Can you tell me the story of your store? When did you start?
Aimar: SfääR got it’s humble beginning 6 years ago. Back then we realised there was a big gap in the Estonian market, there was either high fashion or fast fashion, nobody was selling clothing with real value, fabric and history sense. We had no place to buy the clothes which we wanted to wear. So, out of this simple rational reason, Norman and I decided to act and create a whole new concept, SfääR Resto & Store.
Before all of that I had been working with some high fashion houses, I guess seeing how this industry ticks made me want to find a new output which is more friendly and more based on style which is made to last.
And your concept is more heritage?
Aimar: It’s a good mix between tough Americana old-school classics and modern minimalism. But, I guess when looking at the big picture, then yes, I can say that our concept is paved towards heritage world.
The concept of the store was from the very beginning like that?
Henri: In the beginning SfääR was more tilted towards Scandi simplicity, clean lines and quality fabrics. We had brands like Nudie Jeans, Acne Studios, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, Hope and Our Legacy etc.
Aimar: But over the years it has evolved slowly over to heritage brands like LVC, Nigel Cabourn, 1st-Patrn, Monitaly, Red Wing Shoes, Alden and Tricker’s.
Do you also support some local Estonian brands?
Henri: Yes, we do! We are big fans of Studio August, Mirgoods, Reval Denim Guild – these are the brands to keep your eye on.I guess Mirgoods is closest to being my favourite. The guy behind the brand is Mr Maletskiy, he is originally from Moscow but now lives here in Estonia. He makes beautiful leather accessories – belts, wallets, cardholders are his speciality but he is always open to new ideas. Lately he has collaborated with a couple of friends and the results are amazing, rucksacks and tote bags that hard to beat. He has a very keen eye on details, everything has to be perfect, I think it’s connected to his past when he was studying under a leather craftsman in Florence. Besides the products he’s making, he is just one very cool compadre!
Clothing for women came later?
Henri: It was actually there from the start, at first the men and women’s department were equally curated, meaning they had the same brands and style. Today the women’s side has stayed very scandinavian while men’s department grew twice in size and is much more heritage oriented.Men are more willing to invest in expensive clothing, for example like Momotaro jeans which have an average price tag of 350 €. They want something to last for a long time whereas women tend to compromise between quality, price and amount of consuming. That explains why it’s more difficult to find the right market for our women’s section. All of that causes us to keep our women’s section very simple and we try to stock mostly basics with a small twist which have a great quality-price balance.
Sometimes it feels like SfääR is surrounded by a big family
Can you describe your target customer?
Henri: Well, our target customer would be somebody who doesn’t accept ordinary or just okay products. Customer has to want the best what is available! Quality and innovative fabrics that have been materialised into a well designed product, I think that’s what counts in the end, at least that’s what makes me shiver with excitement. Foremost you have to be your own shop’s customer, you have to love what you sell. But, at the same time you can’t get lost in your own vision, it’s crucial to put yourself in the footsteps of the customers and also see things from their perspective.
Usually your customers are from Tallinn or they are more international?
Henri: It’s a big mix. Main friends and customers are local, they come here on a regular basis, just to enjoy a good cup of cappuccino and chitchat about daily activities or treat themselves with a pair of Alden Boots and a jacket from Ceccarelli perhaps.There are a lot of foreign customers as well, many of them come from neighbouring countries like Russia, Sweden, Finland and Latvia. Then from time to time we have these long distance guests that come from Americas, Asia and Australia.
One time there was this Australian guy who was spending his holiday in Tallinn and out of a surprise he found out that we stock Blundstone which is originally from Tasmania, he had to get a pair, he didn’t care less that he was just about to go back anyway. It’s a good example that SfääR is not a regular shop, it has some kind of a special vibe going on what makes you want to be connected with it. Hence the Australian customer, he didn’t just get the Blundstone boots, he got the feeling of being part of SfääR.
You have to be your own shop’s customer, you have to love what you sell
The same thing goes to our Russian friends, we are very blessed to have them around, in the golden times we had some guys who flew from Moscow or St. Petersburg to shop in SfääR, enjoyed our hospitality and when satisfied, just flew back the same night.
