The Menswear Style Podcast

Andreas Christian von der Heide, Co-Founder of Les Deux

August 12, 2021 Menswear Style Episode 137
The Menswear Style Podcast
Andreas Christian von der Heide, Co-Founder of Les Deux
Show Notes Transcript

Les Deux was born from a chance meeting between two very different people, with contrasting personalities, who found themselves united in recognising opportunities. Two distinct souls on divergent paths with shared ambitions. Often, in the meeting of opposites, something profound happens. A spark ignites. It is then you can excel and stand out from the crowd – you can dare to carve your own path. Les Deux design clothes that make people challenge their habits and confront the status quo. The brand wants to leave a legacy that has lasting meaning. Ensuring sustainability and compassion are at the heart of what they create, their designs and communication – and how they give back.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Andreas Christian von der Heide, Co-Founder of Les Deux about the founding story of his brand which was developed whilst he was still in law school with just £1000 investment. They began by stitching patches onto white t-shirts and the aim was to show how strong a brand could become from two founders of completely different cultures.  Our host Peter Brooker and Andreas also talk about how roles and responsibilities are shared between the founders, where inspiration is drawn from, pricing strategies, and the brand's Rewear program.

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Hello, and welcome to another episode of The menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. Today on the show I'm going to be speaking to Andres vonderheide. He is the co founder of ladoo and ladoo. For the uninitiated, let me tell you, they are the meeting of opposites something profound and something new. They they dare to carve their own path. And this is the reason their raison d'etre is to design clothes that make people challenge their habits confront the status quo. And they are stocked globally in more than 800 International retailers. So I'm sure you're familiar, but here is and Dreyfus to tell us a story about ladoo in his own words. Personally, I am 32 years old, I have three kids, and I'm married to my wife. Professionally, I, I've never had really had another job than that. I was in law school when it all kicked off, or actually the year before, it's 10 years ago. And basically, it was just about being an entrepreneur, and maybe not so much about the fashion industry. I mean, I've always loved fashion, probably a little bit more commercial than the high fashion. But I've always loved the fashion scene and, and to be dressed nice and good qualities and so on. So I didn't have any knowledge. I just, I just wanted to get my hands on stuff and started building something. I didn't see myself as a lawyer, but but it was a good education, my family thought. So in the beginning was very simple. Actually, we just bought a whole lot of military patches, old military patches from, from the UK, from France, and so on. And then we have a bunch of white t shirt, and we were suing them on the the T shirt, ourself. And it's also sort of basically that's it. We didn't have a lot of strategies, or we didn't know anything about quality is fashion fair. So everything you see today with more than 800 retailers throughout Europe and entering the US and Canada and abroad now, is is self taught, and it's something we've learned throughout the years. Nice. So sewing patches onto white t shirts. And this is 10 years ago. So what was the landscape like then? Are we online doing it? Or is it bricks and mortar? No, this was basically it was just friends. And I think we had Facebook, we didn't have a, we didn't have a homepage or anything, but we could sell it off. So it was just a room on the street that we were doing this. The background for the day, its friends, and we're Danish brand. But I started out with a guy called Vishal Nicola. And he's a political, political refugee from Congo. So what we wanted to do was that we wanted to show how strong a brand can be or two person can be when they were together, even though that they come from separate backgrounds, separate families. And also in these time, there surely is his Afro American and or what you're allowed to say today. And, and, and I'm a white boy. So we're allowed to, yeah, despite despite our differences, it was just a really strong connection between virtual and I saw little means the two in French, and it's the story of two different cultures coming together to create something unique. And that is literally to me and and us. Nice. Did you So did you get any kind of training in how to make garments? Or did you take night classes in fashion school? Anything like that? No, no, I was in law school and actually ended up finishing law school. It took me five years while building later. So no, absolutely not. I I know a lot today. But I've always said I'm really good at building a brand or creating a brand new story. So I've actually aligned with a lot of really talented people throughout the years. In the beginning, we were just paying too much for the cloth. But we had like a, like a middleman taking care of all the garments, the production and so on. And then we visited all the production sites. And then I've learned along the way, and then after, I think it was five, four or five years, we could afford to hire our own production team. So we went from these two guys with a dream just in the beginning to get some t shirts out there. And and then we always said who is Ralph because we