Is it normal to walk into a basement that is somehow lighter than outside? In some kind of Scandinavian-minimalist sorcery, Armoire d’homme founder Kjetil Aas has created an underground showroom that feels bright and spacious. I don’t know exactly how he did it but it seems to involve a lot of white, a cactus or two and one very organized desk.
It’s this kind of classic elegance that Aas, educated in Denmark and originally from Norway, brings into his menswear.
“I have two principles when it comes to my designs,” he tells me. “one is that the pieces be relevant regardless of trends. Of course I have to understand trends but that’s not what Armoire d’homme is about. I want it to be timeless.”
The crisp white button-down shirts and impeccably tailored jackets certainly get the point across.
And the second principle? “Sustainability, as much as possible.” Aas explains, “It’s impossible to be completely sustainable in the fashion industry. After all, you’re bringing more goods into a world that is pretty packed. For production you different challenges, such as minimums which are hard to control. So it’s more about being conscious. It doesn’t make sense to me to create something new without having these things in mind.”
Kjetil continues, “so I try as much as possible to work with materials like organic cotton, tencel and high quality materials. I also design clothes that I feel will survive the test of time, not just physically but stylistically.”
The Scandinavian aesthetic is a big part of how Armoire d’homme defines itself. Aas points to the idea of clothes being “quiet” as important. “You have to get close to the pieces to appreciate them.”
When I ask him about his influences, Aas thinks for a moment. “There are different kind of influences,” he says. “aesthetically, Margaret Howell is someone I think of as always on top of the game. Her designs are consistently amazing. In terms of the fashion business, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons is a huge inspiration. She has managed to be successful both commercially and artistically. That’s rare.”
Having worked for Won Hundred, Matinque and most recently Norse Projects, Aas started Armoire d’homme 18 months ago, with Autumn/Winter 2013 as his first collection. Due to his varied background Kjetil felt that he had a rounded experience of Scandinavian brands to draw from and could then include his own sense of style.
His second collection, called Version 2.0 for Spring/Summer 2014, will be available along with selected re-runner styles from Version 1.0 at his webshop, in Samsoe Samsoe Illum and at Soulland.
Asked what his ideal customer looks like, Kjetil notes first, “mature men. Ages 25-35 and upwards. Of course if young men want to buy my work I’m happy for that, but I design with older men in mind. I think Armoire d’homme appeals to the man that understands the link between quality and price.”
Most importantly, Armoire d’homme is for the man (or woman! Seriously, this line is gorgeous) who wants a closet of minimalist, beautifully made pieces that will be as chic in twenty years as they are today. It’s for the man who is comfortable with his sense of style.
“The eventual idea with my collections, because the build on each other, is to create a complete wardrobe for the classically dressed man.”
One thing you won’t find in Armoire d’homme’s pieces: the color black. “Dark navy blue is the new black! I prefer to work without black” Aas says. It’s a small distinction that reverberates throughout Versions 1.0 and 2.0; there’s a lightness and unexpectedness to the pieces when taken in sum.
Although the idea is to form the “perfect” wardrobe, Aas assures me that he isn’t into perfectionism. “Perfect can be bloody boring!” he says.
Looking through the racks of clothes in the showroom, I’m not so sure I agree.
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