Saman Amel: The Understated Brand Rethinking The Suit
MR PORTER travels to Stockholm to meet the men behind the minimalist tailoring atelier
Mr Saman Amel always knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a professional football player. Or, failing that, a fashion designer. “I got my first sewing kit when I was five or six and since then I’ve always played around with clothes,” he tells MR PORTER. His business partner, Mr Dag Granath, was less sure about his ambitions. “I just knew I wanted to live a life in the academic world,” he admits. “I am not sure what is weirder for a 13-year-old boy: dreaming about a life with clothes or dreaming about a life with books.” If it wasn’t for Mr Amel, he says, he’d never have contemplated his chosen career path.
The duo, who officially founded made-to-measure tailoring outfit and new MR PORTER brand Saman Amel in 2015, grew up together on the outskirts of Stockholm and forged their friendship on the football pitch. “We’ve known each other since we were about seven or eight years old,” Mr Granath says. “We have always been making stuff together and, in that sense, the company started long before the brand did.”
It wasn’t until after Mr Amel had wrapped up his tailoring studies and the twosome embarked on a sartorial grand tour that the concept for the brand became concrete. It was in Italy – tailoring’s centre of power – where they learned the tools that would further their trade, but today, they’re very much of a revisionist school of thought. “Our approach to design and our styling is far from classic,” Mr Amel says. “However, if you look at the actual cut and make of the jackets you can clearly see that there is something inherently Italian about them. In terms of cut, we land in-between the slightly more masculine Florentine look and the light and effortless Neapolitan make.”
Despite these influences, the brand is still Scandinavian through and through. “The epitome of sophistication is simplicity,” Mr Amel says. And simplicity, they argue, is a quality that men in Stockholm, Copenhagen or Oslo are inherently drawn to. “Swedish men in particular are often told that they need to ‘spice up’ their outfits,” Mr Amel continues. “[But] there’s simply no need for all that.” The brand’s colour palette, too, is a departure from tradition. Inspired by the shifting scenery and landscape of their homeland – such as “a dried-up beach in Stockholm’s archipelago in early spring or late autumn,” Mr Granath says – it traverses a softer and, arguably, more sophisticated spectrum than most men are used to. Instead of blues and blacks, the dominant scheme is muted: buff browns and sophisticated sandy tones.
The label’s considered choice of fabric, on the other hand, is inherited from further afield. “Coming from Iran, my parents, and especially my grandparents, brought a rich textile culture into our house.” This eclecticism instilled a respect and a sort of reverence for cloth in both men. For the MR PORTER collection, they were incredibly selective in their choices. “[These are] fabrics that we have been working with for a long time and know by heart,” Mr Granath waxes. This being a summer capsule, they’re also lighter than average: silk, linen, high-twist wool and mercerised cotton all feature heavily in the ready-to-wear line. Selecting each fabric has been akin to a bespoke process. For instance, the taupe suiting, one of Mr Amel’s favourites, was chosen for its perfect ratio of wool to linen and silk, which gives the fabric richer depth and dimension.
It’s pieces like this that form the foundation of the brand’s collection – they can easily be worn with a crisp white shirt, but look equally good with a polo shirt and casual loafers. This versatility is their strength, says Mr Amel. “Tailoring today is not synonymous with the formal suit-and-tie look,” Mr Granath adds. “People are looking for something else.” We may just have found it.