- As a fresh face to Taiwan’s market and Taiwanese fashion followers, can you please briefly introduce yourself?
I’m Alexander Stutterheim. I am the founder and creative director of Stutterheim Raincoats. We’re a fashion brand based in Stockholm, Sweden where we create the perfect raincoat as well as other necessities to keep you protected from the demons lurking in nature and within. We believe that melancholy is a necessity to creativity as sun is to rain. That is something we talk about a lot in our communication.
- What is your growing background and how did it influence who are you today?
I used to work in the advertising industry as a copywriter for many years. I always had an urge to focus on one thing and not be tied to the deadlines of others and their interpretation of my ideas. I wanted to do something from the ground up and do it with the fullest attention to detail.
It all started as a reaction to my former hectic life in the advertising industry. I felt a deep urge to take my time and do things very well from the start. As a coincidence my grandfather past a way during the same time and we went out to the archipelago cleaning up his house and looking through his stuff. On that sad day I found his old raincoat which was huge like a tent. I remembered that he used to wear it when I was a kid and we spent our summers at the family estate. He always put the raincoat on and went out fishing in the worst of storms and downpours. When he returned he read stories for us grandkids.
Later the same week I returned to town for a meeting. I was early so I took a coffee in the late summer rain and saw people protecting themselves with broken umbrellas, gore-tex jackets and newspapers over their head. This was a bit strange to me as Swedes tend to dress very well on all other occasions – but not in the rain? I decided there and then that I should try to update my grandfathers raincoat for the contemporary conscious consumer. This were supposed to be my slow scale project where I made everything right from the start.
The coming months I made prototypes, patterns and looked for a factory. I learned everyday and was very happy and melancholic at the same time. The first 100 coats I gave away for free to friends and relatives as I learned that I underpriced it. But in retrospect that doesn’t matter today.
- What obstacles and challenges have you faced along the way? Please briefly describe the most significant one.
In the beginning it was all about the journey, the dialogue with people who bought the coat and with friends that I listened too. It wasn’t too much about the right price for production, the right mark-ups etc. This gave me some economic issues with the company as all new brands and I couldn’t sleep for almost a year. Luckily I met people who had better understanding of economics then myself and today everything is almost under control. Everything with the creative process hasn’t been easy, but it is almost very exciting to create new things and find new ways for the brand.
- What inspired you to become a designer or an owner of a brand?
I didn’t start out to create a brand – not even a designer. I had to update my grandfathers raincoat for the modern consumer and the plan was to do it as a side project while keep being a copywriter. But after a while I realized that the story about my grandfather, melancholy and creativity as well as the amazing quality of the products interlinked in a very nice way. I had created something that took on an amazing form during the way and I couldn’t stop all of a sudden.
- After all these struggles and challenges, how would you define yourself as a designer or a creative director today? Do you think it will change in the future?
I have a very clear idea about the aesthetics of the products I create. I am extremely. picky with details, colors and the final fit of a new item. Everything I do is clearly interlinked with where the journey started – in the archipelago of Stockholm, Sweden whether it is a question of a name of a product, our story or the specific background to a certain detail of a item.
DESIGN / STYLE:
- Please use one sentence to describe your brand’s identity and aesthetics.
Simplicity that turns out truly unique on each human being who wears any of my items.
- Since AW14 collection is the first season for this brand to be in a store in Taiwan, can you briefly talk about the inspiration and focus for the AW14 collection?
I started out a few years ago with my first Item – the Arholma Svart. Since then we have just added new items to our collection. So basically we don’t do one collection and a new one for the next season. We keep on adding stuff to a constant growing range of items. But we do try to have something new for each season.
- The focus this time has been to try and build a wider range of items that can help you embrace the rain such as items in antique waxed cotton as well as new additions to our timeless collection of rubberized cotton items.
In terms of inspiration I tend to stay on a journey of simplicity that is more or less accessible to anyone. I talk a lot to many of my clients and listen to their questions and proposals on how to improve my items. That shapes a lot of new ideas and needs to fill if it is in line with our overall story of course.
- Within the AW14 collection, what is your favorite garment that you think customers should definitely have it in their wardrobe? We launched our all-weather coat Inferno. The name comes from a book by the famous swedish novelist August Strindberg. He wrote a lot about life, anxiety and other things which I think about a lot as well as my grandfather did as well.
