From a small village very few people have ever heard about to exclusive department stores like Harrods, Selfridges and FRONTMEN.com. Eton has been in the game for a long time and still manages to stay relevant. Head of design Sebastian Dollinger reveals the secret to success.
By Henrik Malmberg | Interviews | 2016-04-25
You can say that Sweden is crowded with small villages. Villages that God must have forgotten and where time has stood still. Villages where the local pizza place is a hang around spot for youngsters, the coffee place "downtown" is crowded with old people sipping on their coffee and everyone knows the girl in the cashier at the the supermarket. Gånghester is one of these villages with one exception that will make everyone, even God, remember the place for ever. Gånghester is home for Eton, one of the world's most known shirt brands.
It all started with the Pettersson couple, David and Annie. In the early 20th century David was working at the family's lumber mill while Annie was sewing dresses in her kitchen for people in their area. The year 1920 depression hit Sweden and the family owned lumber mill had to shut down. David decided to contribute to his wife's growing business and the focus for shifted from making dresses to mens shirts. Eight year later, "Skjortfabriken Special" ("Shirt factory Special") was founded.
If the couple got inspiration by looking at how things were done at Oscar Jacobson in the city of Borås just a few miles away is hard to tell. Anyway, the Petterssons were doing it the same way as Oscar Jacobson, instead of letting one sewer make the whole shirt each and every one of the sewers had responsibility for a specific part of the shirt. Thanks to that, they saved time and the sewers got experts in their specific field which amped up the quality of the shirts.
Skjortfabriken Special grew and soon the sons, Rune and Arne, took over the company. Something that would lead to a wind of change blowing through Gånghester. During a buy in trip to the British islands during the 50's the sons got to visit the city Eton. They got blown away by the exclusive and famous Eton College. Rune and Arne realized that for Skjortfabriken Special to be able to grow and reach new heights, a name change were a must. Skjortfabriken Special is hard to pronounce for a non-Swede and their fascination for Eton made them simply just switch the name to Eton.
"Our shirts is superior in quality"
"Our shirts is superior in quality"
Today Etons is one of the best brands when it comes to shirts in Scandinavia and they are known world wide. The secret to conduct the genuin legacy within Eton and at the same time stay relevant is to keep a high quality in everything you do says head of design Sebastian Dollinger.
– I think it's about the pieces never fails when it comes to quality and that our wide range of shirts always feels new and fresh. We are a very young and innovative company when it comes to smart technical solutions.
A young company in mind at least. Today Eton has existed for roughly 88 years and the experience that runs through the walls of the main office in Gånghester is invaluable. What was once a family owned business is today is one of the most respected shirt brands and for Sebastian himself, family was got him involved with Eton at the first place. His father, Jan Borghardt, have been working at Eton since 1980 och he brought Sebastian a long when he was a child to see the factory.
How is it to work with Eton and their shirts with the history that the brand has?
– It feels like you are a part of the family, sort of like a care provider. I will do my best as long as I'm here and then I hopefully gets to train someone they can take care, respect and develop the company in the same way as I'm trying to.
The truth is Eton has recently gone through a change this last year and accordingly to Sebastian, this was the right time.
– There is a time for everything. We needed to do a face lift and it felt this was the time to do it.
How does the change look?
– We've updated the whole way we present our brand and product. It's a more Scandinavian feel to it in our stores; its lighter, fresher and smarter. We've also removed the ellipse from our logo to make it easier to work with. Although it kinda hurt to take it away.
When it comes to the shirts a lot of them has got a lot more pattern on them but it's still the classic business shirts that are the number one shirts for Eton. Although Sebastian says that Eton wants to make shirts for every man; the bank man, the hipster, the lawyer, the rock guy. To appeal to each and every man you have to offer something to every man, whether it about the fit or the pattern. What truly runs through Eton and it's shirts is quality and its something Eton never will temper with. It's the legacy and the soul of Eton.
– Our shirts is superior in quality. Combined with that the wide range of our selection is one of the biggest in the world.
The vision for Sebastian with his work is, besides caring on the legacy and knowledge about making shirts, high and in clear sight.
– I want Eton to be the first shirt brand that comes to mind for men when they are about to shop a new shirt. And that goes for men all over the world.
1. Fit Make it fit right, if you are uncertain about the fit, ask. 2. Quality over quantity It always pays off. 3. Dare Try something different. We are all gonna die someday anyway. 4. Don't be to trendy Don't follow trends, its just a way for companies to make more money. 5. Made to meause Its an amazing experience to personalize your clothes.
Founded: 1928 Main office: Gånghester, Borås Employees: 103 Revenue 2014: 60 millions USD Known for: Shirts in amazing quality. Favorit piece of clothing: Their business shirts are hard to top.
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