Hybrids. Duopolies. Discussions and dual identities. Dialogues between lives, cultures and histories can be most enriching. From small local initiatives, to global contemporary social movements, we all wish to connect. Connect to our surroundings and most profoundly to ourselves. What we do in life can be founded on the respective choices we take. Reflection is a crucial part of this process.
In fashion, it is relevant to encounter pensive individuals; people who think before they act and set the bar to where they wish it to be. During the recently held Paris Fashion Week, we found such an individual.
Meet Morten Thuesen, creative director of O L D E R studio.
MarloSaalmink: Morten, firstly thank you for taking the time to speak with us. As is traditional, lets start with your humble beginnings, where did you grow up and how did you get to where you are today?
MortenThuesen: Thank you for having me. Well, I grew up in the countryside of West-Denmark, in the small town of Herning. It is an old trade outpost with a long tradition of entrepreneurship fostered by local businesses and a powerful textile industry. As a teenager I lived in various cities and regions, of which Berlin, London, Paris, Iceland and Tuscany, had the most powerful impact on my life. When it comes to education, I graduated at the menswear course from London College of Fashion, but I have always kept myself busy working in the industry, before, during and after my degree. For me, the cities I lived in, have shaped me completely and stand as my real education, professionally and personally. I never functioned well within rather authoritative frameworks.
MS: The semantics of womenswear are constantly evolving. Contemporary dialogues are morphed with traditional tailoring. How do you see the current developments in womenswear and what is your take on this?
MT: Well, I think we are working in a business, which is constantly evolving and fluid, which I consider as a positive element. For me, the biggest job for a designer or any visual person is to make people dream and desire. Combining those ideas with a clear narrative and a tone of voice is what creates relevancy in creation. My modest ambition is to do exactly that; to create a relevant, accessible and desirable product. Womenswear for me is an expression, a tactile language which can be expressed clean, eloquent, beautiful or at times even blurry and unclear. I think the costumer is the most important part in the whole process. To me it starts and ends with her.
MS: Hooking onto this, what is the philosophy of O L D E R studio, especially referring to your visual approach and aforementioned tactility of the garments?
MT: The idea with naming the brand O L D E R studio in the first place, was to make people reflect about time. The business of fashion is moving ever so fast and is extremely seasonal. This concept of time’s urge for rapid succession was always very interesting to me. Everybody is stressing to find “the next new thing”. Therefore, I figured it would be interesting to challenge this, by labeling my brand contrarily.
O L D E R studio is about youth and vitality, creating a relevant, personally narrated and accessible product, using my life and my youth in Paris and Copenhagen as it’s mirror. In many ways, I am the product of both cities and so is O L D E R studio.
MS: As you mentioned, fashion can be a most sensory experience, For your latest collection, how did you curate the styles, fabrics and overall connection to the eventual wearers?
MT: As a designer, I am very much a true fabric person. I love textiles, their tactility, weight, colours, how they falls, drapes and how they translate our ideas onto the body. In the studio we normally have two directions of research; fabrics, textures, colors, details and silhouette and then a more overall thematic direction. Our SS15 collection was a “coming of age” story about a girl who walks the path from girl to woman. It could be a Nordic or Parisian girl flowering into a woman. I kept seeing Parisian women walking the streets of Copenhagen or visa versa. After my travels, every time, I return to Paris, I always have an updated and clear sense of the woman I would like to dress.
MS: All creatives follow their respective paths, Could you divulge a little on your creative process when developing a collection?
MT: In the studio, we work as a team, so dialogue sand exchanging information are the most important things for us. No matter , if it is research, pattern cutting, production, print, embroidery or illustration; we simply need to share a vision of the product we want to create. As a designer, I believe in getting the most out of people by treating people with respect and inviting them into the process. For me it is important to be surprised during the creative process, by not knowing everything from the beginning. The only way to achieve this is by loosening up each phase, order to catch that great next idea.
MS: O L D E R to me, has a very fresh approach towards contemporary fashion. In what ways do you foster innovation and novel ways of construction, for this SS15 collection?
MT: We are very strict about our inspirations and do our utmost best to interpret tailoring so each garment, gets away from their origin and forms a part of us. Aesthetic and function have to go hand in hand, no matter if it is a brand tag, homepage, look book or the final garments. For us, utility is a top priority, hence why the concept for innovation in all of these stages, is the reason we exist. We do not look at competition and say we will do it better, instead we say we want to do it differently.
For this season, we looked at how to present a collection next to its inspirational imagery. The result was the framing inspirational windows, which can be found on our website. We work very hard on constantly developing the digital side of the brand, here we work very closely with the finest interface and web designers, programmers, photographers, by involving them in a constant dialogue with the studio.
MS: As mentioned, you are based in Denmark and Paris, how do you find these surroundings are contrasting?
MT: The design studio is based in Paris, actually we just moved studio from the Marais to the lovely historic quarters around Opéra, it is wonderful now we are getting settled. Our legal and commercial offices are based in Denmark. Regarding the duality, I think Scandinavians dress rather understated and practical, they are very aware of the value they get for their money and always keep the potential for sartorial combinations in mind, when purchasing a single garment. Whereas, Parisians are more chic, they have a beautiful and subtle everyday elegance, whilst being very aware of quality. Combining these two, I think you have a strong wardrobe. The beauty lies in this duality, enabling us to lend elements from both environments. Contrast serves as means for interaction.
MS: Lastly, as a newer label, what would you recommend aspiring design graduates to take into account?
MT: Well, for me that is rather straightforward: learn the business side of fashion, take your time to build a proper business plan. In this, you should be aware of which markets you want to engage with and how to get into these! It is all about a strong sense of self, fused with astrong focus and everlasting determination.