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Words Natalie Shukur
Photographs Ivan Trip
Taking the reigns from HOPE founders Ann Ringstrand and Stefan Söderber in 2016, Frida Bard continues the Swedish brand’s legacy of thoughtful, everyday tailoring and elevated uniform essentials. Here, she shares her thoughts on staying relevant, the language of clothes, and why unisex dressing is the future of fashion.
“Regardless of how you choose to wear it, tailoring is always recognizable. It’s my best kind of power dressing.”
I just came back to the office after some relaxing days off during Easter. We’re currently in-between seasons so working both on Pre-Spring 2019 and our main collection for next year.
I joined the brand three years ago when our co-founder, Ann Ringstrand, decided to take a step back. HOPE is an established brand and I was drawn to the strong heritage; to develop and also share the love for tailoring and utility that have been the foundation since the very beginning. While I’m educated in textiles and fashion design, my real introduction to the business was at Acne Studios where I worked for more than 13 years.
For me, HOPE is a contemporary brand with a strong urge to make a difference through design. Last year, we introduced double size labeling on all our clothes; marking everything with both women’s and men’s sizing. We’re doing this as a way to encourage more people to dress for themselves, without being locked to old, conventional norms based on one’s gender rather than style. It’s essential for us to take part in current social and political discussions and how those changes affect the fashion business.
Every design process is new and unique to me. I always start from scratch, which is probably the most important aspect of my work. It’s so important not to get stuck — if you get too familiar with something, it’s easy to fall into old routines that aren’t as relevant anymore. For me, being relevant is the most important thing, both in terms of design as well as brand identity and mission.
I try to listen to my gut. It might be a cliché but for me it works the best, both in my work and in private.
My constant goal when designing is to create garments and a look that is easy to live in, supportive, and gives you strength. Tailoring can be worn in so many ways – that’s why I like it so much. You can be sharp, slouchy, sexy, corporate, and play with sizing and how to put it together. But regardless of how you choose to wear it, tailoring is always recognizable. It’s my best kind of power dressing.
Although I have some people that always inspire me, I rarely look at specific people or visual arts for inspiration. I usually start to look at a very specific idea or question. For example, when we started to work with our upcoming Autumn/Winter collection, I was obsessed with looking at how older ladies mix tailored wardrobe classics with new pieces; fancy with cheap, prints with other patterns. I was inspired by their way of dressing only for themselves, no longer caring about other people's opinions. We also looked at how a wardrobe used to be built with long-term usage in mind, when every investment was carefully thought through.
The demand of being relevant, of being in the now. My love of clothes. Garments and fashion is my language – I never get tired of how you can speak to people via clothing. It’s mind-blowing.
I love music and prefer to work with noise rather than in silence. Unfortunately, I’m bad at finding new, interesting music so I usually need someone to guide me. Our office is large, light and open and our design studio is located in the southeast corner of the office, which makes it very sunny. I work best in the mornings when the light is low and crisp and my mind is clear.
We’ve worked with what we call a ‘season-neutral’ approach for spring. We, and many of our customers dress in a similar way throughout the year, the difference lies more in the heaviness and structure of textiles rather than the type of garment. For us, it’s about a long-term way of dressing – a style and an attitude. In detail, Spring/Summer 2018 is based on a lot of breezy linen fabrics merged with core items such as knits and tailored trousers in a color scale of sandy earth tones and orange.
Books! I’m reading a lot at the moment, which doesn’t happen that often when you have kids. I’m even reading several books at the same time, maximizing the experience even more.
For me, moments and contexts are more important than places – every place where I spend time with family and friends is my favorite, whether that’s in my home, neighborhood or the office. It’s about the experience, not the location.