Whisper It: BITE Studios Secret to Lasting Luxury, Take the Long View

BITE Studios Insights Article header image with BITE Studios 2023 fashion photos

How BITE Studios Took the Collective Approach to Desirable Designs Which Create (low) Impact 

By Angela Baidoo

Well before it became a buzzword, and therefore cool to jump on the band wagon, BITE Studios – an acronym which stands for ‘By Independent Thinkers for Environmental progress’ – who are a collective of free-thinkers unhindered by the fashion industry’s long history of seasonal cycles that produce more than could possibly be consumed by the customers they are tailored towards, were one of the first contemporary luxury brands to put a definitive stake in the ground by building a brand whose fundamental principles revolved around creating “exceptional designs with considered qualities”.

William Lundgren and Veronika Kant of BITE Studios

BITE Studios was co-founded by CEO William Lundgren and COO Veronika Kant in 2016, having both come from backgrounds in finance, they were surprised to find a lack of brands within luxury fashion who were combining both sustainability with desirable design, without compromising on ethical material sourcing, equality within the supply chain, or brand values. And in creating BITE Studios, the team reimagined the idea of the design team, with one of their goals being to operate as a collective – in this way they ensure that knowledge is shared communally, and creative problem-solving isn’t done in silos and so becomes second nature.  

Lundgren and Kant’s additional team members – who work across their offices in Stockholm, Sweden, and London – are veterans of some of the industry’s coolest contemporary fashion names, think Acne Studios and Proenza Schouler. Who were also seeking to make a change and in joining the BITE Studios team they are facing the future with a sense of optimism, that good design within the realm of fashion, can also have a low-impact while offering a progressive vision for the luxury womenswear market.

The Impression’s Angela Baidoo sat down with founders William Lundgren and Veronika Kant to discuss their motivation for starting their brand, their dedication to providing a sustainable solution to the end-of-lifecycle question, and whether they see the ‘trend’ for Quiet Luxury as a help or hindrance for those brands who have been operating successfully in the space, and are seeking longevity over short-term virality.

Angela Baidoo: Can you start by telling us why you decided to set-up BITE Studios having started out your careers in finance, and how have you seen it evolve since its founding in 2016?

Veronika Kant: We founded BITE, which stands for ‘By Independent Thinkers for Environmental progress’ as a global creative collective. Although both William and I come from the finance world, we have always been in close contact with design. As you know, design is very important for us and it is impregnated in everything we do from a very young age, due to our Scandinavian roots. We knew we wanted to create something together that would make people think about how we relate with the environment, and fashion felt like the best way of expression to combine our pursuit of beauty and our firm commitment with creating pieces made well enough to sustain our environment and our shared planet.

William Lundgren: Since we founded BITE in 2016, we have seen a significant evolution in all the facets of the label, while we are still true to our purpose, our values and our aesthetic. We have refined and elevated even more our design in terms of style and construction, have expanded our network of responsible suppliers and strengthened our relations in a way that they have become our partners, and have raised the bar on sustainability, researching and working with new material innovations and recycling methods. BITE continues to evolve, as does the modern woman we embrace.

Angela Baidoo: How does the collective work as one, especially as the team works across different cities? 

Veronika Kant: Our headquarters are located in the Andersson/Sandström Gallery in Stockholm, which is also the home of our atelier, where our design team is based. We are in constant communication with them and, at the same time, having different backgrounds and realities enriches the creative process.

Angela Baidoo: There has been a real key focus around brands taking responsibility for the end of lifecycle of the garments they produce. How did you decide on your buy-back program and what is the process for repurposing these garments?

William Lundgren: We started our Buy Back program as a means to ensure the longest possible life for all our creations. We take responsibility for everything we make. To close the BITE loop, we keep the old, unworn items in circulation in the BITE archive. We would buy the piece back, issuing a 20% refund of the item’s selling price, without an obligation to spend the amount on BITE product. The second-hand items would be recycled for material or resold at  bitestudios.com. We celebrate the life each piece of clothing has led and continue to value each piece long after its first wear.

Angela Baidoo: Do you feel that conscious creativity is the future of, and should be embedded in, fashion education?

