As we’re always exploring new content opportunities & avenues, we’re happy to announce our Heddels Exclusive series. Compared to some of our other more timely or educational articles, the Exclusive series will include interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and promotions that are solely available to our readers.
To kick off our first exclusive interview, we had the pleasure of chatting with Brandon Svarc, founder and designer of Naked & Famous; after catching him live-in-origami-folding-action over the weekend.
While the man has been interviewed by a dozen or so other websites and the brand requires no introduction, we asked him 10 questions that we believe no one has yet to shoot his way…
RD: Though you were introduced into this business through your family (almost 60 years of industry experience!), what is it specifically about raw denim that you are so passionate about?
BS: I love raw denim because it’s a blank canvas that can be created into something that is fun and functional. It’s the same reason that I love origami: creating “something from nothing” is the greatest thing in the world to me.
RD: When you’re not keeping the N&F machine churning, you’re spending much time on the workwear label, Paulrose Products, that your grandfather founded. Can you tell us more about the label? What are your plans for it? Can we expect a Paulrose x N&F collaboration?
BS: My grandfather Paul and my grandmother Rose founded this brand about 50 years ago as a Canadian-made workwear brand. They made lots of overalls, jeans and other workwear items. After my grandpa passed away I decided to recreate the brand in his honour. I guess you could say this is my “heritage” brand.
We will keep it a bit smaller and more exclusive than N&F in terms of distribution and it will be all unsanforized with more heritage details and fits. I don’t see the need for a Paulrose X N&F collabo. We’ll keep both brands as individuals.
RD: Another sister brand of yours that is quite popular, but not many aware is yours, is Unbranded. What was your thought process and inspiration behind starting this line? Anything in the pipeline for the brand?
BS: Right, The Unbranded Brand is also our creation. We created this brand because I saw young dudes in high school who really wanted to get into raw selvedge denim, but who can’t afford a pair of $130 or $140 jeans. Unbranded is 15oz raw selvedge denim for around $80 retail which is much more attainable for many folks. While Unbranded is made in China, the sewing quality is excellent, and this brand is growing quite quickly.
It is a concept brand made to challenge any branded product, even N&F. With Unbranded, all you pay for is jeans. We don’t even have to make brand labels or buttons or stamp the leather patch!
We have 3 fits in indigo, black and grey and we’ll add another fabric for Spring.
RD: You’re a self-proclaimed denim nerd (and workaholic, given what N&F has released and achieved in a short amount of time!). What else are you borderline obsessed with that keeps the creative juices flowing?
BS: I used to be obsessed with import Japanese cars and aftermarket tuning, but when the first “The Fast & The Furious” movie came out in kinda ruined it for me. It went from being an artistic expression to just simply… “bro”.
I am also obsessed with music and my record player. I love 60’s and 70’s proto-punk music like The Velvet Underground, Modern Lovers, Television, etc. Those bands were brilliant and ahead of their time.
RD: N&F has grown in leaps & bounds since its inception in 2006, expanding to new markets & garments like suits, wallets, lighter cases, and duffle bags. What’s the next frontier look like?
BS: Well we are still a small company, but I am proud of what we have accomplished in a short period of time. One aspect of our “next frontier” is to grow our womens collection. Girls keep asking us for jeans and we really don’t have much for them. I think that’s a shame, so we will go big for womens for Fall 2012 season!
RD: You’re a big advocate of Japanese selvedge raw denim and the craftsmanship that goes into the material. Are there any Japanese denim brands that you admire and look to for inspiration? Why?
BS: I love and am inspired by many amazing Japanese denim brands like The Flat Head, Studio D’artisan, Eternal, Momotaro, Samurai and more. I love the passion and obsession with detail, quality and story. These brands are built to be cult brands and I love that they don’t give a shit about “fashion”.
RD: Aside from clothing-related brands and concepts, are there any cultural figures, artists, places, etc. that have influenced you and N&F?
BS: Lou Reed is a big inspiration for me. I’ve never met him, and I’m not saying I’m as talented as him, but what he did was pure genius. His band, The Velvet Underground, created something different and amazing but also raw and simple.
They did crazy things and broke the rules and paved the way for thousands of new bands and even genres of music. It just makes me want to create crazy and unique products that push the limits and not play by industry rules.
RD: Why should people care about N&F over all other options? What makes you guys different from everyone else?
BS: No brand in the world has the variety of crazy and innovative denim fabrics that we have. We offer product value to our consumers while other brands offer fancy designs and celebrities. And, we proudly make all our jeans in Canada!
RD: I’m sure you get this question every other day, but as you are almost like the mad scientists (dare I say, Willy Wonka?) of denim, what’s in the short and long-term works for N&F?
BS: Willy Wonka is a good man and makes excellent candy products. Soon we will release a dark indigo denim that fades with red marks, as well as various other fun and strange fabrics. Long term fabric developments are top secret for now!
RD: Not many people know that you have a degree in Finance, have previous entrepreneurial experience in PR, and founded N&F when you were 24. For those who are interested or thinking about “taking the leap”, any advice to lend?
BS: When any young or new entrepreneur asks me for advice when starting a clothing brand, I often give this recommendation… “Sell it yourself”.
No one loves the brand as much as the founder and no one knows more about the brand than the founder, so if you are a small startup, how can the founder let anyone else sell their products?