If a fashion editorial, a movie, and a runway show had a three-way resulting in a love child, it would be Pepper and Paul, and if the latest format to be pioneered in e-commerce is cinematography, Henric- Olsson Weller is Albert Einstein. The Swedish FIT educated designer of Evanagamba was still buzzing from a successful reception at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival when he met with me at the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel to talk ethical fashion, love and loss and the revival of real romance.
Despite his success with the Evanagamba line, Olsson-Weller sought to create a product that would that would give back to the world and connect people on a universal level. Heartbroken after the dissolution of a four-year relationship, he distracted himself by binge watching films.
“I realized that I wanted to channel what I was feeling into something digestible for everyone, and I started to think about how I could tell a story with clothes,” says Olsson-Weller. “Films evoke emotions, and so does shopping, so I wanted to combine the two. I think people feel too little and think too much. We are told to think first and feel later. The whole drive was to marry beauty with awareness in a way that was relatable to people. I wanted to show people a way to live in the moment.”
He partnered with Lit Kilpatrick and Paisley Gregg to create a shoppable series of short videos slated for two seasons per year, which will feature ethically sourced, eco-friendly local New York products and goods from all over the world.
One thing viewers will notice about Pepper and Paul is that the cinematography does the talking. “We tell a story without dialogue. The essence of Pepper and Paul is to invite people to rediscover the romance of every day life,” says Olsson-Weller. “We are told we are supposed to accomplish things and obtain material things, but we rarely stay in the moment while these things are happening.”
The story line centers around a Dharma and Greg-esque duo: polished Paul, played by Ben Otto, and bohemian Pepper, brought to life by Kate Stone. Paul “has all of the things that he is supposed to have,” explains Olsson-Weller. Pepper moves from Africa to New York City and “she has never met cliquey girls or known jealousy, she is impulsive and a little lazy, a beautiful chaos,” he says.
Actress Kate Stone describes her character Pepper as “a girl who goes forward with life. She’s an imperfect person who shows us that by being bold, we can accomplish.” The first time Pepper and Paul meet is in their dreams, and their on-screen chemistry is tangible. “I love working opposite Ben Otto (Paul),” says Stone, “he brings out the little kid in me.”
Not only will viewers be enchanted with the visually stunning cinematography, they’ll be engrossed by the realistic depiction of warts-and-all romance, they’ll discover new unique products, and they’ll be contributing to society. “Every brand we choose is one that gives back to the community,” explains Olsson-Weller. Eyewear brand Warby Parker, which gives a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair of glasses purchased, was the first brand to sign on.
“Our site is for the conscious consumer,” Olsson-Weller says. “We want to change the demand so that the supply will have to follow.”
Watch the promo video below!
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