Welcome to our newest editorial initiative, Who What Wear Spotlight, where we'll be using our editorial platform, social following, and ad inventory to turn the spotlight on small businesses that need our support now more than ever. Each week, we'll be highlighting a new fashion or beauty company. If you own a small brand and would like to be considered for the program, please apply here.
Welcome to the new year. So far, it looks a lot like the last, but that isn't entirely a bad thing. With the pandemic, there has come a lot of intentionality: how much we shop, who we shop from, what we shop for, and whether we shop at all. If you were to ask the four founders of BITE Studios—CEO William Lundgren, COO Veronika Kant, Elliot Atkinson, and Suzanne Elvi—it's about time mindful shopping entered the collective consciousness of the fashion set. BITE is an award-winning sustainable fashion brand based out of Sweden that was founded on the mission to fight climate change through the responsible consumption of luxury fashion. BITE, it should be noted, is an acronym for By Independent Thinkers for Environmental Progress.
"The fashion industry is the world’s second-largest polluter. It accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions and nearly 20% of wastewater," says Lundgren. "Fashion uses up more energy than both aviation and shipping combined."
These are the kind of statistics that have motivated a lot of the fashion set to be more deliberate about where they spend their money. And the incentives to shop small and sustainably aren't just big picture when buying from BITE. The brand appeals to its clientele not just through its transparent practices behind how it creates ethical, organic, and recycled fabrics that are as luxurious as they are sustainable but also by building lasting relationships with its clientele through a buyback program that allows shoppers to sell their worn items back to BITE to be recycled into new collections. It's the kind of positive feedback loop that benefits everyone while upholding the brand's ethos.
It's clearly worked for BITE, whose sharp and tailored clothes quickly caught the attention of some of the world's top buyers over at Net-a-Porter. Since the retailer chose BITE for its Vanguard mentorship program, BITE's suits and outerwear have often been featured on the cover of Porter magazine on the likes of Kerry Washington and Daisy Ridley, no less. Elsa Hosk even wore BITE's S/S 20 organic wool suit on the cover of Harper's Bazaar last summer. The brand's suited pieces are the kind of clothes you'll want to wear for years and years—timeless, classic pieces like a vegan-leather blazer or waterproof trench coat you probably won't want to part with even if the brand offers a pretty great buyback value. You'll just have to see for yourself. Read our interview with Lundgren and shop his favorite pieces from the new collection below.
Courtesy of Suzanne Elvi
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and your business?
We started BITE with the mission to accelerate the world's transition into more sustainable consumption by creating a modern alternative to consuming clothes out of our joint thoughts on how we want the world to evolve and what makes life interesting. We wanted to offer an alternative model to people who, like us, believe in the urgency to fight climate change and don’t want to compromise when it comes to the clothes we wear.
And if you had to sum up your business in five words or less?
What inspired you to start your business? How did you get interested in ethical consumption and production?
We formulated ideas around how the world of fashion would need to evolve to be in line with a new modern society. We wanted to create a label that, through true actions, could set the tone for how sustainable fashion should look, feel, and be talked about. Treating sustainability and design as equally important is what truly sets BITE apart. Our journey began by researching everything we could find around sustainable practices and garment making and interviewing pioneers and leaders within the industry. From this, we created a platform where we could engage people from within the industry who wanted to be a part of the change.
Courtesy of Suzanne Elvi
I love your buyback program. Can you tell me more about how it's functioned to date?
We offer our customers the opportunity to sell back their pre-loved BITE pieces for 20% of their original value at any time. It is a way for us to continue the relationship with the customer after we have sold an item rather than end it and to prove the longevity of each garment. It is a perfect way for us to put pressure on ourselves in the design process and make sure we always place the quality aspect of each garment as a top priority. Once received, we either redesign it into new collections, reuse it in our secondhand archive, or recycle it.
Your brand's ethos seems to extend beyond just producing environmentally sustainable fashion. Can you tell me more about the ways you ensure every aspect of your business is run ethically?
Ninety-five percent of our styles are made with natural organics, recycled certified fibers, or low-impact materials. We work together with our suppliers in developing high-quality organic silk, cotton, wool, and linen; recycling polyester; and making innovative fabrics, such as bio-vegetable leather. Sourcing is a laborious and time-consuming process for us, but we are very proud of this work. We reject most of what is available to work with the best quality materials, certifications, and standards. But we also believe it’s more exciting when you can develop your own materials and eco-processes as you go along. The touch and feel of high-quality natural materials is truly something extra to wear closest to your skin. It is a new luxury that will become the new norm in the future. All our garments are made in Portugal and Italy to ensure high standards.
Courtesy of Suzanne Elvi
What has been your proudest moment as a business owner?
We recently won Designer of the Year in Sweden, which was a proud moment for us all as a young brand. Being chosen as the Vanguard brand by Net-a-Porter was also an incredible milestone for us, alongside many environmental awards. We are truly grateful for that.
We like to give a little Spotlight love to other brands. What are two to three of your favorite brands you like to support and why?
How have social distancing and stay-at-home orders affected your business? How have your priorities shifted?
We are used to working digitally since our small team is spread in different cities. This year has been very challenging for the whole fashion industry and for us as a small brand, too. But it is also an opportunity for new, progressive ideas that meet the needs of future generations. We are more convinced than ever that we need to change the industry into more sustainable practices and feel that this pandemic has led people to slow down their consumption and buy less and better, which is ultimately what we need for our planet.
We have also been extremely fortunate to have been taken on as a new designer at Selfridges during the midst of the pandemic. Our brand performance through e-commerce at Selfridges and Net-a-Porter has remained consistent, and our customers have been exceptionally supportive through our own e-commerce, too, with many styles having sold out.
Courtesy of Suzanne Elvi
Can you speak to the inspirations behind the new collection? Who is it for, and how do you envision people wearing the pieces, especially in our new reality during a pandemic?
Our collections are always built on a signature core of classics that are meant to be cherished for years. Each garment is created with its relevance in mind, based on a modern woman’s needs. At its core are the grounding principles on how we view the world: the elements of carefully selected fabrics, details, materials, and construction based on time, knowledge, and beauty.
Working with a respect for nature and all living things connects elements that luxury fashion traditionally has been lacking. BITE strives to offer a simple and beautiful experience from an overall sensibility. Our journey toward the essence of garment making has asked us to constantly renew our attention to fabrics, materials, and construction. That is our true inspiration for our development. The "BITE woman" is a woman with both aesthetic and moral values. She builds her wardrobe from the ground up, appreciates style over fashion, durable design over the momentary, choosing perennial choices as well as confident flairs.
"Our organic-cotton tops are designed with long sleeves and high necklines and come in several colors. They are finely knitted, which gives them a soft and sheer look and feel—perfect to wear underneath a favorite shirt or jacket for added warmth."