• photography by CLAUDIA FRIED 

    stylist TSEMAYE OPUBOR 

    An interview with Erik Bjerkesjö

    Written by Michaela Widergren

    I’ve been trying to get this interview happening for almost two months. Erik Bjerkesjö is not the easiest man to get a hold of. You never know if he’s in Copenhagen, Berlin, Florence or somewhere in the States. When I do finally meet him for the interview, he tells me he’s sick and got a fever, but he still shows up. We’re sitting in the coffee shop il Caffé in the middle of Södermalm, on the southern side of Stockholm. I’m having a foamy cappuccino and the sick man across the table gets a warm cup of Earl Grey.

    Erik’s mother, who is also in the textile industry, challenged him to apply for several art and design schools abroad. He got in, got a job at Dior and is now putting all of his time and efforts into his own brand Erïk Bjerkesjö. The style is tailored and clean, but keeps a clear street-style reference. In terms of music, Erik is mixing hip hop with Bach and Beethoven.

    MM: Why did you become a designer?

    EB: I don’t think I wanted to become a designer from the beginning, I just wanted to find a medium were I could express myself creatively and freely. I wasn’t sure what being a designer really meant. I found it a bit diffuse, what a designer really did.

    MM: Your mom introduced you to some schools right? And you guys also work together nowadays?

    EB: Exactly, she studied at Central Saint Martins in London and is now working as a pattern maker. She’s got a lot to say. I often ask her for advice; it’s great to get a more feminine view on things.

    MM: When you began your studies in Florence, was it decided from the beginning that it was shoes you were going to make?

    EB: I was always pretty sure about that. I’ve been skateboarding for 20 years now and I think that was a great influence in the choice about shoes. I’ve always had a love for sneakers. During school I started working with my roomie, who has now got his own surf and skate brand. It was interesting to see how those types of brands work. I was studying tailoring, which is totally different. I wanted to mix the two very different styles.

    MM: And that’s what you’re doing today, mixing tailoring with street?

    EB: Yes, I think that’s what I know best. It just sort of happened.

    MM: You graduated in 2009, what happened after that?

    EM: During my last years in at Polimoda I did some extra assignments for the principal, Linda Loppa. She came to Polimoda from Antwerp and used to be a mentor for Raf Simons. We became good friends and she taught me that being a designer doesn’t only have to do with clothes. She made the concept designer into something free and much bigger than just making garments. She is now my mentor, and we keep in contact all of the time. During my second year in Florence I started working for Dior. Linda was the one who introduced me.

    MM: What did you do at Dior?

    EB: A lot of embroideries! Making small flowers and braids.

    MM: Did you know this from before?

    EB: No, not at all. I learned everything in the spur of the moment. It was a lot of fun. This was in 2006-2007 which was a really good year for Christian Dior. After my time there I started putting more and more of my focus on shoes. Already at Dior I learned the importance of working with your hands, to craft and really put a lot of work into what you do. I learned a lot by reading the book Handmade Shoes for Men by Lazlo Vass, one of the great shoe kings.

    Erik made his first shoe collection all by himself which impressed Linda and because of that she later introduced him to the craftsmen at Azzedine Alaïa and Tom Ford, who was working in a small atelier in the Italian mountains. Erik tells me that the people working there are the best in world when it comes to shoes.

    MM: What’s the name of the atelier?

    EB: I can’t tell you, it’s a secret. It’s a well-hidden spot and I’m not allowed to say either the name or the location. Thanks to my contact with them I could later start producing handmade shoes with the best quality. After that I then moved back to Sweden for a while, then Copenhagen, Paris and back to Italy. I got a really good start by winning a prize when I graduated, and the orders for my shoes came right quickly. It was a dream start.

    MM: How much was a pair of shoes then?

    EB: Back then I think 1200 €.

    MM: And who buys the shoes?

    EB: A lot of people! Maybe not as many in Sweden, since the weather’s so bad…

    For Erik’s first runway he’d won a prize of 100.000 €,. The money could only be spent on producing the show, one night only. Of course Linda was helping and pushing Erik to expand and start designing clothes too. He tells me that he’s a major Alexander McQueen fan and that he’d love to present those kinds of runway shows and that the prize money that he’d won gave him the opportunity to do something creatively free just like McQueen.

