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Our silk comes from two kinds of silkworms: Mulberry, which are cultivated, and Tulsa, which are wild. Mulberry silkworms get their name from their main source of food, mulberry leaves. They are a domesticated species created by millennia of selective breeding, and the silk they produce is fine and soft. Tulsa silkworms live in the wild and can only be found in a small region in India, and the silk they produce is rougher and more coarse.

Silk is extremely strong, 100 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness. While fibers like cotton need to be seized (chemically strengthened) to make them strong, silk is seized through amino acids naturally occurring in the silkworms’ saliva. That’s part of the reason why silk has been used to create cloth for more than 10,000 years. The strongest fiber in the world is spiders’ web, which is stronger than silk, but it can’t be used to produce cloth because it doesn’t have seizing and falls apart easily.


Wild Silk
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Turkey.

Silk Jersey
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in France.

Silk Satin
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Porto.

Countries of origin
• Fibres from China.
• Production in Turkey, Porto & France.



Our fibres


Bamboo is a very warm material and it’s easier on the soil than cotton. But some kinds of bamboo are very hard to break down and require tougher processes. The first season we got some really quality bamboo fabric from an underwear fabric in Turkey, but for a couple years in Portugal, the bamboo couldn’t really be tracked. It was dyed well and done well but looking back I bet it was not the best bamboo we could get. We kept asking, where does it come from, can we have proof, can we have the best version. And as our quantities got higher, the factories wanted to meet us in a different way. It helped to keep asking.

 

Marie-Louise Mogensen, co-founder

Cotton


Our silk comes from two kinds of silkworms: Mulberry, which are cultivated, and Tulsa, which are wild. Mulberry silkworms get their name from their main source of food, mulberry leaves. They are a domesticated species created by millennia of selective breeding, and the silk they produce is fine and soft. Tulsa silkworms live in the wild and can only be found in a small region in India, and the silk they produce is rougher and more coarse.

Silk is extremely strong, 100 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness. While fibers like cotton need to be seized (chemically strengthened) to make them strong, silk is seized through amino acids naturally occurring in the silkworms’ saliva. That’s part of the reason why silk has been used to create cloth for more than 10,000 years. The strongest fiber in the world is spiders’ web, which is stronger than silk, but it can’t be used to produce cloth because it doesn’t have seizing and falls apart easily.


Wild Silk
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Turkey.

Silk Jersey
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in France.

Silk Satin
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Porto.

Countries of origin
• Fibres from China.
• Production in Turkey, Porto & France.


Bamboo


Our silk comes from two kinds of silkworms: Mulberry, which are cultivated, and Tulsa, which are wild. Mulberry silkworms get their name from their main source of food, mulberry leaves. They are a domesticated species created by millennia of selective breeding, and the silk they produce is fine and soft. Tulsa silkworms live in the wild and can only be found in a small region in India, and the silk they produce is rougher and more coarse.

Silk is extremely strong, 100 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness. While fibers like cotton need to be seized (chemically strengthened) to make them strong, silk is seized through amino acids naturally occurring in the silkworms’ saliva. That’s part of the reason why silk has been used to create cloth for more than 10,000 years. The strongest fiber in the world is spiders’ web, which is stronger than silk, but it can’t be used to produce cloth because it doesn’t have seizing and falls apart easily.


Wild Silk
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Turkey.

Silk Jersey
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in France.

Silk Satin
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Porto.

Countries of origin
• Fibres from China.
• Production in Turkey, Porto & France.


Silk


Our silk comes from two kinds of silkworms: Mulberry, which are cultivated, and Tulsa, which are wild. Mulberry silkworms get their name from their main source of food, mulberry leaves. They are a domesticated species created by millennia of selective breeding, and the silk they produce is fine and soft. Tulsa silkworms live in the wild and can only be found in a small region in India, and the silk they produce is rougher and more coarse.

Silk is extremely strong, 100 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness. While fibers like cotton need to be seized (chemically strengthened) to make them strong, silk is seized through amino acids naturally occurring in the silkworms’ saliva. That’s part of the reason why silk has been used to create cloth for more than 10,000 years. The strongest fiber in the world is spiders’ web, which is stronger than silk, but it can’t be used to produce cloth because it doesn’t have seizing and falls apart easily.


Wild Silk
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Turkey.

