Philanthropic Streetwear – An Interview with Les Deux
Here at The Hippo Collective we love up and coming street wear, so what’s better than timeless, unisex clothing? Nothing. Les Deux, a Danish based street wear company that has been rising in its ranks. Not only creating fashionable oxford shirts but also creating opportunities for those less privileged than most of the world. An idea in mind to create clothing for those without having to be tied down to any social or gender class. A clothing brand that not only smoothly meshes preppy and street styles together but also giving back to the world. With so much going on, The Hippo Collective grabbed the opportunity to talk with Andreas of Les Deux about their origin, current exploits and future hopes.
THC: How did Les Deux begin?
Andreas: The idea for Les Deux came in late 2009. I met Virgil Nicholas and we became close friends. Virgil had an idea for a shirt with English military patches. For my birthday Virgil ordered some extra military patches and sew me one of the T-shirts. I saw potential in the T-shirt and in Virgil. The week after we met at a cafe in Copenhagen and I asked him whether he could be interested in producing the T-shits and create a company. We both agreed on the idea which was to combine the classic Preppy lifestyle with the urban street lifestyle. The two lifestyles representing Virgil and I where I am the preppy and Virgil is the one with the street attitude. That’s is why we call our brand Les Deux – which is French meaning “the two”. After a year where we had to find a contractor, the right measurements and the strategy we finally received the delivery. 500 T-shirts, one style and one colour. It was all stocked in my apartment on 50 square meters.
We wanted to conquer Denmark and the rest of the world with our style. We didn’t know anything about the fashion industry – but that was about to change. Our first article in a local newspaper – two young entrepreneurs rumbling into Danish fashion industry. We only had one t-shirt but a big dream. We worked hard and had celebs wearing our clothes and created a hype. During that summer we sold all 500 T-shirts and could now invest in a sweatshirt.
…. The story continues and today we are sold in more than 250 shops around the world.
THC: Can you tell me your role within the company?
Andreas: My role? hmm… what is not my role? I’m part of the design team, doing the fashion fairs around the globe and you name it. Developing the brand every day.
THC: Your website mentions that Les Deux is two cultures in one product. How is this represented in your clothing?
Andreas: The clothes is a combination of the preppy vs. street coluure whereas the two cultures you need to go deeper in our brand identity. We are building a school in Africa, Zambia. The school opened in 2014 and we have 50 students this season. Beside this we have built a library and a stadium (opening 1 January 2015) at the school ground. Virgil was born in Africa why we want to give back to his roots by educating and [educating] young Africans to be healthy, do sports and make business in order to help themselves and their families.
Les Deux is much more than just a business – we have a responsibility for other young men and women.
THC: It is also mentioned that Les Deux is separate from social, religious and political ties. Why is this so important to Les Deux?
Andreas: When we started Les Deux we didn’t know anything about the fashion industry but we found it hard to be a part of. Clothing was not for everyone and it was all about being important and fashion. We asked ourselves; ” How can we make a brand which is for everyone” – remember Virgil as a young African and myself as a Classic Dane was to different cultures melted into one idea. We wanted to take this idea an open up the fashion industry. Making clothes for everyone. I didn’t matter if your where white, black, indian or what you believed in. It was all about the styles and feeling part of something bigger. Why is it so important? Have you seen what the world has become today? Well we need to open up and let people in – respect each other. Let’s be part of the same journey.
THC: Mentioning your clothing, what product are you most proud of and why?
Andreas: The keeper sweatshirt. Classic sweat with a classic print. Goes perfect with either a long t-shirt underneath or an Oxford shirt. We have sold more than 10.000 of these sweatshirts.
THC: Did Les Deux always plan to work in Zambia?
Andreas: No – but we were looking for a way to give back to the world. Since Virgil was from Africa and we got a chance to choose exactly what to do with our own money we didn’t doubted this project. First we were looking at different organizations but they couldn’t tell us exactly how they would spend our money, so we did it ourselves.
THC: Where do you see this project going the in future?
Andreas: I’m going there in January to open the stadium and then I can answer you exactly what I think. My dream is to open more schools like this throughout Africa. If this succeed as we think it will and the students are successfull after attending our school I want to take this to the next level and give 100 new students a chance of a better life. Deep in my heart I want to help other people.
THC: With all that said, where do you want to see Les Deux in the future?
Andreas: Les Deux is going to be the next international fashion brand. We are going worldwide and constantly looking to expand to new market.
Find Les Deux: lesdeux.dk