Interview with Basal The Label’s Natalie Watt
Specialising in 100% silk garments and produced by the designer’s own manufacturing company, Basal The Label is taking ethical production and sustainability to the next level. We had loads of questions for designer Natalie Watt, about her new venture.
How did Basal the Label start?
Starting my own label was always inevitable. When I left school I studied Fashion Design. After graduating, I began working for South Australian Aussie Icons, George Gross and Harry Who, where I met my now husband. Together we moved to Hong Kong to start our own manufacturing company (WnG Designs) which is still producing for Australia’s best designers.
Living in Hong Kong you quickly understand the impact fibre has on design. Polyester is really uncomfortable to wear and unforgiving when the weather is warm, trying to find natural fibres, especially silk was proving harder to buy.
This got me thinking more and more about how important natural fibres are to wear. After researching I discovered silk. Silk blends are one of the best natural fibres one can wear, in both winter and summer. It is inherently sustainable, biodegradable and recyclable. So with this in mind, the ability to easily manufacture ethically, using our factory, and the hidden desire to always start my own line, Basal The Label was born in late 2018. It was at this time I moved back to Australia where I could proudly grow my label here in this beautiful country.
Where does the name come from?
Basal by definition is forming or belonging to the initial base layer; a beautiful canvas upon which to build. This very concept embodies and inspires our aesthetic of simple uncomplicated base pieces every wardrobe must have.
Describe the Basal aesthetic?
I like to describe the look as “polished boho”.
Polished because of its clean lines, and uncompleted designs. Boho for the effortless, movement and carefree aesthetic.
To whom does Basal the Label appeal?
Although only being established for a year now, I have really noticed how my brand appeals to a wide age range. Women from as young as 26 and up to 60! I do think these women know a thing or two about quality and luxuriousness of the feeling and look of silk.
What influences your designs? Where do your ideas come from?
Everything I design, I would wear myself. I think about my day to day lifestyle, and how I can make styles work to carry me through the day – work, meetings, lunches, life, kids, dinners. I am sensitive to different body types and try to ensure there is something that will suit everyone. I prefer to get inspired by people in the street. I love looking at how they style their outfits.
What is Basal’s unique point of difference?
There are not many brands using 100% silk anymore, as it is an expensive luxury. It’s important to us to offer fair pricing. We take our ethical responsibility very seriously. We visit our factories regularly to ensure they are all ethically certified. The prints are exclusive to Basal and I design them myself. More recently we have joined forces with Carbon Neutral. Meaning for every order we receive we plant a native tree or shrub in Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor. This helps reduce soil salinity, combat wind and water erosion, restore habitat for native animals.
Where is Basal stocked?
While selling online is very easy as it’s an automated process, its not the same as your customer being able to look, feel and try your designs. In 2020, we are starting to wholesale, so keep your eyes peeled for Basal The Label near you ?.
Do you have a mentor or and how much difference does this make to day-to-day operations?
Rob, my husband! He has definitely been my sounding board, my techy, my accountant, and advisor. Having him on board makes a huge difference to my day to day operations, I don’t think I could possibly juggle it all on my own.
My mentor in the fashion realm is and has always been George Gross. I still remember to this day (many years ago now) we were prepping for a George Gross Harry Who parade, and he taught me how to tie the perfect bow. An odd recollection, but something that has always stuck with me. Just recently we had our Spring/Summer 2021 photoshoot, and George was there for styling support. He just has this natural ability to elevate looks and take them to another level. So I’m still learning from him constantly.
What’s been the biggest challenge in starting a new label?
Where do I start! Learning to be a jack of all trades and juggling work and home life. Starting a label isn’t just about designer pretty clothes. It’s much more than that. Its being a designer, a merchandiser, a freight coordinator, an accountant, a stylist, a web designer, a marketing manager, a customer service officer and thats the short list.
What’s the most rewarding thing about having your own label?
I only launched Basal a year ago and am absolutely thrilled with its growth. Without question the most rewarding thing is seeing someone out and about, wearing one of my designs.
Follow Basal The Label on Instagram.
See our tribute to Harry Watt.
Like to see more about Australian fashion labels? Check out Holiday Fashions.