Nordic premium jeanswear One Wolf – exclusively for Kristina Goes West
Sitting in a cozy cafe in London’s West End, I asked my fashion-savvy girlfriend a very simple question: Which Northern European jeanswear brands does she know? “Acne and Cheap Monday? And that’s about it, no?”, she answered looking a bit puzzled. If anyone had asked me a similar question half a year ago, my answer would have been similar, but not today. One Wolf – an emerging Riga based unisex premium jeanswear brand can be added to a growing list of upcoming Nordic/Baltic designers. With stockists in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, this is definitely a brand to watch. In this exclusive interview we find out why:
Kristina Goes West (KGW): One Wolf is an impressive name for a premium jeanswear label. Why did you choose it?
One Wolf’s Head Creative Director Agnese Narnicka (AN): Together with my team we were thinking a lot about a suitable name for a design and idea which goes with the type of fashion we produce. The symbol of a wolf is present in many cultures and has quite a common meaning. The wolf symbolises a wild spirit – showing free will and an ability to escape and go outside the box. One Wolf – the leader of a pack – is a pathfinder who’s receptive to new concepts and ideas (which are quite obvious in our jeans). The wolf is an animal who lives by its own rules and can’t be tamed. Yet – it still symbolises friendliness and wisdom. The word ‘One’ also perfectly suits our unisex concept – i.e. united – as the same jeans can be worn by both genders.
KGW: Why have you decided to build your career in fashion? Who has inspired you to make this choice?
AN: As many girls in childhood, I used to draw clothes and houses, or, for example, make paper slippers for my entire family. I followed my passion and continued drawing at the Riga Design and Art High School and later at the Art Academy of Latvia, where now I teach fashion design. Dreams about designing houses were left behind, as mathematical skills, necessary for becoming an architect, were not my strong side. A thought to start my own label emerged during my Masters studies, while doing my Erasmus internship in Milan. During this period I had more time to think about it and gather some ideas which were necessary for building my label.
KGW: Being a premium jeanswear designer is a pretty tough job, knowing how many labels are in the market wherever you go. When I talk to people about Nordic/Baltic fashion, and on this occasion – jeanswear – few brands immediately spring into conversations. As you may guess, it’s Acne Jeans and Cheap Monday that are well-known in Western Europe. How does One Wolf differ from other jeans labels?
AN: Well, there are several reasons why our jeans could be called ‘jeans with a difference’. First of all – the visual aspect – silhouettes. We mainly use raw denim and then play with its folds and cuts, adding some refreshing details, functional pockets and modest branding. Secondly, the unisex concept. Our vision – united wardrobe – where borders between men’s and women’s dress codes are destroyed. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that our clothing makes men less manly or women less feminine. On the contrary – it offers another way to express one’s personality. Also the concept of ‘united’ plays out nicely – it is great to see couples who choose the same jeans’ model. One for her and one for him, using a pair of jeans to project their relationship and love to others. Thirdly, the environmentally friendly production process. Lately there has been a lot of publicity about the textile industry’s impact on the environment. As a result, more customers now are choosing particular brands that stand for slow fashion and not mass production. It just happened that we come from Latvia, a small country in Northern Europe, which has been recognised as the second greenest country in the world in 2012. Something to be proud of, since we make our garments here. It may not be cheap compared to the Asian markets, but we provide fair working environments and produce premium quality garments. And we don’t plan to change this even when we reach higher production volumes, as our concept focuses on designing and producing jeans only in the EU.
KGW: Every designer has their own way of doing things. Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you translate them into desirable garments?
AN: For me it is important to create a story. Especially when I work at a new collection, I tend to choose particular people with whom I would like to associate my creations with. I try to visualise the person who would like One Wolf’s garments and this is how a vision of the particular character is born. Sometimes I think of a real person, for example, musician and actor Vincent Gallo or Kurt Cobain. From time to time it is important for me to create a non-commercial collection which allows me to think more of a conceptual art. When designing I try to keep it functional, yet unique. It is essential for me that the clothing I make can be worn daily.
KGW: How has being from the Baltic States influenced your work?
AN: Actually, it’s reflected in my work naturally, but that’s for others to decide whether it looks ‘Nordic’ or not. My background can be expressed via the choice of colours, forms, materials and my love of knitwear. Looking from the political/economical point of view, it’s a bigger challenge to be noticed if you come from a country many people don’t know. But when we get discovered by buyers and customers they acknowledge and admire our designs and quality.
KGW: Tell us about your current collection. What is special about it?
AN: The current AW 12/13 collection is based on raw unisex jeans. This time our inspiration comes from the medical profession. I was inspired by both doctors’ clothing and sculptural, but aesthetic structures. My passion is to create jeans that expose the anatomy of the human body: movement, muscle and general form. I like to create characters that have charisma and emotions. For me, it is important to create clothes with sustainable designs, so that they can continue to be in the spotlight for several seasons. Hense, the premium look and feel of each garment.
KGW: Which of the garments is your favorite? And why?
AN: Definitely – jeans. One Wolf jeans. They are unique, natural and can be easily matched with different clothes for various life situations. In One Wolf jeans I feel like I’m in a second skin.
KGW: What should we expect from your Spring / Summer 2013 collection?
AN: Our mixed pret-a-porter SS 13 collection is called ‘Breaking news’. It reflects today’s TV, press and internet news about the ongoing turbulence in the world and the extraordinary strife between countries and people. The new One Wolf collection draws attention to each person’s individuality and internal bravery to build a better world. Therefore, the collection embodies the image of brave young people who have experienced problems in life and decide to take the initiative and return peace to the world. The concept is reinforced by concentrated colour shift, military details, neat and strong silhouettes. One Wolf’s cornerstone – denim – dominates in the range of garments along with viscose and cotton. Loose, oversized tops and slim cut jeans with twisted seams and pleats are the key components in SS 13.
KGW: There is a lot of vibe about this Northern part of Europe at the moment. Slowly but steadily the fashion crowd’s opinion about this part of the world is shifting and becoming a space to watch. With KGW’s motto being all about changing people’s perceptions and shining a spotlight on the Baltic fashion industry, how would you describe this region? What do the Baltics offer that others can’t? Is there anything to get inspired about? And if so, what?
AN: I think that in the next 20 years people in the world will have more knowledge about the Baltic States and their fashion. We are small countries with a short history of independence. After the collapse of USSR we had to start building our textile industry from scratch. We’ll never go the same way as France or Italy, where their history of fashion goes back for several hundred years. Instead we could develop in the same way as Belgium, for example, which is also a small country, but has gained world-recognition through its famous fashion academy and its alternative direction of fashion. Baltic fashion also offers something new and fresh, with a spark of creativity.