Vilsbøl De Arce – timeless, avant-garde and unconventional outsiders in the middle of a fast paced fashion industry.

Close friends Prisca and Pia found each other while studying at Denmark’s College of Fashion and have since 2002 produced collections that react against today’s ‘throw away culture’ with a philosophy of sustainability, quality and simplicity.

The following is an insight to the duo’s way of thinking.

Volt Café: You started out by making all your garments by hand, do you still have time to be that hands-on?

Vilsbøl De Arce: Hands-on is what our design is about. The process of design always includes a lot of experimentation, sewing, draping and trying on. We actually very rarely use drawings… Even though it is difficult to find the time for it, we keep working towards a company structure that takes into account our work process, and not the other way around.

VC: Has the media influenced the brand in any way over the last years?

VDA: We try not to let it direct our approach or the way we design. But it has definitely created a brand awareness that it would have been difficult to achieve otherwise, and thus made it possible for us to expand despite limited finances.

VC: Have you moved focus as the brand has grown?

VDA: We have learned everything we know about business as we go along, and we are always learning more. To make a business work when your goal is essentially artistic, you have to think things through very carefully. We want to grow without compromising quality, and a lot of our efforts have gone into building a structure that supports that.

VC: How would you describe your style and largest source of inspiration?

VDA: We are inspired by many and very varied subjects. The creative process is the main inspiration – the starting point of that process is of secondary importance. We have a definite and recurrent fascination with structural challenges though, solving them with padding techniques, strategic cuts, weights or stiff vs. flowing materials.

VC: You are in a way outsiders in the fashion industry with your dream of sustainability, who else in fashion do you admire?

VDA: Sustainability can be many things, and for us, the goal is to continue creating timeless and durable designs, that eclipse the ‘use and throw away’ culture that is rampant in fashion.

We admire those that have done that in their own way, either by innovation or by quality. Also the ‘architects’ of fashion such as Issey Miyake, Thierry Mugler, or recently Matthew Ames. The most admirable thing is integrity though.

VC: What has been your main inspiration for A/W11?

VDA: This season, we are concentrating on selecting and reworking pieces that fulfill the criteria that we would like to work with from now on. The collection is called ‘Signature’, and is a reflection on who we are and what we want to do with our design. The exercise for us has been to remember why we started out in the first place, and to refocus on what we believe is important, before leaping forward.

VC: You are not showing in Copenhagen this year, what can we expect from A/W11 show?

VDA: We have chosen to present an exclusive preview of the A/W 11-12 collection for a select crowd of press and buyers at the Copenhagen Fashion Week. It will be an intimate event, where we can be much more up close and personal, and present what our contemplation has resulted in.

Words by Emelie Hultqvist


Emelie Hultqvist, vilsbol de arce,