No. 5

A PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT – A NARRATIVE DIVERSITY OF LUXURY

Written by Ksenia Rundin

A Public Announcement’s (APA) founder and designer Viktor Söderholm brings together his creative Swedish spirit with the virtuous style configuration of New York City. Connecting characteristic animalistic images such as an elephant or a lion, the designer creates a number of polysemic messages for the customers. The imagination is the limit. The superior quality and clean design construct a unique assumption of the contemporary luxury accompanied by a sustainable production model.

The dynamic virtue of the patterns leads the associative thought back to the days of Andy Warhol and the all-encompassing creative community of the 1970s in New York. Furthermore, an intriguing reference to the Swedish functionality and laconic simplicity could also be recognized.

Thus, the brand signifies a unification of two cultures, each possessing own particular features. These features are turned into physical garments with own cultural combination, adding a narrative diversity to the contemporary aesthetics. We at Odalisque Magazine have asked Viktor a number of questions, which we think might be interesting for you. Please enjoy the interview!

Please tell your story from the idea to the launch of the brand? How did it start?
Like much in, life the idea behind A Public Announcement came from a coincidence and curiosity. I was traveling to Ulaanbaatar capital of Mongolia, on a business trip and I had a day off and went to something called the black market (it is not what it sounds like) and I came across beautiful silk, yak yarn and of course pure cashmere. Before I knew it, I was sitting in a conference room with a renowned Mongolian cashmere production company, discussing ways how to make my non-existing idea at this point, to reality.

How would you identify contemporary luxury in the light of your own brand?
The problem with contemporary luxury is that it is often misinterpreted. I don’t fully agree that contemporary luxury has to be cold, with sharp edges and futuristic which is the opposite to “A Public Announcement”.  To me the contemporary luxury side of APA, is about wearing something luxurious such as cashmere, in the present that is slightly unique from “ordinary” cashmere brands, making you feel anything but ordinary.

Could you say a couple of words about your business model/-s and the value proposition in it/those?
Have the guts to go against numbers sometimes. If you feel right about certain key aspects in your business model and you can work around them even though it might hurt you financially or on other ends, do it. 

How would you identify the aesthetics of your brand?
We try to create recognition around our designs that are mainly based around animal inspired themes.  From the very first design, the elephant, people’s reaction was great. It kind of gave us an idea on what creative path we wanted to take. What would be the next animal to have on a sweater and what would people like to wear? Since then, every season or should I say every drop, involves new animal inspired knits. Personally, that’s one of the greatest moments of the design part, when you suddenly realize, “Yes, that is what you were doing on our next sweater.” For example, without saying too much, our next drop involves a Bee, a Jellyfish and a Rooster. That’s our aesthetics.

Some of your items are produced in Italy and some in Mongolia. What is the logic behind?
We actually moved our entire production to Italy; we only get our yarn from Mongolia. They’re several reasons why we produce in Italy. For starter we have much more visibility in our production when producing in Italy not to mention the craftsmanship is higher. The fact that we are able to buy yarn from renowned producers such as Loro Piana and Biagioli Modesto is also a huge advantage. I mean they are really the high rollers of cashmere production.

How does the production chain look like?
It starts with gathering of cashmere takes place in Mongolia on the countryside by farmers. Then, it is being transported to facilities, where it is processed, washed with soap and quality checked. Once the cashmere has been approved, it is being shipped to Italy, where the production takes place.

Is there any difference in quality of cashmere? How to recognize a good one?
Unfortunately, to recognize high quality cashmere from not as good is hard by just touching the clothing. The quality is first revealed after being used.  I would say the easiest way to spot good cashmere from bad is after wearing the clothing a few times. You will start to see the fibers, how it reacts to usage. If it peels on certain spots, for example where you have your bag, where there is repeatedly motions, it's perfectly normal. However if it start peeling all over, it means the cashmere threads aren’t long enough, hence the peeling. Those threads/yarn are usually sold to lower price, it is still considered as cashmere but different in quality.

Wool vs cashmere, what to choose and why?
Wool is more durable, it's an excellent yarn and we are actually working on a blend in merino wool/cashmere. It is not as soft as cashmere but for everyday use. It works almost just as well. Cashmere is more elegant yarn, which is more fragile but also gives you a more luxurious feel, hence being called “the gold of yarn”

How do you think the notion of luxury will change during the common years?
It’s already changing. We are living in an era of social media. When I grew up, I was taught luxury trough magazines, traveling, family and my surroundings. Today anything can go global within a blink of an eye. For the good and the bad. Unfortunately, I think many times the marketing aspects from social media is many times misleading due to the influence or the person sharing the material. For example, our motif sweaters take time to make; they are delicate and made in an expensive yarn. Those are few components that are constituting luxurious clothing to me. Today there are products, made in cotton (keep in mind not even good cotton) branded and worn by some semi celebrity or influencers, and all of a sudden it’s considered as a luxurious piece. I guess to sum it up, before people actually cared about the quality and origin of the product, today luxury goes hand and hand with an icon and not the actual product.

What distinguishes you from other cashmere brands?
For sure our patterns but also the fact that we do not compromise in quality. There are cashmere brands out there that also takes quality in to consideration when production their line but far too many are greedy and cutting corners in quality, which sadly sometimes makes it harder for us to justify our pricing. Because a cashmere sweater is a cashmere sweater, right?

How to create a sustainable cashmere wardrobe? Where to start?
To be honest, everything doesn’t have to be sustainable but a good start is to at least have something if you’re planning on wearing cashmere. Pay little extra and buy sweater less. APA whole concept is to buy clothing that last.

See more at: https://www.apublicannouncement.com/