• photography by ANNA GRANBERG

    20 Minutes with Minimarket: an interview with Sofie Elvestedt

    Written by Mari Florer

    Minimarket wants to design clothes that build confidence. They jokingly refer to an expression they call “dignified pyjamas”.

    The designers want people to feel free and comfortable, whether they’re at a party or at work.

    “Many fashion garments have a tendency to make you feel inadequate”, Sofie says after telling me she only has twenty minutes to spare.

    Minimarket converted to a fashion brand 2006. The name came from their clothing store.

    SE: A friend and I had a boutique with the same name, in SoFo, in Stockholm. We were selling clothes created for our shop by young Swedish and Danish newly graduated designers.

    Her sisters and current colleges Pernilla and Jennifer did their internship at Minimarket. Soon, all sisters started to design easy-to-wear clothes as a complement to the young designers’ more advanced garments.

    SE: We sold really well.

    One day Weekday called. They were interested in selling our clothes. When we got their first order we closed the store.

    At first the three sisters designed all together, but today they are splitting up the work to be more effective.

    SE: But we are all involved in all different parts. We discuss a lot.

    Sofie is the older sister and the head of the sales part and her design approach is very business focused.

    SE: I have a bigger say over certain garments we call sell pieces. These are more basic, and must be found in order to withdraw money. I like safeguards.

    Pernilla Elvestedt takes care of the material sourcing and production, and is also contributing extra to shoes and accessories.

    The third sister Jennifer Elvestedt is the titled designer, accompanied by Abril Vergara, junior designer.

    We look at the AW14 collection hanging on rails. There are prints and patterns inspired by the moon and the space. Colors like blue, green and orange are frequently used. The shoes are standing on white boxes in the middle of the room.

    Some products stand out. A pair of cow patterned shoes, a sweater with a wolf howling in front of the full moon and a black and green tartan woollen cap.

    MB: Is it possible to print on any material?

    SE: It is almost possible. But some cannot be printed on since it depends on the structure of the fabric.

    MB: Are you visiting the factories or producers to see that everything is in order?

    SE: We have good control of the production and we visit our factories on regular basis. There is just one of the producers with which we are not very happy, they have failed with logistics and delivery dates for 2 seasons in a row, and unfortunately we have had to replace them for our next season.

    MB: How can you as a designer take responsibility for the environment?

    SE: It’s hard. All products drain the resources on earth. We can choose the right fabrics. Our most common fabric Cupro is free from toxins. We have tried new coloring techniques for example we’ve made scarves which are coloured with fruit and spices.

    MB: So, what does this summer’s outfit look like?

    SE: Oh, it’s hard to pick one outfit. I think a straight and flowy silhouette with many layers. We like to mix different lengths, for example we often combine thin pants with a dress on top, and then a shorter jacket on top of that. And you need a hat of course.

    We sell a lot of hats. Sometimes I wonder who it is that buys all these hats, as I don’t see them so often in the streets.

    Minimarket is not following trends. They do what they feel like.

    SE: We have a lot of colors and patterns every year and we hope our customers use them many years. It´s better to buy fewer items with good quality.

    It’s a little chaotic in the office and those who work may sit where there is space. A young woman is sitting on the floor and cutting out a pattern. Sofie helps an assistant to move her computer to an empty seat.

    Minimarket moved into this place in September 2013 and are now renovating. They don’t allow us to take pictures inside.

    MB: How many are employed here?

    SE: Only five. A lot of people think that we mean that the design department is only five people, but it is actually the whole company.

    MB: Are you sisters often arguing?

    SE: It’s good to clear the air sometimes. Everyone needs to do that periodically. It helps you get back on the track again. I love working with my sisters and I’m very proud of what we have accomplished.

    Pernilla asks Sofie if she is finished with the interview.

    SE: Yes, I am.

    photography by NICOLAS FØLSGAARD

    An interview with Gitte Jonsdatter

    Written by Tayfun Yilmaz by Michaela Widergren

    Fashion with Collaboration - MUUSE

    It is a wonderful September day in Copenhagen, the kind where the drone of the metro construction at Nørreport Station is overpowered by a crisp, fall fluorescence. And somewhere, amidst the glow, is my destination. I walk further into the city centre, and there on a quiet side street, I find it: a huge door. The door opens onto an inner courtyard, where instead of flowers all I see are smiling faces. This is what I have been looking for—the place where creativity meets business; the place where design visionaries are born. Welcome to MUUSE.

    MUUSE Co-founder Gitte Jonsdatter, all blond hair and warm smiles, comes to greet me. She introduces me to the staff and then pulls out a few MUUSE samples to show me. And in a span of a few moments, I get the impression that this chic, yet cozy workplace is a hotbed of talent, innovation and ideas.

    An American with Scandinavian parents, Jonsdatter’s resume weighs heavily in work for research companies.