Silk Jersey
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in France.

Silk Satin
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Porto.

Countries of origin
• Fibres from China.
• Production in Turkey, Porto & France.


Modal


Our silk comes from two kinds of silkworms: Mulberry, which are cultivated, and Tulsa, which are wild. Mulberry silkworms get their name from their main source of food, mulberry leaves. They are a domesticated species created by millennia of selective breeding, and the silk they produce is fine and soft. Tulsa silkworms live in the wild and can only be found in a small region in India, and the silk they produce is rougher and more coarse.

Silk is extremely strong, 100 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness. While fibers like cotton need to be seized (chemically strengthened) to make them strong, silk is seized through amino acids naturally occurring in the silkworms’ saliva. That’s part of the reason why silk has been used to create cloth for more than 10,000 years. The strongest fiber in the world is spiders’ web, which is stronger than silk, but it can’t be used to produce cloth because it doesn’t have seizing and falls apart easily.


Wild Silk
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Turkey.

Silk Jersey
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in France.

Silk Satin
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Porto.

Countries of origin
• Fibres from China.
• Production in Turkey, Porto & France.


Linen


Our silk comes from two kinds of silkworms: Mulberry, which are cultivated, and Tulsa, which are wild. Mulberry silkworms get their name from their main source of food, mulberry leaves. They are a domesticated species created by millennia of selective breeding, and the silk they produce is fine and soft. Tulsa silkworms live in the wild and can only be found in a small region in India, and the silk they produce is rougher and more coarse.

Silk is extremely strong, 100 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness. While fibers like cotton need to be seized (chemically strengthened) to make them strong, silk is seized through amino acids naturally occurring in the silkworms’ saliva. That’s part of the reason why silk has been used to create cloth for more than 10,000 years. The strongest fiber in the world is spiders’ web, which is stronger than silk, but it can’t be used to produce cloth because it doesn’t have seizing and falls apart easily.


Wild Silk
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Turkey.

Silk Jersey
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in France.

Silk Satin
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Porto.

Countries of origin
• Fibres from China.
• Production in Turkey, Porto & France.


Wool


Our silk comes from two kinds of silkworms: Mulberry, which are cultivated, and Tulsa, which are wild. Mulberry silkworms get their name from their main source of food, mulberry leaves. They are a domesticated species created by millennia of selective breeding, and the silk they produce is fine and soft. Tulsa silkworms live in the wild and can only be found in a small region in India, and the silk they produce is rougher and more coarse.

Silk is extremely strong, 100 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness. While fibers like cotton need to be seized (chemically strengthened) to make them strong, silk is seized through amino acids naturally occurring in the silkworms’ saliva. That’s part of the reason why silk has been used to create cloth for more than 10,000 years. The strongest fiber in the world is spiders’ web, which is stronger than silk, but it can’t be used to produce cloth because it doesn’t have seizing and falls apart easily.


Wild Silk
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Turkey.

Silk Jersey
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in France.

Silk Satin
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Porto.

Countries of origin
• Fibres from China.
• Production in Turkey, Porto & France.


Recycled PE


Our silk comes from two kinds of silkworms: Mulberry, which are cultivated, and Tulsa, which are wild. Mulberry silkworms get their name from their main source of food, mulberry leaves. They are a domesticated species created by millennia of selective breeding, and the silk they produce is fine and soft. Tulsa silkworms live in the wild and can only be found in a small region in India, and the silk they produce is rougher and more coarse.

Silk is extremely strong, 100 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness. While fibers like cotton need to be seized (chemically strengthened) to make them strong, silk is seized through amino acids naturally occurring in the silkworms’ saliva. That’s part of the reason why silk has been used to create cloth for more than 10,000 years. The strongest fiber in the world is spiders’ web, which is stronger than silk, but it can’t be used to produce cloth because it doesn’t have seizing and falls apart easily.


Wild Silk
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Turkey.

Silk Jersey
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in France.

Silk Satin
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Porto.

Countries of origin
• Fibres from China.
• Production in Turkey, Porto & France.


Trim


Our silk comes from two kinds of silkworms: Mulberry, which are cultivated, and Tulsa, which are wild. Mulberry silkworms get their name from their main source of food, mulberry leaves. They are a domesticated species created by millennia of selective breeding, and the silk they produce is fine and soft. Tulsa silkworms live in the wild and can only be found in a small region in India, and the silk they produce is rougher and more coarse.

