Launched towards the end of 2018 by brother-and-sister duo Nanna and Simon Wick, Copenhagen-based design and fashion label (di)vision has already secured a loyal following for its distinct take on upcycling and create-from-what-already-is principles.
Interview JOHAN MAGNUSSON Photography LASSE DEARMAN
Many brands have utilised deadstock and played with upcycling but (di)vision stands out with workwear-inspired outerwear. The brand has a pioneering spirit and, in touch with the times, it has an NFT — Ozzy the alien — which they created in collaboration with Brand New Vision and adidas Originals. As NFTs and upcycling have a crucial part to play in the future of the Scandinavian fashion industry, continued success lies ahead.
What was your vision from the beginning?
— To build a fashion brand with an ideology of working with already existing materials, the duo says. We were super inspired by other reconstructing and upcycling brands, such as readymade or Greg Lauren, the problem was that they were too expensive for us to buy. We wanted to create a concept where it was possible to work with upcycling at a much more scalable pace without a big production. That’s actually how the ”split design,” which we continuously work with, started. It wasn’t too much work to do a simple reconstruction and we added the zipper as a signature to allow you to play with the colours yourself, and mix different styles together for longer longevity. Our very first product, which is still our most popular, was the Split bomber jacket. When we started, we worked with military surplus pilot jackets, buying old military stock and reconstructing them at our small 15 square metre workspace, putting a zipper in the back and mixing the colours together in a split design.
Your team has grown into five full-time employees plus interns, with you Nanna working with the creative design direction and with you Simon on commercial aspects such as brand building, sales, and marketing.
— We like to see ourselves as a family business. Last year we hired Nanna’s boyfriend Jakob to help us with the operative side of the business.
How do you source the fabrics? And how’s the design process working with surplus fabrics?
— Most of our production and sourcing is based in Prato, just outside Florence, in Italy. There’s a lot of fashion and fabric production in that area, which means a lot of deadstock fabrics. We work with local suppliers that buy the leftover fabrics from other productions. Working with deadstock and surplus comes with a lot of different problems. Such as, you never know what is available and how much is left, which, as you can imagine, limits us in the design process. We can have this idea of a jacket in a specific colour or fabric, but if it’s not available there is not much to do. We try to make it a part of the design process. When we design a collection we have an idea of how it should turn out, but it often ends up with some amazing ideas we wouldn’t have thought of. When we find a fabric that’s amazing but in a low quantity, we try to see how we can work with it anyway, such as creating exclusive pieces for the retailers we work with. There are endless ways of how we work to not limit ourselves.
How’s the industry treating you? Do you get a lot of interest from other brands and industry players?
— Yes, we’ve had so much good feedback from the industry and it feels like other brands and industry players really like it when you do things differently. It opens up your mind to what is possible. We feel the same way! Almost any time we see something innovative towards a more responsible fashion production, we get so psyched.
One great example of this interest is your second collab with adidas Originals, this time with an NFT. What did you present?
— We’re so interested in the metaverse, future digital wearables, and NFTs, and want to expand the (di)vision universe wider than just the physical space. We’re aware that it’s a process that’s going to take a while, so we’re doing small initiatives to get our community involved. For our AW22 collection, we created an NFT called Ozzy. It’s an animation of an alien wearing one of our looks from the show. To minimise the barrier between physical and digital, the NFT owners will also get the outfit that Ozzy is wearing. We gave out 10 NFTs for the attendees and 15 more were sold afterwards. These 15 sold out in 30 seconds, so I guess we’re getting somewhere — expect much more in the metaverse from (di)vision in the coming year.