Behind the brand – A chat with our Founder and Creative Director, Eystein Cato Wang about the idea behind Scandinavian Edition, design and life as an entrepreneur.
Start by telling us about yourself. Where do you come from and what do you do?
My name is Eystein Cato Wang and I live in Asker, which is a suburban area 20 minutes outside of Oslo, Norway. I am the owner and Creative Director of Scandinavian Edition, which I founded with two friends from Stockholm back in 2010.
How did the idea of Scandinavian Edition come to life?
We have to go back to 2010 when I was visiting some friends in Stockholm. It was fall and the weather was really bad – rain and wind for days. I spent the most of my visit hanging out in their apartment looking outside at all the people running by with their umbrellas and wool coats. It just looked like these people were frustrated by having to deal with the elements. It got me thinking that there should be an alternative to the traditional coat – a product, which would stand the test of Scandinavian weather conditions, yet still look good enough for people to wear at work. I discussed the idea with my friends and their response was positive. We all agreed that we lacked good alternatives to the traditional coat. Long story short, we ended up making 400 jackets that we sold to family and friends. For a while that was all we did, until our first customers started asking us about the future and requested that we make more jackets. We eventually started a full scale production in 2015 and now sell to over 130 stores world wide.
Why Scandinavian Edition?
Because when we first started the design process – we looked at Scandinavian furniture and architecture for inspiration. The term “Scandinavian design” dates back to the 1950’s and was used to characterize the style and artistic expression in Scandinavia for that era. The style can be described as highly functional, clean lines, and with soft natural colors. The terms simplicity, minimalism and functionality are the backbone of Scandinavian design, something we felt connected to, and wanted to put into our jackets… Scandinavian Edition was chosen to solidify these terms in our brands vision from day one. To this day, we use furniture and architectural design as inspiration rather than fashion trends when we design our jackets.
What is your definition of great design and how do you put that into life in Scandinavian Edition?
Coming from a background which involved skiing all winter in harsh Scandinavian weather, I have always been inspired by how outdoor brands combine technical function with design. I believe that design can be both functional and good looking… there is room for both. When designing a Scandinavian Edition jacket, we think about how that jacket and its properties will fulfill a purpose. For example, creating a waterproof jacket is easy if you only think about keeping water out, but you also need to factor in breathability, fit and feeling. At Scandinavian Edition, we play around with different materials to find an option that will improve functionality in areas such as keeping the overall weight low in combination with waterproofness. We also put great emphasis on fit because it does not matter if you are dry as a dessert if the jacket is uncomfortable to wear.
Functionality seems like an important keyword in your design process..?
Functionality is definitely an important part of our design philosophy. For us it is tied to many aspects of our design process, but maybe the most apparent is material selection. We have spent a great deal of time searching for materials that meet our standards and definition of function. Most people know about materials used in traditional outdoor jackets and their quality. These materials are great and definitely increases functionality in jackets made for high intensity sports such as skiing etc., but for urban commuting – you need a different combination of functionality. The materials will not see the same type of stress as in sports and therefore you can change the material factors to achieve a result that is more optimized for our type of use. The end result is a softer and lighter jacket, which is more comfortable to wear, yet still 100% waterproof and breathable. Perfected for urban use.
You’re an entrepreneur with your own business. How would you describe the road you’ve travelled so far?
Definitely as something I would have never been able to script in advance. There are so many ups and downs about running a business on your own. There is so much I have had to learn just by doing, which can be both scary and thrilling at once. Luckily I have had people around me that supported the idea and wanted to see Scandinavian Edition succeed. Having support from coworkers, friends and family is probably one of the most important factors in regards to achieving success with your own business.
As an entrepreneur, what motivates and drives you the most?
The best feeling in the world is when you talk to customers and they talk about how much they love our jackets. The feeling of being responsible and part of creating something that others can enjoy and feel good about – is the greatest motivational driver. When we attend fairs and tradeshows we sometimes have designers from other brands stopping by our booth. To hear designers from other brands that we admire talk about the quality, fit and finesse they see in our jackets is something truly special, and something that drives me in my everyday work with design.
What’s in store for Scandinavian Edition for the future? What are you working on?
We have a lot of interesting things lined up for the future. There are new models in our pipeline for SS20 and future seasons that I am really looking forward to release. In a wider perspective – the industry as a whole is changing drastically with more focus on sustainability and greener solutions. Scandinavian Edition is invested in exploring better alternatives for sourcing materials and finding more sustainable options. We are already working with BlueSign® fabrics for our AW collections, which means that the raw materials, dyes or chemical auxiliary materials we use are tested based on the bluesign® CRITERIA and optimized for sustainability. Also, most of our insulation is made from 100% recycled PET plastic bottles. Our main focus is on making quality products built to last. Unlike fashionable products we strive to create timeless design – even in today’s throwaway society. A long-lasting product designed for multiple purposes reduces the need for excess products, which is probably the most important contribution to the preservation of the environment.