What’s the big idea?
After two years retailing as a conventional fashion business, fashion designer Oda Midtlyng Klempe and graphic designer Mari Stølan have radically rethought the business model of their label SØLV. “We wanted to bring something different to fashion,” says Klempe. “Clothing is removed from how we think about products – it has become about fashion rather than clothing. Our aim is for people to buy less and invest in what they love. We don’t feel people need to renew their wardrobe every season.”
So, they turned to the principles of “slow fashion”.
I’ve heard of the slow food movement, but what is “slow fashion”? In slow fashion the decision to buy a garment is based on long-term thinking rather than trends. “We see ‘slow’ in food, and in furniture making,” says Stølan. “A movement is growing as we speak, and it is about time that fashion takes a step away from its trend-based ways, and considers slow as the new permanent black.”
How does it work?
Instead of producing two or more collections each year, SØLV now produces just one collection with a focus on a particular type of garment: the first season under the new business model featured coats (from NOK2,700). Customers place pre-orders (via the webshop or pop-up stores) and five months later receive their clothes. In 2014, giftcards will also be available to buy. “We started with coats because it is the kind of clothing people understand making an investment in,” says Klempe.
Five months is a long time to wait. What’s in it for me?
While the garments are being made, you get a step-by-step insight into the manufacturing process, including postcards from the factory in Portugal and regular newsletters. “It is also part of the concept that people should know how their clothing is produced,” says Klempe. “We find people are excited by this and hungry for knowledge about where things come from.”
If it’s all pre-order, how do I know the clothes will fit?
SØLV holds weekly fittings in the studio at Mesh, a collaborative workplace in the heart of Oslo. They also host pop-up events in cities around Norway. The new collection will launch in February and events are listed on their website.
Who makes the clothes?
“We don’t want to produce more than is going to be used,” says Klempe. “So, it’s important we work closely with manufacturers.” The fabric is 100% Norwegian, spun from local wild sheep wool at Hillesvåg Woolfactory in Bergen, and woven into fabric at Krivi Weavery in Tingvoll. Everything is then made by Riopele, a factory in Portugal.
What are people saying about it?
“We have had really good feedback, which we are happy about, as we weren’t sure how the concept was going to work with pre-ordering,” says Klempe. And, it’s not only customers who have good things to say. This year, SØLV was nominated for Best Norwegian Designer by Nåløyet, and the Young Talent Award hosted by the Norwegian Design Council.