possible – has been really important. For our business, the ability to be completely agile, open to change and face new challenges every day, as well as being able to learn, evolve and grow stronger as a result has been really incredible. I’m really proud of our team and how resilient and adaptable everyone has been.

What are three items you have with you whilst you work?

MLR: “Laptop, reusable coffee cup and a moleskin notebook.

How are you staying creative during this time? Where do you look for inspiration?

MLR: When it comes to designing our bassike menswear collections, I am very influenced by street culture and the way people put individual pieces together. In terms of staying creative, I think this period has forced us to think differently about a lot of things, which has resulted in me seeing new opportunities. The slower pace of life has also given me more time to focus and drill down on what is really important to me as a designer, and to our menswear customer.


Do you have any advice for people struggling with the transition of working from home?

MLR: I think daily routine and structure is my best advice for working from home, you need to get the balance of work flow right and minimise unnecessary stress that can be caused by the uncertainty in the wider world. I also think the way we dress is key to being in the right headspace for a productive day – you need to feel comfortable, but still feel put together.

Deborah Sams – Co-Founder, Creative Director Women’s

Can you explain what your role entails, day-to-day?

Deborah Sams: As Co-founder and Creative Director, I oversee the entire product mix and marketing – from design through to in-store experience – for womenswear, denim, accessories and mini collections. My day varies depending on what period of our development cycle we are at. We do four collections a year on a three-month cycle, and this process involves creating seasonal concepts and direction, fabric developments and design. Once our first samples are made, we fit them (which can take a lot of time) and then review everything together to ensure the collection works visually and is aligned with the commercial needs of the business. It is a big puzzle to put together. From there, I am involved in the creative direction of the marketing and styling as well as how we present this to the business internally and our customers. On top of this I have directors duties which are generally in line with the day-to-day performance and decision making in the business…my days are jam packed!

How has your daily routine changed since lockdown?

DS: I have been really busy working between home and our office over the past couple of months – we are fortunate to have an open plan and spacious head office – but my routine has remained relatively unchanged other than the fact that I can no longer travel, which has actually given me more time to do the things in the office that I need to do.

What are three items you have with you whilst you work?

DS: Butchy – my first born – a 12-year-old Pomeranian, the Travelista lip balm and a jug of lemon infused water.


How are you staying creative during this time? Where do you look for inspiration?

DS: Coming to work every day inspires me, as I love what I do. Working from home more than usual has made me look at the world with different eyes and really appreciate the abundance of beauty that we are given through nature. I have had more time to dream and look at the garden and watch the ocean. I have also been enjoying the beautiful gentle light that autumn throws, that warm honey glow – this has definitely inspired upcoming collections.

Do you have any advice for people struggling with the transition of working from home?

DS: If you are feeling a bit disconnected and low, jump on a call or a Zoom catch up. That usually helps me. But really enjoy it while you can and try to get on top of your workload without the usual office distractions. It is just a moment and it won’t be forever!

View and shop the current collection from bassike here.

You can read part 7 with Sydney artist Daimon Downey, here.