FASHION

AWAN ticks all the boxes for a conscious working-from-home brand

”We believe comfort-first fashion is the way forward,” says founder and creative director Anette Miwa Dimmen.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
August 10, 2021

For so long, according to Miwa Dimmen, women have been taught that they have to suffer for fashion, and that fashion only accepts them if they look in a certain way. 

— This is finally changing, she says.

In what way?

— Fashion is now becoming more diverse, more inclusive, and less elitist. As a brand, we’re both inspired by — and wants to be a driving force of — this change. We play at the intersection of fashion, holistic lifestyle, and technology, creating a new dressing experience of liberating comfort that feels good, looks great, and cares for the planet.

She describes the Norwegian brand, short for As We Are Now, as a comfort-first fashion brand for women based on circular principles and a tech- and data driven DTC (direct-to-customer) business model.

— We believe our journey towards circularity is heavily reliant on a tech- and data driven approach to fashion. 

The brand launched in 2018 with a collection of dresses — to be worn around the clock, hence the name, 24h — and added the Flow collection end of last year. 

— It consists of modular tops and pants that can easily mix and match to create several outfits from fewer pieces. In May we added a limited collection of skirts, T-shirts, and kimono robes from leftover Tencel fabric, and in July our very first shorts. In everything we do we try to create minimal supply chain waste, which is also why we pre-launch most of our drops with pre-order campaigns. This way we get a better understanding of what our customers actually want before we make a larger bet on a product. We also use our Instagram to involve and listen to our community during the design and development phase, so they become part of our creative process, tells Miwa Dimmen.

”We’re part of a growing number of value-driven brands on a mission to create positive change”

She’s determined to see the customers get off the fast-fashion train.

— In order to do so, they need help to re-connect with our everyday wardrobe, and easy access to knowledge on how to get more from their clothes in terms of comfort, versatility, and quality. According to studies, we only use 20% of our wardrobe, yet we keep on buying different clothes for every type of occasion. We believe the key reason for this unsustainable consumption pattern is the low level of comfort in most clothes. There is also a very limited offer of comfy clothes that women also want to be seen in. We did a survey and 9/10 women told us they change the moment they come home to be more comfortable. Yet, almost 80% are not happy with the clothes they change into.

— This is why we believe comfort-first fashion is the way forward, not just for our personal experience of wearing clothes, but also for the environment. By designing comfortable and practical clothes that are so effortlessly flattering and beautiful that they can be worn for any occasion, we are also creating a solution to the problem of overproduction and overconsumption.

— After all, the most sustainable we all can do is to actually wear the clothes in our wardrobe – instead of having them hanging there unused, as 80% of our clothes do today. We’re part of a growing number of value-driven brands on a mission to create positive change. But I believe that we have a unique approach to fashion as a wellness experience, and radical ambitions to use new fabric innovation and retail technology to further develop our concept in this space, Miwa Dimmen, claims, adding,

— Although athleisure has been a major driving force in fashion for a decade now, I believe we are just at the very start of understanding the true potential of comfort-first fashion and fabric performance. We’re now at a point in time where women don’t always want to look like they’re going to the gym or for a hike to dress in ultimate comfort. And this is where we come in. We want to challenge what comfort can look and feel like for women, with styles that defy the old categorization. Our pieces flow effortlessly around the female body and can be worn anytime, anywhere. They are so comfortable that you want to sleep in them, and so flattering that you can style them up to wear at a party. While one woman might wear her AWAN dress to bed, another will wear the exact same dress to a wedding. Seriously, that is how versatile the pieces in our collection are. 

”The need for a home office wardrobe was certainly a boost for us”

Have you created the ultimate work-from-home brand?

— The need for a home office wardrobe was certainly a boost for us. Who wouldn’t want to show up to Zoom in their most comfy clothes — that they maybe even slept in — yet look all dressed up, like they’ve made an effort? Miwa Dimmen asks. She continues:

— I dreamt up AWAN while I was pregnant and on maternity leave, which I guess can compare to many people’s covid experience. Suddenly I was spending way more time at home, having to deal with a changing body and an urgent need for clothes that not only met my demand for comfort but also made me feel good about how I looked in them. This is when I realized that this type of clothing was completely missing from my wardrobe. Our dresses and sets are designed for seamless and seasonless living and working from home is a perfect example of this. 

How do you work with more eco-conscious fibers?

— The majority of our collection is produced in Portugal in 100% Tencel, which is a biodegradable and nano optimized performance fabric from FSC certified wood. We are exploring other circular performance fabrics from natural sources such as seaweed and charcoal, but Tencel is currently the best commercially available fabric for us to deliver on our brand promises of comfort and versatility. And as it is itself produced in a certified closed-loop system with nonharmful chemicals, it is also well suited for our own circular ambitions. 

What are your future plans?

— We’re on a mission to build a permanent collection for seamless living, we don’t follow the traditional fashion calendar. We carefully add new styles in drops based on data and feedback, and strict requirements in terms of versatility and drape. One of the most important factors for us in our design process is that our pieces should fit effortlessly around the female body, as opposed to the body having to fit into the clothes. Our pieces should always allow women to feel free and live freely — just as she is, says Miwa Dimmen. She concludes:

— My dream is that enough women will discover our concept and live in our clothes, so we can continue to push the boundaries of what self-care fashion that also cares for the planet can look and feel like for women.

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