Silk is extremely strong, 100 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness. While fibers like cotton need to be seized (chemically strengthened) to make them strong, silk is seized through amino acids naturally occurring in the silkworms’ saliva. That’s part of the reason why silk has been used to create cloth for more than 10,000 years. The strongest fiber in the world is spiders’ web, which is stronger than silk, but it can’t be used to produce cloth because it doesn’t have seizing and falls apart easily.


Wild Silk
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Turkey.

Silk Jersey
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in France.

Silk Satin
• Our silk is from a clean Chinese silkwork farming.
• Silk is soft, strong and doesn’t crumple.
• Dyed in Porto.

Countries of origin
• Fibres from China.
• Production in Turkey, Porto & France.



Tahir Mert: On Silk, Linen & Wool

 

 

Tahir Mert is the General Manager at the Turkish factory handling organic Silk, Merinos wool, linen & cotton.


On Silk

Our silk comes from two kinds of silkworms: Mulberry, which are cultivated, and Tulsa, which are wild. Mulberry silkworms get their name from their main source of food, mulberry leaves. They are a domesticated species created by millennia of selective breeding, and the silk they produce is fine and soft. Tulsa silkworms live in the wild and can only be found in a small region in India, and the silk they produce is rougher and more coarse.

Silkworms only live for two months–typically from late April through June–and are harvested once per year, in June. Silkworms are delicate animals, and we take great care with them. They require a clean, warm, humid environment to thrive (their optimum temperature is 20-25 degrees Celsius, with 65% humidity), and the quality of their yarn is influenced by weather, humidity, the quality of the atmosphere, and the care we take with them.

There are five stages of the silkworm’s growth, and after the fifth stage, the worm creates a cocoon and begins its metamorphoses into a butterfly. Once the fifth stage is reached, we separate the silkworms into two groups, one which will produce silk, and the other that will become the next year’s silk harvest. Those that will be used for silk will die from steam before they are boiled, after which the yarn is harvested from the cocoon. Each cocoon contains 1,800-2,000 meters of continuous silk fiber.

 

Silk is extremely strong, 100 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness. While fibers like cotton need to be seized (chemically strengthened) to make them strong, silk is seized through amino acids naturally occurring in the silkworms’ saliva. That’s part of the reason why silk has been used to create cloth for more than 10,000 years. The strongest fiber in the world is spiders’ web, which is stronger than silk, but it can’t be used to produce cloth because it doesn’t have seizing and falls apart easily.

Silk is a naturally organic fiber and was the first fiber ever used to make cloth. It dries eight times faster than cotton. One kilogram of cotton can absorb one kilogram of water, but one kilogram of silk fibers can absorb eight kilograms of water. That means that one kilogram of cotton will take eight hours to dry, while one kilogram of silk will dry in one hour. Silk absorbs water quickly and disburses it back into the atmosphere quickly. That’s why it’s considered a breathable fabric. It adapts its humidity to the temperature, regulating body heat and making you feel comfortable. It also disburses static electricity. Often silk yarns will be used on the nose of jet planes to avoid deceleration caused by static electricity.

My grandfather wove yarn into silk in our factory until 1991. Back then, Turkey was responsible for 15% of the world’s silk production. China now dominates the silk market. Turkey still produces silk, but rarely for export. Our factory produces 20,000 meters of silk each month, and we keep our production sustainable. The world’s resources are at stake, so we don’t produce more than we need.

On Wool

Wool has long fibers, but it needs to be waxed before being handled. It’s difficult to handle and weave wool without waxing it, but you can fold the yarn to make it stronger, and then weave it. By this method, it becomes soft and delicate. We use wool from merino sheep from New Zealand and Australia. The best quality yarn comes from wool from the sheep’s neck. We only use that part, because the fibers are longer and cleaner.

On Linen

We only use natural fibers at our factory. Silk and wool are organic. Flax, which is used to create linen, is a vegetable. Like corn, flax is a very long fiber grown in fields, and the body is used but not the leaves. It’s very difficult to make linen yarn. The flax is first soaked for three weeks (in water and through a chemical process) until it separates into fibers. Then it’s twisted into yarn, in a process similar to bamboo cotton.

