FAULT Focus: Bastet Noir – unique, sustainable pieces by independent fashion designers

Bastet Noir is the premier platform for purchasing both sustainable, eco-friendly fashion and totally unique, often hand-made pieces created by independent designers. It is an incredible combination of fashion consciousness with good conscience, and a bastion of hope for those who still believe that great fashion is forged in the realm of the artisan rather than Far East mass production centres.

Founder Daniela Milosheska started Bastet Noir in her native Macedonia. As of the date above, all those featured on the site are well-established Macedonian brands, but Daniela is currently in talks with designers from across the Balkan region and beyond.

The Balkan attitude towards fashion and craftsmanship, which constitutes a heavy emphasis on precise detail and the use of high quality, natural materials, was a major influence on Daniela’s decision to start Bastet Noir.

It was further inspired by Daniela’s abject anger and disbelief when the head of a sustainability program at a leading international fashion label, who had come to speak to her fashion and luxury management course group during her college days in Paris, discussed sustainable fashion in terms of whether or not animals needed to be killed humanely or not to justify a sustainable program – an attitude that is pervasive throughout the industry to this day.

Rather than attempt to justify and ‘pass off’ their designs as sustainable, the team and designers featured on Bastet Noir are seeking to create a totally transparent system between the designer and the customer to show exactly how the item is produced, stored and sold. FAULT caught up with Daniela to find out more.


FAULT: What drew you to work with your current selection of designers?

Dani: At first we were drawn by the idea of attracting designers with diverse styles. We wanted to have the glitz and the glam – the everyday working chic girl and the casual fashionista who are in love with fashion – but above all else want their clothes to be made by fairly traded, natural and recycled materials.

We began by targeting the fashion designers in Macedonia who are doing exactly that. The current selection of designers are already established fashion brands in Macedonia and are well known for their ability to turn their designs into well-tailored pieces with high quality materials. They already had the approval of the Macedonian fashionistas – what they lacked was international coverage, and that’s where Bastet Noir stepped in.

We really believe in their work and know that they really can compete in the international market. We have the contacts, they have the skills. Together we are a match made in heaven.

What are you looking for in designers when choosing brands to sell and promote through the site?

The most essential thing we’re looking for is well tailored designs.

The designs must include eco-friendly materials, natural materials (preferably made in Macedonia) and recycled materials (mostly leftover materials from designer’s previous collections).

Their designs need to be wearable and have their own signature style.

They don’t need to follow a certain trend, because we believe that fashion should be all about self-expression and individuality, rather than trends. However, they do need to have a certain aesthetic that matches Bastet Noir’s – which means they need to be mostly feminine, sometimes elegant, and at other times incorporate a dose of androgyny.


What is your opinion of the Balkan fashion scene?

The Balkan fashion scene has a certain flare and unique style that can’t be found anywhere else. The ethnic style, unique to the region, is a major characteristic of what the Balkan fashion is all about. The embroidery, the prints and the special process of hand making the jewellery (the so-called filigree) require a special attention to detail and a huge amount of patience. I really do believe that it can give an edge to the current international fashion scene.

There are already some very impressive designers who are internationally recognized, coming from this region. Among the few who’ve already captured the heart and soul of young fashionistas over the world is Risto Bimbilovski. His impressive imprints and flawless silhouettes have captured the attention of many prolific fashion critics. Then there are also young and promising designers like Nikolay Bozhilov whose designs have been worn by prominent models/fashion icons such as Lily Cole and Helena Christensen. The Balkan region doesn’t lack fashion talents, what it lacks is a platform to support these designers and give them the freedom to express themselves creatively, knowing that someone else is taking care of their sales and promotion.

Who should we keep an eye out for?

Ivana Knez and her brand DRAMA is what I’d recommend. Her newest collection will be showcased at Skopje Design Week and, together with Bastet Noir, will also be a part of the Fashion Strikes Show in Abu Dhabi. Her newest collection will feature Macedonian folk elements incorporated in glamorous gowns – some of which are handmade. When I saw this collection I really thought I died and gone straight to heaven. She has really captured the essence of what a Macedonian fashion designers should do.

