Meet Buci [pronounced Boot-zi], the new sustainable brand you need in your wardrobe. We sat down with Misha Ivanovic, founder of Buci, to find out where she draws her inspiration, how Buci was born and her plans for the future.
Could you please introduce yourself, Buci and what sustainability is to you?
My name’s Mishka Ivanovic, I’m studying fashion at Parsons, I’m the owner and founder of Buci. I grew up sewing, I always enjoyed it and found it peaceful. Buci is focusing on small production, specifically sourced fabric and we define ourselves as a sustainable brand but we have a broad term of sustainability. We focus on the environment, which is the general definition, meaning we only use organic cottons, deadstock fabrics (if it’s available) and we try to limit our dying, that’s why a lot of things are white.
We also talk about community under sustainability. We make everything in the garment district in New York. It’s a really beautiful community, you’re really close to the seamstresses and everyone who’s making it. That’s really important to me. It would never feel good if the people who were making the clothes were not able to afford them. I wanted to produce somewhere where the minimum wage was high. So $15 (USD) an hour isn’t super high but it guarantees that the lowest someone can be paid is $15 an hour. We also give back to communities, we have our shirt with the mission, and alternate the organisations we give back to.
The last aspect is health, I grew up in a family where we only ate organic and high quality. I was always really aware of what I was putting into my body but not so much of what I was putting on my skin. After doing more research into toxicities and dyes that go into fabrics, like pesticides and polluted water, it was really scary knowing what chemicals there are. Sometimes you don’t always know where the fabric is coming from. We try to use no polyester or synthetic fibres. If we use a deadstock fibre and we don’t know where all the ingredients are from, we put that on the tag. We want our customers to be aware. I feel like people should be more aware of what they’re putting on their skin almost as much so as what they put in their mouth, it’s just as important.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I would say it’s different and similar to Buci. Buci right now is focused on Spring/Summer, very beach attire but we’re moving out of that and it will incorporate a lot more of my style. Buci started because I want to wear the most comfortable and elegant clothing possible, I love the beach and my comfort is always 100% my priority. The thing that you’re the most comfortable in, it doesn’t matter if it’s trendy or whatever, if you feel really comfortable, you’re going to exude that energy and you’ll have such a good time. It elevates you to another level.
So in that sense, with Buci I always try to make it as comfortable and empowering as possible. It’s empowering aesthetically, you love what I’m wearing, you feel good mentally but also physically empowering, if you need to run for the subway you can run.
My friend told me she dresses for her mood and I’m so inspired by this. When she’s sick and not feeling well, she’ll get dressed up like the chicest she can dress. Even though she feels awful, she’s in such a better mood already. I always kind of try to do that now, if I need to feel more powerful, I’ll dress up very put together and I’ll feel that elevate me.
What other brands are you inspired by?
I’m always really inspired by Patagonia. Not necessarily their clothing or their designs but their ethic and the quality of life they offer is really amazing.
I’m also inspired by smaller brands that started up around the same time as us like Mirror Palais. I’m also inspired by Saks Spotts. Also Jeanie Jay, a model in New York and she started a mask brand – Sanitation nation. There’s so many people. I’m inspired by people who are young and doing their thing, their best, they don’t have to be doing the same thing as me. If they’re doing the best and the best they know how, I find it super inspiring.
Where does your inspiration come from when you’re designing?
My biggest inspiration for the first collection was 70’s beachwear, Brigitte Bardot, and old stars in the South of France when they went to the beach. I grew up in Bronte in Sydney so I spent a lot of time at the beach with my friends. Wearing things that were easy to take off and put back on was something that I always missed. So my childhood on the water and vintage pieces that I would find and really loved. My older family members’ clothes as well really inspired me. So that mixed in with comfort and convenience I would say.
Are you able to explain the process from when you think of an idea to the physical product?
That’s something that I learnt a lot about and it’s constantly evolving, I’m constantly trying to find more ways to be more efficient. It’s the most difficult for me to communicate. We take it really slow and we take the time to find the most efficient fabrics possible, it can be challenging because there aren’t that many options available for high quality, deadstock fabrics. It’s got to fit the right way, fall the right way and be comfortable on the consumers skin.
So I make prototypes and the original sample, I take it to the manufacturer, we’ll go through all of it together. They’ll say if they like something better. Then we make adjustments together, then we make a muslin sample, then we make more adjustments, then we make more adjustments, final sample, grading, product. It takes a while but communication is key.
A big part of the process for me has been communication and being clearer. There’s a cost to having a lack of experience with the people that you’re working with and when you’re just starting. If there’s a lack of communication and a whole production comes out with a hem you didn’t like, you’re going to have to just be like that’s okay but we’ll do better last time. It’s challenging, it costs money and time but it happens.
Where are you drawing your inspiration from for your next collection?
Our next collection’s inspiration is coming a lot more from my family – different pieces inspired by my mom, my grandmother, my grandfather and my dad. I spent a lot of time in Serbia, where my grandparents are from, looking through clothes. Pulling different shapes and elements of different elegant and comfortable clothes that I love. I wanted to put it into relevant materials that I would love wearing and sort of repurposing the shapes and lines for everyday use. I tried to put together lines and shapes that I was inspired by and mix it with what I wear everyday. It’s a much more everyday collection but I’m super excited about it.
There’s this really great website – QueenOfRaw – and it’s a really great platform for deadstock fabric with really good quantities. I recently saw this great silk and organic cotton muslin that I’m really interested in. Nothing’s been decided but it’s going to be more colourful. We’ve found some deadstock fabric that’s been dyed previously. If it’s already been made, I can wrap my head around that. It’s really hard when you’re trying to make something that’s sustainable but economically feasible. Silk and muslin is the next phase.
What have you got planned in the future of Buci?
Right now we’re focusing on the new styles that are coming out. We’ve got some fabrics we’re really excited to experiment with and for Spring/Summer 2020-21 we’ve already gone to market for wholesale. But we’re now focusing on direct to consumer Spring/Summer 2020-21. They’ll most likely be ready for production in March 2021.
Interviewed by Anna Lowe