Introducing: Rascals

I had honestly never heard of Danish brand Rascals before last year when my friend Adam, who was working with them at the time, introduced them to me at a trade show. I was immediately a fan, they piqued my interest with their fixed gear influenced streetwear. I cycle a lot, and could immediately see the attraction and benefit of a lot of their pieces.

They also appear to have quite the sense of humour too, one of their biggest brand lines is that they don’t hide the fact they’re relatively new. You know as well as I do that there are a lot of brands who are trying to falsely enter the heritage route, without actually having any heritage or history. Rascals love to have a stab at this, both gleefully in person when I met them and on all their labels, boasting ‘Rascals. 2008 – No History’. I love that.

Their collections are a twist on the ordinary, taking influences from across sportswear and mens fashion to make a functional garment that you could step right off your bike and stroll straight into work or the bar and nobody would realise. In a sense it’s not too dissimilar to what Levis are doing with their ‘Commuter’ capsule, but rather than a diffusion its the majority of their line, and certainly part of their ethos.

This year is seeing them take amazing strides, they’ve certainly found their feet and it’s exciting to see that they’ve dove headfirst into creating their own patterns and fabrics, giving their collection a really personal edge. This isn’t Japanese dead-stock or ‘last roll ever’ shit, this is created by them and applied in their own way.

Back in February I got the chance to catch up with Patrick and Jeppe at a trade show in London, they took me through some of the upcoming collections, and I got to pick their brains about the brand, their story and what they have planned next.

Rascals are clearly big on home turf, yet it’ll be interesting to see how they translate the brand across Europe and the world. They’re certainly enthusiastic, and I’m excited to see what they do next.

So what I want to know more about is, what was the impetus for the brand, what made you guys start it? Was it 2008 you guys started it or was it before 2008 that the idea first came about?

It started around 2007, it was actually my brother Martin, he was like the original founder of the brand. He’s just had his first baby so he’s back in Copenhagen. Around 2007 the whole the fixie bike culture kind of emerged, that was like the beginning of it in Denmark and Copenhagen at least, and for a long time I think he just wanted to make some clothes. He started to make fixie inspired track-wear, as we have this uniform way of wearing drop pants, polyester and a hoody as well.

That was actually kind of the beginning of it, just creating something street focused and wearable, then we started to get more and more pieces. Then around 2010 I became part of the project and started making bigger collections. The first full collection was in 2011.

So what’s your role now in the brand? Are you a designer, or what’s your role within Rascals?

Martin and I consider ourselves part owners but I’m doing the more marketing side of the business, that’s my area and then Martin and I are doing all of the collections together with a mutual design process.

What has been the biggest challenges over the past few years with the brand?

I think to make a foundation for our brand in our own market in Denmark. To get our clothing out there to the right customers, the right buyers thats been the biggest challenge really. Of course we believe in the brand but its not been easy. We’ve also really tried to focus on Facebook and Twitter and making our own videos for example support our local scene videos for instance about our friend who skates or rides fixie bikes. We’ve tried to really make an identity around the brand and I think we’re definitely on the right spot where we are in Denmark at the moment. 2012 was amazing for us in Denmark.

At what point then did the brand start to seep out into the rest of Europe? Was it from the start or was it quite a while before it left Denmark and people started taking notice?

I think around the 2011 A/W Collection we got our first Italian distributer and from then on slowly we started working with guys and moved into Germany and so on.

One of the reasons why we also hired Jeppe was for Martin and I to focus on the international market and to support him in anyway we can. That’s why we’re here today. It isn’t just about writing the next collection and hoping it does well, its getting to know the market and making the right strategy because we can’t just take our strategy in Denmark and place it in the UK because I don’t think that works.

So really this is like the tipping point for you guys where you’ve really started to grow and you’re looking to globalize?

It’s hard because at one point you’re only looking to the local market, but then you’re looking to the global market, and it’s been difficult to predict.

What would you say has been your highlight with Rascals over the past few years?

I think last year it was just fantastic to see our brand being part of the… you know on the street level people are wearing you clothes and Roskilde festival, which is one of the biggest festivals in Denmark, internationally known, and people were like wearing Rascals clothes constantly and that felt like a huge success.

With that in mind, what’s the next thing you want to achieve? What’s the next step?

I think at the moment 90% of our turnover… our clothes are being sold in Denmark. If in 5 years it could be 90% internationally and 10% in Denmark that would be amazing. Really just to focus on the international market, make sure we’ve found ourselves in these countries like the UK and really now I feel like we’ve found the right people to work with on this, and of course be able to expand the collection too.

Where do you want to expand it next? Where do see the brand going in terms of the product and the collections because obviously this is fantastic but you must have really big ideas of where you want to go?

I think beginning as a brand you are forced to work pretty much in the same material. Already now we are being able to work with different types of textiles, we’ve done a lot of things with jerseys and stuff like that in the past. Yeah being able to expand the variety of different fabrics. This is the first time we have made all our prints ourselves, it’s not something we found easy on a production level so just being able to make our own things, with our own unique patterns and prints is a huge thing for us, it’s really satisfying to sell something you made from scratch. I think we would like to work with a lot more technical fabrics, like outerwear, all our gear is made in Turkey at the moment and really we’d like to start working with more technical outwear fabrics that are made in China. So thats something you can expect more from us as we move forward.

You mentioned earlier about in Denmark not selling so much of the cycling things anymore. Is that just with that logo or is across the whole cycling/technical thing in total?

It’s more the logo. its not us, but a few brands have quite a strong logo and for us that bike motif has been very exposed for us in Denmark, some customers are only getting to know the brand by that logo that could be dangerous for us, people could only know us by ‘oh they’re the ones with the bike logo’, but we’re so much more than that.

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