Jakob Dworsky & August Bard Bringéus - FOUNDERS ASKET / Stockholm

Montag, 17. Juli 2017
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From the GOOD STUFF Interviews from J'N'C Magazine N°69 / 3-2017, Interviews: Cloat Gerold & Thorsten Osterberger

Swedish label Asket focuses on slow fashion, basic pieces, timeless design and longevity.

What exactly does it take for a product to be called a “timeless classic”?
To us, a timeless classic is a piece most often born out of functional necessity. The T-shirt was an undergarment designed to suit the daily routines of the military, the pique polo sprung from Réné Lacoste’s frustration with impractical tennis wear of the time, the Oxford button-down shirt was designed to withstand the rugged conditions of horse polo while looking sharp. These pieces are the originals that have been vetted and tested until they’ve landed in our essential wardrobes where they find almost daily use. Timeless classics have found a place in our everyday lives through decades of travel and adaptation until they “land”, they arrive at a crossroads of form, fit and function that barely needs any alteration any more – the button-down shirt “landed” in the 50s, the T-shirt in the 60s, the polo in the 70s, the sweatshirt in the 80s. These are garments that have earned their place in our wardrobes and that you will find people have been wearing, and will continue to wear for decades – they are here to stay.

 

"We decided to question every industry rule to create timeless classics free of compromise."

 

Your design range consists entirely of basic “timeless classics”. Simultaneously you are introducing innovations like a new size system and also complete transparency concerning the value chain and even your profit. Please tell us all about your philosophy and the motivation for your revolutionary concept.
The idea behind Asket comes from our own very personal frustration with the clothing industry. We were sick and tired of the fact that it was so hard to find something as seemingly simple as a plain, well-fitting quality T-shirt at a decent price. Despite the abundance of garments produced every year, finding the garments we actually use – the T-shirt, the Oxford button-down shirt, the crew-neck sweatshirt – was ridiculously hard. We were constantly navigating a disappointing path of compromises between designs that are outdated the day they hit the shelves, overpaying for “quality” or paying too little for garments that will tear after one wash.
The reason it’s so hard is that the fashion industry is generally based on creating new garments and designs on a seasonal basis. And the speed at which garments are made, marketed, sold and subsequently thrown away has become unsustainable. We’re no longer talking two seasons a year, it’s as many as 52. In this model, the timeless classics are left behind and, what’s a lot worse, so are the people making the clothing.
So we decided to remove “fashion” from the equation and question every industry rule to create timeless classics free of compromise. With the internet as our platform, selling only directly to our customers, we can set our own pace: we’re slowly building a single, permanent collection of items that won’t go out of style. With fewer styles and no stores, we can afford to offer more and better sizes (15 instead of 5, every XS-XL comes in three lengths) and since we cut out wholesale and all the middlemen, we can work in the same factories as some of the most expensive brands in the world but sell our garments at a third of the price. And since we believe great garments can only come from great manufacturing conditions, we have nothing to hide – neither in terms of what we pay and earn, nor in terms of labour conditions. So we decided to show our customers everything and try to educate and highlight that garments should be treated for what they are – handcrafted investments, not disposables.

Slogans like “Slow Fashion”, “Less is more” and “Stuffocation” are trending right now. Can you tell if this development will be catching on fashionwise and in the long term?
These slogans are trending for a reason. We believe that gradually, people are becoming less interested in projecting status through logotypes and catching the latest trend. There is a growing awareness and concern about the speed at which we consume clothing, how garments are made, who actually makes them and under which circumstances. Added to that, organisations and events such as Fashion Revolution Week are helping curb the fast fashion trend. And now finally, brands with the potential to impact the industry are addressing these concerns. Change is inevitable: the current pace, at enormous social and environmental cost that no one is willing to cover, will slow down.

Is quality forced to take a back seat to trendiness too often?
Unfortunately yes. The fashion industry is extremely competitive and has reached a pace that poses huge financial challenges. Creating trendy, seasonal collections to stay new and interesting and selling them via countless middlemen requires a 7-10x financial mark-up for traditional brands to make money off their bets, even after end-of-season sales with 70 percent off. In this value chain set-up, it’s easier for a brand to cut corners in production than invest in quality and increase the prices.

Will durability and timeless design be more important in a future that is focusing on sustainability?
Definitely. We want to slow down the industry’s extreme pace by creating only garments that you really need, never go out of style and can be used every day. So our main sustainability pillar is to create garments that are made to last in every respect. Timeless design and long-lasting quality are the foundations.

Nowadays many products, especially if it's clear that they will only be en vogue for a short time, are manufactured with a certain secret expiry date. What's your take on durability?
It won’t last for much longer. The pace at which the industry churns out new garments, convincing us consumers we need more, is unsustainable. We fill our wardrobes with hundreds of garments but at the end of the day we only use a fraction of them. I bet that, if you look at the pieces you actually use, you’ll find it’s because there’s no compromise: they fit well, they feel nice and they have a clean design. Those are the only garments we actually need, and those are the garments we seek to perfect – nothing more.

Please name three timeless classics everybody should have in his/her wardrobe/shoe cabinet (and why).
A white T-shirt: It’s the most comfortable and versatile top there is. Dress it down with a pair of Levis 501s and Converse Chuck Taylor, dress it up with wool slacks, brogues and a jacket. It always works.
A blue button-down Oxford shirt: Google “JFK Oxford shirt” and you’ll find a 50-year-old photograph of John F Kennedy looking so sharp in an Oxford shirt that it might as well have been taken yesterday. It’s the definition of a timeless staple and it’ll get you a bit further in formal settings than the T-shirt – every man needs one.
A classic blue jean. Stone washed à la Levi’s 501 or dark indigo raw denim if you have the patience to wear them down yourself.

What’s your personal favourite “timeless classic” (and why)?
When I was a teenager I found an old 1960s wristwatch in a drawer that hadn’t been worn for decades. It had belonged to my grandfather and as I dusted it off and wound up the mechanical clockwork it took a split second, but then it started ticking – and it still does – after 50 years. To me this truly defines a timeless classic: the design is as relevant today as it was in the 60s and it’s a piece of craftsmanship so great the clockwork won’t stop ticking even after half a century. It is made to last in every aspect.

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Tags: asket, interview, jakob dworsky, august bard bringéus
Interviews
POSTED by Cloat Gerold & Thorsten Osterberger at 10:24
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