For those who prefer a more casual and laid back style, than Irina Tosheva’s newest collection will be also retailing on www.bastetnoir.com. The quality of her materials is out of this world. She uses chic prints and high quality cotton. She’s the type of designer that makes simple designs, but when you touch them, the feeling is priceless. You just want to sit there and run your fingers through the fabrics all day long.

From Ivana Knez's DRAMA collection
Ivana Knez’s DRAMA collection

You only started recently but what is your biggest achievement/proudest moment so far since founding Bastet Noir?

I’m really proud to have the support of so many eco fashion online magazines, the Ethical Fashion Forum as well as eco fashion renowned designers like Orsola de Castro and Henrietta Ludgate. That said, my proudest moment so far has just been helping young designers and collaborating with them, promoting them. The recognition for their hard work and their creativity is the biggest achievement for us and it will always be.

It’s amazing to see just how big of an impact you can have on making their dreams come true. It’s a feeling money can’t buy. There’s also the fact that we’ve already started shipping internationally in just a few months of existence and a very limited marketing budget. Currently we’re also talking with former consultant who has worked with Valentino and IED to help us with developing the brand strategy. We’ll see how it goes. Keep your fingers crossed for us.!

Where do you see the company in a year’s time?

One thing that we are hoping to achieve this year is to expand our designer database and see our fashion designers making more of a name for themselves.

Currently we’re only covering Macedonian fashion designers, but we hope that in a year’s time we’ll also feature Serbian, Croatian and Bulgarian designers. We’ve already spoken to some of them, so we’ll see how things progress.

Next year, starting in January, we are also hoping to add transparency to the online shop. We’ll reveal the cost of the materials, the cost of production, the source – as in who’s involved in the product making – the margin we put and what part of it is used for facilities and storage space. So the customers will get full disclosure on what’s happening behind previously closed doors.

We’ll be launching a campaign in November on www.indiegogo.com , which will hopefully raise us some funds to turn this dream into a reality.


What do you think the fashion industry in general should do to become more environmentally friendly?

The biggest issue the fashion industry is dealing with is the control over the production. Too often you don’t get to see what chemicals are used to dye the fabric you’re using, nor do you get to see how many people are working in the most repulsive and primitive conditions.

The fashion industry, and in particular the mass fashion industry, is responsible for polluting both the air we breathe and the water we drink. What I believe should be done is that it needs to get back to its roots. Fashion used to be an art form with artisans hand-making outfits. While I’m well aware that the world we live in is a very dynamic place and that humanity needs to evolve all the time, therefore we can’t really go back to basics and do all the outfits all by hand, but I do believe that fashion companies can try and use more natural materials and eco friendly materials.

Fashionistas don’t need to be constantly shopping and then throwing away the clothes after wearing them just once. Fashion is just not that appreciated and respected as it used to be. The industry can also change the way we treat people working in production and just slow down the pace. Being a start-up company, you really get to see these people and you simply want to do something to help them and make them feel appreciated.


What simple things can the average fashionista do to be more green?

In the words of Vivienne Westwood, buy less. It’s as simple as that. Getting informed about the materials used is also very important step. Try to buy natural materials and eco-friendly ones.

Who or what are your fashion inspirations?

It might be a little bit of a cliché but my personal favourite designer ever is Karl Lagerfeld. Lately I’ve also been obsessed with Nikolay Bozhilov, a Bulgarian eco fashion designer who might very soon appear on Bastet Noir. I’m always in awe when I see a Beautiful Soul dress by Nicola Woods. I love Henrietta Ludgate’s crazy colours and architectural designs and Orsola De Castro’s recycled masterpieces.

As far as getting informed about what’s going on in the fashion business I love, love, love BOF (Business of Fashion) and its founder Imran Amed. His approach to fashion as a business has proved to be very useful for me and all of us working for Bastet Noir.


What’s your personal favourite brand and/or individual item on the site?

Well, I love all the designers on the website and often wear their designs. I have three items closest to my heart which I wear on regular basis. Firstly, an eco-leather bag made from recycled eco leather by Ivana Knez, embellished with recycled plastic pearls’ niches. The other one is a flower top by Irina Tosheva. The third is a set of gold plate earrings by Branka Dancevska, who will be joining our team in October.

What is your FAULT?

My friends like to say I’m crazy. I tend to disagree with them!


Look out for more from FAULT Favourites Bastet Noir in FAULT Issue 16 – out 15th October