Interview – Brandon Svarc, founder of Naked & Famous
Two weeks ago, we wrote a ‘Meet the Maker’ article about Naked & Famous. The article, which you can read here, will tell you all about their history, their fabrics and their construction process. One thing that is absolutely remarkable about Naked & Famous is their vision on denim and, more specifically, on fabric, and construction. They are driven by the desire to push denim development to its limits by being innovative, refreshing, and surprising.
Not to long ago we had to chance to chat with Brandon Svarc, the founder of Naked & Famous. During our conversation we spoke about his initial dreams to start the brand and his relationship with the denim community. Also, Brandon describes the production process and reveals the current bestsellers. Meaning that you most certainly want to read this interview!
Robin Denim: Could you start by shortly introducing yourself? Who are you apart from being a denim freak?
Brandon Svarc : I’m a born and raised Montrealer and have lived in Canada my whole life. I grew up in the garment industry; we are a 3rd generation company. I graduated McGill University with a degree in Finance, which is boring, and now I get to make and sell pants!
Robin Denim: What drove you to start Naked & Famous Denim in the first place? What were the original dreams?
Brandon Svarc: The dream is to create something from nothing and to build a profitable business that we could be proud of. We found a hole in the market by studying what the most famous brands did badly and exploited that by being the opposite of them. The goal was (and still is) to be the challenger to all the Hollywood celebrity glamour brands.
Robin Denim: What sets Naked & Famous aside compared to other denim brands?
Brandon Svarc: Our fabric and our value. No denim brand in the world comes out with as many new fabrics each season, and no brand can claim so many innovative new fabrics each year as we do. Our price-points are very fair as we have a concept called… “not ripping off the consumer”.
Robin Denim: How does Naked & Famous interact and listen to the community, and do you have an example of the community directly influencing a product?
Brandon Svarc: Even from the first season, we always read the blogs and forums and gain feedback from customers. Any wise brand takes this feedback to heart and tries to implement ideas that customers want. We have a popular series called the Elephant Denim which is heavy denim for a great price, and our fans on Reddit kept asking us to bring back the second iteration of the series (Elephant 2) so we listened and brought it back.
Robin Denim: Naked & Famous, the Unbranded Brand, and Paulrose Products are owned by the same company. How can those brands exist without competing with each other? And, do you guys work together? If so, how do you work together?
Brandon Svarc: Oh I’m sure they do compete with each other to an extent. But N&F is our main brand which is 100% Made in Canada. Unbranded is made in Macau and the price-point is lower. Unbranded is the gate way drug into raw denim, and N&F is the hard stuff!
Robin Denim: Can you describe the process from starting with an idea to ending with a pair of jeans that hits the stores?
Brandon Svarc: Usually we start to develop new ideas about a year and a half to 2 years in advance of them hitting the market. We visit Japan at least once per season and discuss our ideas with the mills in Okayama. The mills put our ideas into action and usually create sample fabric for us. We cut and sew jeans out of the sample fabric once ready. We take those jeans to trade shows all over the world and book orders with our retailers. Then we order our bulk fabric, and once ready, ship it to Canada by sea. The fabric arrives, is cut, made, and sewn into jeans and then shipped out to stores worldwide.
Robin Denim: What are the bestselling items at Naked & Famous (like for example the Elephant series)? And what is the reason they are so successful?
Brandon Svarc: Our basic items like the Left Hand Twill Selvedge or Black Power Stretch may be counted as the best sellers because they are the basic items that anyone can buy all year round for the past 10 years. But our best-selling seasonal styles are often more hardcore cult ones like Elephant series as you mentioned. The Elephant series sells well because it has great product-value. Simply put, it’s one of the best fading heavy selvedge denims in the world for a very fair price.
Robin Denim: Where does the inspiration for a new fabric originate?
Brandon Svarc: It totally depends on the fabric. Sometimes we just try to be like kids and allow our imaginations to go wild… hence glow-in-the-dark or scratch-n-sniff jeans. Or we get inspired by traditional Japanese culture, or by Canadian culture, or by things we personally like… for example Street Fighter II.
Robin Denim: What are, in your opinion, the most eye-catching fabrics ever used for your collection?
Brandon Svarc: Oh that’s an interesting way of asking that question. Usually people ask us “what’s the craziest you’ve ever made” or “what’s the greatest” or “what’s your favorite”. The most eye-catching was likely the Hologram jeans… I mean if you see a dude walking by with silver hologram jeans on, it’s likely gonna catch your eye. Certainly that style was not for the faint of heart.
Robin Denim: Considering the super heavyweight 32 oz. fabric and the glow in the dark fabric, are there any other crazy fabrics in the pipeline?
Brandon Svarc: Of course there are! We wouldn’t be N&F is there wasn’t. But, all that is top secret for now haha!