After graduating and working for mega-brands the likes of H&M and Karl Lagerfeld, Maxime Cartens established Teym with a mission to build an “impeccable wardrobe” launching one item per year. Designed and developed in the brand’s studio and showroom in the heart of Amsterdam, and made in Europe, Teym’s products guarantee outstanding design, expert quality and honest production. Thanks to the business model used and the team’s efficient way of working, the company reduces the conventional retail price by half without any compromise in the product quality. Read on as the founder and creative director discusses the inception and initial launch of Teym, her growing collections and ultimate goal of offering her customers an “impeccable wardrobe.”
What is your background and what led you to establishing Teym?
After graduating and spending a couple of years working for brands like H&M and Karl Lagerfeld, I decided to branch out and start Teym when I couldn’t find the perfect winter coat. I was looking for a warm, weather-resistant parka without any flashy bling, extra zippers or logos. I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I took matters into my own hands and made the perfect parka myself. That’s how Teym was born.
How did you decide on the item you would start with? In your opinion, what makes the parka a classic item?
It was born out of necessity: I needed a parka, and I couldn’t find a practical, stylish one anywhere. Everything was either too busy or too expensive. The Teym Parka ticks all the boxes: sleek design, high-quality materials and expert manufacturing. The design is really trend-proof, and the quality means it can be worn for many years. That, to me, is the definition of a classic.
How often do you introduce new pieces? When should we expect the new launch and what can you tell us about it?
Usually around once a year. This year we’re launching a merino knit in the fall. Again, it’s something I’ve been searching for a long time. It’s made of a breathable merino wool and treated so it won’t pill or lose its shape. It’s going to come in a range of colors, so there’s something for everyone. Keep an eye on our social media and newsletter for more details and the launch date!
How did you come down to the factories you are currently working with? How easy is it to oversee production in two different locations?
For a lot of brands, overseeing large-scale production all over the world is a mammoth task, but because of the scale of our operation, it’s much easier at Teym. First of all, it’s slow. We launch one product at a time, so we have time to vet each place individually. We choose each factory based on specialty, which means we spend a lot of time researching factories before we choose anything. Secondly, all of our production is based in Europe, so everything is just a quick flight away. That means I’m able to go to the factories when I need to, speak to the people making the pieces, and generally be hands on when it comes to production. It’s not always simple, but we make it as easy as we can by keeping things pretty close to home, and always choosing manufacturers who really know what they’re doing. We want to inspire other conscious brands to adapt to our slow fashion way of working.
I understand that you believe in the direct-to-consumer retail model, but is there a department store or boutique you could definitely see your product being sold at?
We’ve been sold in certain stores in Amsterdam before, and we are definitely down to work with really cool boutiques and popups, but in general we prefer to sell via our website or showroom. If we had to pay lots of retail markups all the time, we’d have to raise our prices. The way we do business really minimizes costs to the consumer: you pay for what you get, and not for retail, flashy logos or huge marketing costs. We see this as the future of sustainable fashion.
By-appointment meetings are also available at your showroom; I believe that physically seeing the product is not as important for customers anymore. What do you think? How is this situation aiding or obstructing new designers?
The retail market is definitely unrecognizable, even from ten years ago. We all like to shop online, but I’ve noticed that lots of people who are able to come and see our products really fall in love; not only with the items, but also with the story behind them. There’s something about the feeling of trying something on and feeling the quality of it that pictures online can’t replace. On the other hand, online spaces make it so much easier for customers to find us, and selling online means that we can reach people all over the world. It’s difficult to find a brand that perfectly fits what you’re looking for, so the internet is amazing for new brands (especially sustainable, slow fashion brands like Teym) looking to find their niche.
I believe that you are already collaborating with bloggers. Is there any other medium of promotion that has proved successful?
We try to keep our marketing costs as low as possible. The most successful promotion for us is always happy customers telling others about their new favorites from Teym. That, and a mention in an “old-school” newspaper or magazine.
Have the collections appealed to men and women equally? Depending on the feedback, would you discontinue one line in the future or would you give it time to grow?
We try to appeal to everyone equally. I’m looking forward to seeing how each line grows, especially with the launch of the merino knit.
What are your future plans?
I plan to keep releasing items until we’ve built the “impeccable wardrobe,” a whole wardrobe full of favorites!
Images © Teym