Motorcycle Style Diaries: Uniforms for the Dedicated
This summer, photographer Sven Eselgroth embarked on a four month motorcycle mission. He had some particularly beautiful territory to negotiate – the sort that befits a two-wheeler – in the hills and valleys of Scandinavia.
On his journey, he stopped into some of the region’s most interesting and innovative boutique fashion houses to talk to their head designers and document their collections.
The result? A stunning, quixotic photo-diary and interview series which we’re lucky enough to be publishing in XWHY.
First instalment – Uniforms for the Dedicated
At Uniforms for the Dedicated, I interviewed Anna Heinrup , their head designer. She was lovely and took some time to show me around Stockholm a bit.
It started in 2007, but it got a bit of a boost in 2011. Today we have about ten people working full time, along with a few interns, and we’ve got some people in our shop as well. We’re growing, and our numbers are looking to increase.
We’re in stores in London and Birmingham. (And, actually, certain Uniforms products are available on ASOS)
I studied design in Italy, then I moved to London to attend St. Martin’s. Italy was more about learning the actual craft, understanding how to sew little tiny details and create perfect patterns. My teacher was a strict old Italian woman who stood by the blackboard showing you how to do everything, and you had to copy absolutely everything, but it definitely got you to learn. Coming to St. Martin’s, though, it suddenly changed.
We’d do a project based on the idea of black bin-liners or whatever! We would have very little contact with our tutors, and we’d just have to go off and create stuff. It’s all about being creative there.
It was a perfect combination – the Italian background and then London.
After I graduated in 2008, I started working for the design directory, which is part of the university. But soon I felt the need to come back here, to be closer to home. It was either Copenhagen or Stockholm, as my family is from the south of Sweden, which is close to Copenhagen. Then this position came up, so Stockholm it was!
Yes. We like that part, being able to have our own original patterns, because there are so many copies out there. Companies can buy patterns from pattern companies. So we want to make our own basic designs a recurring part of the collections. We’re also trying to aim towards a more grown-up look, as we’ve identified that our average customer is aged between twenty-seven and forty-five. The part of our collection that we’re really working on developing is our suit range.
I think one big difference between Scandinavia and the rest of the world is the use of colour. Typical Scandinavian fashion – Hope, ACNE and so on – it’s very black, white or grey, with possibly one or two accent colours.
I’m absolutely obsessed with colour though. One of my favourite parts of designing the collection is to sit and play around with it, and to ask myself what kind of amazing colour combinations we can use for the coming season without being too over the top!
I wouldn’t say we are typically Scandinavian in the choice of colours or patterns we use. When it came to Uniforms for the Dedicated hiring me, I certainly think that it was to my advantage that I work that way.
I think we’ve developed together. There’s a good deal of give-and-take, and a strong dialogue between everybody here. In this company there are so many strong personalities, but we always work very well together because we have such a high regard for each other. It’s always a very respectful way of working.
You listen to each other and you take into account other peoples’ ideas. You reason your way towards a result until you feel “yes, this is our direction; this is the way we should go”.
Definitely! Here, you tell your boss to take the trash out.
It’s an interesting question. The environment in which I worked during my school years was not very trend-driven. It was about being creative and forming your own ideas. Creating things rather than following things. You have to combine that though with thinking in a commercial sense. There’s no point in creating the most original, artistic collection ever if you can’t sell it.
I wouldn’t say we follow trends, because that’s not who we are. We’re not H&M. We’re not that kind of brand. We like to be original. But it’s a balance.