INTERVIEW WITH ARV
What is the most important knowledge you have gained as a designer/brand so far in 2020?
Maikel Tawadros (MT): Patience. Things take time. You can create something unbelievably cool, but that doesn’t ensure instant success. I also learned that having a strong vision makes your story much easier to communicate with your end consumer and while doing that, why not make the process as sustainable as possible? In the end, it’s the consumer who decides if you survive or not. Last but not least, the most important thing is to follow your heart, even though it’s a journey for which you don’t have a map.
What can the Magasin Du Nord Fashion Prize do for you if you win in 2020?
MT: Winning the Magasin du Nord Fashion Prize would mean the world to me. It would allow the opportunity for me to develop my collections/drops by adding more sustainable styles, and explore more sustainable fabrics and production methods.
It would also mean recognition of many years of hard work, and financial freedom for a long period of time.
INTERVIEW WITH ARV
Maikel Tawadros (MT): My background is as a designer. I graduated from Copenhagen Academy of Fashion Design in January 2012 and worked for a variety of brands both before and after graduating as a designer.
I lived in Paris between 2007-2009 while working for the Danish Fashion brand Annhagen.
MT: arv knows that people are at their best without any restrictions.
These are garments that are cool, sustainable, sophisticated, and made for everyone.
What convinced you to start your own brand?
MT:After graduating, I had a strong desire to bring my vision and aesthetic to the Danish fashion scene.
My look was a bit more edgy than what other designers were doing at the time. My shows had a darker approach; that was very personal to me. I wanted people, the press, and my customers to really understand me and my design aesthetic.
What production qualities are found in your designs, and what characterises your products?
MT: I’m a big fan of using natural materials such as organic cotton, deadstock cotton/wool fabrics, upcycled denim, and 100% certified and traceable fox and mink furs from Saga Furs.
My products are characterized by their ”Copenhagen-spirit.” The products appeal to many, but people manage to style and use the pieces in so many cool ways; they really make it their own. My organic cotton crew necks always have a bold, easily recognizable print.
Both my t-shirts and shirts have been worn by a wide range of artists within the music industry as well as many others, both men and women.
How do you consider sustainability in your collections?
MT: As much as possible, everything from my collections is rendered in sustainable fabrics, including organic cotton, deadstock fabrics and yarns, upcycled denim and redone/reworked existing styles.
The quality of my chosen fabrics is crucial when manufacturing these long-lasting styles, and the quality of the final products is of the utmost importance. My suppliers in Europe – Portugal, Poland, Bulgaria, and Denmark – are all small manufacturers with either one person or small teams with approximately 10-15 adult employees working under EU conditions, which are both responsible and ethical.
When possible I work with local artisans such as local furriers, milliners, tailors, and artists in order to have a hands-on-approach in developing my drops. It’s important for me to develop styles that are long-lasting. I also want to minimize transport expenses and do something good for our planet when it comes to pollution.
It’s also vital to me that I use that fantastic Danish craftsmanship.
What have happened with your brand since you participated in Magasin Du Nord Fashion Prize the first time?
MT: Since Magasin du Nord Fashion Prize in 2015 – I continued to developpe my style, my collections, my mind, optimise and took the best I learned from the whole experience including my mentor back then, Peter Ingwersen.
But in February 2017 I went down with stress due to too much work, production difficulties, clients that didn’t pay their invoices which caused financial problems in my small company which resulted in a mental break down.
I had to listen to my body and take a break to recover and figure out if this was actually worth fighting for. I was burned out! Then in May 2018 my spark came back, I was inspired again, I was filled with a new fresh energy. I wanted to make clothes again. I can’t run from my passion for creating beautiful clothes.
But I was determined to do it in a different way with a completely different setup. I didn’t want to design and produce the typical 2 seasons with 2 collections. Instead I wanted to create a cool sustainable unisex wardrobe with good commercial styles that still has the essence of Maikel Tawadros and comes in drops throughout the seasons.
It was extremely important for me to create a brand that is 100% me but I didn’t want to name the the new brand my name like last time because this is a different project, a new me with an eye for sustainability.
The name arv came into mind because I wanted to take the best clothing/styles from the past and translate them into new cool styles.
How do you stand out from the crowd in 2020?
MT: Due to my ups and downs, regaining the passion and energy to start a new brand forced me to think differently when it comes to creating collections. Times are changing and we have to adapt to the new situations going on in the world such as the Covid-19 outbreak, climate change, and the consumer focus on sustainability and social responsibility. arv stands out in the crowd in 2020 by creating small, sustainable, and socially responsible clothes wherein 90% of what we produce is made within the EU and even more locally.
We need to stop overproduction in the fashion industry since it’s one of the most polluting industries in the world.
At arv, we produce small quantities (30-50 pieces) and when a style is sold out, it’s gone forever. My philosophy is to make people consider how they consume; we don’t need to buy a new jacket, bag, and knit every season. It’s an outdated way of thinking. Instead, I hold to the maxim: “quality over quantity”.