Our flax is grown in Belgium. Flax needs a lot of rain, not sun. Belgium’s nature is very brownish, the natural color of linen. Egyptian linen is golden, because under the sun the fiber becomes yellow. The sun weakens the fiber, so brownish linen is stronger, which is why we use it. It is also longer. A single fiber is more than one meter long.

There are two methods of spinning flax fiber into yarn, one is wet and one is dry. Egyptian linen can only be dry spun. Belgium linen is wet spun and becomes tighter and stronger, which means it can be spun into very thin yarn. Linen is air comfortable, and on hot summer days the fabric absorbs the humidity because it is wet spun. The fibers cool you when you’re wearing linen. However, in winter it will make you feel colder. The fabric is always cold.

It is forbidden to grow flax in Turkey, because you can produce drugs out of it, but it doesn’t matter anyway because the weather in Turkey is not suitable for growing flax.


Fibre origin map



Factory; Turkey

Fact Sheet


• Family-run and established in 1949.

• Can provide GOTs, OCS, Oeko-Tex, Sedex & BCI certificates.

• They use a natural dyeing process thanks to plant-based pigments.

• Rainwater from the factory roof is collected and used the dyeing process.

• Reduced usage of ground water.

• They us water based inks for printing.

• Promotes fibres grown in healthy soil in an attempt to reduce pesticides.

• They have developed their own Ethical Standards handbook.

Fibre usage
Organic cotton (Brazil), modal (Belgium), Silk (China) & merinos wool (Australia). 



My husband and I have been working together now for 35 years. We are the only integrated silk producer in Turkey, which means that we have had to learn everything by ourselves and in turn to teach the people who work for us. We have no one to ask questions of. It is difficult work, and we have to give 100% of ourselves – but we do it out of love, because we are a family.

My husband’s father started working with silk in 1949, when everything was done by hand. Back then he wove fabrics for the local farmers. Now the factory is a beacon in our community. We know most of the people in the town, and they recognize me and my husband and our kids. We feel responsible for the younger generations. We organize different activities to teach school children about textiles, and some of the children who spent time with us while they were in school will eventually come back and work here.

 

Tugba Mert, Ödemiş, Turkey


Introduction

We are in southwestern Turkey, in Anatolia. It’s rural, Mediterranean; Blandine says it looks like a French village. This area is one of the biggest suppliers of milk in the country. The soil is rich and black and many people around here grow vegetables or raise animals. My grandparents were farmers. But one grandfather— my father’s father — had a disability with his legs and he wasn’t able to do agricultural work, so he taught himself to weave silk. He had a very good reputation as a talented weaver, and my father learned from him.

It was always my father’s vision to do only natural fibers. When my parents started the factory in 1984, they built it up from zero, learning by trial and error. Often when I was a kid, they were at work. My mother learned how to dye fabrics. In the 1990s there were other silk factories in Turkey but after China joined the market, all the factories stopped working in silk because they couldn’t compete. Other factories turned to viscose or polyester, but my father stuck to silk and linen. He stuck to his concept. My parents’ factory struggled a lot during those days, but now we are the only integrated natural fiber factory left in Turkey.

Family Business

After 2000s my brother had an education in textile engineering and we began to grow the business more. We started to attend international exhibitions and we found customers in Europe. I do garment production, my brother started to be responsibe from the management of the factory and our supply chain in terms of yarns and fibers and he is also doing the daily dyeing. My brother’s wife works with us in sales; my husband started here as an engineer, and he works with planning. Since covid, my father and mother come into the business less often but they still support us in terms of future plans and investments. Today, 80 percent of our business is fabric production, selling fabrics to garment factories. The rest is garment production, working with customers like Baserange, who we have worked with since 2012.

It’s not a new thing for us, sustainability. It’s what we have always worked toward and what we are always working toward. We always worked with natural fibers. After 2015, we got organic gold star certification for our factory and it helps us. We have a water treatment plant in our facility; after we use the water, it’s cleaned. It can be used on a farm—it’s that clean. We have a gas filter in our factory too. We clean the gas before it goes out to the air. We have audits—four times a year people come to check if the gas filter and water treatment are working correctly.

When Baserange comes to visit, we show them our new collections, any new things we have to offer. We talk about our environment, our workers’ life. We have workers who have been here for five, seven, ten years; they like to spend time with them. We have a close, long trustful relationship.

