It’s rare that the words ‘honest, good products’ arise from somewhere other than a hyped up, slightly knowing press release, but speaking to Sebastian Westin and Daniel Sandqvist in the pair’s new store, this is an exact phrase uttered by the latter. Not for any sort of sell, mind, but a genuine reminder of what they set out to do.
Founded in Stockholm by Daniel’s brother Anton 12 years ago, the Sandqvist brand arrived in the UK in 2006; today marks the opening of its first store outside of their native Sweden, and it’s in Soho that they’ve chosen to lay down some roots.
“We started looking almost two years ago,” explains Sebastian. “We looked in Shoreditch, we looked at other places in central London; we flew here maybe six or seven times, and we had a few really good ones, but when we found this one we felt it was perfect…”
Neighboured by the likes of Nudie Jeans and Universal Works, Sister Ray and Reckless Records, the duos extensive research obviously paid off, as Westin continues, “It’s got a really good vibe this area, Berwick Street especially feels like a strong location. It’s kind of the same vibe as the other places where we have the shops back in Sweden.” Coupled with a rare visit from some decent weather, as Clash arrives the Nordic vibe is truly alive and well in West London.
Alongside its competitors such as fellow Swedes Fjallraven Kanken and the Canadian Herschel, Sandqvist can be considered part responsible for a uniform adopted across London in the last decade. Boasting a distinguishable aesthetic and available from a select but accessible assortment of retailers, Urban Outfitters among them, for all intents and purposes they are an attainable piece of the Kinfolk evolved dream.
That the UK should play home to its first international store then, makes absolute sense, as Daniel confirms, we’re big customers: “We started working with retailers in England very early,” he asserts, “at the moment I think the UK is the second biggest market for us, so that’s one of the reasons (for opening here). The second reason I’d say is, because London is such an international city, it gives us a lot of rings on the water.” Ah yes, we’ve got that ripple effect down.
“It’s also a really good way to keep on building the brand awareness,” offers his partner, “and we can show our bags the way that we want to display them, basically.”
Cop a look at Sandqvist social media and you’ll notice the images above nod to the aforementioned interiors: all wooden panels, clean lines and healthy foliage. The back of the store – where our conversation takes place – is painted grey, and does, as Sebastian suggests, feel not dissimilar from being in a Swedish cabin.
As well as the new shop – and a London exclusive by way of an updated colourway of two brand classics, plus tonight’s launch party – Sandqvist has recently upped its game with the release of a full women’s collection, developed with a new designer to boot.
“In general, all our bags are unisex,” clarifies Westin, “and we have kind of had a few women’s bags for a long time, which has been really successful. But then we thought, I mean for us it’s really important to develop – to evolve – and try new things. So we thought that this would be a good step, but of course we (also) get a lot of requests from people around us.”
Post-launch the two have their sights set on a vacation, beyond which they plan to tap Berlin’s mean streets for a new bricks and mortar proposition (Germany is another strong market), while the core of their horizons remains on the canvas and leather that occupies the walls around us: “I mean, we’re going to keep on doing some really cool bags," says Sebastian. "We just want to do honest, good products," replies his colleague.
The new Sandqvist store is now open at 79 Berwick Street; more info here.