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Style, innovation & equality

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Bridging the gap

The love affair between sports and fashion is stronger than ever, but for J.Lindeberg it’s been there since the beginning. The newly appointed creative director Jens Werner explains his vision for merging the two worlds.

Words Philip Warkander Portrait Fredrik Andersson Andersson

Could you tell me a little about your background?

— Ever since I was a child, I had the idea that I wanted to create and design things. I was interested in architecture and furniture design, the whole process of building something appealed to me. More specifically, I was interested in the concept of style: lifestyle and style as a way of life. It was more or less by accident that I ended up in fashion, actually. When I was young, I was very into sports and I used to play volleyball, which of course — to be honest — is one of the least stylish sports. It’s not basketball or soccer, where there is a more developed sense of aesthetics. And so I began to merge these two interests, in style and in sports, and I wondered how to create a look that would be attractive and also comfortable on the court. But you have to know that I grew up in a small town in Germany, where fashion more or less didn’t exist, and this also made me wonder about how to challenge conformity and lack of innovation.

How did you arrive at where you are now, working as a fashion designer?

— Strangely, the lack of fashion around me while growing up made me want to learn more about it, and so I taught myself about fashion design, about materials, pattern making and how to cut and sew. I began to make stuff and even had a small brand of my own. As part of my university education, I did an internship at Y-3, and they quite liked the idea that I was self-taught. I ended up staying there for six years. It felt like a natural flow for me to go from studying to working at Y-3, as it was an innovative place where I not only focused on design but could also challenge the brand’s business plan. This combination was really good as I am interested both in fashion as a stylistic expression but also as an industry.

What made you decide to join J.Lindeberg?

— After Y—3, I was approached by Tory Burch who was launching her sport line, which was exciting to see the evolution of. I was there for three seasons, based in New York. It was there that I also met Johan Lindeberg for the first time. We shared viewpoints on a number of things related to the industry and the future of the brand he has launched 20 years ago and was now consulting for. After having focused on women’s sport, in a start-up environment and at launch phase, it was interesting for me to take on such a different, though related opportunity, with global distribution in men’s and women’s fashion and sport.

How would you describe your vision for the J.Lindeberg brand, both in terms of ideas but also concretely, speaking of the design and visual expression?

— At J.Lindeberg, the organisation now is that one person — me — is in charge of both departments; sports and fashion. We want to bring these two different aspects of the brand closer together, in order to achieve a more consistent message and stronger brand awareness. We will act as one brand, uniting all things that are created and produced under the J.Lindeberg name. This merge is the key, and it will be further enhanced once we implement this vision on an international level.

What was your inspiration for the AW18 collection?

— I was promoted to Creative Director from Design Director of J.Lindeberg just one month before the A/W-18 show, so the collection was already ready, but I found it important to influence how it was expressed on the runway. So, we put items that were part of the ski- and golf-collections in the show, to really underline that this is a lifestyle brand, where different parts of your life will interact with one another.

— The same person who appreciates a nicely fitted suit also likes to look good when going to a ski resort. We also decided to style it with blankets and huge scarves, so that it would resemble a ski environment, but in a fashion context.

What themes were in your mind when you designed the SS19 collection?

— For the SS19 collection, we continued to bring these worlds together, based on our vision of how the modern consumer wants to dress, feel and express themselves. However, there is also a part of me in there, with references and clues to the things I love and that I have been committed to. For more than eight years, I used to skate a lot, and so there are subtle references to skate culture in the collection.

What is it that you enjoy about being a fashion designer?

— I like the feeling of creating something, to see pieces that I have designed being worn by someone who uses the garment to express part of who they are or who they want to be. To be part of the world in this way reconnects the work I am busy with today with why I once started learning how to design fashion. Being creative director of a lifestyle brand means, quite specifically, impacting the style of people’s lives, and that is a very exciting possibility to have. I also enjoy the challenge of unifying the J.Linde-berg concept and creating a coherent brand expression. But, I am not only a designer, of course, I also have a personal life. I have a family. When they see me doing what I do, that I can make a living by doing what I love, this brings joy to all of us, and in this sense, my work is interconnected with my family. It’s a luxury to be able to work with something that brings me pleasure; it gives me a sense of fulfillment while allowing me to have fun doing what I do.