Cashmere – beautiful, soft, warm – like an embrace from a dear old friend.
Not by chance, the fiber is so favored by Lone Schmidt Janssen, founder of Danish luxury brand Asneh.
Asneh is the epitome of meticulous craftsmanship entangled with environmental and social responsibility practices. The luxury Danish brand relies solely on high-quality natural fibers like cashmere, cotton, silk and linen – those that are gentle to the skin but also gentle to the planet. When it comes to production, the label works only with trusted partners and limits its manufacturing to no more than two countries – India and Nepal.
To get to know Asneh and its creator even more, we asked Lone to answer a few questions about cashmere, sustainability… and not only.
Here is what she shared:
How was the idea of Asneh born and what makes it different?
Once upon a time, I was a poor university student. Cashmere was something I could only dream of owning, so I promised myself that when I graduated, I would reward myself with some cashmere. True to my promise, I bought a bottle green cashmere jumper (which I still have and treasure).
Over the years, I realized that my first buy (which was expensive) had a quality that I never found again as cashmere became more mainstream. That’s when I decided to launch a cashmere brand with good quality cashmere (which later became a full clothing brand).
It took quite a long time to find good and trusted producers to work with. Today, we design and produce in the original Himalayan cashmere countries: India and Nepal.
What sets us apart, is an admiration for true luxury and craftsmanship. We never compromise on our key values which are natural materials, and respect for people and nature.
What makes a brand sustainable? What about Asneh?
If I should narrow such a complex issue down to one word, I’d say sustainability is respect. Respect for nature and fellow humans. It is easier said than done, but it is the only way. Polluting and keeping people in poverty is disrespectful.
However, I honestly don’t think there are any sustainable brands. Sustainability is such a vast and complex issue which cannot be reduced to a certain crop, production method or element. We must look at the whole picture.
The holistic approach to sustainability is very important at Asneh. Most Asneh designs are handmade from beginning to end in the design and production process. Furthermore, we produce most of our items (including fabrics and yarns) all in one country – sometimes two, but never more than that. Everything we make is crafted from natural materials, so no synthetics. We make beautiful, timeless, slow fashion, and pay fair wages to the craftsmen and women. It is all part of the brand’s DNA.
Having said all that, I never call Asneh a sustainable brand, because how can I know for sure? Or prove it, for that matter. There is, by the way, no standardised way to measure sustainability in the industry, or even a clear definition of what “sustainable” means.
Obviously, buying better, paying fair wages, saying no to plastics are all key issues, but to claim to be sustainable is in my view greenwashing, and that’s the last thing I want to be involved in.
What is the fashion industry doing right and what should change?
The fashion industry is in many ways a wonderful industry. Fashion has helped lift millions of people out of poverty, which is often overlooked because fashion has too often become a synonym of fast fashion. There’s a lot of talk and eagerness to improve the fashion system and a healthy dose of self-criticism.
What needs to change is the disconnect between the real value and cost of clothing and the retail prices. We need to be better at educating people about the true costs and values of clothing. Obviously, connected to this is that we need to get rid of this cycle of constant newness and replace it with respect and appreciation for beautiful and well-made clothes. We all need to buy better and buy less.
What are your goals in terms of sustainability – both personally and for your brand?
Well, the goal is really the same: Be better. It is a constant process of improving and keeping going in the right direction.
Your favorite piece from your brand?
Oh, you’re asking a mother to choose between her children!
I will say, though, that a beautiful, well-crafted cashmere scarf is the most versatile and timeless item you can possibly own.
More about Lone
Now, let’s see what are Lone’s favourite things (well, besides high-quality and timeless cashmere pieces, of course).
This song you can’t stop listening to? ‘Can’t take my Eyes off you . . . You feel like heaven to touch.’ It’s an old Lauren Hill song. Obviously, it is a song about love, but the lyrics could as easily have been about our cashmere, and I just love it. Very catchy too. Come to think of it, for me cashmere equals love.
This place you just can’t stop visiting? India. Always interesting, always original, plus I have so many friends and contacts there.
This movie you can’t stop rewatching? Can we pretend ‘Killing Eve’ is a movie – please. So nice to see so many cool women on screen, the plot is great and, obviously, Villanelle has a fabulous wardrobe – a bit short on cashmere though.
This desert you can’t stop thinking about? Dark chocolate is always good.
This person/thing/concept that inspires you the most as a designer? Nature – without any doubt. The colours, the symmetry, the designs, the materials – it’s all there.
For more details about Asneh’s environmental and social responsibility practices as well as to look through its timeless designs, you can visit the brand’s official website.
We would also like to sincerely thank Lone for the inspirational thoughts she shared with us and for making our first #konshas interview possible!