Johan Lindstedt, Designer at Nudie Jeans – Exclusive Interview
Whether you’re a newcomer to raw denim or a seasoned pro, it’s very likely than not that you’ve heard of Nudie Jeans. Founded in 2001 in Gothenburg, Sweden, the label has been instrumental in growing the popularity of raw denim and certainly built a household name for itself along the way.
To get a deeper sense of Nudie Jeans and insider perspective of the denim industry, we caught up with Denim Designer, Johan Lindstedt. Having been with Nudie for the past seven years, Lindstedt initially worked on the retail side before making the leap to design and product development.
He has been involved in a range of their special products – including the Pima Selvedge Denim and Recycled Denim Rug – and will continue to have an impact on future releases over 2014 and beyond. Read on for more information.
RD: How did you get started in the denim world and with Nudie Jeans?
JL: I have worked with clothes for quite some time. I worked for a small Swedish fashion brand before, and in 2005, Maria (Erixon Levin, Creative Director) asked me join her at Nudie Jeans. And since then, denim is where my focus has been. I never hesitated because denim is and always will be greater than fashion.
RD: Where and/or who do you look to for creative inspiration?
JL: Everywhere, except for the most obvious places. The places where I can find energy and inspiration to take my work to the next level. Places like Paris, Rome, Joshua Tree and good old Värmland (Sweden), where I grew up.
RD: Aside from Nudie Jeans, are there any other denim and non-denim brands that you admire? If so, what is it specifically about them that you feel makes them stand out?
JL: There’s loads of great brands on the market, but I admire brands who take what they do dead serious and don’t compromise with anything.
RD: How has being based in a Nordic country – specifically, Gothenburg, Sweden – impacted your perspective and decisions related to denim and menswear?
JL: Only positive. We can work in the shade, so to speak. I mean, there’s not a lot of static (and that interrupts you) and you can be more focused and enthralled in your work. Gothenburg is a true blue collar, harbor city, with the port in the middle of the city. In a historic perspective, this is something that has had impact on attitudes and environment. People from or living in Gothenburg are tougher than most.
RD: How do you feel raw denim makers hailing from Sweden (and other Scandinavian countries) are different compared to those from other regions and countries?
JL: We don’t compromise with quality. No fake selvage, we work with lots of Japanese qualities. It’s not too farfetched to compare people from Sweden and Japan. We protect things that are dear to us, in this case the craftsmanship and the closeness to nature.
RD: Within the denim community, Nudie Jeans are well known for fading much more quickly than other brands but are also seemingly more susceptible to rips, tears, and blowouts. Can you speak to these characteristics? Is it due to the material, construction, and/or another element?
JL: At Nudie Jeans we try to work with the best fabric suppliers when it comes to qualities that are exclusively made for us. Qualities that meet our needs for ecologic fabrics and industry standards when it comes to dyeing.
I don’t believe that our jeans fades more quickly than other brands. I believe that the customers like our denim so much, and they just don’t want to wear any other pair, and that speeds up the magic process.
RD: Given you have such a diverse mix of experiences with an established brand, do you have any side projects that you work on in your downtime?
JL: We always have a few special projects going, like the limited Pima Selvage project, and you never know where these projects take you. On my downtime I ride my bike, DJ, and listen to music and read books.
RD: For those who are hoping to get their foot in the door with a denim brand or company, are there any tips or insights you could lend?
JL: Be focused, obtain that special knowledge about anything that they can’t be without and just go for it!