PARIS — Take it from the Scandinavians: The good life is all about keeping things simple and focusing on what you are good at. That’s the guiding ethos shared by a clan of independent designers from the region peddling a single product, or concise families of lines. Here, fashion takes a backseat to streamlined — and often seasonless —takes on wardrobe classics that never look overdesigned, and are made with high-quality considerations and clear, ethical working practices.
Founder: Johan Lindeberg, a former marketing director for Diesel and the founder of Swedish clothing label J.Lindeberg, where he worked as creative director until 2007 before taking up the creative reins for men’s wear at William Rast until 2009.
Product: Men’s and women’s clothing essentials inspired by downtown classics.
Concept: No seasons. No time lags. The online-driven brand carries leather jackets, denim, tailoring, knitwear and shoes. No traditional advertising is planned; instead, independent cultural content will be used to drive traffic and build an online community.
Projects: To create an e-commerce dynamic. A bricks-and-mortar retail network will also be developed, with a store due to open in SoHo, New York, this spring, followed by London and Los Angeles. Expansion into Paris, Berlin and Stockholm planned for 2012. The brand’s first fragrance, eyewear and car interior collaborations are in the works.
Made in: Leather items are made in New York, all tailoring made in Italy and Croatia, while denim is made in Vietnam.
Product: A concise denim, shirt, knitwear and footwear range.
Background: Based in Malmö, Sweden, Svensson was founded in the Nineties by Mariano Leone, Matias Alfieri and Therese Lilja. The trio started out organizing basement clubs in Möllevången, the city’s bohemian district, then branched out to photography, journalism and graphic design. In 2002, they launched the influential Svensson magazine. The year 2005 saw the opening of the collective’s first creative studio-cum-boutique-cum-gallery, as well as the launch of a focused denim line. Knitwear pieces were added in 2006; shirts in 2010, and a capsule footwear line has been added for the fall 2011-2012 season, comprising one shoe style and a hand-stitched leather sneaker. “We’re not really from the industry. From the beginning, we’ve focused on good, high-end handcrafted products,” said co-founder Leone. “We just want to go real slow, take it step by step.”
Made in: The brand’s shoes are made in Montegranaro, Italy; shirts are made by a French shirtmaker, and knitwear is produced in the Prato district near Florence, Italy.
Projects: With two stores in Malmö, Svensson plans to develop its own retail network. The brand is mulling openings in Stockholm and Copenhagen next year.
Founders: Married couple Cathrine Lundgren Andersen and Peter Kjaer-Andersen.
Product: A worsted wool sailor sweater available in four colors: black, navy, khaki and cream. The garment is a refined version of sweaters traditionally worn in Denmark by hunters and fishermen, using a higher quality of yarn, which is spun locally.
Made in: Herning, in Jutland, Denmark.
Quirks: The sweater is symmetrical, so can be worn backward or forward, and is sold in a traditional neon orange sailing dry bag.
Evolution: Other colors and stripes may be added.
Founders: Married couple Marie Louise Brangstrup Schmidt and Jesper Schmidt
Product: High-quality, ethically produced swimwear for women and men.
Concept: With its choice of timeless, minimalist styles made exclusively in black, the brand offers mix-and-match products in Italian fabrics, with a black beach towel and waterproof beach bag for wet swimsuits after a dip in the sea. Via the brand’s Web site, customers can pick sets and have them shipped to homes or hotels anywhere in the world. The brand’s shop page features an image of planet Earth with the caption: “28% Land 72% Water. And rising.”
Made in: Portugal.
The White Briefs
Founder: Married couple Peter and Henriette Simonsson
Product: Underwear and loungewear using organic GOTS-certified fabrics.
Concept: Compelling everyday items. “The core idea is that I wanted to make the ultimate pair of white briefs,” said Peter Simonsson, who has since added on women’s and men’s loungewear lines, and a children’s line, available in white or black. “I wanted to create a hybrid between casualwear and basics; a fundamental lifestyle brand.”
Made in: Estonia.
Founders: Swedish and French design duo Claus Lindorff and Jérôme Touron.
Product: Starting with gymwear and swimwear for men, new additions this year include underwear and jogging collections, T-shirts and an energy drink.
Concept: Creating the essential wardrobe and body care products for urban, sporty types. In place of logos, certain products feature the brand’s iconic motto: “Discipline is not a dirty word.” The line, originally only in black and white, launched on the brand’s Web site last year, with online sales to 27 countries. Distribution has grown to more than 80 countries, along with retailers such as Harvey Nichols in London, The Webster in Miami and Jeffrey in New York.
Made in: Portugal, except for the body care products, which are made in Sweden by Face Stockholm.