Materials and the Supply Chain

We don’t buy raw materials from places we don’t know. We want to know their certifications and how they source it. We have a long-term cooperation with all our suppliers and we check their certifications often.We’ve never used polyester or any artificial fabrics. We always use silk or linen which you can wear as long as you want. The fibers are compostable. And compared to polyester or others they need less water. The cotton we use is only organic; it has a lower carbon footprint.

Our linen is grown in Belgium, but China spins it into yarn so we import linen mostly from China. We also import some fibers, like hemp and cotton blends, we get fibers from Europe and blended yarns in Turkey too. We try to find nearby suppliers in terms of organic hemp and organic cotton, different compositions. If we can, we get it nearby, it’s quicker and easier. For some materials, we still don’t have a chance to get it from Turkey. it’s a developing industry.




Next Steps

We want to put solar panels on our rooftops, which are very big, and will produce more electricity than we need. (The leftover energy we can sell back to power other homes in the area.)

We are starting to work more with hemp, which is becoming a bit more popular recently. It looks like linen but its more sustainable than linen. I know Marie and Blandine are interested— I just sent them some samples— maybe for some jerseys in coming seasons.

At the moment, the pandemic is making it difficult to find raw materials on the market and prices of cotton, for example, increased a lot in the past month. Factories produced less last year during covid and the demand is starting to get higher but it will even out later, I think.

In the meantime it seems the pandemic is also making people think more about sustainability—keeping away from fast fashion. Doing it the right way creates value for everyone, from the yarn supplier to the user.


Ödemiş

Tugba Mert with her color dye sample book



Our production network


What is sustainability?
Why this page?


The United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion explains it this way: “Sustainability encompasses social issues, such as improvements in working conditions and remuneration for workers, as well as environmental ones, including the reduction of the industry’s waste stream, and decreases in water pollution and contributions to
greenhouse gas emissions.”

Unless governments all over the world drastically reduce our carbon output, some of the most disastrous effects of climate change could take place as soon as 2040.

The fashion industry contributes to 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

 


This is a critical period, these next 20 years. We have to do our best. I think we have to do more than our best.



Myriam Joly, Missegle. French manufacturer working with Baserange.


Blandine Legait, cofounder

When we started Baserange, the main, main thing we agreed on was to try to do things more sustainably. We wanted to make the clothes as cleanly as possible, with natural fibers, and do this all in a very human way in all aspects of production. AThe first surprise was finding out how hard it was to have clear information about where materials were actually coming from. But we kept asking, and asking.




Marie-Louise Mogelson, cofounder

The first factory we worked with really made us think about what it means to be “sustainable.” They’d say, it’s good you’re getting these certifications, but what about these other things? They showed us their processes—how they clean and reuse water, how they cut the fabric so as not to consume too much. This was the beginning of what has been a constant dialogue.

Michael Thorsby, art director

We live in a time where we finally begin to question our activities from a completely different perspective. To discover the answers, you have to know how to ask the right questions. But as much as we share what we have learned, I think we—all of us, at Baserange, everywhere—we have to be honest about imperfections too. To say where there is room for improvement. To admit our outright failures. To expose the gaps. What’s coming next in sustainability is sharing of knowledge and transparency and honesty.


The people we learn from


The first factory we worked with really made us think about what it means to be “sustainable.” They’d say, it’s good you’re getting these certifications, but what about these other things? They showed us their processes—how they clean and reuse water, how they cut the fabric so as not to consume too much. This was the beginning of what has been a constant dialogue.

 

Marie-Louise Mogensen, co-founder


Miriam

Workers in Turkey


The factory in Turkey


Person

Person

Person


Person


Person

Person


Person


Person

Person


The beginnings

of Baserange


Blandine Legait

I grew up on the west coast of France. My mother was always sewing and knitting and hand knitting. When you are a kid you take part in it, and when you are a teenager you don’t want to hear about any of it, and then then you go back to it, after. When I was studying engineering, I started again to sew again and I began to work in fashion. Eventually I began working for the brand Surface to Air and I was there for seven or eight years.

