Très Bien first opened its doors as a menswear shop ten years ago. Since then they have developed a language of their own in which styling plays a central part. A mix between contemporary fashion and sportswear that was perfectly showcased when they debuted their first collection almost three years ago. Now, about to present their Spring/Summer 2017 collection, we talk with the brothers Simon and Hannes Hogeman to find out how they manage to run one of Europe’s most relevant menswear webshops while becoming a promising fashion house.
When you founded Très Bien the audience for a shop mixing contemporary fashion with more accessible brands was probably smaller. Do you think Très Bien served as a platform to educate and expand the options of customers?
When we started no one was doing the same thing at that time. There was Colette and Dover Street Market had just opened, but they had more of everything and I’m not sure they sold online yet. We were selling what we liked: suiting from Margiela, UK grime records, sneakers… Mixing fashion houses with streetwear and printed t-shirts was not as common as it is today. Maybe we played a small part in the merge of fashion and streetwear in menswear, but of course we didn't think about it like that at the time. It was about to happen with or without us but now, when looking back, it's obvious that we had great timing.
Your webshop opened shortly after starting, when e-commerce was not a big thing. But you found a good part of success through there. Do you think it was your way of styling and showing the products what attracted people?
I think the way we mixed brands and our styling was what set us apart. For us, Air Max sneakers were as important as the latest Jil Sander collection, and that resonated well with a lot of people. Our store in Malmö was a bit off the radar, but we managed to buy stuff that, at that time, was kind of ‘off limit0’ if your store wasn't high end enough. I think they were glad that a store far away in Sweden wanted to buy from them. If we were based in Paris it would've been impossible to buy, say, Comme des Garçons as they already had several stores and stockists there. So in a way, we could cherry pick what we liked. At the time, internet shopping was more for memory sticks and technological stuff rather than fashion.
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In 2014 you debuted your first collection. Did all that experience in retail make the design and production process easier? How do you approach to it?
Having a background in fashion definitely helped, but I guess most who start building a fashion brand sit on some kind of experience. Ever since the beginning we believed how we presented things was really important, but I guess you could say that we've used the design of others to build our own look. After a while we felt that we wanted to take it further creatively, and started working on the idea we've always had: making our own collection. All the years that we've worked with Très Bien before the collection made us confident in our own style, and it's important to have that shown in your work. We're also blessed with a fantastic team, people who have studied at Central Saint Martins and such.
How do you manage to work on the retail side as well as the production of Très Bien? How many people is involved in the design and production?
Everything is under one roof. We've got the design studio, a photo studio, our office and warehouse all at the same ground floor in a functional building in the central part of Malmö. We basically take up like half a block. Design and production is separated from the retail part of the company. It's different teams, but we're a small company and we work close to one another. We want it all to be a bit blurred so that everything feels Très Bien, both the final product and how we work with it everyday.
The 2014 collection presented 13 items, from graphic hoodies to technical jackets. How many pieces are you producing for SS2017? Are there any progresses from the first collections?
The spring collection consists of approximately 90 styles, so it's much bigger now. We spend a lot more time developing our own fabrics; that's something we didn't have the possibility to do earlier on. I guess you could say that we get inspiration for our collection from who we've been working with and looking for external brands. We mix high and low, sportswear and high fashion and that goes for this season too. The spring collection reflects this in using fine materials that go with a sporty look.
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Now that you are offering a complete line, can we expect to see Welcome – the collaborative project with Our Legacy – or your minimalistic Merch line again?
Welcome was never intended to live forever, it was a temporary store in Stockholm and a collection we did a few seasons. It was a fun project based on our friendship with Our Legacy and who knows, but at the moment, no. But we're actually working on more items for the Merch line.
The SS 2017 collection will be available at international stores. How do you expect it to be received? This is a great step towards the consolidation of Très Bien as a fashion house.
That's how we want Très Bien to be perceived, as an independent fashion house. Every part is important, the collection, projects that we work with, collaborations, stores and our e-store. I feel quite confident about our collection, we've got some great new stockists this spring. We know the collection sold very well in many stores carrying the line last autumn. But we're not aiming for world domination or to be part of a great trend of the moment – rather to take one step at a time and just keep on doing our thing.
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