Refined craftsmanship and the elevated concept of the handmade product is at the core of Atelier Saman Amel, the young bespoke tailoring brand from Stockholm. Whether it’s a three-piece suit in Loro Piana wool, a fine knitwear garment, a pair of jeans or even a tie, Saman Amel adopt an organic process that allows room for contemplation and fine-tuning. Childhood friends Saman Amel and Dag Granath are the founders of the brand and they speak to Scandinavian Man ahead of Pitti Uomo.
Tell us about the history of your brand. How did it all start?
Dag — Saman and I are friends since way back. We actually got to know each other playing football together when we were 10 or 11. I remember Saman saying something at that early stage like, ‘In the future, I want to be a professional football player or a fashion designer.’
Saman — Like haute couture women’s wear.
Dag — I didn’t even really know what that meant, working as a fashion designer. It was a very abstract thing for me. I think Saman was really interested in the idea of creating a world around a name, or a brand.
Saman — I’m not really sure where that idea came from, to be honest. It was just natural for me I think. My mum used to work as a design assistant in London as well, so I had that craftsmanship at home.
Dag — Basically what happened was that after a few years we drifted apart but then during high school we linked back together again and we worked together at a fashion company in Sweden. We started to have some form of idea of what things would look like if we would run the company ourselves. That’s basically how it started.
Most of your clothes are made in Italy. Was that a decision made at the very beginning?
Saman — No, I think it was a process of me and Dag travelling to Pitti Uomo. The first time we went I think we were 18 or 19. There was a lot of talk about Pitti and people were like, ‘Oh, yeah, you can go there. There are all the Italian brands and a lot of production.’ We just ended up going to Pitti.
Dag — We figured that Italy was the place to be if you want to have a close and direct link with the person that you’re going to work with, the suppliers basically.
Didn’t you become Instagram celebrities at Pitti Uomo?
Saman — I think we were just lucky that a few photographers liked our aesthetic. Obviously that helped us but only in the Pitti Uomo scene, not really outside of that.
How was it going to Italy as teenagers to do business?
Saman — It was very hard. First off, neither me or Dag speak Italian.
Dag — That’s a big problem.
Saman — Yes. Secondly, we were kids when we went there. I know for sure now that that was the reason why people denied us at that point. An 18-year-old coming to Pitti and saying, ‘Yeah. We’re starting a brand. We’re doing a tailoring shop.’ People were like, ‘What? Who are you?’
Dag — Basically, people thought we didn’t know what we were doing. And mostly that was the case. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but I think we learned pretty fast how to push everything forward.
Saman — Being 18 and travelling through Italy, obviously, we got tricked a few times. At that point, it wasn’t a lot of money. For us, since we don’t have any investments and we haven’t got any help from anyone, it’s just us two investing our own money.
What are the challenges in the made-to-measure sector?
Dag — The client can have an idea of something that’s maybe quite abstract, or they want to make a garment that doesn’t necessarily fit with the aesthetic appeal that you’re trying to promote with the brand. It’s been a process for us to be very clear and distinct in what type of aesthetic or visual appeal we want to promote. On the one hand, we have been expanding by introducing new products, but we’ve also narrowed it down in terms of what we can accept.
Regarding the process, when you make cardigans for example, do you order a certain amount of them or are they produced later?
Saman — They’re all custom made. The production is quite firm actually, because we set our production up for almost one and a half years in advance. It takes us quite a long time because the production is one by one and when a client orders a knit, we can basically change anything in the fit from sleeve length, to body length, chest and point to point. We don’t stock anything either.
Your clothes are custom made and yet you are creating your own Saman Amel style.
Saman — Yes, for sure. I think our idea is that the fit should be custom made but the style and the aesthetic is very much of the atelier.
How do you describe your style?
Dag — It’s It’s a very interesting point. When you’re in something yourself it’s usually quite hard to express that thing in words. We don’t try to point clearly towards a specific description of our style but we usually get described as a brand that seeks to combine the classic Neapolitan or Florentine style of tailoring with a Scandinavian or minimalist aesthetic… a minimalist or existentialist approach to design and use of colour. We use a very monochrome colour palette. People use the word basic, which doesn’t sound very good, but for me, it’s definitely a very positive word. I think it is very basic and I think basic is what most people need. This is what we’re trying to provide.
Was it difficult to convince international buyers that a Swedish suit is something special?
Saman — With the international clients, we haven’t had to convince them of anything because they have approached us. Our style and the pictures that we have online and on social media have convinced them that we do something good.
Dag — The Scandinavian approach to design is something that’s inherent in the way we approach the garments that we make and with the clients from the US or London, Scandinavian design and Swedish design is very powerful.