When it comes to sustainable fashion, it can be hard to know where to start. With an endless barrage of information, countless new and established brands to research, and a mass of confusing terminology out there, it’s understandable that anyone might feel a little overwhelmed.
In light of this, every month we will focus on a brand that knows exactly what it means to be a sustainable force for good in fashion today. From debunking inaccuracies to advice for aspiring brands and tips for consumers on how to be kinder to the planet, we cut through the noise so that you don’t have to. This month we’re getting to know BITE Studios, a sustainable brand that specialises in wardrobe staples that take care of the planet.
Founded in 2016, the luxury womenswear label set out with one mission of creating thoughtfully designed, sustainable clothes. Every piece is created to stand the test of time and only uses thoroughly researched materials, the finest natural organic fibres and recycled fabrics. This is hand-crafted fashion at its finest, ensuring the perfect fit every time. BITE, which stands for By Independent Thinkers for Environmental progress, has stayed true to its values today and helps its customers to shop greener and better.
We sat down with the label’s CEO and co-founder, William Lundgren, to learn why focusing on staples is the most important step to take when becoming more conscious with fashion.
What makes a truly sustainable brand?
“Choosing not to compromise. I think the most important thing we have learned on the journey of sustainability is the investment of time into the selection of materials. You have to work together with suppliers that develop high-quality organic silk, organic cotton, organic wool, organic linen, organic everything, essentially. A sustainable brand should make pieces designed to last.
“Not only that, you have to think about circularity as well. What happens at the end of life? There has to be a plan in place for the clothes to continue. At BITE, we have a buy-back scheme where we will repurchase a customer’s unwanted item for 20 per cent of the original price, no matter the condition. This piece will either get archived or repurposed into another garment.”
How do you successfully run a sustainable business?
“We’re very proud of the philosophy and the people behind the brand. We start at the very beginning in sourcing and developing new materials, ensuring we collect the information we need to evaluate whether or not it complies with our material guide. We take great pride in that 95 per cent of every BITE garment is made from organic, recycled or low-impact materials.
“At our core is the grounding principles on how we view the world, the element of carefully selected fabrics, details, materials and construction based on time, knowledge and beauty. Working with respect for nature and all living creatures connects an element that luxury fashion traditionally has been lacking.
“Sustainability is front of mind even down to our packaging, which is made from paper certified with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which works to take care of our forest and those rely on them: by protecting plant and animal species, indigenous people’s rights, and forest workers safety. All our transportation is also climate compensated. At this stage, we are doing the best we can, and we are constantly looking for new progressive ways of working.”
What do you think needs to change in the industry?
“How we source labour and material. Most of what is available isn’t meeting the standards and quality that we, as producers, require. When it comes to sustainability, there is no room for compromise and although cheaper alternatives exist right now, our climate is paying the price. We have a responsibility to speak up and set a new standard.”
What is the industry doing right?
“When we started, sustainability was seen more as a separate entity that was difficult to interconnect with fashion. Now, material sustainability is a future target for most brands and more and more people are buying in line with their belief system. This is wonderful and of course the only way forward. Consumers are now very conscious of what they put in and on their bodies.”
What do you want to achieve personally with your brand, in terms of sustainability?
“Sustainability was the key factor from the start since we believed the industry needed to change, but also because we personally would never have started a label that did not care for the environment at a time when this is one of our most important crises to solve collectively.
“Our brand mission is to accelerate the world’s transition into more sustainable consumption by creating a modern alternative to consuming clothes. We want to offer an alternative model to people who, like us, believe in the urgency to fight climate change and do not want to compromise when it comes to the clothes we wear. We’re proud that retailers such as Net-A-Porter, Selfridges and Luisa Via Roma are extremely supportive of our brand mission and our proposition.”
What advice would you give to those wanting to make their business sustainable?
“Start with the team. These are the people that will make or break your brand. If everyone shares the same values from the beginning, it will reflect in the choices you make together in the end. Take first steps in talking to your suppliers about exchanging materials for organic or recycled; it’s an interesting process working together to improve your practices.
We got so much advice in the beginning and have received a lot of support throughout, so I think we have avoided many mistakes by meeting many wonderful and generous people that believed in our vision.”
What’s the smallest change a consumer could make to become more eco-conscious?
“Caring for your clothes, mending pieces rather than throwing them away, buying better and wiser. This is why at BITE we really focus on wardrobe staples that people will adore and keep in their wardrobe for years as opposed to throwaway fashion.”
What are the most common inaccurate “facts” about sustainability you see promoted?
“There’s still this preconception with sustainability that it equals poor quality, when in reality it is the exact opposite. We use the highest-quality organic silks, wool, and cotton which has an incredible luxury feel to it that synthetics can’t achieve. Why would you buy an oil-based synthetic garment that does not breath at all closest to your skin, when you can wear a luxurious organic garment with a completely different quality and airy feel to it? It represents a modern approach to design and environment, a new optimistic way forward with amazing garments that you will love forever.”
What should consumers look out for when shopping sustainably?
“Consumers should invest in pieces that are timeless and won’t go out of style after one single season. They should consider the cost-per-wear of a garment and understand that shipping a sustainable brand does not impact the luxurious, high quality of clothing.”
What’s the biggest misconception about sustainable clothing?
“That sustainability and style don’t go hand-in-hand. BITE marries modern thinking with cutting-edge design. We want our customers to know that we don’t compromise with any materials in terms of environmental and social aspects and that our full collection will always be made in natural organic or recycled materials. The touch and feel from the natural organic materials against the body are really luxurious.”
Where do you turn to when you feel confused about sustainability and need more detail?
“To science and well-written reports by experts. There tends to be a lot of misinformation nowadays and so we at BITE stick to the reports from the experts. We are constantly learning and developing as a brand and as a team and this is what continues to fuel our passion and remains our driving force behind why we are doing what we are doing.”