Please could you introduce yourself and your brand.
My name is Eleny Kasemets and I’m the founder of Vill Vill, a brand of woollen garments that represents Nordic minimalistic cuts and slow fashion. I’m a painter/designer and mother of two boys (4 and 6 years old). Before having kids I was working in marketing for international high street and sportswear brands. After a decade in the industry I reached a point where I needed a change - to break out from the senseless circle of consumption and promotion of that. I went back to university to study fine arts and started experimenting with various art and design forms as a means of self expression.
The idea of Vill Vill sprouted a couple of years ago when I moved to Berlin. I noticed that timeless and sustainable Nordic knitwear would fit well into the chilly western European winters. Fast forward a year and Vill Vill was born. We are a boutique design studio where the talent and skills of the people closest to me are brought together to form a brand. My mother is a skilled seamstress and my mother-in law a seasoned knitter. They are the ones who helped me getting my ideas into real shape.
All our products are knitted in Estonia, while design and marketing are done in Germany where the majority of our customer base is. So this is a family business at its core that has its roots in Estonia and head office in Berlin. Also the name of the brand comes from the Estonian word vill that means wool.
What is the most important consideration when developing new pieces?
Vill Vill products are timeless and minimalistic. We do not develop seasonal collections, but rather focus on having a palette of timeless high quality products made from natural materials, that do not lose their value or style with the change of trends.
Our product range consists of five articles: a short sweater, a long sweater, a long sweater with pockets, a cardigan and a coat. The brand and its designs have evolved organically. We started off by creating a simple well-fitting cardigan. Once we had the cut perfect, we used it as a baseline to develop the coat.
Then we felt that a shorter pullover could fit into the bunch. Having created that we realised that a longer version covering the hips would also be very nice and practical. So we develop step by step. Our plan for the future is to continue with this main collection that grows naturally in time, and from time to time maybe shake things up a bit with seasonal limited edition additions (e.g. crazy colours, changes to cuts).
All your garments are handmade, on average how long does it take to knit one item?
The time to develop a product depends on the cut - the short sweater takes about 30 hours to knit while the felted coat takes around 75 hours. The felting technology requires that the original knitted piece is double the size of the end product, as during the process the material will shrink drastically. As to the material, we use double yarn, so it takes around 5,5 km per felted coat and around 3 km per cardigan.
Who or what inspires you the most?
Nature, art, architecture, minimalism and of course my dear friends and family – with them the new ideas just come flying in.
What makes Vill Vill unique?
We created Vill Vill with the aim of offering a range of timeless high quality woollen products that stand the test of time. The brand is for people who appreciate high quality handicraft and sustainable design that serves a purpose.
We believe that by revealing the details about the time and the material used for creating each product, this will inspire consumers to take better care of it and hence wear it for a longer period. This is our way of picketing against fast fashion and consumerism which are very stressful to the environment. We care. Our mission is to make garments that last a long time.
What is your essential winter piece?
Definitely the felt coat - it is super warm and its relaxed cut looks good no matter what size you wear. I am a size S but occasionally I love to wear the coat in size L in order to achieve an effortless oversized look.
Could you tell us about any upcoming exciting projects planned for 2017?
There are a lot of interesting things cooking. As to the collection, we are creating a range of accessories and upgrading some of the current designs. Our production is already almost waste free and we are aiming at also achieving a zero-waste consumption chain by figuring out how to reclaim and reuse the materials in our products. So I’m really excited about the future.