Illustrious, composed and polite. Mr. Simonsson, a pensive Swede, calmly sits across from me. Set for a connection of minds, this is a man without regrets, focused on his path and encounters. His curated undergarments brand, THE WHITE BRIEFS, balances holistic entrepreneurship with a profound love for sustainability. This being a rarity in the present- day fashion myriad, we felt inclined to investigate further.What drives this eccentric studio? and How do you keep functional basics sartorially relevant? Find out below, as we speak of Francis Bacon, the importance of out-of-the-box dialogues and responsible futures.
Peter, we know each other for a while now. But lets start from the beginning: could you tell our readers your philosophy behind THE WHITE BRIEFS and why you saw a niche for the brand?
Well, as you know, THE WHITE BRIEFS, is all about quality and a certain state of mind. We aim to invigorate and set new perspectives on undergarments. It is sustainable, honest and hopefully inspirational, whether it should be a choice of undies of a total look from our seasonal collections. Back in 2008, l saw a niche, when l experienced a very empty and meaningless mass consumption of important utility garments. As I was not very up to date l remember, it had to research further on marketing and pricing. l saw a gap between the quality and the importance these garments have in your daily routines. Next to this, when it came to undergarments, I found the merchandising always a little uninspiring and out of context. Essential items to our wardrobes, simply deserved better, I felt.
Undergarments are rather overlooked in fashion, as they are seen as functional and not aesthetically triggering. How do you see undergarments and their place in our wardrobes?
For me, they are key staples, the fit and the quality are essential for a good and healthy wardrobe. If they are made aesthetically and refined, that is even better. So all components that are essential to a modern explorers life.
Together with the calm aesthetics, I have always liked that your studio is tucked away on Southern Swedish countryside. Could you explain to us, the atmosphere and surroundings, as they obviously inspire your work?
Right now we are embalmed by warm sweeping winds and a bright wide yellow landscape, with the sea as the stern backdrop. It is very inspirational to work from this surroundings, as my work is all about finding contrasts within the high and low moment in life. The feeling one gets from working and interacting in busy capitals around the globe to come back, and then returning to all this nature, makes you feel composed and centered. When crafting a new collection, inspiration for me flows very easy when l am in between such aforementioned high and low moments. Busy vs. calm. Stress vs relaxation. Social vs unsocial, I like to balance on this opposites when working.
THE WHITE BRIEFS is also know for its special collaborations, as with FANTASTIC MAN, NICK WOOSTER or STEPHEN BURKS. How do these connections come to life? Could you depict a noticeable dialogue with one of the above?
As a open minded soul, l believe in natural connections with collaborations and a mutual understanding of core values. Our first collaboration with FANTASTIC MAN was very inspirational, we talked about airy and chic mesh in a classic pub in London. On another note, the concept Stephen and I came up with, was founded on a sunny afternoon at Gitane, surrounded by Luc’s Moroccan travel paraphernalia, having both recently landed ourselves, was a colorful very graphic kind of updated contemporary occidental wax print. Lastly, when it came to Nick WOOSTER, we talked about polka dots and camouflage in Florence, the result was a signature camouflage print, with some hidden motives. In all these collabs we find a common ground for interaction and unique sartorial dimensions.
Over the last collections, one can sense a more Japanese influence, where next to the undergarments, leisure-wear and slow-tailoring have been added. Could you tell us a little more about this development and fabric research?
For me it is important to keep on challenging the collections, It therefore is a natural move to slide in to the room of wearing comfortable items, in an relaxed yet stylish manner. Developing a connection between undergarment to garment, always in the context of utility is key for us. The fabrics are well sourced and sustainable in all aspects. The development of this direction is our vision of both the brand and content. THE WHITE BRIEFS is more than the name it’s self. It embodies a way of life and a certain connection to our surroundings.
Tucking onto that, THE WHITE BRIEFS also stands for 100% organic cottons and materials, which makes it stand out, in a society of mass consumption. Could you describe why you chose to work with these materials and how it has been received?
In the beginning of our journey it was very difficult to find good quality cotton and especially organic pima cotton that is our main ingredient. Nowadays, it is a little better but still there remains a certain resistance, it is so much easier for people to go conventional. That being said, the future looks bright in terms of a more organic and sustainable focus. The concern is there, the food chain needs to be more up to date in some aspects though. Why we work with this organic and sustainable methods is for us not a question, it simply is a natural sate of mind if you working with clothes that should last. The reception from our clients is good and that to me, is a sign of we are on the right track!
Lastly, if you could have a cup of tea with an artist that has moved you, who would this be and why?
That is an easy one. l would love to meet Francis Bacon over a beer in London, he is just very inspirational. Period.