YKK Stories

Women Designers Series: Mary Bashay

September 12, 2019
Author: YKK
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Our women designers series is an on-going project to highlight innovative designers across the world that incorporate YKK® products into their unique creations.

Meet Mary Bashay! Mary is a talented designer whose love for fashion was instilled by her grandmother at a very young age. Mary’s grandmother owned a business where she worked with interior designers, and made curtains, duvets covers, pillows, and other home goods.  She taught her to sew when she was 3 years old, and from then on Mary would go on to design and make Barbie clothes beside her in her studio.

Mary was born in the United States, and grew up in Virginia, Florida, South Carolina and California.  Since her parents were in the military, her family moved quite a bit. She completed a bachelors degree in fashion design at the International Fashion Academy in Paris, France.  She received a scholarship to continue her studies, and is currently finishing her masters in Fashion Design, also at the International Fashion Academy. Mary is currently working on creating a collection of items made entirely with sustainable and eco-friendly materials. We caught up with her to discuss her creative process and learn more about her latest endeavor.


What inspired you to start a career in design?

I’ve always loved designing.  I made my dresses for my school dances when I was young.  I’ve always worked at jobs that allowed me to create, and build things.  I worked in bridal, with designers altering gowns, and making them from patterns.  I joined the military when the economy crashed in 2008 because I wanted to go to school, I wanted to have a degree, and I wanted to live in Paris.  (Even in the military I was creating)  After my time in the Navy, I was able to go to school because the US government paid for my tuition, and room and board.  It has been a dream come true ever since.  I’ve worked several fashion weeks, showrooms, and I’ve had internships during my studies.  I’ve loved every minute of it.


What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in your career?

I feel the biggest challenge is the week before the fashion show.  Sometimes you get three hours of sleep a night, sometimes you get 30 minutes.  Everything must be perfect for the runway.  Everyone gets very stressed, but it’s important to keep striving for the end goal.  My time in the military has prepared me for all stressful situations, sleep deprivation, and completing missions.


Tell us a little bit about your creative process… What inspires you?

My creative process is a 24/7 occurrence.  Even when I walk my dogs, I see textures or colors in nature that inspire me.  My phone is full of pictures of random things I see throughout life that are inspirational.  I try to never say no to trying new things because I never know what I’ll see.  Paris has so many museums with exhibits, or even cafes where you may see a color combinations that you love.  There are textures in the architecture, there is beauty everywhere.  My creative process can be a bit exhausting sometimes, because I can’t shut it off.  Even my dreams are influential, but I couldn’t live any other way.


What is your advice for young people who want to pursue a career in fashion?

Don’t let anyone crush your hopes and dreams.  Put a sketch book and a pencil in your pocket or bag.  Fill your phone with pictures of things that inspire you. In life, you will work hard as an adult…it’s better that all your hard work goes towards something you believe in.


What inspired you to create a sustainable collection? Can you tell us about your experience developing this collection?

While completing my masters degree, most of the curriculum has been focused on the environmental impact fashion has had.  It is the responsibility of designers and brands to be part of the change needed in this world.  I’ve always been concerned about the future, and the future of generations to come when it comes to the environment.  It’s frustrating as an American, because we still have people in the United States who don’t believe in global warming, or pollution’s impact.  All this concern and frustration inspires me to create in a sustainable way.  I believe if I can create clothing that people will wear, then I must create it sustainably.  The collection I’m creating for my masters degree will be 100% sustainable.  All the fabric with be organically produced, or made of recycled rPET.  I have collaborated with an artist who has created many print designs.  I will have these designs printed on sustainable fabric using water based dyes, that use on a thimble’s amount of water per meter.  The buttons are made of recycled glass bottles, fruit and vegetable waste, and 3D printed rPET.  The thread is also rPET.  The interfacing will be made of bamboo.  The trim I’m using comes from European merino wool, where the sheep are treated very well and live in pleasant environment under the strict standards of the European Union.

In your opinion, why is sustainability important in the fashion industry?

Sustainability is the most important characteristic of fashion.  Not only from an ethical stand point, but from a statistical one as well.  We have no choice but to change.  Generation Z has proven that they will spend their money with their hearts.  Even if you don’t believe in the power of sustainability, you still answer to the market’s desires.


What are some of your favorite YKK products and why do you choose YKK products?

I love to work with YKK because unlike other brands, they can withstand continued use.  In fashion, some garments are put on and taken off numerous times, and with such haste.  If a zipper fails, it is devastating for the brand because the garment can’t be shown on a runway, in the showroom, photo shoots, or editorials.  YKK is the best of the best.  I use them without question all the time.  My favorite is the separating invisible zipper, because it sews in flawlessly.  The YKK regular zippers are top notch, as well.  My bachelor collection has been shown in Turkey and twice in China.  The zippers still function perfectly.  For the collection I’m currently designing, I’m very excited about the NATULON® Zipper.  YKK is the first company to create a zipper from rPET, and I can’t wait to use them for my garments.  Thank you for creating an ethically superb product, YKK.

Follow Mary on Instagram for more information about her upcoming collection: https://www.instagram.com/marybashay/?hl=en