Around the end of 2011, shortly after I moved from Paris to Toulouse, Marie and I began to talk about starting something together. Marie felt there was a gap between the sports bras she was wearing to run and normal underwear. The idea was to make second skin underwear, with no underwires—something focused on comfort, but with a cool design. For the rest of the clothes the idea was to be really minimalistic. It was not something you could find at the time. With nothing. Like, nothing added.

And the main, main thing we agreed on was to try to do things more sustainably.

We wanted to make the clothes as cleanly as possible, with natural fibers, and do this all in a very human way in all aspects. For instance, we didn’t constantly change factories each collection, which is something that was done often elsewhere.


Marie-Louise Mogensen

I grew up in the countryside on an island, mainly with my mom. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV, and she wouldn’t buy new clothes, so everything was homemade.

My mom and my grandmom made clothes and there was an entire room in our home just for sewing. I was always drawing. I remember picking up early some of the Vogue magazines from Italy in the beginning in the 90s and I thought ah! like these fantasies, these creations... I started to buy those magazines but I never wanted to go into fashion because I had a lot of prejudice against it. I thought I’m never going to jump in this superficial world!

After art school, I considered making campaigns or commercials and I went on interviews to some different agencies. But I realized I would just end up doing what older men thought was commercially viable. I thought there was a huge gap between what I wanted as a person and how (mostly) men at that time believed products should be shown. Instead, I worked on a brand with my then-husband—he’d designed a line of basics for kids, and I helped him with the identity. We did clothes in just gray, black, and blue. Meanwhile I also was drawing something on my own. I’d always been frustrated how limited the options were for women. I made these three sets of underwear in three colors—that was the start of it.

And when my husband and I decided to separate, I called Blandine and asked if she wanted to work on something together. And it went crazy fast from there—it happened in about two or three months and then the first three years we were basically living on nothing. No salary, just hustling—a lot of hustling.

I think both of us were kind of looking the same direction in the same time. I had made those first sets of underwear because this was what I wanted to buy for myself. To buy something you’d wear not to be looked at but just to feel good. Underwear that women could wear and not be constricted; you could move in it, you could feel flexible. And Blandine and I were passionate from the beginning that we would do our best to make them in a sustainable way, and we wanted to do this at a price point people could afford, so they could own something that would last.

That wasn’t something that was being talked about a decade ago. First of all the conversation about women and their bodies weren’t happening like that. It was more like, should the models be 12 or should they be 18? In Europe if you said sustainable you were thinking women with herbs or something. Fashion didn’t want to align themselves with this.


Starting a Business

Marie-Louise

There was a huge learning curve. With my ex-husband, we had realized how important it was to grow a very good personal relationship with a factory, in a way that the factory and the brand would support each other. We had done all our production in Turkey where they had very quality cotton yarns and where they naturally had organic products, because they hadn’t been able to afford to use pesticides.

With Baserange, we began with Portugal, where she was familar and with Turkey, where I had relationships, but I also traveled to visit to so many tiny factories—out in fields, out in nowhere— to see who we could work well with. I’d sleep in dormitories, in hostels. We asked for certificates but we also learned to ask very detailed questions. Everything was new, down to the questions we learned to ask. I look at that period as establishing us.


Blandine

At Surface to Air there was a lot of negotiating with the factories—my boss was a little tough, we were all a little tough with them. It was very male-driven. This is not the way we work at Baserange. I completely changed my way of dealing with production. We were interested in building real relationships with factories, not just getting the best price.


Fair Trade

Marie-Louise

Blandine and I had a lot of discussions about how to communicate with our factories. At that time in fashion, there was a tendency to push factories like, “I want this, I need this, I’m paying you so I get what I want.” But we wanted an equal exchange.

So sometimes, for example, we’d ask, can we have this material and can we have organic and how can it be dyed. Using fabrics that were not dyed became big for us because then we knew it hadn’t been through another process. We had conversations about what was possible, every detail. If what we wanted didn’t exist or wasn’t possible, we’d say, can we find another way that works for us both.


Blandine

With each factory it’s different. In Turkey, we’ll often stay for a week—it’s a family-run factory and early on, the son, Tamir, explained a lot to us about the silk and linens and organic cottons they use. In France, it’s very similar—she supplies the yarns or she knows all the suppliers of the yarns. In Portugal, because of the language barrier, we work with an agent who can communicate with the factory. But it’s not the same as sitting down and having a lunch in Turkey.


English
English