    GJ: I have a design innovation background. In America, I worked as a consultant / researcher. My work focused on understanding the cultures, habits and ways of living in different parts of the world. While working with a Danish startup as a consultant, I moved to Denmark. Here, I found my future business partner David Dencker. Together, we launched MUUSE.

    MUUSE is a company that attracts talented fashion designers and tastemakers alike, and where collaborations are essential to its DNA. It develops and produces quality collections in collaboration with design talents from all around the world, which are sold both online and through partnerships with independent retailers. Jonsdatter says that the foundation of MUUSE finds its roots in the future of fashion, in creating designer collections in small, curated editions that are made to last.


    TY: What is the history behind MUUSE?

    GJ: First of all, we wanted to make a difference. During my years working as a researcher, I experienced a lack of communication between customers, companies and creators. I wanted to work on resolving this problem. There are so many inspired and well-educated fashion designers graduating from fashion schools, but most are unable to fulfill their dream of designing their own collections. Creating a piece of clothing doesn’t end by designing it, there is a much larger, often unseen, process that comes with it. If a design is to be mass-produced, it has to be washable, it has to be wearable, it has to be introduced to consumers, and much more besides. It is difficult for a young designer to do all of this alone. So with MUUSE, we wanted to create a space for new talent—a place where designers can express their vision and we take the responsibility for the rest of the work. You can also see that people are becoming far more interested in small collections from boutiques than those from larger, mass-produced labels. The curated collections, like those we create, give people unique, quality designs they will treasure for years to come.

    Jonsdatter says that today, launching a brand means that the designers need to have design sensibility—the ability to hone all their knowledge to support the product. Designers must also have a good understanding of production, public relations, and marketing. MUUSE handles production, sales, PR and marketing for our designers so they can focus on their design. In the end, it is the designer’s name in collaboration with MUUSE that is attached onto the clothes of his or her creation. We work as facilitators for the designers and for consumers who not only want to discover new designers, but unique designs.


    TY: What is MUUSE’s motto?

    GJ: Our motto has always been about prioritizing our designers. They are the most important part of our brand. Good design makes everything work better. MUUSE gives them the opportunity to focus on their designs and create something they will be proud of.

    As it stands, MUUSE is the only brand that gathers designers and consumers in such an ingenious way.

    GJ: It is true that we don’t have any competitors, because there isn’t any other brand that works as collaboratively as we do. Our way of doing business differentiates us from the rest of the fashion sector, MUUSE is a brand that works exclusively in close designer collaborations.

    TY: How do you get in touch with the designers?

    GJ: We contact fashion schools from all around the world. Besides that, we have the MUUSE x VOGUE Talents Award, which is a fashion design competition in collaboration with Vogue Italia. Last year, a Swedish fashion designer, Lina Michal won the competition, and we have already begun working with Lina to create a MUUSE Editions capsule collection for 2015. Competitions are one way in which we scout young, talented and inspired designers.

    Although MUUSE is still emerging in some markets, the brand is known by many in Scandinavia and the United States.

    GJ: There are many interested people from the fashion sector who want to wear pieces that are specially made and cannot be found in ordinary shops.
    Jonsdatter says that many people discover MUUSE through the self-promotion of its designers. But the MUUSE x VOGUE Talents Award has also boosted recognition, and MUUSE often partners with international and Danish media too.

    GJ: Our brand now appears on the trend pages of many fashion magazines, which such positive proof of how we are growing and thriving.
    MUUSE both operates their own online shop and sells their styles in carefully selected independent boutiques. Their online shop enables consumers to meet the MUUSE designers from every corner of the world. But for some, there are worries about the digital shopping experience and feel it is still safer to shop the traditional way.

    TY: How do people trust your service?

    GJ: With the MUUSE shop the fear of regret from shopping on the Internet is redundant. We take care to ensure detailed sizing information and instructions are made directly available on our online shopping page. If something happens or there are additional questions, our customer care team is also there to help.

    TY: What is your aim for the future? Where do you see MUUSE in the future?

    GJ: We hope that MUUSE will continue to grow and be very successful in the future. Nowadays, people have the tendency to prefer clothes that give them a feeling of uniqueness, and large brands cannot satisfy this desire, but this is what we do. Our designers are carefully chosen and every item has it’s own identity.The enthusiasm for buying special products is evident, and here in Scandinavia, the movement is already on its way!

    MUUSE offers superior service to customers from all over the world with its selection of design talents and original creations. The gateway to MUUSE: www.muuse.com

  • photography by SANDRA MYHRBERG

    An interview with Minna Palmqvist

    Written by Michaela Widergren

    I meet up with Minna at her studio just outside of the city, next to the well known art space Färgfabriken. We sit down in the large old factory that’s now her office, and has been so for four and half years and start talking while drinking coffee out of neon bright yellow mugs. I’ve been a fan since the last collection, which she remembers, “Weren’t you the one who came up to me after my show last fashion week and said you loved my work?”. Yes, that was me.

