[CON] SWCO 2017: Interview with Musterbrand

It wasn’t hard to find the Musterbrand booth at Star Wars Celebration this year… all you had to do was follow the sound of excitement and backtrack those walking away with some fabulous jackets in hand. Every time I walked by their booth, they were quite busy with plenty of fans, both men and women, interested in their line of high quality jackets and sweaters and for good reason. They make a damn good product. One of my con roommates even happily walked away with their incredible TIE pilot inspired leather jacket.

I’d previously purchased their Cassian Andor jacket and honestly haven’t been able to shut up about how much I love it to people both online and in real life. Frankly, it was fantastic to see how many people were not only interested in Musterbrand’s line but also happy to spend the money for quality work. It also helps that I cannot say enough good things about the people working the Musterbrand booth all weekend as they were all incredibly nice and helpful and made the booth a lovely place to visit. If you ever have a chance to stop by their booth at a convention, I absolutely recommend doing so.

While they were only on display on Thursday, Musterbrand’s newest offerings were the talk of certain circles at the convention. In the very near future, they’ll be officially debuting their first line of shoes with some fantastic Star Wars inspired designs. [Editor’s Note: The Skywalker and Darth Vader sneakers have been put online for preorder.] The designs range from the slightly more obvious to the more subtly nerdy inspired. My personal favorites are the Leia inspired flat and the Rebel pilot sneaker as they’re not quite like anything we’ve seen on the market thus far. Having gotten my hands on the shoes, I can personally attest to the quality. Musterbrand has put the same amount of thought and care into their shoes that they’ve put into their jackets which makes for a winning combination. (Stay tuned for a closer look at the sneakers in the coming weeks…)

During the convention, Musterbrand’s founder and CEO Knut Bergel was kind enough to chat with me about Musterbrand’s start, the design process, and what we might see in the future. The transcript of our conversation is below:

Bria for White Hot Room: How did Musterbrand come about?

Knut Bergel, CEO of Musterbrand: I spent 20 years in the gaming industry and realized the passion of fans in entertainment franchises. I was in the market for some cool things, some quality items, and that’s how we sort of looked into bringing franchises and designers and production together. Over five years, we got to this stage here.

You said your roots are in gaming. How did the partnership with Star Wars come about?

We actually created almost a new category. We’re still the only one in the world doing this sort of price tier and level of detail and the way we bring the items to the customer. The Star Wars audience is maturing and Lucasfilm was looking for products that cater to a more mature demographic. And that’s how we got into the relationship with them.

What draws you to a character when you want to design a jacket or a sweater or a scarf based on their look? Is it “Oh this is the main character” or is it more about the actual costume design?

It varies from franchise to franchise. Star Wars has such a long history. We tried to look into the visual elements that made it become mainstream and tried to use them and make them recognizable on the item. Like with Luke Skywalker’s jacket: it’s the way the pockets are designed, some color points, and blurring them with contemporary cuts and styles. It’s not character design itself but rather elements of the world that you’re kind of trying to show.

That was going to be my next question. How do you draw the line between a more screen accurate jacket as opposed to—because Cassian’s jacket or Jyn’s jacket in the films are already pretty wearable so how do you draw that line between screen accurate and shifting it into what’s fashion?

That’s the designer’s taste, that’s our taste at the end. I think we—if we don’t feel that it’s wearable than we won’t produce it. If it’s too costumey, we won’t do it. We could do some replicas but then it must be something that you could wear today and which is fashionable. Very often, we only get, at the early stage, some very basic screen shots or something of items so we’re trying to pick some elements but again the base has got to be a wearable product or we won’t touch it.

Do you have any favorites from the Star Wars items you’ve done so far?

My favorite… the Knight of Ren knit is something I’ve been wearing all the time. Everybody stops me when I’m wearing the Sith coat. I think that’s something that’s a very iconic design. Wherever you walk with that, people come up and are like, “Hey, where’s it from?”

It’s a good coat.

It’s a good coat, yeah.

Can we expect to see you doing designs for The Last Jedi when it comes out around Christmas?

We will not have any designs for that simply because we’re going to focus on the classic elements. We’ve seen that the audience we are catering to is about the whole story of Star Wars so we’re not doing something on the film. We did two jackets for Rogue One and they did well but we want to expand rather on the classic elements of Star Wars. There are going to be some characters coming up probably in The Last Jedi which we’ll take on but maybe in the next year.

Well in that case, do we have any hope of anything Prequel inspired or just more Original Trilogy?

We’re getting some ideas of which characters we’ll take on. We will do more female items. We will do more accessories. We have designed quite a cool poncho cape collection, which I think is very hot so that’s going to be our focus for the end of the year. We’ve quite happy with our first shoe line. We think we’re going to expand that.

That’s a first for the company, right? The shoes?

It’s the first time with shoes. It’s a sort of… not just investment but a new category and you need to find people who share the vision of what we’re doing and who have the design and production expertise. Fortunately by queuing up in a pizzeria, I met a guy from Australia who had a dream of a Skywalker inspired sneaker or shoe and one and a half years later… I’m wearing them!

And I thought I saw them in heel form too yesterday?

We’re going to take that design into other forms as well so a heel is next but hasn’t been submitted or approved yet but that’s going to be the next the place. So a little more female items.

This interview has been edited for clarity but the content has not been altered.