Becky Cooper and Bridget Yorston are the duo behind the popular Australian fashion label Bec & Bridge, which is marking its 15th year and has celebrity fans including Kim Kardashian and Miranda Kerr. Cooper and Yorston chat to Kate Waterhouse about the secret to their success, juggling motherhood and a fashion label, and what to expect from them during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) in May.
Congratulations on 15 years in the fashion industry. What is the secret to your success? Bec: Thank you! We’ve learnt so much over the last 15 years … too much to recount. We have also made so many mistakes. Through it all we have remained open-minded and allowed room for things to happen organically and to evolve.
Bridge: Being best friends and business partners, we have always made sure that we keep an open line of communication at all times.
Bec & Bridge is a highlight at MBFWA. Can you reveal any plans? Bridge: We have a great team on board and will be presenting our Resort 17 collection … The inspiration behind [it] stems from the work of Henri Matisse and his innovative and intensive use of light and colour. The clashing of bright azure blues, fiery reds and a sense of freedom … The collection channels a ’90s minimalist look, with mini hemlines, bias slips and spaghetti straps.
Bec, you gave birth to your second son, Teddy, earlier this year. Have you taken some time off? Bec: Yes, I took a break from being in the office, naturally, but with MBFWA and the launch of retail coming up, I have started popping in a few days a week. Luckily I have an amazing husband and family who come with me to support and assist with Teddy.
How has it been juggling a newborn with the lead-up to MBFWA? Bec: It really is a juggle. The key for us has been having a strong partnership – this has allowed us to each take the reins at different times when we have both had our babies. But mostly, it’s about our wonderful team and supportive families. Without them, we couldn’t do what we do. Having children has forced us to be more organised and more decisive. There is no time for dilly-dallying.
How did it all start for Bec and Bridge? Bridge: We met at uni – we were studying fashion design at UTS. We became best friends and we started just making stuff for friends. And we were always known as Bec and Bridge because we were always together, and actually started with men’s jeans … it was revamping old jeans for them, printing our name all over them and then some stores started calling us and saying, “Can we order these jeans?”
Did you ever imagine that it would be as big as it is today? Bridge: No, not in my wildest dreams.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an Australian fashion label? Bridge: Over the last 15 years we’ve seen the industry change so much and so many brands come and go … It really is just a reminder that you have to constantly evolve and stay on top.
Bec: It’s definitely important to never get too comfortable. We are both big believers in staying open minded and being flexible to move with our B&B girl as she grows and evolves.
Bridge: We produce 95 per cent of our pieces in Australia. This allows us to keep a really tight rein on our production quality as well as build strong relationships with our manufacturers.
What’s been your biggest pinch-me moment in your career? Bridge: I think seeing some of the celebrities that have worn Bec and Bridge has been amazing. It’s quite funny because the general public think that if Rihanna is wearing something of ours, that we’ve actually met her and given it to her and that’s why she’s wearing it.
How does that come about when celebrities wear your clothes? Bridge: We work with a great publicist in LA. She’s amazing and she totally gets our girl. She’s got a lot of great relationships, so she gets the clients.
Are there any celebrities you have had to say “no” to dressing? Bridge: It’s so funny because the Kardashians used to wear it five years ago all the time and we had to put a stop to it.
Bec: It was every day!
Bridge: This was before Kim was cool [laughs]. We had to stop because it was getting out of control. And we were like, “It’s only the Kardashians wearing our stuff, we need to have diversity.” And it was just polarising.
When a celebrity wears your clothes, is there a direct translation to sales? Bridge: If they wear it well. Like the “Kendall” dress, we call it the Kendall dress now, because when she wore it, we had to re-cut that dress like three times. I think we just had no idea of the effect.
How do you react when other designers copy your designs? Bec: [It happens] all the time. Sometimes you just have to let it go and take it as a form of flattery … it’s not worth losing sleep over. Bridge: We have got a standard letter that we send, but I don’t know whether that makes much [difference] … Sometimes it’s annoying. Hailey Baldwin wore this little dress [of ours] that hadn’t even delivered into stores yet, and then it was seen in a shopping mall in Queensland and they’d used the photo of Hailey in our dress from Instagram and said, “Available in store”, and it was a quarter of the price or less.
Bec: We get outraged for two minutes then we move on.
WE WENT TO
Grilled roman beans with yellow zucchini, pumpkin, fermented chilli and chicken breast; Chicken, broccoli and barley salad with broccoli, Spanish onion, goat’s feta, barley; Kale salad with shiso leaves, pear, celery, avocado, sunflower seeds, pepita, crispy kipflers and tahini dressing
Still mineral water
BEC AND BRIDGET WORE
Bec & Bridge