INTERVIEW: MEET THE FOUNDER OF OUR NEW BRAND EMBASSY OF BRICKS & LOGS

This season we’re introducing a new label in our agency portfolio; urban outerwear brand Embassy of Bricks & logs. We’ve asked founder and designer Niko Vatheuer what inspired him to start his brand.

When Niko Vatheuer started his brand in 2015 he wasn’t a newbie to the industrie. Nico had been working in fashion for more than two decades, running a successful streetwear fashion brand before.

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WHY DID YOU QUIT YOUR OTHER LABEL AND START THE EMBASSY OF BRICKS & LOGS? “Things changed when my first daughter was born. I became more aware of what was going on in the world and my industry for that matter. And that’s what inspired me to start a new business, which had to be in line with my core beliefs.

WHAT WERE THOSE REDISCOVERED VALUES?

COULD YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF DESIGN FOR YOU AND YOUR BRAND? Through my designs, I aim to bring a high-quality streetwear approach into the realm of ethical fashion. To accomplish our mission I strongly believe in putting design first.

We want to make a great product that wins people over. Then, in the next step, make this product as sustainable as possible without compromising on quality.
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How would you describe your designs?

My designs are focussed on contemporary, utilitarian silhouettes with a functional approach and the use of hand selected premium materials.

By designing quality, favorite pieces with cuts and colors that are more than just the fad of the season, Embassy coats have an extended life-span, making them slow-fashion by definition, a counter-concept to the overproduction of today's big fashion players.

As a brand, we’re taking a stand against the appalling practices in today‘s fashion industry while maintaining an uncompromising quality standard – creating pieces that are sustainable through outstanding craftsmanship and longevity.

On your website you state that Fair labor conditions and safe working conditions are a must! How do you assure this for your brand?

We proudly manufacture our collections in Vietnam. From the very beginning, we made it a point to work with smaller production partners, who are in need of the business, and are keen to grow together with us – while maintaining a friendly, even familiar vibe.

We only work with partners who can guarantee good working conditions for their employees. With an embassy staff on site in Saigon, it‘s easy to stay in touch with our manufacturers, assure high ethical standards, a good approach to working conditions and fair payment of the garment workers. And due to the small-business-approach, we are able to ensure that every production step is done in-house: No outsourcing, no sub–contracting.

We‘re visiting our partners regularly and are working on establishing a long term working relationship with them. It's our goal to create stable business opportunities, longevity and sustainable planning for them.

From our personal point of view, a real connection and a personal touch can tell us more than a certificate ever could.

Now that being said, getting certified throughout our supply chain is one of our main goals when it comes to the production process. We're on our way!

Speaking of certifications, your entire collection is already PETA approved vegan. How important is having this accreditation for you?

For us, sustainability starts and ends with taking a wholesome approach, including every living being in our supply chain – this includes animals and therefore animal-derived products. After all, animal agriculture is the second highest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Can you tell us a bit more about the materials you use?

Most of our fabric suppliers are from South-Korea. South-Korea is a highly developed country and offers the best fabrics in the textile industry of the Far East, comparable to what Italy means to Europe.

Our materials are bought from manufacturers that are mostly certificated (oeko-tex or blue sign), such as YKK, Thermore and others.

For our padding, we use faux down fillings and paddings. In this area of expertise, we‘re constantly doing research, talking to new suppliers and trying to find new angles. The sustainable market has become a very dynamic one and so we‘re on the lookout for new, exciting finds always. We understand it as part of the brand‘s DNA to find the best solution for each item we create. 

For example, one of the padding materials we use is called Thermore®, a Faux-Down material made from recycled PET-bottles from the world‘s oceans. One Embassy-coat made with Thermore® contains up to 10 PET-bottles.

 We also work with the very innovative Sorona® – a material trademarked by DuPont®, –which offers highly functional down filings made of renewably sources such as i.e. corn.

Last but not least, we use T3 Eco made insulation by Thermolite® – Thermolite®´s inventor Invista is well known in the industry for innovative brands such as Lycra@ or Cordura®.

 For the insulation used in Embassy coats, the fibers are made of 100% recycled Polyester.

The mesh-lining in Embassy coats is eco-tex certified. Other linings are made of 100% recycled Polyester.

Our sweat materials are made from 100% organic cotton, some (but not all) of the outer shells are blue sign certified.

The Faux-Fur used in Embassy products is commonly sourced as of now as the look and feel of recycled materials isn‘t up to the quality standards we‘ve set for ourselves. We are, however, always searching for recycling-based or otherwise eco-friendly alternatives.

We only use high quality zippers by YKK which are blue sign certified. All accessories (press buttons, zipper pullers, eyelets and so on) are bluesign-products as well.

Lots of sustainable innovation there! How about those parts of your collections for which the sustainable fabric alternatives aren’t up to standard yet? What are your expectations when they will be?

We‘re dreaming big. We want to keep offering some of the best jackets out there – but we want to, step by step, replace commonly sourced materials through more sustainable options as soon as they get available.

That’s why we aim for 60% of the overall production run to be made of recycled and/or organic materials for F/W 2019 and we want to extend that to 80% of the the overall production by the end of 2021.

The final goal is putting out a 100% sustainable collection by 2023!

We like that you are being so transparant about this. How do you feel about transparency and general and the fear lots of brands often have to communicate the steps they still need to take?

Final question, in which stores can we buy your jackets?

The FW19 collection will be available at Verse Good Store in Amsterdam and Twiggy in Gent for example.

Elisabeth Simons