“Bold, Dark, Hypnotic”
Carl Malmgren on the story of denim, the literature written into his collections, and the psychedelic, ripped up aesthetic of Cheap Monday pre-S/S16
Photography: Caoimhe Hahn Words: Anna Sanders
How do you feel your denim collections have developed since your early days with the brand?
I think that we have come a long way in terms of really finding the balance between progressive denim styles and the more normcore, essential basics that everyone needs in their wardrobes. We’ve also introduced new concepts such as our Spray On jeans (our ultimate superskinnies) and our Borrowed Jeans which are fits based on the idea of lending your jeans to someone else. Mum jeans, Dad jeans, jeans you borrow from your girlfriend – all designed to serve as a add on to your staple skinnies.
Do you find working with denim quite limiting, or do you find any limitations force you to be more progressive?
I think it’s a similar situation as working with shirts. You have a set framework and then you have to be creative within that. For me I really feel that you constantly have to go back and think about what people really feel comfortable with wearing, and how we can tweak fits and washes into something that feels new and fresh. In the end denim is a everyday item, so it has to work. The fit and the wash are still the key factors.
What is the creative process behind designing each collection?
At Cheap Monday we work a lot together in the design team, with a mutual seasonal theme for the fashion and denim lines. Usually we develop the overall idea together and then it trickles down into each product group. On the denim side it all starts with the fabrics, then you add on the fits and the washes. We also design showpieces to really push the envelope on what denim could be, and this is something that I think makes Cheap Monday stand out. We are very curious and love new ideas.
You’ve spoken before about customisation, and there’s a certain cut and paste aesthetic in collections, is this an important theme for you?
Customisation has had its place in denim history since day one, and so I think denim is like a blank canvas in a way. There are so many ways to make it personal, and to transform your favourite jeans into something unique. Coming from workwear and then being adopted as the thing to wear for teenagers and subcultural groups in the 50s, customisation has been a way to express yourself and your style. It’s all about being creative and showing people who you are. These are values that have built Cheap Monday as a brand from the start – and they are very important to us.
What are your favourite pair of jeans to wear?
I love a good pair of skinny jeans, so of course I’m spoilt for choice being here at the home of skinny jeans! But I pretty much live in our original fit. I like to get them in a crisp black and wear them in over time – I do have pretty much every shade of black or grey possible! These days I’m also starting to get into a slightly more relaxed fit that we’ve recently launched called Sonic, its slim but not as tight as our skinny jeans.
How hard do you find it to do pre-seasons alongside F/W and S/S?
The pre-season offers are just the way that things work these days, and from a collection point of view it helps us to bring the newness and highlights to the seasons that we know our customers want and look for. Of course the pace is fast and we feel that, but we have adjusted and are basically just constantly working and developing new ideas.
How would you describe the transition from F/W15 into Pre-S/S16?
Well, we always have a bit of an edge to what we do, and as ever being a Swedish brand there is that thread of Scandinavian influence throughout each season. F/W15 was inspired by Lord of the Flies so it’s quite grungy in feel and also brings this mood of youth and rebellion to the fore; the denim washes are deep and dark, and we also introduced textures and finishes of ripped up and repaired. We see these as key themes that will develop over the seasons., and Pre-S/S16 sees this dark colours and patched up, worn in textures continued. Pre-S/S16 also starts to introduce the S/S16 theme of nuclear psychedelia…which gets pretty trippy!
The patterns for Pre-S/S16 seem to draw from psychedelic experiences and symbolism, what were the influences behind this?
As the collection is very much inspired by the powerful notion of hypnosis and the new age of mysticism, we chose to explore different areas of creative expression such as palm reading, astrology and the planets. We hand-scribbled graphics and sprayed-on black effects, and explored the idea of people traveling and seeking out their future in their favourite jeans – worn-in, ripped and repaired over time. Overall we looked to deliver on-trend modern washes that could tell the seasonal story in a wearable way.
How would you describe Pre-S/S16 in three words?
Bold, Dark, Hypnotic
What’s next for Cheap Monday?
Well, in S/S16 we get ready for Nuclear Psychedelia – a pretty trippy collection inspired by a nuclear-hippie-explosion happening only inside your head! You’ll have to track down our Creative Director Ann Sophie Back if you want to know more about that one.