FIRST BASE: Activewear that takes sustainability seriously

Written by Hannah Cole

Photography Supplied

First Base serve up new and vintage activewear so you don’t have to omit style while sweating.

Without mentioning the big ‘C’ word again (I refuse to), its impact has undoubtedly been felt in every aspect of life, down to our wardrobes. Notably, 2020 has dramatically shifted the way we wear active-intended clothing. At one point, activewear/“athleisure” was the uniform of Yummy Mummies and North Shore coffee dates. Now, though? Stretchy leggings and oversized track pants have become wardrobe staples for the masses. When I’m at home, it’s a party on the bottom in my comfy basics, and a top to appropriately suit the mood — for fun, work, or chill. 

So, sportswear deserves a moment in the spotlight here. 

Aside from its comfortable appeal, activewear has undergone a rebrand in recent years. In some ways, these brands are leading the fashion industry in terms of sustainability and activism. With pieces typically made from synthetic fibres, Econyl and other recycled fabrications have found their eco-friendly home in activewear labels. Size inclusivity has also become an essential point of consideration across a throng of these brands. Activewear has emerged from the sweaty trenches and is quickly becoming a leader in the way we broach sustainability, ethics, and more generally the way we buy.

Locally, Australian brands like Nagnata and Nimble are addressing these ideas in their unique ways, but I’ve become enraptured with the multi-faceted response of Bondi-based First Base. From my outlook, First Base is authentically addressing these issues with a grassroots-like feel. It’s relatable, simplified, and avoids convoluted and confusing messaging. 

As an independent label, founder Alison Cotton acknowledges the sustainable resources available to much larger companies aren’t readily available. In saying this, she notes, “This has pushed us to look at sustainability in a more creative way, perhaps.” 

As of July, First Base added a new offering to the existing sustainably aware line: a range of curated vintage pieces. Arguably, the label may be one of the first to embark on such a venture in the sportswear space. 

Speaking to Cotton on the concept, it is a two-fold response to the current fashion climate. Cotton is personally a fan of vintage, noting these pieces can “elevate your style and knowing it is one of a kind makes it feel special.” Then there is the sustainability factor, of course. “Only around 12 per cent of garments donated to charity are actually purchased — the rest end up in landfill or [are] shipped to other countries and are dumped there.” In response, Cotton launched an initiative to search for classic vintage sportswear pieces and give them a new lease on life — “Get them back to where they should be, in our wardrobes.” 

On the first of every month, First Base will now launch a select range — 30-50 pieces — of these carefully sourced vintage garments. Windbreakers, sweatshirts, jerseys and 90s trackpants make their much-welcomed reappearance from iconic brands including Fila, Nike, Adidas and Kenzo. It’s comfort, it’s cool, and it’s the sustainable way to buy. Why create more when the goods already exist?

On top of that, First Base has introduced a dedicated Made-to-Order capsule (a strategy quickly becoming a phenomenon in Australian fashion). Shop a range of leggings and sports bras as an additional way to lower the impact of activewear purchases. Reduce waste, deadstock, and unnecessary resources by buying what you actually need. Patience is a virtue (and it isn’t too long to wait anyway). 

RENEW is the final outside-the-box approach to sustainability — for the moment, that is. The range holds repurposing and reinventing at its heart, giving remnants an individual update. Pieces are cut and dyed, revamped through whatever means possible; once again, playing into the idea of wearing a unique piece. No two are the same. 

It appears to be a world of fun over at First Base, where sustainability is taken seriously, but the response is one of a kind. That’s the joy of a hands-on, homegrown label. “We’ve been working towards sustainability for about five years, and that concept keeps evolving. We are certainly not perfect and nor do we claim to be, but it’s important for us to try to find solutions for the problems we continue to see in the fashion industry,” notes Cotton. Watch as the changes they make here seep into the larger fashion world; small beginnings can make the greatest impact.

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