Alexander Stutterheim on how a museum shows how to do things when producing fashion collections
The Swedish designer highlights the importance of slow fashion, non-toxic, and working against throw away mentality.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
October 27, 2023
After he parted with the raincoat brand carrying his name, Stutterheim has been on what he describes as a creative journey, literally.
— I went on a road trip across Europe meeting inspiring people and innovative brands to collab with as an independent designer and creative director, he explains. Being able to pick the really nice projects in line with my values is really what it’s all about. I have also moved my home and studio to a secluded area by the sea on the thin island of Öland, to have more peace of mind and time to play with ideas. I hear my inner tuning fork better nowadays.
This week, Nordiska museetin Stockholm celebrated its 150th anniversary. It’s a cultural institution, carrying 1,5 million museum objects (including a special raincoat) and is Sweden’s largest museum of cultural history. As part of the celebration, it has also announced a special partnership with Alexander Stutterhem.
— It’s been a creative process that started out as an overshirt workwear project and ended up as a sustainable wool collection celebrating the 150th anniversary of this magical place. It’s based on the new graphic identity and the museum’s design DNA, says Stutterheim. He continues:
— We started out researching the collections and diving into the archives finding knitted gems. Some of them over 150 years old but still very contemporary. I have been working many years with skilled craftsmen and women as well as producers who are committed to their sustainable, high-quality raw materials. That, paired with my design aesthetics and the museum’s collection idea, was the recipe for one of my favourite projects of all time. This really represents my design philosophy of reduction and poetic materials. It is an amazing accomplishment, when every brand talks about sustainability and slow fashion, that a cultural museum is in a way leading the way for the industry. Not just by talking but actually doing it.
— Putting out new products on the market needs to be sustainable or you have to quit. Slow fashion, non-toxic and working against throw away mentality is what I have been doing now for the past 10 years. Having said this I try also to make it sustainable to the eye. Design in itself needs to be long-lasting.
What has been the most challenging?
— The balance between the minimum number of quantities and the wish to keep it small scale to minimise waste, working against overproduction, is a challenge. In the case of Nordiska, we have produced a small collection of high-quality items where we are able to order small batches step by step. This might mean that some people have to put their names down on a waiting list for a few weeks. But, slow fashion is sustainable fashion, and that is part of the message of the Nordiska museet collection too.
What’s your view on the industry after all these years?
— It was some very special, surreal years following a quirky vision and founding the brand on my own. What the industry needs to improve is not only the focus on slow fashion, but we also need to take better care of people. We need to really have a look at how we communicate and relate to each other when it comes to gender, age, ethnicity, body shape, and such.
And you always have new projects coming up. What’s next?
— I work around the clock, spending my days designing for brands — and bands! — and reinvent myself in some aspects. I love to build brands with a soul and meaning. Some of those thoughts and reflections of my life looking back at all the fun, crazy and high-speed things I have done, are also written down in a semi-autobiographical book that is planned to come out in a few months.