Norwegian brand Holzweiler, known for its clean lines and utilitarian outlook, is a true family business. The brand was founded back in 2012 by the sibling-duo Susanne and Andreas Holzweiler with a collection of luxury scarves, but quickly expanded into both men’s and womenswear. “Andreas and Susanne saw early on that they couldn’t just do scarves so they decided to start making ready-to-wear in 2013,” says Maria Skappel Holzweiler, fashion designer and Andreas Holzweiler’s wife. Skappel Holzweiler joined the brand as head of design one year after its launch. “I actually didn’t feel ready,” she admits. “But I couldn’t stay away so I joined the first meeting and ever since I have been a part of this.” Skappel Holzweiler, who had graduated only a few years prior, was still in the infancy of her career. But having left her first job in commercial fashion and knowing she would one day work with her husband, the stars set to align for the young Norwegian designer.
And anything short of experience was made up by ambition. It doesn’t take long to sense the determination driving both the designer and her brand. “Since I decided fashion was my way I have never had a plan B. I believe if you want to be a successful designer you have to go for it 150 percent,” says Skappel Holzweiler, who also doesn’t shy away from using terminology such as ‘sky is the limit’, ‘reaching for the stars’ and ‘always leaning forward’ when describing her brand. It’s therefore not surprising that the prosperity of Norwegian fashion happening these recent years has Holzweiler at the front. “When we started Holzweiler it was at the start of an explosion of Norwegian fashion. Until then everything was very small,” Skappel Holzweiler recalls.
The brand has since out-grown Oslo Runway, taking a bigger stage at Copenhagen Fashion Week and increasing its presence on the international market. But the Holzweiler team remains grounded in their Norwegian traditions and continue to find inspiration close to home. “We have always wanted to make clothes for friends and family. We’re not that trend-driven,” the designer acknowledges. Holzweiler is first and foremost about the workmanship and longevity. And Skappel Holzweiler’s biggest wish is to someday see her craft in her children’s wardrobes or in vintage shops, and certainly never, ending up as trash. “The most important thing we do is making clothes that live long,” she says. “If people want to buy a Holzweiler product it’s not something they should wear one time. It should be in their closet for years to be worn over and over again.”
In 2017 the brand embarked on a sustainable journey with a goal of becoming completely plastic-free by the turn of the decade. “Our company wasn’t 100 percent plastic-free by the end of 2019,” Skappel Holzweiler says. “But we have learned that sustainability is about much more, and we have widened our horizon these past years to include more actions in all parts of our production.”
Among initiatives to make processes of sourcing, producing and shipping more environmentally friendly, Holzweiler experimented with a waste-free fashion show for their Spring/ Summer 2020 runway. “The only waste we had was tape to fasten the curtains. All the curtains and lights were reused after the show,” Skappel Holzweiler explains. The process was easier than they had expected and now, it’s company policy to always reuse or repurpose all set design, because as the designer simply puts it: “It doesn’t make sense to just make waste.”
And that uncomplicated approach to sustainability seems consistent for the Holzweiler brand. Sustainability isn’t a way for them to cash in applause. It’s a natural part of their day-to-day. “It’s not something we force people to do or follow. If there’s an option where we can do better, everyone in the team tries their best to achieve it,” Skappel Holzweiler says.
And she continues: “I think it’s important to not talk about the fashion industry as being sustainable, because it never will be. The world has everything it needs when it comes to materials so it’s more about seeing what we have and how we can make use of it in a good way.”
So what can we be expecting from Holzweiler? Besides building the brand in Asia and making even more sustainable choices, Skappel Holzweiler reveals it is also time for them to focus on what they have achieved in just eight years. One look at their portfolio tells you, it’s very well deserved.