When First Base launched onto the scene 2.5 years ago it was almost embarrassing how much of an OBVIOUS hole it filled in our wardrobes. I mean what the heck had we been wearing before it came into our lives??? Sure we all own that "statement" blazer or "must-have" denim but what were we pairing it with?? Where was that perfect white shirt, that 'no-fuss' triangle bra or that crisp white tee?? Where most labels try to have an edge or predict the next big thing, First Base has literally stuck to the basics - it's simplicity and lack of "trend-based" design essentially became its signature.. with the subtle "X" motif the only recognisable trait on the garments. And it's been their commitment to this type of design that has seen them go from strength to strength. I caught up with Ali Cotton - First Base founder and all-round cool chick - to discuss her wild ride!!!
Give us a bit of background.. How did First Base come about?
I had been working in fashion for about 8 or 9 years and was just tired. Tired of everything. The product I was making and this sort of really empty creative existence I had gotten myself into. I had an idea to start a brand that was all about going back to the beginning and just really stripping away all the unnecessary stuff. I wanted to do something a lot more meaningful. And when I say meaningful, I don't mean to change the world, I mean to me. I realised that if I didn't connect with our product then how could I expect someone else to?? So I worked on the brand concept and from idea to launch was around 18 months. That was 2.5 years ago. The best 2.5 years of my life in every sense!! Starting First Base and watching it grow and having your ideas and your decisions pay off and be validated is a hugely satisfying thing.
Earliest fashion moments/memories??
Telling my mum off when I was about 7 for wearing a tan belt with black pants and refusing to go out with her until she changed. This was the 80s so that was a huge NO-NO back then!!
Who IS the First Base woman?
She was originally me. Now she is a lot more. She is a bit of a Frankenstein of all my staff really. She's a lover and a fighter. A board-rider on land and sea. She never says die. She's outrageously inappropriate. You meet her once and never forget her. And she knows how to style kicks with a ball gown. She is serious about her workouts and also about tequila on the rocks.
How does your lifestyle and where you live influence your design process? Where do you look for your inspiration?
It's a huge part of it. I live in Bondi Beach, Australia and the brand was born there. It's such an active and iconically Australian place and it's one of the reasons I love it there so much. My husband is a yoga teacher and is super into health and fitness, so that coupled with living minutes from the beach just means you naturally are always outdoors working out, stretching out and just sunbaking!! In those times when my mind is distracted from work and I can relax is when I have my best ideas. I often go to the beach on the weekend all day (literally) and I don't read or listen to music. I just lay. And that's when ideas sort of start to filter in. And every once in a while you get a good one!!
Let's chat about First Base Fit. Was the plan always to release a stand-alone activewear label or did you see a shift in what people were buying?
Releasing First Base Fit was definitely a reaction to the demand we were getting from our customers. After only one or two seasons of our main line, the demand was so strong for us to go into high performance activewear it seemed silly not to. It also made complete sense from a brand perspective as I wanted to take First Base and turn it into a true lifestyle brand. So the addition of First Base Fit was just a step towards that goal.
The Athleisure-wear market is already very saturated. What makes First Base and First Base Fit different? Where do you see this trend heading in the future?
By chance when we launched First Base that trend was taking off so we were lucky to be a little on the front-end of things. We have been able to carve out a place for ourselves within the market. But it is becoming and ever-competitive space. We are not, however, just about sportswear. The brand was always positioned as a basics brand with a sports edge. That has now grown into high performance activewear as part of our repertoire but we still do extremely well with out basics which are the heart of our brand. Who knows what will happen with the athleisure trend but we aren't too fazed as we have set up some foundations that are outside of trends so we won't just be a brand you never heard from again when people stop wearing leggings to Sunday brunch!!
You work closely with one photographer - Jody Pachniuk. How did this relationship come about and what does he bring to the First Base table?
Jody is AMAZING. He is also one of the closest people to me. We actually used to date in another lifetime. The romance didn't last but the friendship did. I met Jody through a colleague and asked him to do a job for me 10 years ago. We formed this really tight bond very quickly. He is my "go-to" guy because not only does he know me so well that he always knows what I'm going for but he also just "gets it". He has no ego. There is never any drama (ok, sometimes we fight like brother and sister) and he always delivers. He is a huge part of the First Base brand and pretty much makes my vision come to life every single season.
What can BBLS expect from First Base/First Base Fit in the future?
SO MUCH MORE!! Our Fit line is getting bigger and better every month and we have some really amazing product coming out. We are also expanding into the USA and have partnered with some fantastic retailers there that are going to help bring First Base to the broader market. Oh and just casually taking over the world in my spare time!
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS
I believe in.... HAVING FUN
Most people don't know.... THAT SWEARING IS MY FAVOURITE VICE
Favourite item of clothing.... CURRENTLY SOME CITIZENS OF HUMANITY BOYFRIEND DENIM SHORTS. THE BEST!!
Favourite place on earth.... BONDI. SERIOUSLY.
Your last "pinch me" moment.... I'M A HARD PERSON TO FEEL THAT BECAUSE I'M PRAGMATIC TO A FAULT. BUT IT WOULD HAVE TO BE SOON AFTER OUR FIRST COLLECTION AND I JUST GOT ALL THIS STOCK MADE UP WITH NO ORDERS. WE DID A LOOK BOOK AND SHOWED IT TO PEOPLE AND THEY STARTED BUYING IT. IT SOLD OUT. THAT WAS JUST THE BEST.
3 songs on the First Base playlist.... ANYTHING BY DRAKE, KANYE OR RHIANNA.
I would lose my shit if I saw First Base on.... GIGI!! SHE'S SUCH A HUGE BABE. OR RHIANNA. THAT WOULD BE OK I S'POSE.
You can put a band together with anyone in it. Who would it be and what would you call it.... MY DESIGN ASSISTANT EMMA WOULD DEF HAVE TO BE IN IT. SHE CAN'T SING BUT SHE CAN SORT OF WHISTLE WHICH IS QUITE AMAZING. ACTUALLY ALL MY STAFF WOULD HAVE TO BE IN IT. SOME OF THEM MIGHT JUST HAVE TO BE BACK-UP DANCERS THOUGH. THAT WOULD BE HILARIOUS. SINCE I WOULD BE THE LEAD SINGER (OBVS) I'D CALL US "GIRLFRIEND" AFTER THAT REALLY BAD 90S GIRL BAND WHO ALL WORE HATS WITH FLOWERS ON THEM. FANTASTIC.
3 things you can't live without.... SUN, BEACH AND ANDREW, MY HUSBAND