You’ve just won the International Woolmark prize for being the most promising menswear designers of today. What does that feel like?
”It feels incredible since it came out of inspiration very close to our hearts. It was a very fun process! We actually didn’t expect much more than just going in to the competition with the ambition of doing our best and what we actually like doing. It also turned out to be a great challenge to learn all about the merino wool, which was a lot of fun. Now we’re looking forward to the next competition.
The International Woolmark Prize is a very prestigious award and has been won by amongst others YSL. Why do you think you won?
”This collection I choose to go very deep within the inspiration itself and really use the techniques that can be found in the craftsmanship behind boat construction and the marina. Not only did it turn into an esthetically beautiful collection, but it also showed innovation. We also put a lot of time on a very clear presentation were we didn’t let anything get overshadowed. We argued about and explained everything while we presented the vision of our brand.
A lot of your inspiration is found in your hometown Gothenburg and it’s sailor heritage. What is it about the marina that inspires you?
“When it comes specifically to boat building an sailing it has to do with the fact that my father is a boat constructer or boat artist. I had access to an extrem amount of old books about crafting boats, tying knots and photos of fatigues. When it comes to the marina, much of the inspiration comes from innovative techniques, like how sails were used, which were things we could translate into our clothes.
Furthermore all of us grew up on the west coast, the theme felt relevant especially in an international competition where we wanted to show were we came from. We wanted to show our culture and the raw nordic climate where merino wool has played a significant part.
When we talked to you last season you said that you wanted to challenge norms within menswear, why is that?
”Everything is always evolving, and mostly towards something positive. We want menswear, that has been stuck in certain fashions, to also evolve. It usually takes very little to get people to raise their eyebrows when it comes to menswear. Our fashion is inspired by minor cultures, art and not to say the least, women fashion. It all becomes sort of a test where you have a cause you believe in which you’re pushing to see if it actually works.
It’s like art where you create something to ask a question, to cross a line, create awareness or critique something. That’s how we want to create menswear that asks the questions, breaks barriers and contributes to the development within the business. At the same time we do have a strong sense of commercialism in our brand. That creates a sort of balance where the contemporary part of the brand always likes to push the border further.”
Your last collection Stompers was about a group of dockers that created a voice for themselves by taking clothes from boxes that were misplaced. You describes a mentality that inspired a generation to break free and manifest its dissatisfaction. Where did those thoughts originate from?
”It doesn’t inspire me to take inspiration from only one existing culture, so we put together two to create one fictive subculture that we wished had existed.
Fatigues has always provided us with a strong inspiration functionally with its details and already developed ideas. That’s why we envisioned dockers in Gothenburg where strict thoughts concerning clothes developed into something more inspiring. They started to open shipping boxes from fake markets to create their own identity. It became a kind of do it yourself group, that’s why the punk also became a source of inspiration, because it was all about putting your mark on your clothes.
To create ones own identity and express dissatisfaction with clothing is visible throughout fashion history at large. Corduroy was used to express dissatisfaction with the establishment during the 70’s and Gosha Rubinkijs post-soviet streetwear is also an expression of that in some ways. Why do you think clothes expresses emotions to well?
“First and foremost; there are important questions in this world, and clothes are far away from beting the most important one. But if you look at history, clothes has always had a great significance. It has to do with everything from power symbols, social belonging, subcultures, work, symbols of protest or freedom movements. But it also has to do with how clothes has been used out of practical reasons. There are many sides to fashion, but since it’s visually worn on a persons outside, it will always express something. If you for example highlight a certain old culture in a new collection, it can also be a way of highlighting a certain subject, time or a place through art.
We spend a huge part of our life with clothes on, that’s why it becomes such a huge part of who we are, what we want to express or who we want to be. Or if we just want to blend in. It becomes a part of us and the time we spend awake.
At the same time this is not what I think is the best about clothes. The beauty can also lie within the fact how much a garment means to a persons identity. It can be about a lonely worker that has the optimal outfit practically for its work. The loneliness in that the garment is for only this person, and not for others is beautiful.
Much of your focus lies on making functional and sustainable clothes. What is a functional outfit to you?
”The function often has to do with how we want the garments to feel on the body, but also in the details. We focus a lot on the development of the products, like the placement on the pockets. Why not create more function? But since function also can mean a greater production cost, it’s about picking ones battles. We also work graphically with symbols that has an esthetic function, the fact that we want to highlight an old culture. That is also a function.”
You’re showing at Fashion Week Stockholm in a couple of days. What will you be showing?
”We’re going to have a smaller, relaxed mingel where only a few outfits are shown. We didn’t want to make it to big. L’Homme Rouge is still a quite small brand, and it feels more interesting to focus our presentation on the same level, it becomes more interesting to the person that is seeing it.
The collection is called Jante’s Playhouse. We wanted to put a small Swedish town in a theatrical context where everything becomes more of an act. We have taken dusty Swedish elements from everyday life and enhanced and combined them with symbols from the theater. Shortly, its about the act we play in our everyday life. There’s a dark sense of humor in this, that’s why we Lars Tunbjörk’s photographies became a huge inspiration to us.”