05.07.17

This Bondi Born Activewear Brand is Making Ethical Fashion Sexy

Emily Uebergang

Brought to you by First Base

With a suggestive name like First Base, this line of active-luxe wear is everything you can imagine and everything you wish you had imagined.

When slipping into a pair of First Base tights and matching sports bra, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself in third base territory.

Designer and brains behind the brand, Alison Cotton, has created a clothing line that epitomises the Bondi Beach culture world renowned for its sexy beach and active lifestyle.

Alison has taken her die-hard love for surf and sports and created a clean, simple and iconic style, so reflective of Bondi.

The premise is simple. From yoga to brunch. Hair tied back. Hoody thrown over. No time for a shower. You’ve got a social date to make with the girls. And First Base makes it possible.

Alison is Bondi proud. It’s no wonder her designs draw inspiration from the everyday. Life. The Beach. Surfing. Friends. Music. From the simplest places really.

ethical fashion

"I've worked in fashion for a long time and I wanted to work on a product that really resonated with me.”

ethical fashion
ethical fashion

Back To Basics

At the core of her design and business philosophy, she’s about stripping down to the bare necessities. First Base focuses on making high quality and ethically-produced active basics that make up a large percentage of every modern girl’s wardrobe. And doing them bloody well.

Three little words sum it up. True. Understated. Slick.

When questioned about the origins of the brand name, First Base, Alison replied, “When I started the brand I was at a bit of crossroads in life and felt like I was going back to First Base in many ways…. plus I loved the hook of the name – that it was a bit pervy.”

This cheeky attitude transmits to the designs of her active wear range. Sneaky hints of a shimmer. Racy straps. Hip-hugging tights. Don’t be surprised if an eye may stray your way.

Speaking of how the brand came to be, Alison explains, “It was a pretty organic process. I’ve worked in fashion for a long time and I wanted to work on a product that really resonated with me.”

Alison identifies as a ‘type A do-er.’ When the idea of First Base came to her mind, she couldn’t NOT pursue it wholeheartedly to make it happen. But she admits, “It’s been a huge learning curve from a business perspective, and year on year I am humbled by how much I still have to learn.”

Clear As Crystal Water

First Base is dead-set on one word. Transparency. It’s something severely lacking within the fashion industry and something that is threatening to hemorrhage money from the pockets of those profiteering off the exploitation of others.

But hey, we aren’t here to harp on about what the industry is doing wrong. We’re here to show examples of what those who give a damn are doing right (queue spotlight to shine on the kickass First Base range).

Alison explains her stance, “Given how fashion has a bad name when it comes to the unethical treatment of workers, I am surprised that transparency is still not on a lot of brands’ radars. But in the same breath, it is awesome seeing so many brands making positive changes. It really boils down to being a decent human and not exploiting a less affluent community.”

First Base doesn’t just talk the talk. They walk the talk with a head held high because that’s what you deserve to do when you’re making the effort to do something about the soul-crushing problems in this world.

You’ll find a detailed list on their website of what they are doing on the sustainability front within their own supply chain. From biodegradable and recyclable packaging, to repurposed and organic fabrics, and simple alterations to their own business procedures.

You may be left wondering, why doesn’t everyone just do more of this good stuff?

 

Unfortunately, some of the onus comes back to the consumer. Businesses often won’t respond until consumers demand such change. It’s a rather sad reality but it is the reality for many.

Alison adds, “It’s such an important thing to push brands to really know what is happening in their supply chain. That’s what it’s really about. And I think if you don’t know that or aren’t prepared to find out then that in itself says something.”

ethical fashion

It’s Cool To Be Kind

Another social project First Base is forging a new path on is changing what it means to be cool.

Their #itscooltobekind campaign is raising awareness on all fronts for the sustainability movement; encouraging this message to seep more into our social media feeds.

Even if it’s for only a moment, these short messages are there to interrupt your mindless scrolling and to get you to stop, think and hopefully, start giving a damn about what you are doing.

Ethically Grounded

Being ethically-minded means each of the factories First Base works with must be independently audited by a third party to ensure they are WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) compliant.

For Alison, it’s about ensuring worker’s are paid a fair wage and given the same care towards working conditions we expect for ourselves.

Take for example one of their #itscooltobekind messages that talks about how no one likes to work overtime without pay. So why should we expect the workers who are responsible for making your clothes to slave without a wage in overtime?

When more companies and brands begin to adopt a similar attitude, for safe and fair working environments for all, the sooner these standards will become the norm.

"The most difficult thing has been getting our factories certified and educating them about the importance of this. We’ve had to cease work with a number of suppliers because they simply weren’t prepared to work with us on getting certified."

ethical fashion

Making Waves

This kind of change that First Base stands for, however, isn’t something that happens overnight.

“It has been a really hard process. The most difficult thing has been getting our factories certified and educating them about the importance of this. We’ve had to cease work with a number of suppliers because they simply weren’t prepared to work with us on getting certified. This has been a nightmare for my Production Manager who has had to pull a rabbit out of a hat to get our product made elsewhere and delivered on time! I haven’t been super popular around the office at times! Ha!”

In looking to what lies ahead this year, Alison is ecstatic to be launching their first flag ship store at the end of July.

“That’s a huge milestone for us! I can’t wait to see the broader brand vision come to life and to have a place to speak more fluently with our customers about the brand and how and why we do what we do.”

ethical fashion
ethical fashion

Emily Uebergang

Emily Uebergang is a writer, farmer and ecoprenuer who transitioned from the urban jungle to a working farmstead in the beautiful mountains of the Manning Valley in New South Wales, Australia. She writes like she's out to try and save the world... or at least make a difference for the better.