    MM: So what did you do for your debut show?

    EB: I wanted the showing to feel like an Ingmar Bergman movie so we used a black light, which made the entire show be seen in black and white. We also had a projection of white noise on the ceiling. The show got a lot of attention. Etienne Rousseau was the show director, and he basically did it for free just because he really believed in me and the collection. He usually does all of the Chanel and Marc Jacobs shows. He’s a Creative Show Director, so it was also a bit different for me, not working with a stylist but with an Art Director instead. After that I had two shows in Milan with Vogue and later on I showed at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Stockholm.

    MM: How did it feel, having that major show at Pitti and then coming to the quite small fashion week in Stockholm?

    EB: I wanted Etienne to do that show too, we had some epic plans; everything we thought of became really expensive. But it all turned out really great, I worked with the Stockholm based team of Marcus Söder instead. Ultimately it become a great start for my return to Sweden. Just a few days later I started working with the tailoring production at Acne Studios.

    After working at Acne Studios (that he speaks very keenly about) Erik is now back in Stockholm and on the search for the perfect atelier to house the self-named brand. He says that he finds no interest in working with other fashion houses – he doesn’t want his previous employment to have too much of an impact on his own creative aesthetics – it’s easy to get labeled by the brands one’s been working for. 

    My impression of Erik, is that he’s a very humble guy with a huge amount of talent. He’s the first true shoe nerd I’ve ever met and he puts 100 % of his time in to his work. Let’s just hope there will not only be men’s collections created in the future. I know many women who enjoys the sound of both rap and classical music.

  • An interview with Daniel Bruno Grandl - The Urban Spotter

    Written by Jenny Lacis by Michaela Widergren

    On a street corner, at a crossover or in the crowd that is getting off the bus - Daniel Bruno Grandl finds fashionable people everywhere. Since 2012 he runs the street- style-blog The Urban Spotter, where he publishes photos of people from all around the world.

    Growing up in Germany with his mother running a vintage fashion store and with a great love of photography, Daniel followed his dream and combined these two interests in a blog. This medium currently seems to be the most common in this sphere.

    JL: So Daniel, when and why did you start The Urban Spotter?

    DBG: In 2009 I stumbled upon the blog The Sartorialist and I loved it. Once I moved from Scotland to London in 2012 I started my own blog, which was the birth of theurbanspotter.com.

    JL: What was your vision with the blog when you started? And how easy has it been to follow that vision?

    DBG: I started theurbanspotter.com in order to entertain people with my style images and to become one of the top street style platforms in the world. Such high ambitions have not always been easy for me, especially as one is faced with many challenges as well as doubts at the beginning.

    JL: What did the blogosphere look like when you started and how do you think it has developed over time? 

    DBG: I started rather late with blogging, mid 2012, so the Market back then was already quite competitive. But now, two years after, there are more street style photographers than ever before and the market is becoming more and more saturated. Only those who have a unique point of view and are truly good at what they do will continue to grow.

    JL: Why did you chose to publish your photos in a blog? 

    DBG: I myself like to read blogs and felt that this was a good medium for my content as well. As a blogger there is great flexibility in what and how you publish and you can reach a large audience quickly. It’s just great being able to share my pictures instantly.

    JL: What is the best thing about publishing your work like this; and, what is the drawback?

    DBG: Publishing online is the perfect medium to showcase my photography to a worldwide audience on a day-to-day basis. It is very cost efficient compared to print publishing and it is possible to build up a large audience in a short period of time. No matter where in the world I am, I can quickly upload new images from current fashion shows or events and let the world take part of it nearly instantly.

    JL: What do you think about blog-portals?

    DBG: From a business perspective I think it is a good way to attract a wider audience and thus attract more business opportunities in regards to advertising etcetera.

    J: There have been many predictions about the desertion of the blogs (that people would tire of the phenomenon), why do you think the predictions haven´t been verified?

    DBG: As we live in a fast-moving society, blogs are an ideal platform for anyone who quickly wants to access information regarding their interests. Blogs are very appealing for many readers as they are free and are being updated much more regularly than say a print magazine.

    JL: How long will you continue blogging? And what do you think of the future of the blogs?

