AXEL ARIGATO share the design process
At a time when consumer loyalty changes by the second, Axel Arigato manages to keep building its fan base higher & higher. 🔥 🔥
If you’re wondering how the hell they do it, bear with us. The Gothenburg-based streetwear brand already started at the top, by connecting with youth through social media & establishing a community-driven business.
Since the beginning, Axel Arigato not only served chill leather sneakers & apparel but also wrapped its fashion in digital experiences — exclusively tailored to engage their growing community.
Like their innovative workflow, atypical of the fashion industry's traditional processes, Svärdh & Johansson came up with a weekly drop schedule that delivers what every customer dreams of: non-stop novelty. But that's not all that exceeds their audience’s high demands. The duo also applies originality to every aspect of the brand – from their clever mix of materials (like leather & recycled plastic) to crazy campaigns, ready-to-wear innovative garments, and every creative project they can think of.
All that packed in fresh, disruptive aesthetics.
This is the foundation of Axel Arigato – but below the surface things get even more interesting. Svärdh & Johansson are big on tech & use it wisely to keep improving their production process & find new ways to go green. The environmental factor of their work shows when they explain their choice of materials, like scrapped PET bottles found in the ocean & durable European leathers that guarantee long-lasting pieces — by Axel Arigato’s high sustainability standards.
Yeah, we know what you're thinking: Axel Arigato has it all figured out. To know more about MAX SVÄRDH’s & ALBIN JOHANSSON’s innovations, you just have to scroll down & read this exclusive.
When you started Axel Arigato a few years back, you went in a different direction from where the industry was heading. In what ways do you think that innovative business style changed the way people relate to fashion?
Albin: I don’t think people changed their opinion due to how the fashion industry works, I think that fashion had to reinvent itself to keep up with changing consumer behavior. Consumers are less loyal today and demand so much more than what they did in the past.
Your brand is big in streetwear right now because it's had an identity since the very beginning. From sneaker culture, what inspired you to build Axel Arigato’s DNA?
Max: With everything we do, from designing products to campaigns, physical spaces, and experiences, we try to address how today’s consumers think and how they want to consume fashion. I’d like to think of Axel Arigato as a destination for people to experience and shop new ideas — a brand adapted to the now in every aspect.
You also mastered the digital world way before any other brand did. What makes Axel Arigato’s exchanges with young people so unique & capable of such positive responses?
Max: I think because we’re younger than a lot of the executives behind today's leading sneaker brands, we’re able to communicate in an authentic way that's closer to how customers like to interact and build relations with brands they support. It’s much more based on friendship and emotions. When we launched the brand, in 2014, we spent the majority of our time on social media, so it made sense from the get-go. Axel Arigato is a community-driven brand and we make sure to always stay connected with our audience and get them involved.
Albin: We have been adaptable throughout the years and not stuck to one strategy, one design, one way of communication. I believe this is the major reason why the younger demographic feels connected to our brand. We do aim to be where our customers are and communicate the way they do, and these changes in tandem with them.
We can see Axel Arigato celebrates its Swedish roots but also works with global inspirations. How does this blend of global + local affect the way you conceive & create sneaker designs?
Max: We’re citizens of the globe, rather than one particular place, and so is the brand. Within 3 days of launching the brand, we had sold to over 14 countries. Axel Arigato was global from day one, whether that was the intention or not. I design without thinking of any boundaries or borders, and I don’t see any reason to limit myself to the place where our HQ is located.
About conceiving, could you share with us how your creations come to life?
Max: We’re a very small team, there is me and two other designers. We work on several projects at the same time. We don’t use mood boards, we don’t work after traditional collections or stories. We work following a weekly drop schedule, and the customer is always our main priority, the starting point of every product we create. Our products have to make sense, not only as an idea but as something that will be worn by someone real in everyday life. We don’t have to look too far, it all starts with my own preferences and what’s in my surroundings. I’m still a consumer.
Fast forward to the next stage of production & let's talk materials. Axel Arigato's sneakers are known for their quality, so could you describe a little bit your relationship with your leather of choice? What is it about Italian leather that lets you meet these high standards?
Albin: We are not necessarily aiming for only Italian leathers, we want what is best for our products and in turn our customers. We only want to work with suppliers that share the same values as us and understand the needs of our organization. We do believe that this effort has made us stronger and better prepared for what is currently happening.
Your use of tech & choice of materials also reveals the more sustainable side of Axel Arigato. Tell us how you work with leather in a clean way through your production process – since right now sustainability is almost an obligation in the industry.
Albin: For us, it is important to evaluate all materials we use in production, no matter if it’s leather or another material. In regards to leather, we only source within Europe, from Italian and Portuguese tanneries. Working with a handful of concentrated partners, we can better assure that all the leather hides are sourced within Europe, following all European laws on animal welfare and chemical restrictions. In January 2020, we launched a sustainably sourced Cap-toe Sneaker in the Reinvented range which was constructed from ethical material alternatives, like an upper made from recycled PET bottles from the ocean and vegan leather. We are also proud that 88% of our AW20 RTW collection is made in either organic or recycled materials. We’re not all the way there yet, but we’re committed to continue learning, researching, and providing better alternatives.
In the inventive & bold concepts behind Axel Arigato’s campaigns, photoshoots & flagships, you are able to translate youth behavior right now perfectly. How did you turn this fashion brand into a creative force like that? And what's the message you want to send with it?
Max: We never work with any external agencies or directors telling us what we should do with the brand, we figure it out ourselves as we go. It’s important to keep the creativity and the ideas within the organization. We're a tight-knit team that works across different areas, combining many different disciplines and making sure the experience of the brand is just as exciting on all levels. Everything we do is very personal, it’s a representation of who we are.
Albin: I think that it also reflects us as individuals and how we work together. It is rare for us to discuss a topic for more than 5 minutes before we make a decision. We want things to go fast, we want things to happen and none of us are afraid of making a decision. We would rather do something and make a mistake than not do it at all.
And since you are so committed to novelty from the beginning, could you tell about the future of Axel Arigato? From new products to new paths, we want to know it all.
Max: We don’t plan too far ahead and that’s the charm with the brand. The era when you planned 6 months to 2 years ahead is completely over, the strange time we’re living in now is proof of that. In June, however, we’re introducing a 9-piece eyewear collection to the range which we’re excited about. We hope you’ll like it as much as we do.
Albin: As Max said, we don’t look too much into the future. We’re always challenging everything we do, striving to be better and surprise our customers.
We are ready to be surprised.
What about you? Ready for more [metcha originals]?