Danish founders Trine and Sara believe the perfect bag is the one you reach for every day. It is sufficiently spacious and it makes you shine. Aagé pushes the sustainability agenda both by focusing on durable lasting designs and by selecting collaborators who care about working conditions and the planet.
We sat down with them to talk about their ambition is to slow down, influence consumption patterns, and make sustainability the beautiful choice.
What made you start aagé and what do you want to achieve?
While working together in a more traditional and season-based fashion brand, Trine as designer and Sara in marketing, we realised first-hand how short the lifetime of most fashion items is. We saw how much waste is created, in terms of overproduction, but also - so to speak - waste of time and effort in developing new styles, branding and selling over and over again. We found each other in a constant feeling of ‘we can do this better if we just had more time’. As a result of a growing friendship and many late nights talking about products lifetime, sustainable alternatives and so on, we decided to start aagé.
We knew we wanted to work with leather because we both had been looking for the perfect “grown-up bag”: good and durable quality that met our practical and aesthetic criteria. We were both ready to invest in a nice bag, but we could not find a bag in our price range that both satisfied our aesthetic, functional and sustainable considerations and needs.
When we first began we wondered why there was no information about leather as a sustainable material, only on so-called “vegan leather”. For all materials there are better and worse alternatives - and therefore choices to be made. It became a mission for us not only to create “the perfect bag” but also to find out what the leather industry could offer regarding sustainable choices.
When our customers buy a bag our ambition is that they will love it, care for it and use it all the time. We want to show that working with - and wearing - real leather can be a sustainable choice. And we want to push the overall sustainable agenda by acting transparently and help customers make better and more informed choices in any purchase.
Describe in 5 words what you care most about when creating your products (e.g. longevity, recycled materials, local production)?
Relevance of design
What choices do you make in your personal life when it comes to living more consciously?
We both do a lot of small things in our everyday life such as sorting our garbage, eating less meat, buying organic products, asking questions and researching on the products or companies we buy our products from and/or buy second hand when possible. We both try not to get too drawn to good offers and try to support small and local businesses. When transporting ourselves through the city we use our bikes or public transportation. On the bigger scale, we have started aagé. A choice that naturally has a big impact on our personal lives as we have invested most of our time and money into this project and have made us more aware of the many nuanced aspects of “living and consuming in a sustainable way”.
What is your advice for people that want to start making small changes in their daily lives, but don't know where to start?
First of all, doing a little is better than doing nothing. Maybe you are really good at sorting your garbage, maybe you are really good at repairing and reusing your old things, maybe you only use public transportation. For me it helped to start with the things that weren't difficult to change, for example sorting my garbage, today its almost more of a hobby than its something I have to do. I used to work in a coffee shop where some guests brought their own to-go cups - this made me really happy. It might not be the biggest difference, but it showed that people cared and it inspired me to do more. So what I am trying to say is, if you drink a lot of to-go coffee, buy a to-go coffee mug and bring with you. If you already don’t eat a lot of meat maybe try living vegetarian. If you are travelling examine if it is possible to take the train instead of flying. I think it is very important to embrace the things you and others do and inspire to do better instead of shaming yourself or others on things they don’t do. Make it a challenge and see if it works for you or not.
I used to spend a lot of time cooking and take great pleasure in eating good, organic and local food. Now I have to small kids and not that much time. Therefore we have chosen to receive meal boxes from Årstiderne who provides us with everything for easy made organic meals 4 days a week. The cheapest box is all vegan. And we thought why not start here, and we found out that the meals were really delicious and we didn't miss the meat at all. We are still not vegan but after a while, it has become more natural for us to think greens before meet in all our meals and it has made us reduce our use of meat a lot without compromising.
What are your favourite products or brands out there that you admire?
Launching our own brand and realising how much time, energy and passion it takes to start something that departs from the traditional, have strengthened our love for smaller local brands with few, strong products. Basically, we admire brands who have begun with a simple product idea and then have grown without compromising their products. We are not that interested in the constant talk about scalability and fast growth.
Brands we like is for instance:
“Andersen-Andersen” who specialises in traditional sailor sweaters in natural wool, the quality and style are amazing and timeless.
“Aarstiderne” who provides healthy, organic food to the door of thousands of Scandinavian families. They make the daily routine easier, supports the local food industry and minimize the waste of food.
“Organic cup” - an object that reduces waste and helps women. What's not to like.
We would love to know if you are planning on making some small leather goods in the future as well?
So far we have been focusing on making bags with the purpose of becoming favourites and being used every day. We slowly want to expand our collection with objects made out of this mindset and of course, this will eventually include small leather goods. However, we want to grow slowly and naturally and only want to introduce relevant and well-tested products which take time to design and develop. So be patient.