WATG: Ben Schwab

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January 16, 2015

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Knitting is the new yoga or so say the ‘Gangsters’ at Wool and the Gang – the coolest knitwear brand in the whole wide world.

Set up by two ex-Central St Martins graduates, Aurelie Popper and Jade Harwood, along with world traveller and yarn lover, Elisabeth Sabrier, this funky eco-friendly brand is on a mission for world wool domination!

I’m a big fan of the brand, not just because they produce beautifully knitted products that are available to buy ready made or in self-knit kits, but because my good friend, Ben – from my Geneva-past – is now part of the woolly Gang! Here’s what he had to say to when Beardrevered caught up with him last month.

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Tell us about Wool and Gang – what’s it all about?

At Wool and the Gang we’re bringing sexy back to the world of knitting!  In a nutshell, we are a fashion brand powered by the maker movement. All our pieces are made unique either by yourself – if you buy our Knit Kit – or hand knitted by our global gang of knitters. We see ourselves as fashion rebels, as we’re striving to make a change in the fashion industry.

How does your average day go?

Everyday is sooooo different. We’re a start up so we’re still quite a small team and the beauty of all this is that we all work together on a daily basis. So from warehouse to creative, tech via marketing and PR or wholesale, all the teams work closely. So far it’s been amazing and you forget how much you learn from people when you work like this. From day one, it’s been ‘Go big or go home’  so the pace is very fast. We always say, one week at Wool and the Gang feels like a day. But we have a lot of fun, we all want this to be the next big thing and I feel I’m learning something new every single day.

What’s it like working with so many girls?

We do have a lot of girls, but… I always got on with girls and it’s never been a problem to work with them. I like it. I actually don’t like it when it’s too male dominated. I did have a meeting with 10 girls the other day and that was intense!  A few more guys would be nice…

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Wool and the Gang 2014-2015

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Wool and the Gang  2014-2015

What are the next steps for WATG?

Our network has grown so fast in the past year and now we’re expanding in the US with our concept of localised production and distribution. We have a big waiting list of knitters dying to get on board and we actually can’t wait for them to get their ‘knit on’ and help us create hubs across the world.

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The beard is looking great – how do you keep it on tip-top condition?

I wish I could say something smart and sophisticated here but I’m a really lazy person when it comes to taking care of my beard and I really let it go wild. I recently went to a barber shop in Covent Garden though and I was quite intrigued by the art of beard pruning. I think I might deserve a treat soon and might indulge in this.

Where are your favourite places to relax in London?

I’m quite a busy person generally. I work quite a lot and I go out a lot too!  I would say my favourite places to relax are wherever my partner and friends are. I’m the happiest when I’m with them. Apart from this, I love Hampstead Heath. I like the way it feels – wild and peaceful at the same time. Quite a spectacular and calming view of London too.

If you’re feeling homesick, is there anywhere in London that reminds you of Switzerland?

Hmmmm… I don’t think so. But I do have a little Swiss crew here so it’s always a bit like home when we’re together. And we totally indulge in proper fondue Swiss style. Best remedy ever.

What’s the best thing about being a foreigner in London?

I’ve been here 8 years now and I still feel like the same little Swiss boy discovering the big city. London has so much to give and I still feel as enthusiastic as my first day. I like that I sometimes feel a bit exotic to the people here too. People always have this funny dreamy image of Switzerland.

What are your top three favourite shops in the capital?

I love Reign Wear on Berwick street in Soho. It’s a very cool vintage clothes shop. The choice is great and the prices are very reasonable too. The Committee of Taste is a great vintage furniture boutique in Stoke Newington. It has a very good selection of pieces at  very good prices -check out their Facebook page.

Artwords Bookshop on Broadway Market in London Fields is brilliant. I could just browse the books and magazines there for ages. I wish I could buy more books sometimes… And finally, I really like the Good Hood Store on Curtain road in Shoreditch. It’s a very cool concept store. Everything is nice from a little sticker to a pair of trainers, a coat or a cool piece from a Japanese potter. Nice vibe too.

We love all the bearded WATG male models – what are your views on the current popularity of beards in fashion?

It’s just sexy right? I personally always preferred a more rough and rugged look compared to a groomed princess and I think people quite like this too. With regards to our latest photo shoot at Wool and the Gang, we started to cast ‘real’ people that are innovators in their industry and we called it the ‘Gang Series’. There are a few beard fans in my team so the choice wasn’t hard!

Who’s your bearded hero and why?

I think it would have to be Viggo Mortensen in Lords of the Rings. He was probably one of the best movie heros of all time. Apart from him I think Bill Murray pulls a pretty good beard in Life Aquatic. And also Baron Munchausen – such sweet childhood memories. I used to love that movie soooo much. I love the way these characters are total anti-heros.

woolandthegang.com

Images of Ben by Brooke Harwood

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