We caught up with the talented Maria Svensson who founded Maska. She tells us about the story behind her brand and what inspired her for the Spring/Summer 16 Collection.
Tell us the story behind your brand?
I grew up in a textile family. My great grandmother and my great grandmother ran a small sewing mill in the basement of their house in the area of Borås, famous for its textile industry in Sweden. I played there and sew a lot as a kid and the fond memories I have of being there probably affected my choices later in life. My grandmother taught me about true quality and the workmanship behind the products. I also travelled a lot from an early age and spent hours and hours enjoying the luxury sections of department stores in New York, Paris and London learning what fabrics were used and how they looked and draped. Not being able to afford those clothes as a kid I started buying a lot on ebay and vintage instead. I studied economics, crafts and textiles and worked for a couple of Swedish brands gathering experience.
I hardly ever bought Swedish fashion as I felt that a combination of a modern cut and quality was missing. Especially in knitwear it was either acrylics and polyamides, or styles for someone a lot older than I.
Wool was always a favourite material, and I felt is was not appreciated enough in Sweden for its great benefits. It was seen as being hard to care for and itchy instead of a lustrous, versatile and a lasting material. My friend Lisa Leierth and I were knitting a lot in that period and we found such wonderful yarns that we never ever saw anything like in the shops. So we came up with the idea to start a knitwear brand that took the best parts from the hand knitting world the quality of yarns and the elaborate structures and made it commercially available. Lisa is educated a HDK in Gothenburg and was also a textile pattern designer. She did the designs, we chose materials and structures together and I put the designs into production. I started going to yarn fairs in Italy and I found all the amazing yarns that we use today in rare cottons, cashmere, silk and Tencel. We started with web sales only and grew a fan base.
After a year MASKA started getting requests from stockist abroad and that’s how it started. Today we well to 14 countries and the AW14 collection has been a bit of a commercial breakthrough.
Factory in Latvia
Who is the typical MASKA woman?
Everyone that apreciates good quality and craftsmanship is a customer of ours. We find quite often that she lives in a bigger city, works as an architect, in other creative fields or as a lawyer or researcher. She want’s to look elegant, but still feel comfortable going about her daytoday life, working and then picking up her kids from school for example. She’s usually quite active and likes versatile clothes that she can easily dress up or down.
You use sustainable materials including organic cotton, what was behind the decision to take this approach?
The moral incentive that if we are going to use the world’s resources, then we should use them in the best possible way. If you have an education within a field, you want to make
great product, to do something better, something that the customers don’t even know that they want.
My drive force has always been to make perfect products with fantastic materials. I love textiles and I enjoy immersing myself into the world of textiles and woven materials. So for that reason, I think I could have chosen home textiles as well. The reason I like clothes is because I know the market due to my previous jobs and that clothes, and therefore textiles, are everpresent in our daytoday lives. Home textiles are something you just see briefly, but the clothes are with you all the time.
Then there’s also the motivation in the idea of feeling that you can improve something. I wanted to accomplish more in the fashion industry. Please can you tell us a bit about the production of your collection where and how is it produced?
What is the design inspiration behind your latest collection?
The inspiration comes from the universe of JeanLuc Godard and the actresses Anna Karina and Francoise Hardy. The collection is feminine and unpretencious. The women who serve as its inspiration wear themselves with a self confidence and a sensuality that we want to convey.
We particularly love the silk prints can you tell us a bit about their design?
The silk pattern is designed by the graphic artist Lisa Leierth, who wanted to add the presence of the hand to the collection and give it a playful, outgoing and colourful touch. The sandwashed silk is a supple and dynamic material and she therefore used a brush over a pencil to create a sense of flow.
Emmy Silk Dress
What are your future plans and dreams for MASKA?
When it comes to the size of the company, this is my first goal. If so, it’s possible to have team of 1012 people, where some are specialists. It would also be possible to do some international projects. It would give us the chance to have a bigger collection as well as play a more important part in the market. This would lead to imposing higher requirements for the suppliers and their sustainability efforts.
Finally, why is ethical fashion so important to you?
Constanct improvemetn and using my knowledge and the little market power we have to make the world just a little bit better is very important to us. Knowing the dangers that so many textile workers are exposed to, you just can’t be part of that. We want to be proud of what we do and then being ethical is the only option. Also it is a big challenge working ethically because the sourcing of materials has to be so much more rigoruous, and the difficult has always triggered me. It is so easy just making any garment, but making them beautiful, sustainable, ethical and at a good price that is challenge.