Today’s fashion market is all about finding your niche. August Bard and Jakob Dworsky, founders of the Swedish online-only men’s brand Asket, have found yours: the classic crew neck t-shirt. But in a rebellious movement against the industry-dominant and restrictive five-size system –XS, S, M, L, XL-, Asket provides fifteen, built on the premise that not all bodies are the same. In spite of such a wide size offering, all t-shirts will be retailing at a fair price of 30€. Material-wise, products are made from combed Egyptian cotton, which resists extensive wear without twisting, fading or breaking.

Asket was launched on Kickstarter, famous funding platform for creative projects, a couple of weeks ago, aiming to raise at least 10.000€ to kick-off the concept. With over €37.000 already collected, August and Jakob will offer their tees in not only white and grey mélange, but also in blue navy and black. In this interview, they open up about the project and their ambitions. Interview by Lorenzo Molina

What is your personal and professional background?
Both Jakob and I have a business background. We met the first day of our undergrad at Stockholm School of Economics nearly 6 years ago, stuck together ever since and are graduating from a Masters Program this summer. Both of us have several years of experience in e-commerce. I worked for the Swedish payment startup Klarna in the Nordics and Germany. Jakob worked for Rocket Internet and Zalando in the Nordics, Germany and Middle-East. So when we started getting tired of falling in-between sizes and overpaying for simple t-shirts, we quickly realized that a big part of the solution was to really exploit the opportunities of direct-to-consumer sales online.

So in the end, neither of us has a formal education in fashion or garment development. But what we lack in terms of technical expertise, we make up for with solid vision and surrounding ourselves with very talented people that cover our gaps.

Asket will provide fifteen different T-shirt sizes
Asket will provide fifteen different T-shirt sizes

You offer one of the widest size ranges within the industry. Still, as you’re sold online, it might be difficult for men to recognize their size: how do you describe each of them on your website? Do you include a body measurements index or any virtual fitting room?
Helping consumers find the right size online is as a huge challenge, not just for us. At the moment we have two ways of finding your size:

First, there is the intuitive way: By asking yourself what size you normally are, how that normally fits and how you’d like it to fit you can navigate to the right size in our table. For instance, if you are normally an L for the right length, but need the slimmer fit of the M, then you’re an M long in our system.

Secondly you can use our size charts. We offer highly detailed charts with garment measurements for customers to compare our t-shirts to the ones they own.

We found that body measurement indexes are confusing. The reason is that size is as much a question of genetics as it is a question of preference. So even if we have a body size index and suggest one size that fits according to our ideal, you may want a different fit (looser, longer, tighter or shorter). Therefore measuring garments is more helpful.

As we are still developing our online store and currently only accepting orders on Kickstarter we don’t offer any kind of virtual size finder yet. There are a few good ones out there that we are looking at, but we are also working on a proprietary solution that only requires top-of-the-mind information to give accurate size suggestions.

In the end, the reason why it’s hard to find your size online is because it is hard to find your size in general. People are often in-between two sizes and need to try both. By offering more and better fitting sizes, you should be able to find your single perfect size directly.

White crew neck t-shirt
White crew neck t-shirt
Your garments are produced in a Portuguese factory. How many employees are working for you over there?
They are! Portugal offers both high-end quality and fair and transparent labor conditions. Since we are startup we tried to find small factories that understand our needs and requirements. In the end, we partnered with a fantastic, family owned factory with top-notch processes and working conditions, employing around 30 people. Working with a smaller factory also has the big advantage of not being down-prioritized; they believe in our concept and want to help us grow.

What do you aim to achieve with Asket in your first business year? What are your short term goals?
Our primary goal in 2015 is to launch the Asket tee, refine our concept and start building a customer base. We need to earn our customers’ loyalty, establish our brand and communicate our values. When you build a startup, particularly in premium garments, it is most important to achieve our aspired quality and deliver on our promise. Financial results are secondary, but it’s no secret that our Kickstarter has exceeded expectations.

Do you have any referents in the fashion industry from whom you get inspiration?
On a more general level we love timeless essentials and are always inspired by how they manage to endure year after year, trend after trend. Often these garments are tied to icons like James Dean or Steve McQueen, who make dressing well look so effortless. But achieving utter simplicity is far from easy.

When it comes to t-shirts, we’re inspired by the classics such as Sunspel and James Perse. Unfortunately, while these items offer a fantastic quality, they come at a steep price and mostly only in five standard sizes. So we’ve focused the features that recur time after time to improve these instead of adding superfluous elements. By excluding what we feel doesn’t add value to the product - both in terms of its design and distribution method - we can offer more sizes and the same premium quality but at a fair price.