Every one has something they are searching for. Some people search for meaning, purpose, religion, knowledge, etc. We search for things which, we believe, will improve our lives, give us enlightenment, better us in some way... I am no different. Of the many searches in my life there is one which seems to haunt my (superficial) dreams; the search to find the perfect black leather jacket (blj for short... the new lbd in my book). While I realize this is not as meaningful as finding a higher purpose or seeking world peace it is something I have set my mind to do (judge me if you like, I can take it). Don't get me wrong, I am searching for peace and joy, contentment and hope just like the rest of you, but I would love to be wearing the perfect BLJ while doing so.
Allow me to tell you a story...
A few months ago I was working on a photo shoot when all of a sudden I saw it- draped over a chair in the far corner of the fitting room. It was as if the heavens parted and a beam of light was shining down upon this perfect piece of apparel. The leather was smooth from what seemed like years of wear (and care), though the construction was brand new. The fit was perfect, broken in without being broken down. The thought of stealing the jacket flickered through my mind, however, the model who owned it was adorable and therefore I was not willing to take her beautiful jacket from her (also it was brown and I, of course, want a blj). We chatted about the jacket and I soon discovered that it was Scandinavian (so of course I would love it) and made of recycled leather, hence the worn in finish without actually being worn in (brilliant no?!).
The dreamy jacket was made by a Swedish clothier going by the name of Deadwood.
Deadwood was started in 2012 by a couple of friends who had a passion for design and an eye for style. They too were in search of something and while their journey may go on indefinitely, they are pursuing it fully. I would love to tell you all about it, however, today I feel it may be best to leave the story telling to the professionals. May I introduce Carl Ollson and Felix von Bahder the two brilliant gents behind the equally brilliant leather jacket.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Deadwood
Felix: Well Deadwood is basically the two of us, Carl and I, following our dream. We became friends six or seven years ago, as we were working in the same jeans shop in Stockholm, Sweden. Eventually, fed up working for the man, we opened up our own little vintage shop. We did some rework stuff on vintage clothes in sort of a punk vibe and from there the step to making jackets from recycled leather wasn’t that huge. We received a small hype with the jackets, rode it, closed the shop and opened up Deadwood – the clothing label!
What draws you to leather?
Felix: Well I feel there is a kind of rebel mystique built in to the leather itself. I guess it’s always been the core of the rock’n’roll wardrobe. Apart from that it’s an awesome material in terms of functionality. Durable and at the same time it breathes. And it ages beautifully.
Carl: But the problem for us as vintage lovers was that it was almost impossible to find vintage leather jackets that offered an updated fit in combination with a juicy leather quality. So we decided to make them ourselves. The huge advantage in terms of sustainability came as a kind of bonus.
How did you move from leather into other mediums? Was it a natural progression or a fostered concept?
Felix: Actually I think running our own jeans brand was the dream that’s been the backdrop for everything we’ve done up until this point. But launching a jeans collection is a big fucking project and we needed way more knowledge of the design process, logistics and distribution before we were ready. Instead going from vintage clothing to working with recycled leather was an easier transition. During the last year or so we’ve already sneaked in some T-shirts and silver jewelry into our catalogue and next fall you’ll be able to get yourself an entire silhouette from Deadwood.
Do you feel the life style of Sweden impacts how you design?
Carl: Hm, I guess so. Sweden is a pretty special place. First of all swedes are super conscious when it comes to ethics and sustainability issues, so the green part of the Deadwood idea probably comes from that.
Felix: Also I think it’s one of the most gender equal countries in the world so naturally our designs are always gonna draw towards a unisex silhouette. Of course it’s not only because we’re from Sweden, I mean the classic punk- and rock’n’roll scenes that we draw a lot of our inspiration from have always been sort of cocky and queer at the same time.
Carl: Yeah, and also I think Sweden has a pretty distinct design aesthetics of it’s own. Always clean lines, refining design concepts down to their nitty gritty. If we are to choose whether to add or take away an extra detail like a zipper or a special kind of stitching, we almost always go with the take-away option.
You guys are all about recycling, which is amazing, can you tell us about what that process looks like?
Carl: It differs depending on what kind of products but when it comes to the leather we’ve established a hub in Bangkok in which we work with a super creative group of people to source used leather from garments and furniture, as well as some waste from the leather industry, and patch it up into new garments. That way you get that vintage magic but in a garment with a fresh updated look. This is what we call post-consumer waste recycling. Apart from the leather we’re also experimenting with pre-consumer waste recycling cotton for tops and T-shirts. In that project we use waste from the garment industry.
