MEET THE MAKERS: KARL-OSKAR OLSEN
Founded in 2002 by Karl-Oskar Olsen and Brian SS Jensen, Wood Wood is a fashion and lifestyle brand that can be best described as contemporary streetwear. Mixing high fashion, sports and streetwear with youth culture, art and music, Wood Wood is able to move up and down the fashion spectrum. Staying true to its subcultural heritage, it combines fashion conscious sophistication with urban roots in an unpretentious manner. Wood Wood has collaborated with numerous renowned global brand such as Nike, Lego, Barbour, Eastpack and Adidas as well as niche brands and artists. We talked to co-founder Karl-Oskar Olsen about the brand.
Karl-Oskar, back in the days, what attracted you to the subcultural graffiti and hip hop scene in the suburbs of Copenhagen?
Riding the train with my mom in the mid '80s I discovered graffiti alongside the tracks. It just spoke to me, I was hooked and wanted to find out more. In '86 I got the Subway Art book and markers from my mom as a Christmas gift encouraging me to sketch graff and so it went...
What makes the mix of streetwear and high fashion so attractive these days?
I'm not sure what to think of it. Basically I don't like it when brands pretend to be something they are not. It has to be real for me to understand it. When that is said I think there are some good elements and sources of creativity when mashing up the two platforms. The fact is that both streetwear and high fashion get inspired from each other and thats a good start.
You originally wanted to become an architect but then decided to study Furniture and Set Design. How did you become interested in fashion in the first place?
I think I've always had an interest in “style” and fashion – the process and approach to designing is more or less the same, there's just different lead times. Clothing is a very thankful media to work with as the timeline to actually get something produced is very short compared to architecture.
Describe the Wood Wood attitude.
The W.W. attitude is about having an opinion and a mind of your own – whatever that may be. You're special when you wear Wood Wood.
How do you think Wood Wood reflects our time and society? Are the designs a product of our times?
I think it's mostly in our graphics, there's a certain element in most of them that is a comment or reflection of what's going on.
What is intrinsic about Scandinavian fashion design these days? How does it impact Wood Wood?
I think when it comes to 'thinking' design we are Scandinavian, but there are many different ways to expose and reflect that within your design. In general, I see Wood Wood as an international brand more than Scandinavian and our approach is to create something that works in a larger scale – so we rather look abroad in our design process.
What do you think people desire the most these days?
Good quality and original ideas.
Are you a free spirit?
Yes, I try.
What's essential in life?
Tolerance, sharing, love, family, friends, mountains.
Last but not least: what does the name Wood Wood stand for? What's the story behind the name?
Basically we wanted to name it 'wood', since the store we had was just covered with wood. But our love for the character 'Jimmy Two Times' in the movie Goodfellas made us decide that the double 'wood' sounded good.
Interview Christina Rabe