We caught up with womenswear designer Simon Ekrelius to find out what drew him to the UK from Sweden, why he places so much emphasise on British production and manufacturing and his obsession with German photographer, Erwin Blumenfeld.
Words: Ashley Jardine
All clothing: Simon Ekrelius AW15
PYLOT: You’re Swedish-born but London-based, what attracted you to the UK? Do you feel your designs are better aligned with traditional British style?
Simon: When I moved here in 2002, I felt it was much more of a gap, but now its not that much different. However, yes, I was attracted to the open mind of UK
and its liberal view on homosexuality, culture and people in general. That reflected on to my collections massively.
PYLOT: What’s your design process; does it come together organically as your progress or do you look for muses and other inspiration around you?
Simon: I have an inspiration each season that I work from and this part is interesting, as I allow myself to study my seasonal obsessions profoundly. They are often obscure or forgotten treasures from the past or current. The beauty of designs are often right in front of you, so sometimes I see a very simply constructed creature or building that we normally pass by without thinking twice: these objects or artists from the past or in everyday life are just extraordinary. There are a few signature cuts that never leave me, but that slowly change and transform. As fashion designer you must love to change a little, otherwise you may end up as the infamous Claude Montana.
PYLOT: How did you settle on design; were you always creative or did it come as a surprise?
Simon: I first realised that I wanted to work with fashion as a very young naïve little thing; I cut up all the clothes my mum gave me as a nine year old boy, and ever since I’ve changed the clothes I buy to fit me perfectly. I remember seeing what difference they make on your body with small or large changes. Then I thought if I sew my own clothes, I don’t have to look like everyone else. My nightmare as a child was to look like everyone else. I still don’t understand why some people want that. Apart was my motto. It didn’t mean that I wanted to look like Grace Jones, it was just that I wanted that extra something and perhaps to destroy the average and mainstream feeling. I was always fascinated by simple straight forward lines and volume.
PYLOT: Is the fact every collection is drawn, designed and cut in the UK an important part of your branding? Surely it must be more challenging…
Simon: Very much so, especially price-wise but I prefer to give money back into the country where I live and work in. The quality of sewing is so much better here and it has an old history of tailoring – and if its not perfect I just have to move it aside but, if I was working in India or China, then mistakes take a very long time to correct. I tried them both and it was a horror to correct all the garments. It may be cheaper but it’s a nightmare – it saves so much energy to produce here in UK. And then it is the language too I guess – here, we understand each other.