Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 302 | The interviews

Got my chinos nearly 2 months now and it's still weird wearing them. I don't know why. Maybe it's cause I'm so used to wearing only blue jeans for so many years? Be that as it may, I thik it's time to expand the wardrobe a bit. One other problem is that I moved countries in 2007, and have only been back to South Africa twice since then. There's not a lot of clothing you can fit into 20kg, which is the restrictions on the aeroplane. So I have a cupboard full of clothing back in South Africa that's not been worn for over two years. But such is life.

I recently completed another Swedish language course. One of the projects we needed to complete, was a writing report on a subject of our choice. I chose blue jeans, and did an interview with a close friend, Andreas Adolfsson, a musician and Alexander Graah, one of the owners of Dr.DenimJeans. The questions were about the Swedish love affair with denim. I translated them back from Swedish, and I hope it makes sense.

Andreas Adolfsson (AA) has been a friend of my girlfriend and me for many years. He is a musician and sells wind instruments, and has a genuine passion, or perhaps more accurately an obsession, for the denim. He has more denim jackets than I have socks, and believe me, I have a lot of socks. He is very well versed in all aspects of denim, have read almost every book on the subject and I have never ever seen hi in anything else. I do not think he knows that there is something other than denim.

Why is denim so huge in Sweden? So many Swedish brands reach international success and attention.
AA: Swedes are generally fairly comfortable and practical in their approach to clothes, if I may take the liberty to generalize very broadly. We have since the 40's been very quick to embrace what has happened in the U.S., in music, clothes, language, television and much more, so even with the jeans culture.

There have been good clothing company with the world as their workplace for many years. Many of today's designers are educated in JC, H & M and Solo to name a few. I also believe that the amount Swedes travel can have an effect on this. To draw another parallel to the Rockabilly culture and the large number of cars and MC's that are imported to Sweden each year, in these circles, Sweden is very well known for doing renovations very thoroughly, or that it takes the Rockabilly culture very literally, so in a sense, we do things "for real".

Sweden had also up until the 80's big clothing indistries, that may have had a major impact on the ability to succeed with a label in Sweden. I believe that the greatness of the success is being able to adapt and to not be afraid to make rdical changes in style and ideas.

What does the future look like for the Swedish denim market?
AA: I think it will continue to go well. The probability that Nudie will be sold to a big company, as Cheap Monday was sold to H & M, is quite big. I think we will see more brands in the future, the future type Ruffel and Bow, which makes jeans for those who will wear them, with the possibility to select features and fabric and the like. Customisation simply. There is already a lot of stuff in the U.S. and England, which scans the body for a perfect fit.

What is unique with Swedish denim fashion?
AA: Good question. Perhaps that Sweden is so small that it can affect large groups of people on a fairly short time. Not such big gaps in between the designer, producer and customer. Maybe even that jeans have become "Sunday's Best" instead of working clothes.

Alexander Graah (AG) runs the brand Dr.DenimJeansMakers in Gothenburg with his brother. The brand was launched originally in Denmark by his father and are now sold in 22 countries. I met Alexander for the first time in their office, after he invited me on a coffee, to discuss its brand, its products and to show me some more of what they do.

Why is denim so huge in Sweden? So many Swedish brands reach international success and attention.
AG: It depends largely on American culture. Swedes have a fairly liberal culture with relatively little hierarchy. The need to conduct yourself formally and dress formally are very limited, and Swedes are very conscious of their lifestyle. This has meant that jeans are acceptable in most social contexts. The great interest among consumers means that start-up jeans brands may get a chance that they would not get in other countries where consumers are less interested in personal expression, style and design. Swedish denim brands have a tendency to be very secure in themselves and to bear its own orientation, rather than focusing on offering commercial products with boring and flat ironed marketing message as many other European brands have a tendency to do.

What does the future look like for the Swedish denim market?
AG: There will be a purge among brands, simply because of the economy and the fact that retailers need to focus on brands that give them profit. On the other hand, it is not an end to new initiatives, so it is likely to be quite a dynamic sector where a lot always happens. The Swedes buy about 13 million pairs of jeans annually, so it will continue to be the basis for new initiatives.

What is unique with Swedish denim fashion?
AG: In particular, the credibility of what the various jean brands do and stand for. The idea behind both the design and the marketing messages are more refined than that of jean brands from other markets. Swedish designers dare to go their own way and therefore has received much respect and trust abroad.