There is something very relaxed, very effortless in the HAAL aesthetic. Pieces are soft, malleable layers: exposed skin is wound in patterned scarves; ruffled sleeves fall low over fingers; blue thread is woven through fabric, the shoreline of some unknown place.
Launching in 2014 with peace signs and tie-dye swirls, Anders Haal’s eponymous label has continued to merge outsider influences and subgroups into house codes of wearable, timeless pieces. Looks are carefully styled, but not overly so – accordion pleats and moiré pattern build unusual textures, layered sheers cut strange shapes. The result is constructed, considered, yet accessible. Fabrics lend themselves to this refreshing conceit – cable knits are slashed and reimagined in acid denim wash, jerseys are crushed, and boiled wool left to fray. The everyday rendered recherché through innovative techniques, the minimal rediscovered through complex twists.
The popularity of Scandinavian minimalism in recent times has left an indelible print on the British fashion conscious. Trends are temporary, whilst wardrobe staples carry a sense a permanence – a layered uniform for the everyday.
And that is what HAAL seeks to do: fluidly transcend seasons with wearable, inter-changeable pieces, in collections that lend themselves to a greater narrative. And whilst clean, uncomplicated looks allude to a clear aesthetic, within HAAL there remains that imprint of eclectic influence – logos across crisp whites, famous faces hidden in monochrome swirls.
We sat down with Anders Haal to discuss his fluid aesthetic, which led to our first joint season fashion feature, and about the enduring appeal of Scandinavian fashion.
Since you launched your eponymous label in 2014, what have been the most definitive moments to date?
I think working on the campaigns is always a defining moment for me. For example the SS16 campaign, Last Days of Summer, that myself and Niklas Bildstein Zaar produced with Robi Rodriguez at the Black Sea, Costinesti. It is then that I can see if what I’m doing actually makes sense or not and often I actually discover more about the collection through making the campaigns.
How do you develop your collections from conception to finish, and how much do they influence, and fluidly lead into one another?
This is something that of course differs from season to season, but I always look at what I want to keep in the collection, and how I can push it further. The continuity and familiarity allow both me and the customer to feel at home – which I think is important – but of course you also want to try something different so you can take a new direction. Something you haven’t tried before.
My process often stems from impulse – a quick decision followed by the longer process of digesting the idea, of discussing, modifying and adding more layers.
As a brand, you explore “the individual vs. the crowd”: how do you feel this is achieved, and is this important to your aesthetic?
That is naturally how I see what is around me. I enjoy exploring lifestyles and putting them together to discover something new. The relationship between the person and the masses is not necessarily a conflict. I just hope everybody can get along.
Spring/Summer 16 was named ‘Natural Habitats’, Autumn/Winter 16 ‘Alien Invasion’: are landscapes and our relationship to them an important concept in your work?
Yes, landscape as a reference is important for me. It is part of our cultural identity. It’s about belonging and context, and the structural element has a very appealing, larger-than-life side to it.
Autum/Winter 16 marked the end of the campaign which saw billboards in international cityscapes – what narrative did you hope to convey throughout the journey, and why do you feel this must now come to an end?
My collections are always a personal continuation on my thoughts. As the brand develops organically from each season, new and old come together. The narrative in the campaigns evolves in the same way the clothes do. There are so many things going on in the world right now and it naturally grew into this mood.
But for me, the Alien Invasion is still about the individuality and the togetherness that were explored in the Spring/Summer S16 collection.
What do you feel differs Swedish design from other markets, and where do you see your brand sitting in the international fashion landscape?
I think Swedish design in many ways has a contemporary appeal. We are like a sponges – good at absorbing new things. Of course we’re known for our simplicity and functionality; that’s in our core. I can relate to many parts of that, since evolving from iconic pieces is something that drives me. The HAAL aesthetic is very much about the mix – it is more than just Scandinavian minimalism. The gaps in the collection tell a story. I think in the Spring/Summer 17 collection you can see even more clearly the archetypical characters I have been working on and how they relate to each other (preppy, side-by-side with the goth kid, and so on).
Who is the HAAL boy/girl?
The HAAL girl is carefree and open to new ideas both when it comes to silhouette but also sexuality. She doesn’t care too much about fashion even though she knows what is going on. I think we can apply many of the same qualities to the HAAL boy as well: unlimited and controlled simultaneously…