wanted to compete International. And that became that became a dream. That dream came true. Yeah. Are those t shirts still around today Andrea so his original white ones. Were about they are actually we went when Pete when we are putting it out on LinkedIn and so much asking for these t shirts back to the to the company. And every time we open a new shop, we will have have the T shirts framed with the story. Below the T shirt so when you visit one of our shops Now it's only in in Denmark, but you will, you will get the story. And you can see one of the T shirts. And I love that I have one. I have one myself. Basically, in the beginning, I thought that was one of the most beautiful t shirts, and I saw the potential in them. And that's why we started. So So financially, we also just started out with 1000 pounds. And today we have a turnover of just around 22 million euros. So it's been quite a journey. Yes, fantastic. So there's, there's no kind of like investor debt or kind of seed rounds going on or anything like that. After after a couple of years, when we had to do a professional company, one of my friend's father came on board with Christopher and Christopher is my partner today. And so, so he was actually our bank. And for that he got some, he became a part owner. But we haven't been financed by a bank. We were financed by Christopher's father and then Chris ever stepped in. And today he's the CEO, and I'm the brand director. Okay, what's your day to day like, Andrea? I mean, I imagine it changes from day to day in terms of what you have to do. But what what is your overriding day with the tasks you have to change? So Chris, and I, we kind of split it up everything you can see, feel and touch. That's me. And everything that we call the back office is Christopher running that. So everything brain wise, talking to you, and meeting new agents and getting the brand out in the world. That's me, I get to travel a lot when we don't have the COVID-19 situation. And basically, I've just out there and doing all the creative, funny things. And then I have a really strong backbone with Christopher supporting me for back from home. Okay, and creating the garments as well do you sign off on all the designs. I don't I don't sign off. But I looked through the collection and I come with my opinion. And I'm also part of the beginning how we build the structure and going through the data, what sells and what should be added to the collection. We've just launched shoes, we've just launched a lot of new assessories and they're part I've been a big part of me. So let's maybe for the people that haven't had the chance to look at your brand yet. Talk about the signature look, I suppose I mean that you describe it as a hybrid of prep boy Ivy League and street fashions, maybe you can just start for the people that aren't familiar with an Ivy League it was that that's for me that's that's a classic Ralph Lauren looked like the old when he came out in the 1970s 1980s what he did there were amazing and that's just the year from the Ivy League in in the US how they dress. It's very classic. It's Oxford says it's it's layers, but in the end it's good qualities and it's strong lists and so on. So what we wanted to build was that we know that we have a core foundation of the company which is what you would call the more privy side or the more classical side with the Oxford shirts, the dress pants and so on. And that never goes out of fashion we don't want to be just a yet another fashion company that doing all the craziest stuff never earns money and then they out of business so we wanted to build a really strong business around what we around the brand. And then we have the other side which is the more street part which is the wider pants it's the oversize t shirts, sweatshirts hoodies coming in right now and the more street with with the with the street soccer or the the basketball thing that we are that we own right now. So it's the new unique hybrid between those two that creates the magic around and keeps us relevant all the time. Yeah, even though the fashion changes for you always kind of taking inspiration from classic brands and classic looks and then interpreting perhaps new trends or Exactly. I, I have so much respect for what Mr. Ralph Lauren did for for the fashion world and how he built his company. And right now we're trying to do an interpretation of that and taking it into the 2021 with all due respect to their legacy. So yeah, nice. Yeah, no way if you're gonna draw inspiration from anyone. Yeah. What about other brands and contemporaries or maybe like your own personal inspirations enter his style icons and films do you draw upon them at all? Yeah. style wise, I mean, I have a lot of brands that I have respect about. Emily and all what they have done. I think it's really strong lately. Me pervy has also been a big inspiration for us and, and, and we have a great respect for for that company. In general in I love Michigan, I love the art scene I I am actually not really strong in the in movies. But when we go back and when we look at what we're trying to do with LIDAR is that we always have to find somewhere in time and take what two different worlds meet each other that could be in the Berlin after the after the wall fell. And taking the magic happens when the two differences come into one. So So the story around the brand is is, is strong and we find in inspiration in, in, in the history and not only films and music and so on, but a lot of a lot of what has been going on in history. Right? And your own personal style. Do you get to wear a lot of your clothes, clothes that you make? I