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31.07.2014
One year on – becoming the one-stop for understated quality
Anglo-Nordic team continues quest to bring back true craftsmanship and refined designs to a world surrendering to uniformity and poor quality

Tired of the slightly chemical smell wafting from the mediocre leather bag in the store? Or feeling a little trapped in an Ikea-world where a few multinational brands uniformly kits us all out from head to toe?

We were. So exactly one year ago, we launched Waremakers — a platform set to gather the world’s finest independent producers at a single, one-stop destination. Where the quality of all goods is unsurpassed — and where you can discover goods you are not going to see paraded on every other city street in Europe, Asia or the Americas. New ways of distinguishing yourself. Goods that you can sense your fellow man's eyes resting on ...: "I wonder where she got that from".

The goods on offer are arguably more expensive than what can be purchased on the high street, but these ones you want to get into bed with at night, snuggle with and cherish. They are objects that bring back the love of things.

It has been a good first year for Waremakers. New producers are continuously being added.

Recent additions to the site include Tusting, the British bag maker whose offerings can often be seen in the hands of the future British queen, better known as Kate Middleton.

Lesser known gem Fulki from Serbia, no less, offer fine leatherwear for our tech gadgets and are a good example of a new breed of pan-European manufacturers that increased cross-border talks and trade has made possible. Fulki's wares are actually handmade in Spain.

Catherine Aitken makes elegant bags crafted from the champagne of Scottish fabrics: Harris Tweed. She relies on local talent, pooled from her hometown of Water of Leith in Edinburgh to bring her creations to market.

Year 2 of Waremakers will see more additions to the site — branching out into new categories as well as expanding existing ones. Danish stationery and caps handmade in Sicily are next in line.

The road will be long but the quest has commenced. In an industry where all too often more attention is paid to costs rather than quality, outsourcing production to low-cost countries has been a trend for decades now, but we seem to be at the start of an era where production is slowly returning home again.  

Waremakers wish to be at the forefront of this quality trend. Battling both the ripping seams and the sadness of uniformity. One year down. Many more to go.

11.07.2013
Will fine products make fine lives?
New website is on an ambitious quest to better your life

Can changing your shopping habits really make you a happier person and the world a better place? Quite so, they believe at just-launched waremakers.com.

Over the centuries, makers of everyday goods rigorously pursued a perfection of their skills. As human beings, we got better and better at tanning leather, stitching fabric or manipulating pieces of metal to make that deadly sharp razor run smoothly over our skin. We got better at all the particulars that make all the difference to the items we keep around us every day of our lives.

When we surround ourselves with items of perfection, they can’t help but also make our lives feel a little closer to perfection. These items of dedication remind us of higher ideals – of striving to better things ourselves. They make us trust in the ability of others and make the world feel a better place.

But things seem to have changed. Globalisation and mass consumerism have affected the quality of items available to us. Outsourcing production to low-cost countries can make financial sense to a business and make certain products available at a lower cost, but this comes at a price.

PLAYING FOR THE WORLD

The quality of many products on the market today leaves a lot to be desired, and what is at stake here is not just that seam ripping or that buckle falling apart after only a month of use. You simply can’t help losing a bit of your faith in the world when you are let down by that item you trusted others to make. When it happens repeatedly it can be both disheartening and lead to disillusionment.

So what is on the table is our belief in the world – and ultimately the quality of the world we build together as human beings.

It was this apparent set-back that inspired the team behind the Waremakers project. Formed by a small group of Danes and Brits, the company has set out to bring more quality back into our lives.

“Yes, because quality is still out there,” says partner and managing Director, Anders Ojgaard, originally from Copenhagen. “Many quality manufacturers have been forced to close shop over the years, but quite a few survive, and we are seeing new ones opening up every year. The biggest problem here is that they are overshadowed by the marketing budgets of the big players and by the uniformication of our world’s shopping streets – physical as well as online.”

The project’s key ambition is to remedy this by sourcing and bringing together producers that share a certain ethos.

“It can be hard to put into words, but you know it when you see it,” says partner Mary Tungay, originally from London. “You just know when a product was made by someone who really cares about their craft. These are the producers we want to work with.”

IS SIMPLICITY PURE?

Waremakers.com has a magazine-like feel and features articles on all these producers and their products. You will also find practical guides about various product categories, such as bags, pens or razors. If you see something you like, you can place an order on the site.

“That’s the business model,” says Anders Ojgaard. “We bring these producers together to create what we call ‘the web’s hub for quality’. We showcase them and take a small commission on each sale made through the site. This funds our continous work to curate items and develop the site – and to assure that Waremakers is also an attractive shopping destination, we make certain that our prices are competitive through agreements with the producers”.

But it’s not just about the quality on Waremakers. There seems to be a love of understated design on the site.

“Yes, we think the two things go hand in hand,” says Mary Tungay. “There is an inherent elegance and quality in the form-follows-function principle. When you remove the unnecessary and are left with function and simplicity, the quality somehow becomes more transparent. Pure, even.”

EXCITED ABOUT LIFE AT 85

Waremakers launched on July 1st and will initally focus on accessories such as bags, gloves and shaving products. Launching with 12 producers, or ‘waremakers’ as they are called on the site, the Brits and Danes plan to continously add more and branch out to clothing, kitchenware, lighting and more.

“There are no limits,” says Anders Ojgaard. “There are quality producers in all fields, maybe best exemplified in Japan where the pursuit of excellence is a kind of religion. This is where you will find the 85-year old still excited about life because tomorrow he gets to make his craft just that little bit better. It really is transcendental and the sense of honor and pride that comes with this is somehow passed on to the user. Our soon-to-be-added 13th waremaker is from Japan.”

Thankfully, dedication can be found elsewhere than in Japan. All 12 initial producers on Waremakers are European, and the company intends to source from all over the world in their ambitious quest to change our 21st century consumption habits.

“I know it’s a cliché,” Mary Tungay says. “But we want to make the world just a slightly better place. And having quality around you will help do that. It will make you feel better and it will inspire you to get more out of your own life. That’s what it does for me, anyway, and we want more people to experience that. And you don’t even need to spend more. Buy a little less, but buy better, and you will be a happier person.”

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