‘Timeless luxury basics’: why you need to get know Swedish menswear brand ASKET

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Fast fashion – the idea of ‘wear it once, throw it away’ – is a trend that’s had its day. The notion of having loads of anything, especially clothes, seems like a waste. What’s the point in having a big collection of rare trainers or vintage denim jackets if you’ve got so many you never wear any of them? 
 
That’s why Swedish brand ASKET is such a breath of fresh air. Instead of producing season after season of new styles, it sells one permanent collection of ‘timeless luxury basics’ that go from button-down oxford shirts and smart polos to selvedge jeans so perfectly tailored they should write a film about them. 
 
As you might expect, the aesthetic sits somewhere between Ivy League, obsessive Japanese clothes nerd and ‘highly respected Scandinavian architect’. Which, as ASKET is based in Stockholm, makes sense. 
 
Here ASKET’s co-founder August Bard-Brigéu takes us through the philosophy of this most refreshing of new men’s brands. 
 
Hi August. So, who are you? And why did you start ASKET? 
My co-founder Jakob and I found it hard to find something as simple as a plain white T-shirt or a blue oxford shirt because brands changed their style and fit every season. We saw an opportunity to move away from fashion’s seasonal churn and introduce a permanent collection of mindfully produced, timeless garments – designed to last. 
 
Were you experienced in the industry? 
Neither of us had worked in fashion before, so we immersed ourselves in every part of the process. While we were excited to bring a fresh perspective to the table, at the same time, the industry opened our eyes. Did you know a simple white T-shirt uses acres of land, goes through 2,700l of water, emits 2kg of CO2 and requires over an hour of work? Despite all this, people didn’t seem to think twice about paying €5 for it.  
 
In a bid to make more money, the industry had fallen into a negative spiral of selling more stuff, to more people, at lower prices. And all at the expense of planet and people. At that moment we decided we didn’t want to add to the fashion industry, we wanted to change it. 
 
What exactly does ASKET sell?
Timeless basics are the cornerstone of every man’s wardrobe: we offer a permanent collection of quality essentials that every guy (or woman) can count on. But more than that, by replacing the mindless churn of seasonal collections with a permanent collection of quality essentials, built with full transparency, we aim to reduce wardrobes to the pieces people actually need. We’re on a mission to end over-consumption and restore the value in the apparel industry one basic at a time. 
 
When it comes to influences, what’s your favourite item of (non-ASKET) clothing in your wardrobe? 
A vintage US military overshirt (from the 1950s) that I picked up in Japan. We were on a denim-tracing journey visiting different mills. On our way home we managed to squeeze in some downtime in Tokyo and decided to check out Shimokitazawa – a second-hand shopping district just outside of the city centre. 
 
Is there a classic men’s style that never goes out of fashion?
Can I claim the 1950s as a men’s style? It was an exciting time. With the end of World War II morale was high, and the clothing industry reflected that. The era was a melting pot for fashion; tailors were still in business and subcultures such as the greasers were emerging. At this interface, the 1950s casual look was born. Think Marlon Brando meets John F Kennedy. 
 
What’s the design process at ASKET? 
The permanence of our collection is our guiding principle. It influences every aspect of the design process; from deciding what qualifies as a wardrobe essential, to selecting the most durable and quality materials as well as creating timeless designs that won’t fall out of fashion. The additional benefit of having a permanent collection is we can continuously loop customer feedback into the design process. Perfection isn’t a static state: it’s constant and ongoing. Every time we prepare for a new production run, the design team will revisit the garment and make a few tweaks – strengthening seams, improving the fit, finding new ways to remove synthetic fibres. Take our linen shirt, for example, as we prepared for a new production run, we trimmed the sleeves back, based on some of the customer feedback we’d received. So, 2019’s batch will be even better than last year. 
 
What makes a great T-shirt? 
Durability, cut and craftsmanship. A garment is only as good as the fibre it’s made with: for me, quality cotton is still the gold standard, it looks sharp and lasts longer. Then nail the cut: in the way of a shameless plug at ASKET we introduced an additional size dimension, offering three lengths on top of the traditional XS-XL because let’s face it, the world’s 3.5bn men aren’t going to fit in just five sizes. And finally, you have to realise that there are no shortcuts in creating great garments. While a T-shirt shouldn’t cost a fortune, craftsmanship and care for the environment do come at a slightly higher price – it will, however, outlast a budget alternative.
 
When are you going to make some coats? 
It can get pretty chilly in Stockholm, so outerwear is undoubtedly a wardrobe essential for us. I don’t want to give too much away but keep your eyes peeled for something new this autumn!
 
Find out more at asket.com







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