The name WUBET is Amharic – a language spoken in Ethiopia – and translates to the word “beauty.” The amazing scarfs and fashion accessories by WUBET are something I have seen and admired on a regular basis – now, I am interested in finding out where the ideas come from and look up the designer’s contact details on the WIEN PRODUCTS city map, before heading to Kirchberggasse at the Spittelberg. Arnold Haas welcomes me at the door on the second floor of a beautiful Biedermeier period building and invites me in. The large, light room we go into is a wonderful example of how life and work can be interwoven. It is easy to sense that someone lives here, together with the works he creates, and that these items are made for people who value and appreciate the unique.
We are sitting at a large table surrounded by various types of seating and talk about the work of the designer Arnold Haas, which is not only available at Habari and the Österreichischen Werkstätten in Vienna, but also on several different continents.
How do you get to design fashion accessories and have them manufactured from special materials, such as Alpaca wool or special, Ethiopian cotton?
Arnold Haas just smiles and tells me his story, which began with his training in fashion design at the Hetzendorf fashion school. Following a few jobs in Vienna, he moved to New York in 1998. Haas worked in the city that doesn’t sleep for five years, followed by stints in Ethiopia and Chile. This was also where he began to get interested in traditional handcrafts and special materials and got to know and value the artisans, their workshops and the special working techniques they used. He began to design and develop his own collections. The working conditions in these countries and processing of the best materials, such as Alpaca wool on handlooms, were very important to him.
Arnold Haas came back to Vienna in 2010, founded his label WUBET in the same year and opened a shop with an art gallery on Praterstrasse in 2016. WUBET has been a member of Wien Products for two years, presents its products together with other Wien Products members at various international fairs and sells the designs created in Vienna around the globe.
I pick up a scarf that is as light as a feather – the material is soft and cozy, the most beautiful colors have been woven into a very delicate, lacy design. You just want to put it round your neck immediately… It is made of naturally colored Alpaca wool – spun and woven by hand – sustainability is very important to this designer.
He is currently working on very durable bags in rag rug style, Arnold Hass tells me. The denim fabric used for this is woven at one of the last weaving mills in the Mühlviertel region and colored using organic dyes. A small company in Kirchschlag am Wechsel is fulling the fabric for him.
Haas is someone who looks for artisan craftsmanship and tries to help preserve these techniques and companies. He has also had good experience with the WIEN WORK initiative, which has initiated special craft projects at the Seestadt Aspern.
This all sounds very exciting – but who buys his designs is what I would like to know? First and foremost, people who like the extraordinary and have a passion for materials and processing, who do not follow every fashion trend and are also looking for fair working conditions for the craftsmen involved.
Arnold Haas likes to be part of pop-up projects because this is where he has personal contact with customers and can get direct feedback about his designs. The nets made from original fishermen’s bags from Chile with a stylish leather strap to wear them over your shoulder are a hot trend right now. The new denim bags are also well received.
Such events provide opportunities to test products and alter them, if necessary. Nowadays, people carry their own shopping bags because they want to avoid plastic bags – and this is where the cool, robust WUBET bags come into play.
At the moment, Arnold Haas is working on a new collection — color patterns and designs are in the process of being prepared. Not only this, but the next trade fair is just around the corner. WUBET will debut its items together with three other Wien Products members at the ONTIME fair in Shanghai. So, it is off again to a far-flung country that will certainly provide new inspiration.
There are many more topics I could discuss with the designer and we will definitely continue our conversation soon. I say goodbye to Arnold Haas and take a slow walk through the Spittelberg, which is particularly inviting in the midday sun. I will come back here for sure – the quality of WUBET design is definitely worth the walk.