Photo by Chris Colls
We recently had the great opportunity to sit down with Johan Lindeberg, original founder of J. Lindeberg, to talk about his influences, return to the label and plans for the future. The Swedish designer originally launched the label in 1996, the same year he left his position as the CEO of Diesel US, but parted from his namesake brand in 2007 to focus on other projects. During this time apart, Johan Lindeberg took on the Creative Director position at Justin Timberlake's fashion brand where he worked until 2009. 2011 marked the year in which Johan took on the role as Creative Director at BLK DNM, a New York based denim brand.
Johan is now back in the seat as the newly appointed creative consultant to help shape J. Lindeberg's growth in the coming years. Continue reading below for the full interview.
Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration which led to the creation of J. Lindeberg?
I had been with Diesel for 6 years and experienced an amazing journey, where I led the creative direction to challenge Levi’s with new creativity. I left as I wanted to do something personal that reflected the life I wanted to live. I drove through Europe on my chopper and had one golf club with me stuck underneath the saddle. During that trip I realized I wanted to challenge Ralph Lauren with a new progressive lifestyle brand. I was a kind of rock'n'roll fashion dude with a love for golf, and that’s what the brand became. Fashion and sports.
What influenced you to return to the J. Lindeberg brand as a creative consultant?
J. Lindeberg’s CEO Stefan Engstrom called me. I was in my house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I saw his name popping up on my phone and was really surprised. I had absolutely no contact with JL for 9 years. I’ve not even been in a store. I was always so inspired of my projects that I never really thought about any kind of comeback. Stefan told me that he can take the brand to one level without me and another level with me. I texted my daughter Blue and asked her advice. She thought I should do it, but I didn’t want to go back only because it was my name. I had to feel passion to do it. So we talked for a few months and we decided that I start as a creative consultant for two years and then we see. It felt better this way, as it’s always challenging to go back to the past. But I really enjoy it. We have a lot of fun in preparing JL for its next phase.
J. Lindeberg Spring/Summer 2016
From your experience away from your namesake brand for 8 years, are there any fresh ideas that you will be injecting into the J Lindeberg brand?
What I normally do is to add energy. I love to create energy and inspire people. JL should be a very inspiring lifestyle. I’ve started to photograph everything and also created a new campaign we call the Bridge Series. I am also working on changes in the collection for Fall 17. It’s important for brands today to have a really clear identity and also to be innovative. I believe the potential of JL is incredible. I am very excited about the next 3-5 years to come.
In terms of aesthetic, what direction can we expect the label to head towards over the next two years?
It’s quite easy. I normally don’t do theme collections. I just try to dress people who I know and who inspires me. The style I like is a bit more modern and progressive than maybe JL has offered the last years.
Photo by Chris Colls
Now that you are back, are you going to be shifting your focus more towards the ready-to-wear line or the sports lines or both? Which area are you most excited to reshape?
The most exciting thing is the combination of both fashion and sports. Thats what makes us so unique. And the timing is great. Sports fashion or fashion sports are key items for a modern person today. To consolidate both expressions into one lifestyle voice is a great and thrilling challenge.
Screencap from J. Lindeberg Activewear 2016 Campaign
J Lindeberg recently introduced an activewear line. Are you in the plans to grow this category or enter any other categories?
I love the active wear part. It was developed before I returned. It’s great to combine with fashion and I believe it’s really a relevant category in today’s culture. I personally don’t think we need any more categories right now. But we will always work to make the lifestyle we offer as complete as possible. However, I would like the woman to take a bigger role in the JL world. I’m a great feminist and believe in women taking the lead. The JL woman will have an important role going forward. I am working on many new ideas but as the lead-times are quite long I am focusing on the Fall 17 collection….
The J. Lindeberg brand has always had its roots in sportswear on top of the ready-to-wear line. One could argue that your brand achieved athleisure way before it fully became its own category in recent years. With you back as the creative consultant, is this a category which we'll see J. Lindeberg further develop or are you going to move in a completely different direction?
I love this part. I believe it’s the true DNA products for JL that carry our culture. The perfect combination of sports and fashion. It’s very unique that we have teams who can really create functional sportswear and fashion at the same time. I believe this category can really grow and will be crucial for JL in the next phase.
J. Lindeberg Spring/Summer 2016
What demographic are you looking to capture with your designs over the next two years?
Age has never been important for me, it’s more of a mindset. The JL tribe can be any age. My daughter Blue is 15 and she should be able to wear it as well as someone who’s 60. It’s any age. It’s about aesthetic and lifestyle. Anyone who likes to live a modern, active and international life should be able to dress JL.
Do you have any collaborations with any external brands (or athletes for the Athletic Lines) in the works? Are there any collaborations that you would personally love to see become a reality?
I can see many coming, especially on the sports side, but also with personalities. I have built a great network during my 25 years in fashion and it will be great to do collabs. But it’s important that we first get our foundation right. Then we can do anything we want.
You are known for your own personal style. What are some of your favourite staple wardrobe pieces?
I’m getting more and more simple in my dress code. Black jeans, silver tango boots or suede boots, Adidas track pants and shoes, biker or pilot jacket, maybe a camel coat or a longer more powerful coat, t-shirt in thin cotton with a low scoop, necklaces and I like a tux jacket as well. Very straight forward. I like the style of Marlon Brando in the Last Tango in Paris and I like how Ryan Gosling dresses. With a twist of Pharell and Jared Leto.