07 Oct Featured: Swede&CROWE
In their own words, Swede&CROWE is the big bang that happened when a red bearded drummer who has a fascination for street wear & a 6ft7″ man who has the blood of the original milliner running through his veins, decided to stick it to the man & answer the calling to create something that is not only super awesome but damn straight badass. We couldn’t have said it any better if we tried.
Swede&CROWE is a headwear and footwear brand based in Johannesburg, founded by long time friends and business partners, Dale and Dean. Looking at the state of things, you’d hardly be able to guess that it was only officially established in November 2012. We decided to catch up with Dale to find out about how it all started for Swede&CROWE, and what’s been happening since.
First things first: are you the red bearded drummer or the 6ft7″ milliner?
It is I, the red bearded drummer.
I’d love to know a bit about yourself and Dean – what did each of you do before you started swede&CROWE?
Before swede&CROWE I was the brand manager for the International footwear brand Urge Footwear, and Dean has been working in his family’s hat factory for the last 5 years.
How did the two of you meet?
We’ve known each other from way back and became business partners in Finchley Row Distributors in early 2012.
How did swede&CROWE come about and what made you decide to start it?
I have always wanted to start a brand that specialized in headwear and footwear. When I joined up with the Pozniaks at the factory (Supreme Hat and Caps) in 2012, it was something we spoke about, doing our own designs and using all the resources we had at our disposal to start our own brand. The rest of the story is the start of this story.
About the name: why “swede&CROWE”?
Well, when we were looking for the name, there were three main criteria that needed to be fulfilled:
1 – It had to be cryptic & mysterious
2 – It had to be stylish & catchy
3- It had to be sentimental but have a personality of its own.
So with those three criteria needing to be met, we looked long and hard in the mirror, saw a Swedish Viking (Dale) & a Crow (Dean), put them together and what do you get – swede&CROWE – BOOM!
Do you each play an equal role in the business operations, or how do you divide tasks/define roles? Basically what I want to know is – who’s the beauty and who’s the brains?
Being the Creative Director for the brand, I do all the designing, product development, and the all-round look and feel for the brand. The awesome team at Finchley Row handles the sales and I work with an awesome Illustrator Candice Bergman who helps out with all the CAD work. Well, let’s be real here, we have some glorious beards going down here at HQ, so to not give them the beauty credit would be a travesty.
You use the most amazing selection of fabrics – are they designed for swede&CROWE or do you source them?
Why thank you, you’re a total sweetheart. To date we have sourced all our fabrics. Between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, we have sifted through 1000s of fabric swatches, patterns and designs. It’s daunting but definitely one of the cooler parts of the job. BUT as we speak, I am playing around with designing our own fabrics to be printed.
First hats, then shoes, and it looks as if a clothing line is soon to be in the mix as well now? Tell us about this. Any other plans for the future of swede&CROWE?
Well we are first and foremost a headwear and footwear brand. What we like to do is throw in products that compliment the main range. It’s like adding a little spice to the dish. Be it twinsets, jackets, joggers and/or beard combs, I love designing and I believe it is important to not stand still but keep testing myself by designing new products. In saying that, in the near future our twinsets will be finalized and in the distant future I really would love to have some rings and Meggings (men leggings) made. That would be real badass.
How would you describe your products to someone who’s never seen them?
Hmmm, we kinda want to be known as Refined Streetwear, but I like to describe the products as Super-duper Badass headwear & footwear.
How much do your surroundings influence what you create?
Immensely. Besides music, our surroundings are probably the biggest influence and inspiration I have. I believe no one matches fabrics and colours better than us Africans. There is so much around us to draw inspiration from, you would be shooting yourself in the foot to ignore it. Funny enough, one of the main reasons why I wanted to get into footwear was because of the love and respect Africans workers have for their shoes.
Who in the world would you most like to see wearing swede&CROWE?
Oooh, I like that question! I would have to say Popeye, Bill Murray & The Powerpuff Girls.
Ending with a very serious question: You don’t make unicorns, but are your hats magic?
In the great words of John F Kennedy, “It’s not what you can do for our hats, but what our hats can do for you.” Im sure it went something like that. KaPoW!!
Retailers that stock swede&CROWE:
JHB – Prime Store, Parooz Fashion, Newbrow, Lyme, Dapper Streetwear, The Streets, Orkini’s, Egality, Rozanne & Pushkin,
CPT – The Lot, Henry Garments, Hello Again.
DBN & The Coast- RVCA stores