mean, do you kind of now conscious that you have to be dressing well, pretty much all the time. I'm I'm fully dressed in the doom almost all the time. Right now I actually have I'm wearing a some pants from Mr. P from Mr. Porter's own brand, but but I love what we're doing. And as long as I can see myself, and if I have to be really honest with you the worst at a certain point, why I where I wasn't maybe fully on what we were doing. But today and the collections that we're having out now, I think I think personally, it's so strong that I couldn't see myself wearing anything else. And yeah, because there is a responsibility that comes with all this way. I'd say it's probably a bit of a loaded question. But I just released a book myself on the style of James Bond. And I feel now that once I put my name to a book and a subject, that when people come and ask you stuff you kind of have to know the answers avoid, it looks like garlic. And so with the same regards to like all kinds of things, fashion and design, and staying on boards of trends and fabrics and like what what kind of fabrics does what, you know, you have to kind of really know your onions, especially in your position, do you feel any of that responsibility or pressure? I don't know what the feel I feel a responsibility. But But with all due respect, if there's an answer I can answer, then then I will I can always say I will go out and figure it out. But I think you need to know something about textiles. But for me, it's a lot about the brand building. I've always focused about the brand. And I've always said to my team, the product needs to be really strong, it needs to be high quality, it needs to be high quality, fair prices. That's that's the range that we are in. And so if you ask me a question about some textile, it's not certain that I could give you the right answer, but I know where to find it. So maybe maybe it's a pressure but but the but for me, I don't look at it specific as the fashion industry. I'm building a strong brand with some great people and living and living the dream that the my alternative was to be a lawyer. So I'm just a really happy that I've gotten to to build this amazing brand. And so no pressure here. Nice. Well, actually, that's a sort of approach I take I co authored it, I should say. And if I didn't answer how to say, oh, Ali, email, my co author and I kind of shirk responsibility and just deflect that's always good. Little. Andrew, told me about the growth of the brand. Are we looking to build more bricks and mortar? Or are we looking to be more of a force online? How's it going? Yeah, I mean, growing online, of course, I look at online in two ways. We have the etailers, where we're looking at a strong, wholesale online. That's one part that they're getting bigger and bigger. And then we of course, growing our own online and online is becoming more and more important, but what I see and what I love about brands, is the whole connection between online and offline, especially being a men's brand. I think what we see is that men still want the story. They still want the beer, how does literally taste How does it smell? How is the garment I need to try it on. And when they find that brand that suits them really well. They become loyal. But But our brick and mortar is is a important part of our growth online. So we will build more with with brick and mortar. Right now we are looking at opening in Norway and then we are going towards Germany and hopefully afterwards, it will become the UK. UK turn. So so the balance between you won't see us open 100 shops tomorrow, but we're doing and when they're profitable. We open the next and we build a healthy business on that. I see. Yeah. I look forward to you coming to London. Yeah, hopefully London. Have you been to London much recently? Well, maybe not in the past I don't know not not reasonably during the pandemic but before we travel quite a lot. We have a really strong setup with with a strong showroom. We have a really good team in the in the UK, working with some of the strongest department stores over there. So So yeah, I tend to travel to London quite a lot. And then I love the city of course. Great. Yeah, I mean some of the looks for for people that want to check out the website. We'll put all the links over on the show notes, but do.co.uk is where I'm at the moment checking out some of the jackets certainly need some of those right now we're over there for a pretty average it's raining right? flash floods it's raining right now spec crazy but they're actually really now take this within the spirit that's intended entries but really reasonably priced as well like the getting just an overshare or a jacket for under 80 pounds like a corduroy jacket as well for just over 100 pounds. I mean, these aren't kind of like crazy prices where only the elite can shop here. No, and I think that's the strength that we can. We are available available in in a lot of high end fashion places. We have the Nordstrom in in the US we have zoom in Ukraine and so on and, and and if you look at Europe, which is probably our strongest we are available in some of the best department stores, fish shops out there. But we also available in in, in the local shops around there. And we've always said that we wanted the best shops even one one thing to be the best shop in London and then you can go outside London and then you can find the best shop in the local city. So we want to be available in the best parts in the local city. Nice. Yeah, sorry. I'm taking a pause. I really like this stuff. I really like the linen tensile hybrid. So these are these collections are