In­side Tiger of Swe­den with de­signer Christof­fer Lund­man

New cre­ative boss Christof­fer Lund­man on why Tiger of Swe­den is a la­bel of a dif­fer­ent stripe.

Esquire (UK) - - Contents - By Char­lie Teas­dale

‘The idea was to cre­ate a wardrobe that felt very nat­u­ral and at ease’

In Esquire, we talk of the glit­ter­ing her­itage of British and Ital­ian tailoring. About US col­le­giate prep and French in­sou­ciance, Teu­tonic en­gi­neer­ing and Swiss pre­ci­sion.

But we rarely speak of Swedish style, or even the wider élan of Scan­di­navia. Per­haps be­cause it has been un­fairly dis­tilled to a min­i­mal­ist, monochro­matic aes­thetic.

“‘Ease’ is a very im­por­tant word for us, and in Swe­den,” ex­plains Christof­fer Lund­man, the new head of cre­ative and de­sign at Tiger of Swe­den. “We’re not so tied with con­ven­tion, there’s no proper way to do a tie or a pocket square. No one will judge you if you have brown shoes. In Eng­land there are rules, and in Italy it ap­pears there are no rules while there’s plenty, but Swe­den is kind of a new so­ci­ety. It’s a coun­try that hasn’t been pros­per­ous for very long. We don’t have aris­toc­racy in the same way, so there are no rules as to how you should look.’

Lund­man has spent the past year rein­tro­duc­ing him­self to Swedish cul­ture and style. He lived in Lon­don for 20 years, study­ing at Cen­tral St Mar­tins, work­ing at Tom Ford and most re­cently as Burberry’s de­sign di­rec­tor. Clearly an an­glophile, he was so loathe to leave he com­muted back to Swe­den for his first big job, at Acne Stu­dios in Stockholm. But reac­quain­tance with his coun­try, and get­ting to work, has been smooth.

“In Swe­den you can just call peo­ple, and if you have a good, pas­sion­ate idea and you ex­plain where it comes from, peo­ple tend to em­brace you,” says Lund­man. “It’s quite a flat hi­er­ar­chy, which means you don’t have to prove your­self to be able to do some­thing.”

First, he re­designed the lo­go­type, bring­ing back the mo­tif of the tiger left be­hind decades ago. “It took a long time but it should,” he ex­plains. “I felt if that wasn’t in place then there would be no place for the clothes.”

Then, delv­ing into Tiger’s ex­ten­sive archive, he set out the ref­er­ences that would in­form the col­lec­tion. “It’s been amaz­ing go­ing through the ar­chives and see­ing im­ages of peo­ple [in Tiger suits] from 100 years ago, 80, 50 years ago. You feel a strong sense of pride.”

Most men in Swe­den have owned a Tiger suit — “it’s the suit you grad­u­ate in, and wear to your first in­ter­view” — so his task was to give sexy, mod­ern im­pe­tus to a tailoring brand known as re­li­able, a go-to, but which has per­haps be­come a lit­tle rud­der­less, dab­bling with pro­gres­sive “high-fash­ion”. Fresh inspiration came from the 20th cen­tury’s golden decades for fash­ion.

“There was an amaz­ing pe­riod in the Six­ties and Sev­en­ties when cul­ture re­ally mat­tered,” Lund­man says. “As a way to talk to each other, to com­mu­ni­cate what Swe­den was abroad. It was an in­te­gral part of the so­ci­ety. [The col­lec­tion] is very tai­lored but there’s an ease to it. An idea of an in­ter­min­gling of peo­ple. I pic­tured our guy in that world and what it would look like to­day. It was an in­spir­ing jour­ney, dis­cov­er­ing Swe­den again and re­flect­ing on things I found pos­i­tive.”

The clothes re­flect the style of cer­tain lo­cal icon­o­clasts of that era. Harry Schein, for ex­am­ple. A chem­i­cal engi­neer, mil­lion­aire, me­dia mag­nate and cul­tural leader, he founded the Swedish Film In­sti­tute and cham­pi­oned pro­gres­sive cin­ema, en­cour­ag­ing such au­teurs as Ing­mar Bergman, and mod­ernist ar­chi­tect Peter Cels­ing. “[Schein] was su­per el­e­gant,” Lund­man says, “al­ways in big black-rim glasses and with a cig­a­rette. He even smoked in the shower.”

Schein’s el­e­gant dandi­ness is seen in Lund­man’s silk scarves, rak­ish shirts and sharply cut dou­ble-breasted tailoring. But over­all, aside from oc­ca­sional pops of patriotic yel­low and blue, it’s a muted of­fer­ing. Lund­man and his team have taken spe­cial care over fab­ric, us­ing ven­er­a­ble sup­pli­ers in­clud­ing Italy’s Vitale Bar­beris Canon­ico, and con­struc­tion, as pieces such as the “dou­ble split­table” over­coat — made by split­ting the fab­ric and re­assem­bling it by hand so it’s seam­less — demon­strate. “Like wear­ing a blan­ket,” as­serts Lund­man.

Nat­u­rally, the de­signer wears his own de­signs: “I guess I al­ways start with my­self. Some­times it’s a ver­sion of what I’d like to be (not that I walk around think­ing I’m some­one else), but it’s im­por­tant to try the clothes and see if they work. The idea was to cre­ate a wardrobe that felt very nat­u­ral and at ease.”

There’s that word again: “ease”. And de­spite jam­ming the col­lec­tion — and the wider brand — with rich, his­tor­i­cal touch points, peo­ple of in­ter­est and con­tex­tual depth, Lund­man has made the col­lec­tion easy. Com­pris­ing loads of un­der­stated stuff that will make you look good, and that’s all we can ask for.

Twist in the tale: Christof­fer Lund­man, head of cre­ative and de­sign, is driv­ing the next chap­ter at Tiger of Swe­den

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