We are devoted to making quality accessible for a wider group of people
Maska is dedicated to producing high quality yet well-priced knitwear. What’s the secret formula to this combination?
– We are devoted to making quality accessible for a wider group of people. Quality is rarely cheap but it doesn’t always have to cost a lot either. Achieving quality is also a great deal about knowledge and about making smart choices in production. We spend a lot of time sourcing wonderful fabrics and yarns that have a high quality versus cost ratio. And sometimes we indulge in pure luxury, throw the calculation overboard and enjoy a superb material – like our silk and mohair styles for example.
– We buy exclusive and expensive yarns in Italy and the UK and then we find efficient knitting factories that believe in us, plus we negotiate well. That is how we manage to combine very high material quality with a good price. Then we have lower margins than most brands. We save on marketing, perhaps a bit too much sometimes. I want the product to be what people appreciate with the brand – not the image of it. In the end it is the final customer who pays for ads, photography and fashion shows and that drives all brands to produce cheaper and cheaper. Because the logic in today’s industry is that it’s cheaper to pay for marketing to drive desire of a product than to actually make the product better. We worship our customers too much not to give them the very best product we can. We have the knowledge, so we feel it is our moral responsibility not to sell something of inferior quality just because it’s possible. Also because selling bad products that don’t last is one of the most unsustainable things you can do. As a producer you have a lot of responsibility, in my opinion.
With 50 stockists in 14 countries – which are your biggest markets and where are you growing the most?
– Our brand has been successful on markets where the sense and appreciation of both craftsmanship, natural materials and design is high, like Switzerland and Japan for example. We also have customers in other parts of Asia like Taiwan and Hong Kong and in central Europe.
What is the story behind Maska (founded in 2009)?
– I grew up in a textile family. My great grandmother and my grand mother ran a small sewing mill in the basement of their house in the area of Borås, famous for its textile industry in Sweden. I played there and sew a lot as a kid and the fond memories I have of being there probably affected my choices later in life. My grandmother taught me about true quality and the workmanship behind the products. I also travelled a lot from an early age and spent hours and hours enjoying the luxury sections of department stores in New York, Paris and London learning what fabrics were used and how they looked and draped. Not being able to afford those clothes as a kid I started buying a lot on ebay and vintage instead. I studied economics, crafts and textiles and worked for a couple of Swedish brands gathering experience.
– I hardly ever bought Swedish fashion as I felt that a combination of a modern cut and quality was missing. Especially in knitwear it was either acrylics and polyamides, or styles for someone a lot older than I. Wool was always a favourite material, and I felt it was not appreciated enough in Sweden for its great benefits. It was seen as being hard to care for and itchy instead of a lustrous, versatile and a lasting material. My friend Lisa Leierth and I were knitting a lot in that period and we found such wonderful yarns that we never ever saw anything like in the shops. So we came up with the idea to start a knitwear brand that took the best parts from the hand knitting world – the quality of yarns and the elaborate structures – and made it commercially available. Lisa is educated a HDK in Gothenburg and was also a textile pattern designer. She did the designs, we chose materials and structures together and I put the designs into production. I started going to yarn fairs in Italy and I found all the amazing yarns that we use today in rare cottons, cashmere, silk and Tencel. We started with web sales only and grew a fan base. After a year MASKA started getting requests from stockist abroad and that’s how it started. Today we sell to 14 countries and the AW14 collection has been a bit of a commercial breakthrough.
Which are your eco fashion prediction for 2015?
– I think the material trend will get stronger in women’s wear. It has been part of men’s wear for a long time already. Awareness and knowledge of materials will lead to more sustainable choices. I think the slow food trend have accelerated the process. Wearing wonderful, natural materials is a very sensual experience, just like enjoying a fine wine with a genuine provenance.
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