Interview: Wäven

Surrounded by their SS15 collection, I sat down with the founder of Wäven, Anika Islam, to discuss her denim brand. The Scandinavian inspired, minimalist denim designs are the staple items you’ve been missing from your wardrobe.

How did the brand begin?

We spent nine months developing the concept and idea of Wåven. I wanted to create a brand that wasn’t just a quick fad; I wanted a solid concept behind it. That meant developing the logo, finding the right audience and building the right story behind the brand. I wanted to create something that was accessible to the mass majority with a beautiful premium aesthetic.

We went live with our first season AW14 in September, which had a great reaction. We are being stocked in ASOS, Urban Outfitters and Topman so we couldn’t ask for a better start!

So are the Urban Outfitters and ASOS buyers, are they your target audience for the brand?

Yes, they cater directly to our target market. Partnering with the likes of these stores is really important as they are trusted by the public. Customers will see that there is a gap for our Scandi inspired denim and be surprised by how accessible the price is. You can create a brand and your product can be fantastic, but if no one knows about it what’s the point?

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Where does the Scandinavian influence come from?

It’s where my personal interests lie and the sort of architecture/art and interior design I enjoy filling my free time with. I’m not Scandinavian but travel a lot to Nordic countries and realized there was nothing out there emulating the high street market with the aesthetic of premium brands. I wanted to create a point of difference on the high street and offer something new.

That’s a good way to make a career.

Exactly, do what you enjoy the most and turn it into something feasible.

So, why do you think denim and minimalism is such a staple thing in people’s wardrobes? And why do you think it’s so difficult to find?

Denim is a fashion staple, everyone wears it regardless of the shape or lifestyle. I wanted to be part of something that was always in use and something with longevity because as creative as I can be, I’m also very business minded.

Denim is one of the most interesting fabrics out there, the way it washes and ages after wear is so fascinating. It has so much more character than other ideas of clothing and you can do so much with it. We started with jeans and shirts and now we have a full denim range to offer!

There’s a coat in the look book, the Britta. It’s amazing.

Aw thank you, we love it too! You wouldn’t look at it straight away and know it was made of denim but it 100% is. That’s what I love about working with denim, you can make anything! We’ve made tote bags and notebooks as well as garments in a range of weights and sizes, starting from 6/7 ounces all the way up to 13 ounces.

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Every woman struggles finding the perfect pair of jeans.

We’re trying to provide more than what the high street provides and consider every detail very carefully. Each jean has been considered starting from the shape, fabric, fit and finishing. We want to make sure each item of clothing has its own character.

Wåven is a building block for your day-to-day wardrobe; you can dress it up or dress it down.

What was the inspiration for the SS15 collection? 

We looked at Scandinavian braille maps. We looked at how dense the dots were on the water, mountains and the different contour lines. I really liked how that felt and the texture of it.

We were also inspired by alternative methods of communication ie. Morse code and binary codes. Both were translated into our prints and print textures.

Have you got a favourite piece?

I think it’s the Britta, the one you mentioned earlier. I love the A-line curve and big patch pockets.

You do menswear and womenswear at Wåven, do you think there’s a crossover? As denim has always had that masculine touch.

Denim definitely started off as a man’s thing, especially in industrial trade as it’s hardwearing, comfortable and cheap but that’s changing.

I like seeing a men’s version of a girls fit. We’ve created a loose fit jean for men, which I call the boy’s boyfriend. That isn’t the style name but it’s my interpretation as they are worn low on the hips, are a loose fit and have big turn ups – which is how a girl would style a boyfriend fit.

Overall there is slight overlap in the collection so it marries together, so prints and washes are similar but cuts are totally different.

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What’s your favourite wash?

It is probably the American blue, it’s really traditional but slick.

We’ve developed a lot of dusty finishes for SS15 which I really like too, soft blues and snow grey acid. They work great on the girls denim.

Are there any other significant ways you think Wåven differentiates itself fromm any other denim brands?

I think the brand in itself is different. Customers are proud to buy a pair of Wåvens as we are not just another pair of jeans. The price is definitely attractive but it’s not the first thing you notice, in this market level I can’t think of a single brand we compete with.

I want to make something that is mid market that appeals to everyone, something that is considered and has art to it. My family has worked in denim for 30 years so we have a huge understanding of the fabric and are credible.

It’s difficult to work with denim on this scale, you either have to do it really big or prices go up, we’re trying to do something different and focus on growing with our wholesalers. 

Yeah, definitely!

From the look book, there’s almost a tropical essence that could translate so well into a video. 

When we first started out, we were very timid. Second season I said, “Guys come on, let’s add some colour into this”. Third season we did a shoot completely different to that, it is much darker and moodier. I want to keep elevating the brand, we’re telling a story and creating a lifestyle. I don’t get fazed by seasonal trends, denim is timeless! I want to grow to the point where we can have our own stand alone store.

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Did you always want to work with denim if your family have been involved with it for so long?

Not exactly. I studied economics at Edinburgh but have always had denim in the back of my mind. I applied to a fashion course at Central Saint Martins for fashion and dropped out after two hours. I felt so different to everyone there and didn’t want to spent another four years of my life studying.

I decided to get an office space and link up with a few industry friends and I started a brand. Fingers crossed it continues to go well!

Where do you want the brand to go?

Everywhere. I’m constantly looking above and beyond. We’re growing so quickly and have just gone international. Long term I hope we can have our own retail standing; we’re already looking into things like pop-ups and creating our concept store.

It would never just be a normal denim store, I want it to have some sort of virtual 3D element to it so the customers are interacting with us to some degree. Shopping would never be the first motive, you’d come in, play and then you’d buy a pair of jeans. Something more than just a shopping experience. That’s my end goal.

You need to keep the excitement going. But that’s Wåven!