For a creative duo like Jeremiah and Syvan Mandel—brand director for Brooklyn-based Kinfolk, and a fashion designer, respectively—the thought of a "routine" is terrifying. And yet, three years into their relationship, the couple found themselves falling into a routine, attending a dinner party here or a movie there, but not engaging deeply with one another's interests. "It's not that we were growing apart," recalls Jeremiah, "but we weren't enjoying working on the same things." Some couples take up cooking classes, but for Syvan and Jeremiah, the solution was sitting right there in their South Williamsburg abode: Jeremiah's stacks of vintage denim and textiles. The materials would serve as the basis of their brand, Album: a home goods and accessories line specializing in quilts made from recycled denim.
The two began working on their first quilt in 2012—it took a year to complete. While the couple balanced their daytime responsibilities, quilt-making became their nighttime therapy. The line's name is a nod to that experience, with each quilt serving as a physical record—or album—of a different moment in the process. "The quilts are all of our heart's desires put together," says Jeremiah.
Aside from getting rid of surplus fabrics around the house, they quickly realized another benefit to using thrifted pieces for their project: it functioned as a counterpoint to some of the fashion industry's wasteful habits. "A lot of samples are made thoughtlessly, because it's easy to manufacture," points out Syvan, drawing on her experience in the fashion industry. "We're left with an insane amount of garbage out there." Thus, Album happily relies on thrifted materials, which Syvan and Jeremiah both enjoy hunting down, as a resource.
For a year, Album remained something of a secret between Jeremiah and Syvan; in between traveling or late nights at work, the two quietly quilted in their basement, purely to satisfy their creative hunger. "It took us a year or two to realize that Album was something we wanted to pursue," recalls Syvan. In 2014, Album was commissioned for its first project; fittingly, a custom blanket for their friend's newborn. They started to produce more quilts, and developed relationships with local manufacturers like Knickerbocker Manufacturing Company, which owns a factory in nearby Ridgewood, Queens.
By December 2015, the couple had created enough product to launch an intimate pop-up shop inside Kinfolk's Williamsburg store. It featured not only quilts, but headwear and wristlets made from recycled denim, as well as candles sourced on a trip to Israel. The shop garnered attention from press and retailers alike, including Japanese store Journal Standard, which started carrying Album quilts this season. While Jeremiah and Syvan are proud of the brand's growth, they're also keen to preserve its integrity—and that includes making sure they remain the chief creatives. "It always comes back to us," Jeremiah insists adamantly. "It will always be by us."
For more, see albumquilts.us.