FROM SUSHI TO T-SHIRTS
In one of our favourite documentaries; “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”; one of Jiro’s apprentices recounts his effort to make the perfect tamago omelette. Every day he makes 5 omelettes, each day Jiro takes one bite of each and throws it in the trash. Months and 200 omelettes later, Jiro finally takes a bite and says “Now, this is how it should be done” and the apprentice’s omelettes are served that day for lunch. Jiro is famous not so much for his radical innovation, but instead for how he has made it his life mission to do things considered relatively “simple” (like making an omelette or boiling rice) better and better until they become indelible.
At Hund Hund (www.vonhund.com) we undertook the design of our jersey collection inspired by Jiro. How do we take something as a simple as a t-shirt and elevate it so that it become something special?
A BETTER T-SHIRT FOR YOU
Anyone who has spent an €100+ of a t-shirt from the likes of Margiela or Acne knows that there is a world of difference between how that piece feels on your skin versus a €10 from Zara. The former caresses your skin, the latter just sits there. For many of us, t-shirts are part of the uniform. We wear them every day: at work, at the park playing ping pong, during that last ill-advised round of vodka shots, our partners steal them to sleep in. Buying a nice t-shirt is like buying a nice kitchen knife, each day you’ll feel the benefits of the investment.
Value is one of our key values at Hund Hund because we know how hard we all work for our money, so we made it our mission to create a t-shirt which we could sell for around €30 which would feel like a €100 one on your skin.
A BETTER T-SHIRT FOR THE WORLD
But it’s not wasn’t only about replicating the touch of a ultra-premium t-shirt. You might have read last week how we have embraced radical transparency, where we detail all the costs of each of our own pieces as a way of helping everyone to make more informed and (hopefully) ethical buying decisions. Unfortunately, the humble cotton t-shirt can be something with very harmful environmental consequences.
Cotton is an extremely thirsty crop and requires both chemicals and much energy to be transported and woven into fabric. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that it takes 2,700 litres of water to make one t-shirt, which is enough for a single person to drink for 900 days. The fertilisers used to grow the cotton crops feed into the river system and then the sea and are wiping out the bottom dwellers which as the basis of the ocean eco-system. The cotton is often grown in far away places such as Peru or Pakistan and then shipped across the world (and often then back again).
Becoming less impactful on the environment is a gradual and very challenging process, and cotton is one and will remain one of our base fabrics where we have yet to discover an alternative which works better on a product level (especially where we need heavier fabrics on pants and shirts). However, we also realised that our t-shirt and jersey collection was a place where we could really make a difference. Over the last few years, two more sustainable new botanical fabrics have emerged from Austria: Tencel and Modal.
Tencel is created from the pulp of eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus consumes up to 20X less water than cotton and the forests counter CO2 emissions. In addition, Tencel uses a closed-loop process in it’s production which recycles almost 100% of the solvents. It is light and soft, breathes and absorbs moisture in a remarkable way.
Modal comes from sustainably-harvested European beechwood trees. It utilises a ecological process where the pulp and fiber are both produced in the same place, and produce enough excess energy to fully power to pulping process and partially the spinning of the fibre.
Excitingly for us, we discovered a pair of fabric suppliers in Portugal near Porto which utilised these new fabrics in super-premium jersey which, frankly, feel pretty incredible on the skin. Our main jersey is 67% Tencel and 33% cotton and our beige fabric is 90% Micromodal (the even more premium version of the fabric) and 10% silk.
We also wanted to add one super luxe cashmere jersey option as a limited edition for launch. This turned out to be more complicated than we expected as most cashmere jersey either didn’t look so nice, was not machine washable or was prohibitively expensive. After half a year of searching, we finally found discovered a fabric which is 33% cashmere and 67% cotton which really knocked our socks off.
DESIGN IS IN THE DETAILS
Finally, once we had zeroed on on the fabrics, Isabel started the design phase. She started with two unisex cuts, both with a male fit which would also work for women. The Hakon is our version of the perfectly-cut classic tee, the Ove is a bit more sporty with a raglan arm and slightly extended sleeves. Then she moved to women, creating the Tera Tight Tee which is super flattering on the female form and it’s companion, the Gyda Tank. She rounded it out with a pair of Jersey Dresses which are super clean, designed to let you enjoy the fabric against your skin and provide a versatile base for your own customisation.
Anyways, this is all to say. We think our t-shirts are really a bit special and pretty super value, and hope that you will give one (or five) of them a test drive.
Rohan & Isabel