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We all remember the time when the covers of magazines belonged to the most famous generation of supermodels. These looks from that era will never be forgotten and Charlotte Macke and Holly Keepfer from the brand Sen Wye are one of the very few who are capable of translating these looks from the 90s into our modern society. Imagine classic and timeless pieces in dreamy color palettes and good quality fabrics. We had the chance to sit down with the designers and talk about their philosophy and how they see themselves in an era were trends and productions are speeding up.

How did you meet and when did you start working together?

Charlotte: We met nine years ago at University and quickly became best friends. We worked a lot aside each other and even before graduating, we knew we wanted to establish our own brand. But first we wanted to gain experience so, in our third year, we both went to New York to work for different designers, which was an amazing experience and motivated us even more to start up our brand.
Holly: I gained more experience in textiles and Charlotte in production, and when we graduated we realized our brand. From the moment we started, our work has gone hand in hand and it still does today.

How did you decide the kind of brand you wanted to be? Was it a natural process?

Holly: Charlotte and I have always had an idea of what kind of brand we wanted to be, I think that what happened over the years is that our brand identity has grown a lot stronger. When you are first starting a brand you are super excited on how you want to develop it and in the beginning it is quite a challenge to immediately create a strong identity since it’s very tempting to execute all your ideas.
Charlotte: After working with each other for nearly three years and getting to know the market better and better, we became more aware of which were each other’s aesthetics, which have always been very similar. At present, we can easily translate these into garments that are appealing to the market.

Could you tell me something about the philosophy behind Sen Wye?

Holly: Our brand is strongly influenced by the 90s. We look into these archives not only as a source of inspiration, we research how the garments were made and incorporate these techniques into our brand. One of our unique selling points are the textures throughout our collections, it’s not a big range but it’s quite a tight range of good quality fabrics. We want our clients to identify Sen Wye as a non-trend driven brand, we provide great attention to detail in garments customers recognize and identify themselves with.
Charlotte: We have to keep the customer in mind as well, we would love to use all these really gorgeous fabrics and embellishments but we have to think of our customer and the price range we work in. We want our audience to invest into our brand at a reasonable price.

Do you have a specific woman in mind when designing a collection?

Charlotte: Our mothers have always inspired us; they wore the clothing we now design in different and modern fabrics. Aside from our mothers, we also have a muse, which is a friend of ours. Every time we see her we get inspired.
Holly: As mentioned previously, and although it may sound a bit cliché, we do get a lot of inspiration from the 90s. From the supermodels to the photographers and artists from that era. There are just too many interesting things to be found in those archives!

So I guess Sen Wye is best described as a modern and minimalistic take on the 90's decade, any favorite icons or looks from that era?

Charlotte: We always try and look at different silhouettes but what fascinates me the most about this era are the slim fitting mini-dresses the supermodels would wear on a night out. I think that those silhouettes the supermodels wore can also be found in our collections. It’s not casual, there are a lot of going out statement pieces.

What are your thoughts on the increasing speed of fashion? We went from four collections a year to 6 and high street brands are speeding up their supply chain as well. Do you think that designers such as yourselves are the answer to the question that may ultimately arise? The need for qualitative/simplistic and timeless pieces?

Holly: We want our customer to see our garments as something they would wear throughout the years. The high street brands are producing at such a fast pace nowadays that girls just buy an outfit for that same weekend. We want something that will finally become a wardrobe essential.
Charlotte: I think that's the essence of our brand, to recreate these classic shapes with beautiful finishings in nice fabrics. Pieces which are not only fun to wear but also timeless. The consumer today realizes that if one buys at a high street store one's not going to find great quality garments. I think that makes our brand interesting in this era.

What can we expect from Sen Wye in the future?

Holly: We are trying to step up our game every season and at the moment, we are trying to push embellishment to the next level. We want a customer to look at a piece and say that is a “Sen Wye” and recognize our brand by its fabrication and quality. Like I said, the future is all about increasing our identity and stockists.
Charlotte: It’s the rest of the world and markets that we are trying to hit.

WORDS
ILANKA VERHOEVEN

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