BITE Studios: ‘We want to have a brand which makes an impact’

BITE Studios is marrying sustainable textiles – from seaweed fabric to pea silk – with designs by a team including alumni of Proenza Schouler and Acne Studios

Model in BITE Studios black dress on left and shirt on right, on photographic studio background
BITE Studios S/S 2023 ‘Collection 10’
(Image credit: Courtesy of BITE Studios)

Swedish husband-and-wife team William Lundgren and Veronika Kant were effectively newcomers to the fashion industry when they founded BITE Studios (BITE is an acronym for ‘By Independent Thinkers for Environmental progress’). In fact, they had both begun their careers in finance; Lundgren worked with NGOs and Kant specialised in supply chains and logistics, though not in fashion. ‘We both came from environments where we felt it was so strange that there's no option in fashion that's not compromising on design or sustainability, because in skincare or food and other industries it felt so natural,’ says Lundgren.

Their distance from the fashion industry afforded them freedom – or, indeed, a powerful naivety – to experiment with, and subvert, the perceived protocols and established rhythms for producing, showing and selling clothing. ‘When we started in 2016 no one was combining sustainability with design. That’s totally what BITE is all about – we are equally interested in design and in environmental issues. I think a need from the industry – and a lot of other industries – is to build companies that are aligned with values because so many people are longing for it,’ says Lundgren.

BITE Studios: ‘By Independent Thinkers for Environmental Progress’

Model in Bite studios sweater and trousers against photographic studio backdrop

BITE Studios S/S 2023 ‘Collection 10’

(Image credit: Courtesy of BITE Studios)

Today they base themselves between a shared space in Galleri Andersson/Sandström art gallery in Stockholm and spaces in Gothenburg and London. ‘Our customer is very much based in London and New York,’ says Lundgren, ‘but we like living in the quiet, peaceful Scandinavian environment.’ Kant, COO, handles product development, production and financing, while Lundgren, CEO, is focused on marketing, branding and sales.

While building the business from scratch they consulted with ‘pioneers who were producing in the 1990s and 2000s, developing and growing organic cotton and working with nice production’, says Kant. Their financial backgrounds stood them in good stead to secure investment: it came from Nudie Jeans. ‘They have a similar vision, but on a completely different playing field, doing contemporary menswear,’ says Lundgren. ‘It’s a long-term collaboration based on how we think about the future.’

Kant adds that despite investment, they don’t compromise on the ethos of BITE, which is rooted in sustainable product and good design. ‘I think that’s the reason we are so strong. If we comprised we would have taken a shortcut a long time ago. Everyone who’s working with us shares the same sort of vision for the future. We have to say no a lot of the time. This is the only way that we feel comfortable with creating a fashion brand in this modern world, instead of putting products out there that are petroleum based or synthetic in a way that's harmful.’

They’ve also introduced a radical ‘buy back’ programme, offering cash for BITE garments in the future, no matter how old they are. ‘It puts pressure on us to build a garment that's really high quality, and it's a way of thinking about building something long term,’ says Lundgren.

Model in jersey BITE Studios dress against photographic studio background

BITE Studios S/S 2023 ‘Collection 10’

(Image credit: Courtesy of BITE Studios)

In terms of design, the duo have built up an impressive team which features alumni from Proenza Schouler, Acne Studios and various LVMH houses. ‘The team is made up of people who have worked for a long time in the industry and now want to be a part of something new,’ says Lundgren, who talks of creative energy formed by their collective approach. ‘I think, especially post-pandemic, people have reevaluated their working lives,’ adds Kant. They expect their team of 12 to grow to around 20 next year. ‘There's an optimism in people's longing for something else.’

BITE’s designs are defined by certain pillars: tailoring, jersey, sheer layering, and long-line draping. ‘Understatement and self-expression, masculine, feminine, directional and poetic,’ describes Kant of their approach. The latest collection, ‘Collection 10’, sees an evolution of previous designs – the duo want pieces from all collections to be able to be worn together – with long, lean silhouettes and asymmetric draped dresses meeting more playful strapless tops, board shorts and slouchy tailored trousers.

Materiality is at the heart of every collection. BITE is building an ever-evolving library of textiles that meet the team’s stringent sustainable metrics; either sourced from the best global suppliers, of which there are very few, or proprietary fabrics they have developed. ‘We start looking at our fabric library and how certain textiles drape or fold,’ Kant says. Often restrictions with fabrics will shape the designs. ‘We celebrate a lot when we achieve something.’

Some of these innovative textiles include seaweed fabric (a collaboration with French artist Violaine Buet, who harvests seaweed and makes it into textiles), pineapple and corn leather, pea silk (the silkworms survive the process and it is not chemically treated) and regenerative wools, recycled cashmere and sustainable viscose. In ‘Collection 10’, 98 per cent of the fabrics are recycled, organic or low-impact. ‘It’s getting harder and easier in different areas,’ says Kant of the ever-evolving sustainability industry. ‘In terms of fabrics, I think we are still pioneering in many senses, by pairing quality with responsibility. It’s easier because as people are becoming more informed, you don't have to explain the reasoning so much. But then it's becoming a crowded space.’

Model in BITE Studios tailored jacket and white trousers against photographic studio background

BITE Studios S/S 2023 ‘Collection 10’

(Image credit: Courtesy of BITE Studios)

They are evaluating the way they work across the business from shipping to packaging and the energy the office runs on. Not that there aren’t enormous challenges. ‘Shipping is extremely hard,’ says Lundgren, so they climate compensate for air freight when it's used.

‘We want to establish a brand that makes an impact. And that requires us to be quite successful. So that's important for us, to be able to shift the mindset. And there's a lot on the horizon, a lot of exciting progress coming up,’ says Lundgren. ‘But meanwhile, we want to do everything in our power to do what we can with every decision.’

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Tilly is a British writer, editor and digital consultant based in New York, covering luxury fashion, jewellery, design, culture, art, travel, wellness and more. An alumna of Central Saint Martins, she is Contributing Editor for Wallpaper* and has interviewed a cross section of design legends including Sir David Adjaye, Samuel Ross, Pamela Shamshiri and Piet Oudolf for the magazine.