We are a few months into the release of the debut collection of About Companions, so I thought it was about time to get the two founders on this blog and talk about About Companions, the release of their debut collection and how those first months have been!
Q&A with About Companions founders Thies and Stephan
First of all congratulations on launching your brand About Companions, but before we dive into the details of About Companion can you tell us a bit more about your background and how did you roll into the fashion industry?
Thies: Thank you! Right after I finished my fashion design study in Berlin in 2014, we launched our first FRISUR ready-to-wear collection and from there we grew our network of retailers one by one. We traveled a lot during this time.
Stephan: That’s right. That was our “official” starting point, but actually, we’ve been selling and producing small collections already when we were still in school. That was of course more of a hobby but it definitely laid the ground for all that came after.
With Frisur you already had a successful clothing line for both men and women that focused on making honest, sustainable, and timeless wardrobe pieces, so what was the main reason for starting About Companions as a separate menswear brand?
Stephan: We’ve received a lot of great feedback from our retailers about our menswear line. Currently, it’s quite easy to find sustainable streetwear or essentials but there seems to be a gap for ethical classics. We’re happy that our designs seem to fill this gap for conscious menswear customers.
Thies: With FRISUR we always had to communicate menswear and womenswear simultaneously. That wasn’t too easy, so there were situations where we had to compromise some ideas just for the sake of being coherent. Now they’re separated we are much more free to grow About Companions with all its possibilities.
Considering these are challenging times for everyone, did you reconsider at any moment to postpone the launch of About Companions, or did you see an opportunity?
Thies: Of course, we were wondering a lot whether this is the best move in current times. But we were confident and went forward with it. The feedback we’re receiving since the launch proves we had the right feeling about what is needed in menswear right now.
Stephan: Yes, we talked to many of our retailers, whose trust and loyalty towards us and our products gave us the confidence to definitely move forward with this brand. Even in these times.
With consumer preferences shifting towards more sustainable and ethical clothing, we see a lot of brands jump on the “sustainability train” but in fact just greenwash. Can you share some insights on the challenges you face in actually operating as an ethical and sustainable brand?
Stephan: Tough one. We’re thinking about this constantly! Here’s an example: A vegan lifestyle is a great way to reduce harm on our planet. At the same time, certified wool makes for incredibly long-lasting natural garments that enable savings on water and energy. We always felt that one single label like “sustainable” doesn’t capture the whole impact – quite the opposite, it is even destructive to our progress.
Thies: Yes, that’s why we decided that – for us –transparency is the way to move forward. We are disclosing comprehensive information for each product right on the hangtag. Our goal is to educate our customers, so they can make informed buying decisions.
An interesting offer from About Companions is your repair service to extend the lifetime of your clothing. So how does this actually work? And what if the items are beyond repair, what happens with the item?
Stephan: Yes, each product comes with a QR code which is in fact the Repair Voucher. Of course, our products are made to last through quite some wear, that’s why the voucher is valid for a lifetime.
You go to great lengths to disclose the social and environmental impacts of each garment. How do you ensure that the facts and figures are correct over time?
Thies: We are also working on a GOTS certification ourselves. For a brand our size it’s nothing you can get overnight. But knowing the complexity of a garments supply chain we believe in independent control.
To withstand the test of time, the design of clothing is essential, how would you describe the core of the About Companions aesthetics
Thies: Yes, we have been producing our own textiles for almost 10 years now together with a number of long-time partners all over Europe. This way we can really design from the yarn, determine color, touch, weight, etc freely.
What is the biggest inspiration behind the debut collection of About Companions?
Thies: To me it’s the fabrics. We’ve introduced some exciting new materials such as Tencel blends and some beautiful certified Linens.
Who is the About Companions man?
Stephan: I’d say it is someone that values longevity. Someone that is persistent in following their ideas and ideals with an eye for aesthetics.
How do you want your customers to feel when wearing About Companions?
Thies: Definitely comfortable! Our fits really allow for different body shapes and are cut rather roomy. And aside from that, many customers shared with us that they feel neat without feeling overdressed.
With a few months behind us since the initial launch, looking back, is there anything you would have done differently pre-launch?
Stephan: To be honest, so far we didn’t get to a retrospect yet. The past months have brought us all kinds of different challenges that we are still adapting to day to day, week to week. But listening to the overwhelming feedback of the first About Companions customers we seem to be on the right way.
And last but not least, looking ahead, what can we expect from About Companions in the upcoming year?
Thies: For now, we are very excited and grateful to launch our second collection! We’re preparing the production cycle now. And as always, we improve where we can, so we’ll offer more insights, share more knowledge and be even more transparent.
Stephan: It’s a work in progress and, ultimately, it’s what motivates us.
All photo’s courtesy of @Koiztra & About Companions