Veronika Kant: We are strong believers that design has to be sustainable, has to have a positive impact in a social, economic and environmental context, especially now that we are running out of natural resources. In the transition to a circular economy, we have to be conscious of what we put into the world, the outlets we create, and this critical and holistic thinking should absolutely be taught and practiced from fashion schools to the work at any atelier. We are confident though that this is already a reality in many great schools and can see how sustainability has evolved to become something crucial for the next generation of designers. Every time we meet a young designer, we are reassured of that.

Angela Baidoo: You have been vocal in the past about the difficulties in sourcing the best quality fabrics and materials – which also align with your brand’s ethos – so are there any material innovations that you are most excited about adding to the collection in the future?

William Lundgren: Our goal is to continue to formulate our designs without ever compromising on our approach to sustainable practices – currently our collections reach 98% adherence to our standards of selected fibres, and we are continuously striving to reach around 100%.

Angela Baidoo: Producing in Italy and Portugal sets you apart as one of the few brands in the luxury space to still do so, do you hope to lead the way back to working with local factories?

Veronika Kant: We do. We value our relationships with our suppliers in Italy and Portugal, not only because of their exceptional craftsmanship but also because together we strive to make the production process more sustainable. Especially in the design process, when developing collections, we do a lot of prototypes, toiles, and patterns in Stockholm to minimize sending samples back and forth.

Angela Baidoo: What do you feel are the top 3 sustainable practices brands could implement to make true impactful change over the next decade?

Veronika Kant: Our main focus at the moment is on materials: carefully selecting materials that are organic, require less water for their production, are recycled and biodegradable as much as possible, and are responsibly sourced. Besides materials, regenerative design is another great area where brands can have a true impact, by designing pieces with a circular mindset, favoring that they have a second, third and fourth life. Last by not least, in general the industry – and customers, of course – need more transparency on the material sourcing and throughout the whole value chain, not only in terms of environmental responsibility but also social and economic.

Angela Baidoo: As consumers become more values-driven and environmentally conscious, they are becoming more considerate of the brands they choose to buy into, do you see BITE Studios as the future of luxury, offering a viable alternative for consumers and a benchmark for new brands entering the industry?

William Lundgren: We came together as a collective 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. Our goal with BITE is to break the traditions which are so deeply rooted in the industry to make space for like-minded people who share the same vision to create luxury wear whilst keeping our planet in mind.

Angela Baidoo: Setting the bar high through designs which exude a modern luxuriousness and a transparency of material usage which aims to reach the goal of 100% approved fibres, how have you kept your vision so uncompromising, while continuing to experiment with innovations in material and fabric design?

William Lundgren: It has been part of our DNA since the foundation of BITE. Our goal has always been to create collections which exceed quality whilst being mindful – and we therefore are firm with our design process, which always starts from our material library, and are therefore not willing compromise on our design if they don’t adhere to our criteria.

Angela Baidoo: Do you see the ‘trend’ of Quiet Luxury as a threat to brands who are trying to make a true difference, with aesthetics that are considered and focussed on the craft of garment-making?

Veronika Kant: We are glad to see how the trend of Quiet Luxury is shifting the customer’s attention even more towards quality and functionality. Of course, there are brands who will take advantage of the aesthetics to sell more products, but we are focused on a very specific woman, who truly values exquisitely made pieces using luxury materials, that wear well and are made to last, transcending seasons and trends.

BITE Studios Spring 2023 captured by Marc Hibbert

Angela Baidoo: Having developed a blueprint for sustainable design – and understood the urgency to solve the industry’s environmental impact (as the world’s second-largest polluter) – can you envision BSaaS (Bite Studios as a Service) as another arm of your brand?

William Lundgren: We have a constant focus on improvement, emphasizing all details of our products, our business and brand – without compromising on sustainable practices. With this culture, we are always investigating new improved ways of working.

Angela Baidoo: What milestones are you excited about working towards in 2023?

Veronika Kant: Continue developing and strengthening the foundations of what BITE Studios is – pushing our vision forward and questioning the world’s perception of sustainable fashion. We want to create something worthwhile and meaningful that carries over our own passion for beauty – designs and items made well enough to sustain our environment and our shared planet.

We are glad to see how the trend of Quiet Luxury is shifting the customer’s attention even more towards quality and functionality. Of course, there are brands who will take advantage of the aesthetics to sell more products, but we are focused on a very specific woman, who truly values exquisitely made pieces using luxury materials.

– Veronika Kant, BITE Studios Co-founder and COO