SANVT sustainable basics – interview with founder Benjamin Heyd

If we talk about staple items in a wardrobe, can we get more classic than a t-shirt and a sweatshirt? Being an iconic piece, from small to big brands, everyone has tried to redefine what is the perfect T-shirt and sweater. Is it even doable to make the perfect t-shirt and sweater? Well, guys and girls it may look like that perfection has been found! Say hi to SANVT.

Threating width and length as individual dimensions. SANVT has developed 20 unique sizes, ensuring you achieve the perfect fit, regardless of preference or body shape. Next to that SANVT is aware of the impact they make on their environment, and therefore go to extreme lengths to ensure sustainable and fair production and smart transportation of their products to ensure to minimize any negative impact. So who is SANVT? Well who better than founder Benjamin Heyd to introduce us to SANVT

Q&A with SANVT founder Benjamin Heyd

Benjamin, can you introduce us to SANVT and explain what triggered you to start SANVT?

SANVT stands for “better made essential clothing”. We want to create daily basics that are of premium quality without breaking the bank. In order to be able to achieve this, we needed to focus on a direct business model, meaning all SANVT products are only available online and not in retail. One needs to bear in mind that the traditional fashion business model automatically causes prices for consumers to be multiplied by three. This is the reason why we can offer a T-Shirt in luxury quality (in fact better than most traditional high-end brands) for 35€ instead of 90€.

This lack in the market and the fact that the fashion industry seems to have lost sight of what is really important to consumers also triggered me to start SANVT. I believe that especially male consumers are tired of ever-changing designs that are quite often overpriced – instead many men are looking for wardrobe staples that are ‘reliable’ in terms of quality, design and price.

How would you describe the core of SANVT aesthetics?

If I need to choose one word, then I would pick “timeless”. Since we are not changing our collection from season to season, we want to make sure that our garments are never out of fashion. We also avoid color and work with white, black and grey. We will obviously be adding some more understated tones such as navy in the future.

In addition, all our garments are pretty stripped back in terms of details. We focus on essentials with a classic appeal – less is definitely more in all of our designs.

Can you explain what “better made essentials” mean for your customers?

Better made for us spans across various aspects, ranging from product development, materials & finishing. All of these aspects share one common goal: superior durability.

During the development, all our garments undergo immense testing and wear trials. This helps us to pinpoint any weak spots and improve. We also continuously re-evaluate our collection, meaning that we tweak our essentials over time. E.g. we just released a new batch of “the perfect T-Shirt” and did some minor changes on shoulder seam and collar in order to improve the fit.

We also craft all our garments from some of the world’s best materials, which we evaluate during the just mentioned testing phase. Here “better made” means for us that material need to feel great initially but also after many years of wear.

Ultimately and the most obvious part of “better made” is the fact that we produce our collection in very renowned factories in Europe. All seamstresses have many years of experience in textile production

and finishing. Now more than ever, a better production also means fair working conditions and treating all of our colleagues with respect while acknowledging their craft. We are more than happy to have found outstanding craftswomen & men in our current factories in Northern Portugal.

What do you find the most challenging while creating garments that need to be ethically, sustainable and affordable?

Patience. I don’t think it is necessarily difficult to create great products that are sustainable and affordable, but internally it requires loads of patience and time. Mainstream options (such as “normal” organic cotton) are widely available, but on a 2nd look, they are not always the most sustainable alternative. The same applies when selecting a new production partner. Finding a partner that treats employees with the level of respect (inc. salary) is not always easy to spot and requires many on-site visits. This usually causes extra costs, which leads us to the last part of the question and affordability. Of course, it would be much cheaper to produce in India, Bangladesh or Vietnam, but it would make control on the ethical element much harder. In order to be still able to offer affordable clothing we needed to change our business model and find other areas to cut down costs (such as distribution): at the end of the day we want to spend our money on areas where it is a real benefit to consumers (material, finishing, etc.) and not on marketing & sales.

If you had to choose, always direct to consumer or partnership with retailers??

As outlined above: always direct. Just by selling direct we can offer great value to our consumer without needing to charge extra margins for retailers.

What is the biggest inspiration behind your collection?

We look into timeless essential pieces and try to bring them into the modern age with a strong focus on luxury materials. Our sweatshirt is a great example of this. Here, we looked into classic American Sportswear, cut it into a modern fit and finished it with an extraordinarily soft and premium French Terry fabric.

Who is the SANVT man and woman?

The SANVT men and women is certainly confident & grown up with a huge appreciation for quality and craftsmanship. There is certainly no age attached, meaning that our consumers can range from university students to a retired doctor.

How do you want your customers to feel when wearing SANVT?

Reassured. To be honest I think clothing should not be the center of a feeling, but rather help to be “safe”. When wearing our garments, customers know that they are never over-dressed nor underdressed but wearing a timeless classic of outstanding quality.

What can we expect from SANVT in the future?

We are already working on an extension of our range. Towards the end of the year, we are hoping to launch a Shirt and some trousers. But we are not in a rush and (as mentioned above) all of our products go through extensive research, testing and wear trials. So exact dates are still TBC.

Aside from the range extensions, we are also contemplating to do a pop-up tour. The exact format is still being developed but most likely it will be more like a showroom and not like a shop.

What role do you think social media plays in fashion today

I think social media is a great tool for consumers nowadays to discover new brands and exciting new products. Obviously, within the mainstream market, I also see some questionable trends. I don’t believe fashion should be successful because a celebrity is lending his or her face – but it should be rather based on a more considered brand philosophy. Unfortunately for the younger generation celebrity endorsement means credibility and quite often sh**** products become massively hyped and successful. Here I especially think of the sneaker market…

What do you use Instagram for?

I think for us Instagram is more of a showcase of what the brand stands for. Obviously, we try to be appealing, so Instagram can lead to some sales, but this is not our number one priority. It’s also a great way to showcase our garments in action and bring a bit more of a “real-life feel” to the brand.

How has Instagram impacted SANVT?

Social media, in general, allowed us in the first place to start SANVT. Years ago, it has been impossible to launch a new brand without big marketing budgets. On Instagram, we can reach our target audience, which obviously is key to be successful. So, the impact is huge in terms of business strategy, but rather minor in terms of the brand philosophy.

What is your point of view on Influencer marketing?

As mentioned above. Using celebrities and random influencers just to sell more is in my eyes, not a great approach. Even though it might lead to some short-term success, this strategy lacks substance and honesty.

On the other hand, working with influencers that reflect the brand philosophy can be hugely beneficial for everyone involved. This is also why we only work with an influencer based on personal relationships – we want to collaborate with people that reflect our values. At the end of the day, this is the only way to create a real authentic brand (inc. the personal brand of the influencer).

What would be your number one Instagram tip as a brand?

Be authentic! Being real to yourself and reflect what you are as a brand is absolute key.

And last but not least, If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning SANVT what would it be?

Follow your instincts. We spend plenty of time researching materials, cuts, factories, etc. Now the time has shown that the first gut feeling is sometimes the best. For this reason, I started to take notes of my initial impression when for example visiting a potential supplier or touch for the first time a new material.


I hope you all enjoyed the Q&A with Benjamin from SANVT and be sure to give @SANVTOFFICIAL a follow on Instagram to stay tuned for new releases and their continuous pursuit to full transparency! If you enjoyed this article, you might also like the Q&A with Artisan Lab or a sweet and short grooming regime to keep your skin young forever 😉

Cheers K!

All photo’s courtesy of @Koiztra & @SANVTOFFICIAL