Authentic, well-travelled and rooted in culture; this is the story of Batia Rutenberg, the designer, creator, and change-maker behind the renowned Baci brand. From humble beginnings and her grandmothers craft, we get to know her journey, inspirations, and the pinnacle moments that lead to her success today.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
B: Growing up, I had two incredibly talented grandmothers that travelled from Europe to Israel after WWII. One of them was a remarkable seamstress and embroider. She could sew absolutely anything, from white cotton bedclothes to handmade embroidered lace. My other grandmother was a jack of many handy trades – old furniture restorations, knitting, crocheting, sewing, and clothing design, you name it! I suppose my purpose was born through my curiosity for my grandmothers craft. Through studying and admiring their skills, their passion, and their makings; I discovered a childlike sense of wonder for creativity.
WHEN DID YOU START CREATING YOUR OWN CLOTHING?
B:For my 12th birthday, I asked my parents for a very unusual gift – a sewing machine. I loved it and started learning how to sew immediately! Jeans were my favourite source of creativity back then. When I was 14 years old, my friends predicted that I would become a jeans designer because I used to drag my dad to Haifa Port to buy jeans from the sailors. Although we only had local denim brands, I always had my sights set on Levi’s and Wrangler, the fancy jeans made of quality. One day, my dad bought a pair of Levi jeans and a denim jacket but although premium quality, the fabric was too stiff without the wonderful worn and washed feeling of handmade. This is when I got to work! Committed to the fashion grind, I invited my brother and neighbours outside to help me scrub the jeans with stones we found in the garden. I will never forget it, from that moment on, everyone in the community wanted handmade stonewash jeans. I guess my friends predicted well, I would indeed become a jeans designer one day.
HOW HAS ITALY INFLUENCED YOUR LIFE AND DESIGN STYLE?
B:The romantic language of lovers, fashion, design, style, food, and wine – Italy speaks to my soul. I was first exposed to the Italian way when I was a little girl. A new Italian family moved from Venice to our neighbourhood in Israel. Our families became neighbours, good friends and eventually one big extended family. I was very lucky back then, I had the privilege of immersing myself in their language, delicious cuisine and of course, their classic style. I was so intrigued by the Italian lifestyle, from the meticulous clothing and cherry-red wine to the earthy architecture and renaissance art, everything radiated with elegance, precision, and cultured beauty. And so, it’s through this experience and deep admiration for Italian living that I decided to infuse the ‘Italian way’ into the lives of my customers through simple, authentic, and meticulous design. Emphasising beauty, aesthetics, and art, the Baci brand was created to depict a very rich culture of simple living.