kind of they evergreen on the site, I noticed that you have other collections that people can explore or do you kind of do collections and then they become like collector's pieces I don't know whether they become I to be very honest with you. I think we a little bit too commercial to be a collector's piece, then I will but but but looking back I would say that now are the first t shirts and everybody's if anybody's out there listening got one of the T shirts please send it towards us. That's become a collector's item. Especially for for the leader army back here in in Scandinavia. There you go. You never know if I get one of these pieces today. You could be hunting me down. Yeah, I will. Andrews, talk to me about social media. I'm curious to know what founders and co founders etc. Do in their spare time with social media? Do you kind of hang out and do your own channels? Or do you kind of give it a wide berth all together? What's your religion? I actually I actually took the decision a couple years ago, because I was available all the time, I was having a lot of followers on Instagram, I was having a lot of followers on Facebook and so on. So actually took the decision to get off. I mean, I spent too much time on it. And my my, my co founder Christopher he was like, What the fuck are you doing? You're such a big part of the brand. So I but I, I had a, I had one guy walking up to me in when I was out. And he asked for my family how Hamilton my son was. And that became a little bit too close. So sorry, yeah, so I No worries. So so I decided to get off. And right now I'm using Instagram on just my own just to watch how the day is growing and, and to be with the closest family and friends. So you won't see me very active on social media in general, that's a nice place to be because it's, it must be a bit of a bind for people that start their brand and feel like they have to be in the community and always turned on and be relevant, etc. And then it can be a hard thing to let go and delegate because you're now the voice of that brand. And now you have to kind of give it to someone else and and trust them. Yeah, but what we did there was that we created something we call the the next gen and the next gen is the next generation of course taking over. So that's our talent team, our talent programme, where we take these young guys, and they have to activate the social media, they're getting a certain education and so on. But But we need I mean, LIDAR can be reliable on me only. So we are trying to let people get in on our creative director on Christopher as a CEO and how their daily life is. Mateus Yeah, he's doing our creative director he has his own Instagram and professional Instagram running that very smoothly. So so this is part nine I like to be redrawn a little bit in the background. Okay, cool. And just thanks for your time really appreciate great brand really enjoyed the story. And again people can check out the website lead do coder, UK if you're in the UK, but obviously there's other places that you can visit the site and also on Instagram, you won't find Andrew there but you can find the brand. I'm staring the site. You never know you might be there in the background, checking in on things actually do on Instagram as well. And yeah, thanks for coming on. What's next? By the way, you said that you just released some accessories. But are you are you now knee deep in another collection or what's awesome to do this now. Of course, the whole thing Yeah, we've just launched the product wise, really nice shoes really nice assess in general. And then a lot of my time is going with the sustainability and how we can look into the whole recycle programme. And we just launched to do rewear. If you look at the page also, it's really strong way now you can take your worn garments, send it to us, and we'll wash in them and the garments that can be resold will be resold online. And a big part of me especially after having kids is the responsible that we have and and the legacy that we have to leave, leave behind. And the last thing that I'm really proud of is, is our is our talent programme, where we take young kids which which is having some trouble in their lives and we are helping them with with the mentor and to teach recall in an English, like a programme for them to finish school and get a job afterwards. Hopefully, they do. But that's a big part of my job during these days. Nice. How would you say you were 31 furniture at cookie was doing it. Still working construction? On the way to the win. All right. Well, listen, best of luck. It looks great. The monetary wearable site now the sustainable element of it looks really cool. Like the the tonal shoes. I do like it but because it's not so over branded, like there's no huge signature logos or graphics, which is kind of right in my wheelhouse. At least. That's good. That's very Scandinavian. Right? Yeah, definitely. Brilliant. All right, Andrew, so let you go. But thanks for joining us today. And thank you, Peter. Well, how about that? Thank you, Andreas. Again. The website lead do le s d u x.co.uk. Or just head over to the website WWE W dot menswear startup. co. uk we'll put all the show notes over there. And you can follow us on the social at menswear style. And we'll keep you posted when we upload new podcasts, new articles, and whatnot. In the meantime, thank you for listening. Thank you for making it through this fire. If you do like what you hear, leave us a review. If you want to come on the show, maybe tell us about your brand. Tell us about your journey. You can email us here info at menswear styled at codit Uk until next time,