Meet SWEN, a bold new brand on the menswear scene with a vision for global domination. SWEN is a brand with a personal story. Swann Amdeo and Steven Jacques, the French design duo behind the brand, met in Paris before moving to London.
As they explain, “Soon after we met, we talked about our aspirations and realised we compliment each other well. Two years later, SWEN was born. It happened naturally. We have always wanted to create our own brand knowing that individually, it was not really possible.” Together, though, it was, and so the two collaborated, bringing a fresh, young and exciting brand to the menswear world.
They design clothes for the man who is chic and sophisticated. He is “born and raised in a metropolis.” Yet he also carries with him an air of ambiguity, and his “roots lie elsewhere.” These are clothes for the modern nomad, the city dweller who cannot be placed. He is “travelling the world, getting inspired [and] exchanging ideas and identities.” In many respects, he is on a journey to open his mind and his opportunities.
Amdeo and Jacques share the creative direction to shape their inspirations into clean pieces: Amdeo - whose inspirations include Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten and artist Hassan Haijaj - tackles the drawing, patterns and styling, supported by Jacques’ management of the commercial and communication aspects.
They fuse two separate visions into one unique look. Ask Amdeo to describe his aesthetic, and he will say: “I place emotion at the centre of my work, where contradictory elements meet and give birth to lines combining volume, suppleness and graphic richness.” Jacques work also includes inspirational juxtapositions: “I transcribe an eclectic universe nourished by my love of urban scenes and multicultural popular silhouettes.”
This idea of duality is precisely what underpins their work. “As mixed-race persons, we grew up with a double culture. Through our collections, we want to show the strength and beauty of multiculturalism. We want to highlight the wealth of our generation; we have all the means we need to connect with each other, to meet each other and this is priceless.” Barriers shouldn’t exist in today’s globalised world, so why continue enforcing them in fashion?
To Amdeo and Jacques, there is no particular city that is the best for fashion, everywhere has something different, something SWEN can incorporate into its worldview: “You’ll always find something different between Paris and London, or between Lisbon and Beijing. Once again, cultural differences make global fashion richer.”
The brand takes a positive stance in everything it does, aiming at inclusivity not exclusivity - as can sometimes be conveyed in fashion - and hopes to have a social impact alongside an aesthetic one. Such values are at the heart of SWEN; the designers use only “organic or recycled and reused fabrics.” They use “neither leather nor fur and will present a maximum of two collections a year.” Amdeo and Jacques are using fashion as a platform to spread a wider, positive message.
They describe their first collection, Ils - shot by PETRIe’s Creative Director, Campbell Addy - as “an introduction. We have set up our basis and the pieces you see will become our basics that we’ll reinterpret over future seasons.” Drawing on the Muslim aesthetic they have seen around them on their travels, and the sense of community they love, SWEN have created a collection that is modern and sharp, made up of beautiful layering, with a sense of fluidity and comfort in clothes that adapt to the body.
Looking forward, Amdeo and Jacques “hope the future will have the same freedom of expression as we had for this first collection,” a freedom that allows them to design the pieces they themselves want to wear. The next step is to continue “building a team in order to spread SWEN” throughout the fashion world so that they can share their passion, sincerity and forward-thinking aesthetic with the world. Presenting such a bold and strong debut, we cannot but help be excited to see where SWEN will take us next.
Words: Charlotte Sutherland Hawes
Photography: Campbell Addy