Inferno comes in five colors – red, green, black, blue and camo. We also did a bucket hat that is designed in the same fabric as the coat to suit well together if you are in the mood for that.
- For AW14, what styling advices would you give for readers and fashion followers in Taiwan?
I think that confidence, simplicity and calmness is what I like the most. That would be my advice. As you should do what you love you should wear what you love.
- As a designer, you know that creating a collection is not only about constructing individual garments, but also having a vision for the entire look and style for the season. What is your own style and where is it mostly influenced from?
I like a lot of Swedish brands, but also Japanese classics such as Commes De Garcon and Yamamoto. I think we share a certain simple esthetic which I like and that is also what constitutes my own style I would say – simple.
- Nowadays, a lot of brands are creating similar fits and just crowning their owns as “essentials.” In your opinion, what are some real essential garments that can survive through trends?
Very good question. I started this whole label as a reaction to the throw away-mentality and as a reaction that a beautiful collection only lasts for about six months before you put everything on sale and invest in a new one. With Stutterheim we add something new every seasons – but we almost never take stuff away. That makes us more consistent and unique I think. We do one thing and we do it very well. I think that goes for what a good essential garment is as well – something that is done well with true craftsmanship and attention to detail.
- Everyone knows that fashion industry is getting very saturated and industrialized, how do you separate yourself/your brand from the crowd?
See my answer above.
- With the explosion of social media’s power (tumblr and Instagram) for people to share their inspiration and ideas, do you think it’s a bonus for designers to find more inspirations or do you think it’s a limitation for designers to come up with unique and creative ideas for developing his/her own identity? In other words, is social media a plus or minus to designers?
I think it’s very good most of the time. For us it has been invaluable – I keep a constant conversation with people from all over the world as we listen a lot to improve our collection. Also it has been functioning as a tool to show people what we do behind the scenes as we value to be an open brand. I feel inspired by it, but I can imagine it might be a problem for young and upcoming designers as you might end up spending more time looking on everyone else instead of focusing on your own expression.
- The fine line between streetwear and high-end fashion is blurring. Do you agree with this on-going movement? In your opinion, Is this trend/movement a good or bad thing for fashion industry?
I’m not an expert on street wear at all. But what I can say is that I believe that people should do one thing and do it well. Maybe street wear designers made an impression better as they dress more ”ordinary” people than high-end designers. And now it is all merging as people want well-crafted classical items to wear on an everyday basis.
- In addition, the seasons are slowly blurring as well. Is this slowly becoming an issue for you to design garments according to just Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter?
From the start we have been expanding a constant collection. So this is not really an issue for us. Although we come with news every season – but that is news that stays.
- After this successful AW14 collection, what can we expect from the brand moving into next season and next year?
Many things! We have exclusive items for some really amazing department stores coming up as well as new things for our own collection. We will keep our simple and handcrafted way but lets say that we have found more ways to make you look good in rain that we didn’t thought about when this started.
- Ne.Sense’s AW14 theme for the store and styling lookbook is “outcast.” The message we are trying to bring out is that everyone is an outcast in some way, which can be culturally, mentally, or physically. However, the ability to truly embrace your outcast-ness is the most organic way to find your own passion and identity. This is true because the moment when you discover that you are different is the moment that you know you are special for something. Have you experienced one of these turning moments in your life before? Please briefly describe it.
Many times! When I changed path from being a social worker to become a copywriter. When my son was born and when I started to make raincoats. Life is so much about these changes without them you can’t progress as a human being I think.
- Ne.Sense, short for Necessity Sense, is a boutique store which has vision to raise appreciations toward art, design, and fashion in Taiwan. To you, what is necessity sense? In other words, what kind of sense do you think is necessary to live a high-quality life?
I feel in a second if something has quality or not. So I would say the sense to differ quality from the opposite. That way you spend time with better people and become happy. You don’t cover your house with stuff that you don’t need etc.
- Do you have any teasing updates that you can share with us?
Just heard that Drake bought a Stockholm Vit for his upcoming world tour!
- Any last words for Taiwanese fashion followers?
I would love to come and visit. I just need to finalize the upcoming collection and all the collabs coming up.