From the start in 2009, Berg & Berg’s desire has been to create classic timeless products, made by the best manufacturers and using the finest materials. With a discerning eye for quality and lots of inspiration, they offer items that will be the future classics of your wardrobe. Their goal is that every Berg & Berg product will become a trusted friend: loved, cared for and enjoyed for many years to come.
All Berg & Berg products are made to last by niche manufacturers, most of them located in Italy. From the wool and cashmere specialists in Biella to the tie-makers of Naples, they are proud of working with skilled artisans, who are truly masters of their craft.
Can you give us a little background information about yourself and your wife, Karin? What inspired you to start Berg & Berg? How did you come up with the idea for a menswear company?
We launched the brand and the web shop five years ago. At first it was only a part time project of passion - we both still had normal white-collar jobs back then. We really wanted to create something real, not just memos and PowerPoint presentations. After considering a few options, starting an accessories company seemed like the most exciting idea. We travelled to Italy, and started looking for the best manufacturers and suppliers and the project was born.
Your products are manufactured in Italy, correct? Can you tell us a little bit more about your process in selecting fabrics? What goes into a Berg & Berg product behind the scenes that the consumer never gets to see?
After having seen thousands of fabric swatches, one gets some kind of competence, at least to some degree, of how a swatch of fabric will materialize as a product and if it will be well received well by customers. It is what Malcolm Gladwell called “thin slicing” in his book Blink. It states that whether or not a person observes something for less than five minutes, or more than five minutes, a person’s choice rarely changes. These are choices based on Berg & Berg’s identity, my personal taste and an experience in knowing what customers want. I can evaluate a fabric pretty quickly and assess if it is Berg & Berg quality. At least I like to think so!
The Berg & Berg aesthetic calls for a classic look, but it should also be elegant and never boring. What are some of your inspirations that keep pushing Berg & Berg to the next level? Is your workspace a place of inspiration or are you inspired more by the culture around you?
Culture in general, listening to music, reading novels, watching movies and seeing art definitely builds a great creative backdrop that inspires me and Karin and it 100% affects our designs. That being said, in the past, I spent way too many hours on the sites, such as styleforum. Books such as “The Suit” by Nicholas Antongiavanni and “Dressing the Man” by Alan Flusser helped inspire me. In this day and age, I follow various Tumblrs and blogs, as well as a few magazines. The Japanese menswear mags are another great source of inspiration. To create something interesting, whether it is clothing design, graphic design or furniture design, without some form of cultural identity and background is impossible.
You’re from Oslo, Norway. Can you tell us about Nordic style and how it differs from other European or American styles?
I suppose Scandinavians in general prefer simplicity and there is a tradition not to be pompous and flashy. Although our designs are rooted in classic styles, inspired by the menswear traditions of Italy, UK and the US, we have a Nordic eye and Nordic taste, which influences the way we present our vision of classic style. I dress quite simple. I prefer dark colors, such as navy and grey, and rougher textures. I also like Oxford shirts, solid navy ties, grey flannel pants, olive cotton pants and raw denim. Cordovan or suede shoes are my go-to for footwear.
“Although our designs are rooted in classic styles, inspired by the menswear traditions of Italy, UK and the US, we have a Nordic eye and Nordic taste, which influences the way we present our vision of classic style.”
What would you say is one of the most important elements in a man’s wardrobe? Mathias, what is your favorite personal piece in your own wardrobe?
It of course depends on your lifestyle - - what kind of job you have, where you live, etc. Rather than specific items, I think what is key is how one approaches style based on what feels good and right to you. If you’re into classic clothing and work in a bank, the selection of essential items will be completely different from a guy who is into denim and works at an ad agency (or the other way around, of course). For me personally, I think its important to invest in a good raincoat and a pair of English shoes. I wear our knitwear all the time and love carrying my MacBook in our vachetta portfolio case. A good zibellino cashmere scarf is key during fall or winter months and when wearing a tie, I usually opt for a solid, hand-rolled grenadine or a cashmere tie.
With the success of Berg & Berg, what would be your advice to someone looking into a creating/developing their own menswear/accessories business?
Best advice I would give is to have a stylistic identity and an overall creative vision. That’s key. Also, realizing that it takes a lot of time to build an audience, and if you’re not funded financially, don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Start small, and keep creating until you feel it’s the right time to grow. If you’ve had schooling, you’re aware of timelines, cost, and labor. If you don’t have that background, start by learning a bit about the business or creation of products by reading books. The ability to learn is an amazing tool that I continue to find priceless.
With each collection, we’re blown away with your attention to detail, specifically the accessories. What can we expect from the Berg & Berg brand going forward? Do you plan on expanding in menswear and/or accessories? Womenswear? What are some of your visions of the brand for the future?
The success of our knitwear has given us confidence to start planning to introduce other categories beyond accessories. Right now, we are working with an underwear/nightwear specialist in Northern Italy, a shirt maker in Naples, a pants maker based in southern Italy. However, how fast we will be able to launch these items, I’m not sure at the moment. We want to get everything right before we present new items to our customers. We really take our time to make sure our customer is completely satisfied when they see the product.
You mention how some of the qualities of your products are that they are intended to be timeless classics, which are made with the very best materials, yet at an affordable price, and will be enjoyed for years to come. In your opinion, what do you feel are some lasting qualities of a “Genuine” man?
Finding a style that resonates with your personality is a great trait to possess, but living a life with purpose and manner is essential. Dressing well will only take you so far. To me, a genuine man is a gentleman of moral strength who is thoughtful of others. He regards the rights and feelings of others, sometimes at his own expense. These are traits that are learned over time, that one attains with failure and success, very much like ones personal style. Crafting a good life starts with generally good morals and takes you places beyond expectations. To quote Malcolm Gladwell once more, “If you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires.”
Is there anything else you would like to say to the Genuine Men’s audience?
Style and nice things are not the most important things in the world, but can really add to a man’s confidence, and make every day just a little more enjoyable. Thanks to Steven at Genuine Men’s Mag for the interview. I hope that the next time we speak, Berg & Berg will have grown more.
All Images: © Berg & Berg