Woollen Hugs from Estonia
Imagine the rough waves of the Baltic Sea; imagine how the air smells salty - just ever so slightly. Imagine the wind and how it makes the leaves dance in the distance. Imagine rocky beaches, lakes; and the sun peaking through the old trees. Imagine what the winter air tastes like - fresh and cold. Welcome to Estonia, the birthplace of Vill Vill.
With the winters being longer, the temperatures lower and the need to stay warm and cozy being so present, Vill Vill was brought to life to both preserve Estonian craftsmanship and create beautiful, long lasting pieces. Founder and Creative Director of the young brand is Eleny Kasemets; she drew the first piece ever created and has since established a very visible, and yet understated brand identity and signature design. And the hands behind the hand crafted, unique woolen hugs are her two mothers - which is her mother in law, Reet, and her mother Ellen. When Eleny was not able to find the perfect sweater for the harsh winters, that would also appeal to her sense of aesthetics she had described it to her mother-in-law who then turned her description into a piece. And when that did not match the description perfectly, Eleny took it upon herself to draw what she had in mind - and suddenly the first design had been brought to paper. The two realised how remarkable it was that the design had been translated into an actual piece so seemingly easily and quickly friends and friends of friends caught onto their unique project and asked for pieces to be made, too. And in short, that is how Vill Vill was founded.
In reality, the process of describing and imaging a piece until you actually hold it in your own two hands just how you imagined it is a little more complicated. ‘It was the same in my childhood’, Eleny remembers, talking about how her children are oftentimes disappointed with the lack of superpowers and magical tricks their self made costumes offer. ‘I would tell my mother what I wanted, without being able to really put into words or draw what I had in mind - so technically I was the one to blame when my incredibly talented mother created something that was slightly different from what I had imagined - and yet, the drama entailed.’ Even greater the surprise, when the cardigan her second mother, as she lovingly describes her husband’s mother, had knitted, was a perfect duplicate of the drawn and drafted version. With Estonia being a rather small country ‘everyone knows someone who knows someone’ and the potential of creating the perfect piece for the rough weather, in remarkable quality and the perfect style was growing, since so many people heard about the design - and wanted one too. After the first cardigan had been produced and crafted to be the perfect fit a few more pieces joined the collection. Not following the usual cycle of fashion allows Vill Vill to create pieces based on their understanding of timeless design, with lasting materials and in monochrome colours. Preserving the nature and remaining a small team with the occasional knitting-support is the core of the business, and will therefore remain a priority - even through the growth of the brand. The cardigans, sweaters and coats are produced in their own pace - they get the time they need and deserve - and are made to last through many harsh, (Estonian) winters. This makes the order even more special to the consumer, too. ‘When you order a cardigan, you know it is handmade and that someone sat down for hours and hours to create this beautifully crafted piece of clothing - so the relationship to it is different; you are going to wear it differently, care for it differently’ says Eleny, and remembers the time when she first put on the very first cardigan that perfectly resembled the design she had in mind - and how proudly she wore it.