    DBG: I have no plans to stop blogging in the near future. I have not been doing this for very long, and things have only just started to take off. I will stop blogging if one day I won’t have fun doing this anymore.

    JL: And what does a “normal” workday look like for you? 

    DBG: Here one has to distinguish between peak and off-peak fashion week times:

    During peak fashion week times I usually get up at 7am, do some editing, prepare some posts for the day and go to the first 9am shows. Usually I go to 4-6 shows depending on how much energy I have as well as on the shows that are on. After that I get back home at around 7pm and start selecting and editing the images from the day.

    During off peak fashion week times my days are completely different. I usually fill my days with networking, meeting up with clients and friends as well as shootings and editing work.

    JL: Is it possible to make a living on your blog?

    DBG: I make a living from my photography.

    JL: What is your plan now with The Urban Spotter?

    DBG: The plan is to continue on the same track, shooting great style and showcasing it on my website. In the future I will travel more, especially outside of Europe and I have plans to shoot more fashion editorials.

    JL: What blogs are you following?

    DBG: To be honest, I am not following that many blogs. I try to focus on my work and constantly think forward regarding future plans and strategies,

    JL: Where in the world are people the best dressers, according to you? And why?

    DBG: It is difficult to say. Many different cities are characterized by a certain set of styles or stereotypes. For example the Italians wear prints and color very well, the French are very chic and elegant, London has a strong heritage in tailoring and punk, in Scandinavia it is all about minimalism and New York is a mix of everything. I personally really like the styles that I see in Copenhagen.

    JL: And as a last question: What are you looking for when you’re on a street style-hunt? 

    DBG: When I take pictures on the street I have certain criteria in my head that act as a guideline for shooting street style. Ultimately these criteria determine whether I can create an aesthetically pleasing picture or not. I prefer taking photos of people who I think are well dressed and have great style or character.

  • An interview with Pernille Teisbaek

    Written by Sofia Chowdhury by Oda Alida

    Pernille Teisbaek is the Danish blogger behind Look De Pernille, a stylist and a streetstyle favourite during fashion weeks all over the world. Which is no wonder at all thanks to her natural Danish glow, amazing sense of style and charming personality. It comes to no surprise that Gina Tricot chose Pernille to be one of the faces of the Scandinavian it-girls campaign for Spring 2015.

    SC: What do you think makes you a Scandinavian it girl?

    PT: I don’t consider myself as an it-girl, but I’m very flattered that my style and Scandinavian look inspire others even outside of Scandinavian.

    SC: As a stylist, what should people consider when putting together an outfit in the morning if they want to be up-to-date this Spring yet keep it minimal?

    PT: When putting an outfit together for spring it is important to keep working with the layers, mixing different materials and color tones – it will keep your look interesting and in the right combination it will still have a minimal expressing.

    SC: Tell us about the collaboration with Gina Tricot.

    PT: The take on the collaboration was that I got the change to show how I would style the Gina Tricot Spring 2015 collection – how I would add my take on there Scandinavian style. This was a great project for me to work with - and the campaign turned out really great – I am very fond of the result,

    SC: What are your key pieces in the wardrobe that works every year?

    PT: Some key pieces in my wardrobe are a knitted sweater, a pair of jeans and some stilettos to go with this. I definitely found a few items in the Gina Tricot collection that could be new key pieces in my spring wardrobe.

    SC: Tell us about one of the oldest pieces that you own and that you still love and wear.

    PT: My worn-out vintage levi’s jeans that feels like I have had them for forever. They always work for me and I believe they will stay with me to the last thread.

    SC: Being Scandinavian is not only reflected on the outfit, the Scandinavian style also includes the minimal make-up, also known as the “no make up”-make up look. Tell us about your beauty routines and favourites in the cabinet.

    PT: My beauty routines are very simple - every morning I drink a big glass of ice cold water, the go out for a run and after showering I use my La Mer moisturizer. If I need an extra something, I use my tinted moisturizer from Laura Mercier.

    SC: How do you make a Scandinavian and minimal look interesting?

    PT: It is important to keep my looks interesting, for me it is all about playing and mixing different materials to give the layering look that you know I love.

    See the collection at Gina Tricot  (http://www.ginatricot.com/ceu/en/collection/it-girls/ccollection-citgirls-p1.html )  


    images courtesy of GINA TRICOT