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Wåven founder: Personality and perseverance helped break into the denim market

The past two years have been a whirlwind for Anika Islam, founder and creative director of fast-growing contemporary label Wåven. 

Anika Islam, founder of Wåven

Anika Islam, founder of Wåven

Anika Islam, founder of Wåven

 

Anika Islam founded Wåven in 2014 with the aim of creating a lifestyle brand with a reach beyond just denim. It launched with a range of affordable yet trend-focused denim in 2014 and has gained more than 300 stockists – including John Lewis and, this year, Topshop. It is now expanding into new territories including Japan and Canada.

 

How did you manage to break into the competitive denim market?

The fashion industry is already so saturated and there are some major players in denim that do it so well, so it definitely was a challenge when we launched two years ago. I think we managed because we have a really clear vision of what we want to do and who our customer is. It was always a lifestyle brand – not just about selling jeans. Everyone behind the brand is really passionate about it, too, and we’ve managed to inject a lot of personality into it, which comes across and brings the brand to life.

We now have a team of eight people [based in London’s Kensington] and we’re looking for someone to help us grow the business in the US and China.

 

Wåven spring 17

Wåven spring 17

Wåven spring 17

What has been happening over the last six months?

Spring 16 had a great start – we launched in Italy, France and Australia. We have expanded further in markets including Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and Dubai for autumn 16. Consumers really seem to be buying into our clean minimalist aesthetic with trend-led silhouettes, and our accessible price points.

In the UK, we are doing really well with Asos and Selfridges, while Zalando has doubled the size of its order. We’ve launched in Topshop Oxford Circus recently and we’re also in Fenwick and John Lewis. We are holding a denim customisation workshop with Fenwick this week and we want to try and do this with all of our partners during festive seasons. We offer everything from patching, raw hems, distressing, rips and personalised Wåven badges.

How has the collection evolved?

The spring 17 collection has approximately 190 options, up from 60 when we first started. The core prices have remained the same, though – wholesale prices for jeans start at £16. Our most detailed piece is an oversized puffa jacket at £46.67.

What trends are you forecasting for spring 17?

We’ve got some great wide-leg jumpsuits and oversized dungarees – our colour palette is forest green, chinois green and rose pink. We’ve also got some great printed denim, which moves on from last season, and asymmetrical cutaways both on bottoms and tops. We’ve launched a collaboration for a jersey range with street artist Mr Phomer, who has worked with Supreme before. It gives an nice edge to Wåven’s clean and fresh look.

What do you have planned next?

We’re working on collaborations with three or four artists: we’ve given them a few pieces of the existing collection and they’re looking at embroidery and various other techniques. It’s interesting to see how other people interpret the brand.

Wåven spring 17

Wåven spring 17

Wåven spring 17

We’re also thinking about accessories. We’ve just done a small press collection of dog jackets and [Vogue US editor] Anna Wintour’s dogs were wearing them earlier this week, which is great. I expect to launch accessories in the next two seasons. We’ve already got some denim tote bags that have done well, so it will be things like Wåven diaries, hats and gloves.

Where do you make your products?

Everything is made in Bangladesh through our family-owned denim manufacturers, so we have vertical integration, which allows us to experiment but have complete control. [Anika’s father Nazrul Islam Mazumder is the founder of Bangladesh textile conglomerate Nassa Group, which works with retailers and brands including Zara, Marks & Spencer, Mango, Cheap Monday, Asda and JC Penney.]

What advice would you give to anyone starting their own brand?

Perseverance is key. You just have to carry on, whatever happens. Do your research and find your USP – it is really important to have a clear brand identity. Make sure the numbers add up, too, but most importantly believe in what you’re doing and remember that actions speak louder than words.

Wåven spring 17

Wåven spring 17

Wåven spring 17

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