    MM: First, can you tell me about your latest collection, SS14?

    MP: I start working on my new pieces from the same basic idea as previous collections and garments, which is the female body and how it is presented, the chaos around it and how the fashion industry is constructed. This time I focused on having an actual show… I think most people know me for working with conceptual art installations and hand made show pieces. I have actually worked also with ready-to-wear for a long time, and I felt it was time to show this to the fashion audience. I started thinking about problems concerning people’s everyday wardrobe, for example women struggling to get in to smaller sizes, so then I made cracks in the garments to give the body room, I wanted the body to claim it’s space. It’s much about cracking up and brimming over. I’m still working with quilts, running over and leaking through seems. I don’t want the body to be captured inside the clothes. The AW14 collection is a continuum of the movie I made a year ago that was based on breaking down and building up garments and looks.

    MM: Was that when you started making the fat cell like patterns?

    MP: Actually no, I started working with that in 2009, at first is was more of an art project for the show pieces but then I started bringing it in to the ready to wear as well. Some people think it looks gross, and I guess it does in some ways, but that’s what I like bout it, I like when you can’t really make up your mind if it’s beautiful or disgusting. For example I’ve worked with swarowski crystals used as sweat stains, that’s one method I’d like to evolve and work more with. I think a lot of what we consider ugly could easily be transformed in to something beautiful.

    MM: When I’ve read about you, you’re often portrayed as being strongly political, are you?

    MP: Hmm.. I guess I am. In the beginning of my career I didn’t think like that. I think I was afraid that if I’d state being political I’d be taking to big a words in my mouth. But now I know better - the way the world and the fashion business is looking today, how can you not be political? Politics doesn’t have to be about talking, writing and knowing most, but about doing and thinking, making active choices. There’s politics in both our private and public lives, everything is intertwined. So I’m political, there are things that I believe is wrong and that I have strong opinions about, for example the differences between sexes. Women are still being judged by their looks and not by their competence, and that is being political.

    MM: Is it hard to be political in the fashion industry?

    MP: No, I don’t think so, well, some people think I’m being pretentious, they just want me to make beautiful clothes. Which I do so it’s not the garments themselves that are political it’s my driven force, I find inspiration in my frustration. I’m surprised over how much focus has been on my creating process, I feel as if people are in the mood for politics.

    MM: I’m sure a lot of people would like to be political but don’t have the courage.

    MP: There’s a lot of times I get stomach aches after saying something “political” because I’m better at forming objects than expressing myself in words, but on the other hand I feel as if we need to discuss those things, people need to start talking.

    MM: Are you afraid to say something “wrong”?

    MP: I used to be really afraid of that, but then I started thinking, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Maybe someone will question what I said and maybe I’ll realize I was wrong. Everybody has a right to be wrong sometimes. I’m not always comfortable to make political statements in words, as I said before, although I like to discuss politics as we are doing right now. I’ve come to realize that’s one of the reasons I work with design. It’s a silent way of being political.

    I start thinking about the runway show Minna presented, the show itself was what you would call political. She used models in different sizes and ages, which sometimes happens during fashion week, but is still clearly a statement, the reviews were great.

    MM: The SS14 collection and runway show was received really well, what has happened since?

    MP: I know, that made me really happy. I wanted to show runway and ready to wear looks because that’s the world I’m in, and at the same time I felt as if my small changes mattered, using the women we did. Mixing typical models with untypical models on the runway is something that I hope to do again, and preferably in a larger scale. Because of economic reasons I actually can’t make my first samples into so many sizes, since the same samples need to work for both show and press, and press usually wants to borrow size small for their shoots. I also liked the fact that the models came in to the runway together, showcasing them as equals. And it made me even more happier that the people watching and taking part of the show appreciated those small efforts of change.

    Going through the runway show in my mind, I remembered taking notice of the white crystal covered sneakers worn by all of the models.

    MM: Were’d you get the shoes from?

    MP: Oh, the shoes are from LA! But the bling bling was put on in the studio for the show. My stylist Nicole Walker was there during the summer, we e-mailed about different styling ideas and both agreed on that the models should wear sneakers. It felt pretty good.

    MM: Are you wearing them now?

    MP: Yes :)

    MM: Did you ever think about making shoes yourself?

    MP: Oh my god yes, I think about it quite often, shoes are so much fun. I just started making bags which is a bit more easier to produce, it’s a great product since it doesn’t have to come in different sizes. There’s just one bag size for all body types.

    MM: The fabrics you use are quite stretchy and also a lot of your garments are loose to the body, is this to make them fit different shapes?

    MP: In some ways it is, but it’s also a personal preference. I don’t want the garments to be restrictive. For example, I’ve tried on jackets and coats with my friends and a lot of the times they garments fit around the shoulders but not around the waist. That says something about the size system to me, I mean, I don’t think that it’s just me making friends with women that has large bottoms. Those are the kind of things that I try thinking about when I’m creating new pieces.