Hello Mr. HSVP

“There is coffee, and then there is coffee”, he explains as he puts the espresso in front of us. “What I genuinely like about this place is the fact that the baristas show up a couple of hours before opening hours to roast their own coffee. True craftsmanship, whether it’s coffee, clothing or design is sadly like an endangered species, and something we need to cherish and preserve.”

“Hamré S’il vous plait” is a man of diversity and multiple interests. Charismatic in a subtle and humble way, we sense that what hides behind the roundshaped glasses and neatly trimmed, but massive beard, is something we look forward to dive into. Volt Magasin meets up with HSVP at the Tim Wendelboe coffee roastery at Grünerløkka in Oslo to learn more about who, what and why.

 

Easily recognisable as a regular by the barista greeting him by his first name as we enter the shop, HSVP orders a coffee tasting tray while we find an empty space. Being early morning in the start of January, finding a space is easy, as we notice people rushing by the window on their way to work. Collars up, barely visible faces hidden in big scarves, we sense that the speed also indicates the -15 degrees weather in Oslo this particular day.

He goes on about the importance of mastering a skill, while we take a closer look on the man in front of us. Black cropped, wide trousers reveal a pair of white tennis socks, and we spot black limited edition sneakers on his feet – that looks boxfresh. A black hoodie over a white, mandarin collared shirt sums up his monochrome outfit, and we interrupt him by asking if he ever feels like dressing in bright colours. “Depends on my mood,” he replies”, “however, I often end up combining black with black, or white, or navy – if I’m feeling really blunt.” He smiles of his own joke, and explains that the easiest way to be well-dressed, is to keep your wardrobe tonal – this way you can be sure to avoid any unfortunate combinations. “If you look at a selection of the considered best dressed men in the world, they often are pictured in combinations of blue, black or grey. I think they’ve realized what I just said – appearing well-dressed is actually very easy.”

Needless to say, we wonders what his source of inspiration is – what or who is it that makes him buy that particular piece of clothing, that specific design object or spend his time at that exact place. “Internet, and especially social media is a massive source of inspiration – not always in a good way”, he explains. “The ability to potentially tell or show a tremendous amount of people scattered all across the world about those pair of sneakers, that jacket, those posters or this café in that city – in an instant, and get instant feedback, is probably the easiest way to draw inspiration.”

He continues by telling about his love for architecture and design – the kind of beauty that lies in a perfectly constructed building, an amazing piece of furniture or an extraordinary photo. We sense a glimpse of a sudden excitement when he dives into the works of architects like Le Corbusier, Richard Neutra, Ricardo Bofill and the Norwegian modernists Arne Korsmo and Geir Grung. “The thing is, for those guys, their initial thought and plan was so important to them, it surpassed everything else. For instance, when Geir Grung built his house Villa Jongskollen outside of Oslo in the 60’s, the whole structure had 18 violations to the current Building Laws when the inspector came. Geir Grung gave him a lecture in what his opinion was regarding the violations, threw him out, and closed the door behind him. The house was built without paying attention to any of the violations, and still stands there today, as solid and beautiful as it did in 1963.” He smiles and says that to be amazing in something, regardless what field, it often includes a combination of stubbornness, creativity and a dash of rebelliousness.

A nod to the barista signalizes a second round of espressos to be made, as he whips out a cloth, removes his glasses and wipes them clean. We take a moment of silence to smell the coffee and reflect on the topics of our conversation, lingering at what he said about the qualities, or disqualites that often can be found in outstanding individuals. Quickly pushing the thought aside for later, we navigate the conversation back to fashion, and his role in the upcoming launch of the voltfashion.com universe.

“The Volt webshop is going to be tremendously exciting, and we’re really pushing our boundaries to be able to present a universe that not only reflects the physical Volt stores, but also by adding a certain flare, a more personified online shopping experience for our customers – and that’s where I contribute,” he explains. “After all, through the 10 years of existence for Volt, we’ve experienced, evolved and refined - which is a constant process, so many aspects of the shopping experience. Based on feedback from our customers and close contact with all of our colleagues in each and every store, we’ve come to notice an array of things that matter. When it comes to shopping, and especially menswear, you have to work with the whole picture. For instance, if you focuse only on brands or prices – you’ll loose in the end. We want the shopping experience to be - an experience, in a positive way. From the moment you enter, there are all these senses that needs to be addressed, and affected. What kind of greeting you’ll receive from the staff, what kind of music is playing in the background, what sort of visual impressions you get by the interior, the items on display – all these things and more are important factors that can’t be ignored. Have you noticed how several stores has started added room scents? Our nose is one of the easiest senses to stimulate, and the sense closest linked to memory. It’s all about creating an experience, and preferably a pleasant and memorable one.

“With the webshop,” he continues, “the missing ability to affect some of our senses, like the nose, is quite obvious. Therefore, we’ve enhanced and refined some of the other. We’ve put a tremendous amount of effort in the visuals, our online shop will be really visually appealing. When it comes to the human aspect, the service provided by our staff in our stores, that’s the toughest one to transfer to the digital world. The way one often can rely on staff expertise whilst trying to find a new outfit for example. “Hey, the guy at Volt Nordstan always knows exactly what fits me, and my exact taste, I’ll swing by him on my way from work.”

“That’s where I come in”, he continues. “Whenever you see the HSVP icon in the webshop, you’ll know that there will be guidance, tips on everything from how to dress for special occasions, what you ought to buy to be on point with the current trends or simply read an interesting piece about a completely different subject than fashion. You know that guy I told you about at Nordstan – in the digital universe, I’m that guy.”

So, to try to sum it up, we ask, the HSVP icon will act as the personification of the staff in your stores? Precisely, he answers, the bearded icon with the round glasses will be your buoy if you suddenly find yourself somewhat lost at the eternal ocean of fashion. Look for it, and you’ll be inspired. Hopefully, he adds, smiling.