Felix: Clothing manufacturing generates huge amounts of textile waste, which ends up in landfills. Only a tiny amount is re-utilized. For example, during the cutting process, up to 15% of fabrics intended for clothing are wasted. So together with some friends who are experts in cotton fiber recycling we turn the waste into new fabrics and eventually garments that save tons of water!
What albums are currently on deck in your offices?
Carl: Well apart from classics like Zeppelin II and some early Sabbath albums I’ve seen Chinese Fountain by The Growlers being picked up pretty frequently the last couple of months here in the office… Worship The Sun by Allah-Las is spinning a lot also. Oh, last years debut from our friends Tussilago of course.
Felix: We listen to a lot of weird stuff also. Hah, you could get me going for hours… Psychedelic Soul by the Temptations is a Friday classic, some late sixties Peruvian and Vietnamese psych is fun sometimes…
When you aren’t designing the perfect leather jacket, what do you like to be doing?
Both: Drinking beer!
Carl: Haha, I like running too. Also we did some hiking in the woods in the north of Sweden over the holidays. That’s definitely something I’m gonna do again.
Felix: For me skiing is a big thing. And reading, you know, weird books on psychology, philosophy, mysticism and shit like that. In the summer we make use of the epic archipelago here in Stockholm and go sailing on my little boat. That’s the best meditation!
How do you take your coffee?
Felix: We both dig strong filter coffee with milk. Typically Swedish!
Little life luxury you can’t live without?
Carl: Shower before I go to bed is something I can’t do without. Eating out would also be hard to quit.
Felix: For me it’s definitely time. Like that extra meditation time in the morning you’d never have if you were working for someone else. And fresh orange juice in the morning! Or maybe that doesn’t count as luxury, haha.
Who/what inspires you? (the most basic bullshit questions, but always one worth asking)
Felix: Our designs are inspired by awesome people, now living as well as through history. Our drive to keep pushing the Deadwood idea, on the other hand, comes at least for me from just being in nature realizing the fucking preciousness of this planet.
What can we look forward to from Deadwood in 2015?
Carl: Oh we have a lot of things coming up this year! We’ve spent a lot of time working on a jeans collection to accompany the leather and jersey parts and sort of tie it all together. And this February we’re proudly presenting our jeans “pre-launch”, a kind of precursor of what’s to come. It’s one skinny unisex fit in two washes, limited to 200 pairs. Like with everything we do the main focus is gonna be fit, feel and eco-friendliness. We’re working with GOTS-certified organic denim fabrics and maintaining fair working conditions for everyone involved. Also of course we’ll be refining and expanding our catalogue of jackets and accessories made from recycled leather as well as jersey and woven tops, hats and more.
Felix: We also have a lot of collaborations coming up, like launching our own beer together with a local brewery in Stockholm. Oh, and we’re teaming up with French brand Wasted for a small but bad ass capsule collection!
That being said, what is your New Years Resolution?
Carl: Nah, no resolutions this year.
Felix: Me neither, but I intend to spread calm and happiness to the people around me. And maybe get me a motorcycle.
Carl: Yeah, maybe this is finally the year we start riding!
Do you prefer film, books, or music?
Carl: Music! Wow, that’s the easiest question I’ve ever gotten in an interview, hah!
Felix: Hm, you think it’s that easy? OK, I’ll go with books then.
If you could do anything (besides running an amazing apparel company) what would it be?
Carl: Bake pizza. I’m huge pizza freak and love to make my own at home, but if I got to set up a pizza place here in Stockholm I’m a hundred percent sure it would be awesome!
Felix: I would probably write books. My mind is full of weird ideas that need to get out.
Lastly, when you looked to start your company, what was the best piece of advice you received?
Felix: “Be patient and don’t give up.” We got that from a few people and it’s really proven to be the key. Nothing comes quick, you really have to keep pushing. Relentlessly. It’s just now that we feel we’re starting to break through in terms of creative freedom, which I guess is the ultimate goal for us. To be able to set life to the ideas in our heads.
I don't know about you but I can't help but feel that having a pint with these two would make for a rather grand afternoon full of brilliant conversation (meditation/coffee/fashion... three of my favorite things to talk about). Their search is unique. It lead them to create, design, and dream from a different point of view, which is truly inspiring. Pursuing quality AND conservation, using resources available to them to create useful, badass pieces of apparel without contributing to the waste industrial manufacturing has created (and sadly, normalized). Their vision and taste speaks to where we are in fashion right now and I couldn't love it any more!
Felix, Carl, you are legends! Thank you for taking the time to chat, I wish you both the best of luck.
*Images via Deadwood