The Pantalones sits down with Norway’s Berg&Berg:
Interview Series: No. 2
If you’ve been around the menswear blogosphere, chances are that you’ve heard of the men’s accessory powerhouse that is Berg&Berg. Based in Oslo, Norway, Berg&Berg is run by the husband and wife team of Mathias and Karin Berg. I was lucky enough to have a chat with Mathias and learn a bit more about the brand, the launch of some new products, and how they do modern elegance so damn well. Enjoy:
When was Berg&Berg created, and what led to the creation of the brand?
We launched the brand and webshop in November 2009. It started as a part-time project of passion - we both had normal white collar jobs back then. We really wanted to create something real, not just memos and powerpoint presentations, and after considering a few options, starting an accessories company seemed like the most exciting idea. We traveled to Italy, looked for the best manufacturers and suppliers, and the project was born. Seeing something you have designed turn out great and then hopefully go on to be appreciated by a customer is a great feeling. It would be hard to go back to a normal office job now.
What type of pieces does Berg&Berg produce?
We started with ties, scarves, pocket squares, socks, and cashmere accessories. This fall we are very excited to launch our leather goods and knitwear collection.
Is there a certain type of guy that would wear the accessories that Berg&Berg produces?
I think it´s fair to say that a typical customer is not only interested in the style and design of the product, but also the history, the fabric, the construction and the origin. After talking with quite a few customers, my impression is that they are very knowledgable. I remember reading a New York Times article last year about the new breed of menswear bloggers that “look at men’s fashion the way other guys look at cars, gadgets or even sports”- I think that many of our customers feel the same way.
The knit tie is an essential for the type of man or blogger you just described, and it is certainly one of my favorite products produced at Berg&Berg, for the reason that they are not so simple. What are some of the ways you deviate from the standard solid knit tie?
We try to go beyond the standard silk knit tie and work with other fibers as well, like wool, cashmere, and even linen. The linen knit tie has actually been our most popular item this spring; those things are quite hard to predict in advance. In addition to selecting new, interesting yarns, a knit tie can be woven in many ways to create interesting structures, and we try to do that as well. With the patterns, it´s a balance of creating something interesting that remains classic and will work for many years.
One of the things I think Berg&Berg does beautifully, and something you just mentioned, is balance classic elegance with contemporary liveliness. How is this balance achieved?
We have a classic and traditional foundation, with regards to design and quality, but we aim to create pieces that are versatile and can be worn in many ways. For years now, classic pieces have been worn by our generation in ways not strictly adhering to the rulebooks of classic clothing: classic tailoring worn in a modern way and classic pieces worn with casual clothing and streetwear. As much as we love a classic navy suit with a spread collar shirt and regimental tie, we try to create a collection that fits a modern customer.
We also try not to be too serious and exclusive in our communication. Although we take the collection very seriously, we don’t have to be that serious. A personal, informal dialouge with our customers is definitely something we value.
Fabric is obviously a large part of achieving your aesthetic and making an accessory stand out. What goes into the selection of a fabric at Berg&Berg?
It’s all about finding the right mix of texture, colors and pattern, and i’s no secret that we prefer classic patterns that work in a modern setting. We started out building a collection based on our own tastes, and after a while you get sort of a sixth sense telling you “that’s a Berg&Berg fabric.” The fabric selection is a very fun part of the product developement process, a phase where everything is possible. After a while there are always some darlings that have to be killed though.
Berg&Berg seems to take inspiration from a multitude sources. Where does the inspiration for a Berg&Berg piece come from? Does your Norway home play a large role in inspiration?
Yes, inspiration definitely comes from a wide variety of sources; books, movies, music, and of course Tumblr, haha. Being Scandinavian definitely plays a big role. Although a paisley tie or a tartan scarf is not Scandinavian style per se, I believe our Scandinavian viewpoint on classic style gives us a modern, contemporary edge.
Alright, you have to pick two ties, two pocket squares, and two pairs of socks to wear for the rest of your life: go.
- White cotton or linen
- Dark silk or wool paisley
- Solid navy silk tie
- A grey herringbone cashmere knitted tie
- Over the calf ribbed wool sock. Navy with light blue dots
- A heavier wool sock for the colder days
What can the menswear enthusiast expect to see from Berg&Berg in the coming season, in terms of product, material, and inspiration?
We are so excited to finally show our customers the leather goods collection this fall. We have worked on this for quite some time now, and it has been a long process to get all the details right. We had many rounds of sampling before we finally found a perfect leather and perfected the features. The collection will definitely be a great addition to the brand. Also the knitwear turned out great, and I believe we found a spot-on balance between modern and classic styles.