The “livewear” designer, (a term he coined with his team to represent timeless pieces that seamlessly integrate into the customer’s daily life) was working as the Deputy Director at the United Nations before he shifted his efforts full-time to becoming a fashion designer. Woldegebriel, who is Ethiopian, turned to the wisdom of his father, a tailor in Ethiopia, as the inspiration to bring the brand to life. “He would show me all of his colleagues and say ‘look at the tailors, look at the people who are creating these beautiful things. Always look out for people with greatness in their hands.’ And for him, people like him were making beautiful things, but were often overlooked.”
The garment industry suffered a massive hit in 2020 amid lockdown restrictions put into place during the COVID-19 epidemic. He thought about how they were being affected because unlike most people during lockdown, garment workers could not bring their work home. As garment houses were starting to close, Woldegebriel took it upon himself to find some sort of solution to offer aid to the garment population. That solution would become the genesis of ÁWET.
He got in touch with Teddy Sudaka of Apparel Production Inc. to get a feel of the state of production during lockdown, who by then couldn’t keep people on payroll as no brands were able to put out collections.
"I was like, okay I'll start a brand and 100% can go to you," he says.
“My friends will support me, can you get me this many samples by November 22nd, 2020? I thought, you know what? The market right now is all about hoodies and I want to make the most luxurious hoodie. So, we looked at 17 of the best hoodies from Brunello Cucinelli to Gap and analyzed what was there. We released a 20 page paper on how to make a better hoodie. We really got into it, We nerded out and we had silk threads and silk sheen throughout the hoodie that can be washed and can be used as many kinds as possible. It was pre-washed, no shrinkage. It was the ultimate hoodie. We launched a few months later in November 22nd, 2020 on Lafayette and Kenmaire.”
The designer has united with RAISEfashion, a network dedicated to the success and providing resources and mentorship to BIPOC creators in the fashion industry. RAISE was created in response to the worldwide protests in 2020 led by the Black Lives Matter Movement, with a mission to uplift and promote awareness for it’s community. “I think RAISE is one of the most incredible opportunities that myself and my whole team has been a part of,” he says. “We've been invited and also been a part of other accelerator programs and I have just never seen the level of commitment from industry leaders.”
To mark the official start of New York Fashion week, ÁWET has launched a special hoodie design in collaboration with The Standard.
“We really wanted to celebrate the essence of New York and what the essence of what The Standard and The High Line really mean to me, which has been a place of so many celebrations and so many memories,” the designer says of the collaboration. “So I wanted to just focus on the Garment District. We focused on a very rich off-white cream base. For the first time we changed the ÁWET logo to be triple-embroidered in The Standard red. Our logo has never been changed in terms of the color, so we wanted to just honor The Standard with the same cut that we feel so proud about and make sure that we have the same make-up, which is focused on pure cotton pre-wash with no shrinkage.”
The future of ÁWET is bright. They have a storefront planned that will not only house the brand, but other labels in their community who would be able to keep 100% of their profits made, in addition to exploring the idea of women’s tailoring to meet the demand of its growing women’s customer base.
“I’m super excited about the expansion of the brand and offerings, especially to our women customers. We're so excited about the store and what opportunities that will lend not only for us, but the other BIPOC brands that we have chosen to be a part of ours,” he says. The future is incredibly exciting and unknown, but I think for us it’s also rejuvenating in so many ways and part of that is The Standard Hotel collaboration and being able to showcase and introduce the brand to a population that maybe does not know about us. So, this is a great way to kind of get our community in the forefront.”