With the sole goal of creating enduring and timeless products, A Kind of Guise (AKOG) was founded in 2009 in Munich by couple, Yasar Ceviker and Susi Streich. After bags came shirts, then belts and knitted pullovers, eventually leading to an entire fashion label.
Nowadays, AKOG products are being sold in over 50 stores worldwide. In Fall 2012, Yasar and Susi opened their first store in Schwabing, displaying their own collections alongside select pieces by other labels.
When the urge to leave behind the exhausting world of fashion arises, this active pair like to take walks with their Douge de Bordeaux Wilma or drive to the mountains to hit the slopes with their snowboards. Staying true to the self and retaining independence are Yasar and Susi’s mottos in life. Today, they continue to uphold these values professionally and personally and live happily in a two-room apartment in the quiet and comfortable area of Neuhausen in Munich.
Highsnobiety, together with the popular Berlin-based online magazine Freunde von Freunden, stopped by for a visit and took some time out in their kitchen – the heart of their flat – to hear Yasar and Susi narrate the beginnings of their designer careers, the history behind their collections and what they would do with ten million euros.
When did you decide to establish a label?
Yasar: Everything started in 2009 when I wanted to make myself a duffle bag out of leather. As I had patchwork leather I decided to make a bag out of it. Strangers and friends asked me where they would be able to get a bag like that. So Susi and I decided to buy more leather and made about 25 bags.
Susi: We had three styles: duffle bag, travel bag or weekender, and a small tote bag. That was our very first mini collection!
And how did it continue?
Yasar: During that time a good friend of mine opened Harvest, his diploma project, in Munich. In order to make the shop look more packed we made shirts for him. After that project we wanted to carry on, so we made belts and gym bags out of suede and silk. We also worked together with knitters who made sweaters for us.
What was the feedback like?
Yasar: Good. Wood Wood’s Laus noticed a black, self-knitted short-sleeved jacket and also really liked the rest. He asked us if we wanted to do something for Wood Wood for Berlin Fashion Week. We created 14 outfits, which all were sold. By now I am quite upset at myself for not having kept a piece. But this is how we financed ourselves and established freedom for new ideas.
From the beginning we had the idea to bring new interpretations to classic pieces with upscale and unconventional materials, without wanting to reinvent entirely
How did you transform these ideas?
Yasar: After being in Berlin, an agency from Japan asked us whether we wanted to be represented by them. We agreed, even though we didn’t have any production at that stage yet. This was the moment when we realized that we needed one.
We found one in Allgäu, which at the beginning would only produce a small amount for us due to our small budget. Shortly afterwards, our first small and straightforward collection was finalized. It was ordered in small amounts by Schwittenberg and Harvest in Munich, Wood Wood in Berlin, and Making Things in Zurich and Japan. That’s how the ball started rolling and we just carried on doing our thing.
What was important here?
Yasar: A harmonic twist. From the beginning we had the idea to bring new interpretations to classic pieces with upscale and unconventional materials, without wanting to reinvent entirely.
How did you get to the name “A Kind of Guise?”
Yasar: We sat together one evening and music of The Wonderers’ was playing. Even though it was playing in the background, the line “I’m the kind of guy…” got stuck in my head. Out of that came the plural form, “A Kind of Guys.” A friend from England was quite impressed that we knew that word, as she thought we meant the old English expression “guise.” She gave us the idea and that is how “A Kind of Guise” came into existence.
What inspires you in regards to designing your collection?
Susi: We see many things every day that inspire us. I personally notice a lot the details in antique clothing.
Yasar: We try to go out a lot and actualize our inspirations. For the Beirut collection we spent ten days in Lebanon where we noticed lots of strong colors and broad trousers. We always take many pictures and later, when we are back in Germany, we process these impressions within our designs. We have a feeling for how these influences will be reflected within our next collection. Through this, such experiences are used quite consciously and intensively.
Could you name a few?
Yasar: Our Spring/Summer collection 2013, Viva la Mexico, came into existence due to an invitation from the Weltkulturmuseum in Frankfurt, where we subsequently spent five weeks. As we are really interested in Mexico, we took advantage of the museum’s archive, something that was truly inspiring. Just like that we were able to create a very authentic collection, even though we have never been to Mexico.
We traveled through Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Morocco to get inspiration for the Kiliam-Bags. We were fascinated by the strong patterns and graphics of the carpets. We bought about 50 of them and made bags out of them. Conveniently enough, during that very time, these particular carpet patterns came back into fashion, so “we had the finger on the pulse” so to speak. That specific project brought us a step further, as it also received a lot of attention within the media.
For the rest of the interview and for more pictures, head over to Freunde von Freunden.
Freunde von Freunden is an international interview magazine that portrays people of diverse creative and cultural backgrounds in their homes and within their daily working environments. By introducing real people from around the world with an honest and authentic approach, Freunde von Freunden attracts a global readership and remains borderless.
- Photography: Christoph Schaller für Freunde von Freunden