Interview: Ann-Sofi Storbacka of Väska
Established in 2012 by Ann-Sofi Storbacka, Barcelona-based brand Väska specializes in leather handmade bags and accessories. Influenced by the designer's Fenno-Swedish origins, Väska, follows a very Nordic and pure line that is combined with a Mediterranean touch. We Are Selecters talks with the creator and designer behind the brand…
Tell us about Ann-Sofi, your background and your education…
I graduated in 2012 with a specialization in accessory design at Fashion Design School FD Moda in Barcelona, Spain. Right after that I founded my own brand Väska.
How does a Fenno-Swedish designer end up in Spain, making handmade bags?
It all started with a student exchange to Barcelona in 2008. I simply fell in love with the city, the culture, etc. so I decided to stay. Spain in general also has a strong tradition of leather craftsmanship, which made me finally realize the opportunities of producing my own leather goods. So, here I am, making leather bags in Spain :).
Do you divide your heart between two lands?
I suppose I do. I really appreciate where I come from, but I'm also very happy to live in Spain. It's a very good combination.
Where would you like for Väska settle down,... in Spain or in your homeland?
Väska is based in Barcelona, Spain, but I have always considered Väska to be an international brand with a Nordic heritage and feel.
Tell us about your AW13 collection, what is the concept behind it?
The AW13/14 collection continues Väska’s core devotion to traditional craftsmanship alongside applying Nordic aesthetics with a Mediterranean edge. As a contrast to Spring Summer 2013, the AW collection introduces darker colors such as chocolate brown and licorice black. A combination of Finnish nature and Origami has inspired the collection. The hand cut leather stripes (OKSA) bring out associations with tree branches and the dark colours contrasting with white and earthy tones remind us of a winter landscape. All pieces have been handmade using traditional skills in Barcelona, Spain, with the finest materials and brass fittings.
Where do you "harvest" your materials from?
VÄSKA works with genuine natural vegetable tanned cow leather originated from Igualada, Spain. Igualada is one of the main traditional leather production areas left in Spain. Not only is the leather made here, but it also comes from the local farms where the animals are brought to for meat.
Tell us about your the creative process, how does it begin?
The creative process always starts with time for reflection and research. I choose a theme, hang up inspiring images everywhere and make mood boards. After a while, I edit it and continue with sketches and drawings.
Do you recur to local artisans or do you carry out the entire production process?
I have a small atelier, where I make all the prototypes myself. I also have a few local artisans working for me.
Do you find it very challenging to survive within such a competitive market? I mean having internet nowadays, it seams that everyone can now sell their creations online.
Yes, it’s challenging. In order to promote your brand, I think some basic SEO and social media knowledge is necessary. Without this it's almost impossible to be found on the Internet. Second, you have to distinguish your brand somehow from others. Whether a person finally decides to buy the product or not depends also very much on unique designs, quality materials and how you project your brand story.
Would you like to work on collaborative projects with other designers?
Yes, I would love to collaborate with Nordic designers in the future, or any other designers sharing the same values of design and fashion.
And to develop collections for a specific brand or online platform?
At the moment I am concentrating on my own collections, but yeah, why not make a collection for another interesting brand or online platform as well. I like challenges.
What are your future plans for Väska?
I take one day at a time, but I have quite clear ideas about the future. First thing is to continue improving existing designs and develop new products, and make them more accessible through web stores, retailers, etc. I’m also planning to attend some fashion fairs and design events to promote my brand and connect with other designers.
Are you currently working on a new collection? What will it be the concept behind it?
Yes, I have recently started with a new collection. As in every Väska collection, there is a core of essential items that stay the same over the seasons. I call the core of my brand “Nordic simplicity with a Mediterranean edge”: you can always find minimalist cuts, authentic materials and 100% handmade pieces with a strong personality.
Your biggest goal is?
I would like for Väska to be recognized as a modern accessory brand that combines the best of Scandinavian aesthetics and Mediterranean passion.
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