Wow, just to visit your store!
Henri: Yes, exactly. They’re friends of Aimar, he is a guy with a big heart, people are drawn to him.
So you have very neat relationship with your clients?
Henri: We do! Sometimes it feels like SfääR is surrounded by a big family. Even customers who come to visit us after long years have past by are remembered well! It all starts with a simple belief that if you treat people with respect, it will come back one way or another.
Do you have an online store?
Henri: Unfortunately we don’t. But we are able to ship worldwide if a customer has a special request.
Your store has more Estonian spirit?
Henri: Store itself is based on different cultures. Estonia is surely in there, but americana is the biggest influence definitely. Besides having a big proportion of products from USA, freedom and liberty are flowing in SfääR’s veins.A lot of inspiration also comes from the Japanese. I think Japanese people are detail freaks and I love it. It takes a lot of concentration and discipline to focus also on the smallest of details. For example, Atsu from Stevenson Overall Co. can talk for hours how much stronger and nicer their neat stitches are. Or guys from Momotaro, they can go down to telling you where the cotton was harvested, where it was spun into a yarn, how it was dyed and which old shuttle looms were used to make the denim fabric, it feels special when a company goes this far.
All of this helps you understand the concept behind the brand and why their jeans are so much different from other jeans. It’s called «slow consuming». It is just the opposite of Zara and H&M.
So you are not concentrated on the commercial side.
Henri: I guess every business also has to be a bit commercial, it’s the only way to survive. But the main idea is to sell the quality and the story of well made products. It’s always interesting to go to Pitti Uomo and meet all the people who create the apparel. Listening to their stories makes you aware how much of their hearts they put into this world. They are trying to change the way majority of people are consuming clothing.
Do you have some in-store events?
Henri: Oh yeah, we used to create more events before but at the moment we have been quite busy with the A/W season. Sunday Brunch with a DJ is kind of a weekly event going on, you can treat yourself with a light Mimosa and couple of delicious pancakes from the restaurant side and head over to the shop to get that cozy cashmere sweater.In Telliskivi district we have our Outlet, it’s situated in an old warehouse, the building itself is huge, so from time to time we use the space to create events like design or flea markets. Aah, and you can also get sweet deals at the Outlet, most of the stuff is -40% off all the time.
Tell me a few words about brands. What do people usually search for?
Henri: We have quite a big selection of different brands, many of them focus on some specific area like jackets, boots, hats etc. But without a doubt, the choice is the biggest with jeans. Denim brands we stock are one of the finest in the world in my opinion, you can get avant-garde jeans from Stevenson Overall Co. or perhaps a pair from the godfather of all five pocket jeans, Levis Vintage Clothing. The bestseller at the moment has to be Edwin. People like it. Choice between fits, fabrics and price range makes it hard to ignore.We also stock a large range of shoes and boots, again, there is something for everyone – Tricker’s, Alden, Red Wing Shoes, Wolverine Boots and Yuketen – just to name a few.Every year we try to bring in something new, this autumn we chose Nemen. We were not very sure how will it work for our market, so we didn’t order that much. Now it turned out we sold them within days.
What brands do you have for women?
Henri: At the moment it is very simple. We have lots of Edwin, but we also have some Estonian brands, like August and Reval Denim Guild. In the winter time the biggest hits are Parajumpers, Red Wings, Blundstone and Woolrich.Although the true stars of the show are Aesop and The Laundress. Aesop has it’s roots in Melbourne, Australia, it has a wide range of skin, hair and body care products of the finest quality. Reverence Hand Soap is sold out the moment it arrives usually, it’s amazing how much people love it.The Laundress is a laundry & fabric care brand from NYC, products are cruelty free and environmental friendly, The best part is how effective their products are. Also, fragrance they use in their products are to die for!
OUTFIT by SfääR
I’m a big fan of preppy look. Howlin by Morrison sweater keeps you warm in cold winter nights, to top it off there is this extremely soft Aspesi jacket which is made from cashmere. Chinos have to be from Incotex. Chukkas by Alden. If I would wear something at the moment I would wear this.