From Diesel to J. Lindeberg and beyond, Johan Lindeberg has set the standard in Luxury denim for the last two decades. Ever the innovator, Johan reinvents denim once more with his newest, and most personal project BLK DNM.
To say that Swedish designer Johan Lindeberg knows what it takes to make a good pair of jeans would be an understatement. After all, this is the guy who, from the early to mid-nineties helped turn Diesel into the headline grabbing, big-gun denim powerhouse it is today. After the Italian brand began to hit its consistent stride in ‘95, the designer jumped ship to set up his own label J.Lindeberg which quickly became a popular brand in its own right, attracting a new league of customers who wanted their denim a little more directional and a little more creative than some of the mainstream competition. He left J.Lindeberg in 2007 (it’s still a running label in it’s own right) and ever since then has been lending his talent to a mix of different projects. His most recent, BLK DNM is quickly proving to be his most personal yet.
More of an online community than a bricks and mortar brand (although it has two flagship stores in Stockholm and NYC) BLK DNM seemingly prides itself on a creative, effortless approach to working through the web. It’s Facebook and Twitter pages read like a who’s who of the label’s celebrity friends- each of them modeling key pieces from various collections and the customers chime in too- commenting about pieces they want too. Then there’s the online store which is a moving, street savvy portal that brings its stock to life for those customers. One year on and there’s even a fragrance out, a successful blog, a brand gazette and a second women’s denim line in the works and all of this should come as no surprise, of course. With Lindeberg’s track record for speeding through ideas, it’s no wonder BLK DNM’s stellar pace of working is appealing to the ever changing tastes of the social media generation.
Alistair Mulhall: Apart from speaking to Ponystep, what else are you doing today?
Johan Lindeberg: I’m shooting photos of Jeans 22, the new women’s denim we are releasing soon. I’ve become a very passionate photographer recently. It feels like an important part of the creative process.
BLK DNM stands out because it feels like a personal project, not just a brand. When did the idea for the label come about?
I left my eponymous brand five years ago. I wanted to create a new brand with a generic name that is actually more personal than anything I’ve done before. I think we are in an era now where it’s important to be really personal.
How has the interactive way BLK DNM works (with its blog, videos and gazette) been effective in gaining customers?
I believe in brands with content. It’s important to reach out and explain who we are, to curate our brand and communicate our culture. Most importantly, I’m trying to inspire people and create energy. I’m using BLK DNM to explore new areas of creativity, which is why I call it a creative project rather than a fashion brand.
Is BLK DNM inspired by your friends?
BLK DNM is inspired by the life I live. I try to follow my intuition as deeply as possible and to be as true as I can to my own taste. And I do have creative friends that inspire me every day.
You started up BLK DNM shortly after working with Justin Timberlake on his label William Rast, how was it working with him?
He’s really a great, smart person. I learned a lot working with him and being part of his world for a while.
What do you think of celebrities turning their hands to fashion labels?
It’s all about identity and expressing who you are. And fashion is an important tool to do that with.
I wanted to create a new brand with a generic name that is actually more personal than anything I’ve done before
How would you describe the difference in the denim brand industry today and back in the early 90s when you first began your career?
The digital way of communication and commerce today has changed the way jeans are sold. But generally, I don’t think it’s much different now from when I was at Diesel. Jeans go in cycles. At that time it was the Italian brands, including Diesel that challenged Levi’s with a more fashion-related denim. Recently, it’s been about over-designed jeans from LA. I think it’s time for downtown NYC to give birth to a great denim brand.
Can we have an in-sight into your daily life in New York and what keeps you there?
I usually bring my daughter Blue uptown to school in the morning and have coffee with uptown friends. Then I spend most of my days in the store / studio space at 237 Lafayette, between fittings and meetings. Right now we are working on the Jeans 22 launch. I spend evenings with my daughter or having a dinner with friends. This week happened to include a lot of art openings. NYC is where I can be myself and express myself. It’s inspiring, creatively.
I imagine that throughout your life you’ve collated quite the clothing collection. Is there one item that you own that tells a stand-out story from your life?
I have very simple style. I wear a blazer, coat or biker jacket with jeans and a low-scoop t-shirt, normally with a silk scarf and silver jewelry. But the white biker jacket has really stuck with me over the years. I was wearing it in ‘93 when I was named best dressed man in Sweden; I wore it driving through Europe on a motorcycle; and I wear it now. It’s the most enduring item I’ve ever had. And it’s been part of my journey.
All clothes BLK DNM, except for vest by American Apparel
Hair Paul Merritt @ Jed Root
Make up Diane Noorlander using Perfekt Beauty
Model Sam Lawson @ Select
Fashion Assistance Sandra Leko
Special thanks to Pixley Studios