In a new series, I will be looking at brands, companies, people, works of art or whatever. I want to learn about authenticity by visiting, using, talking and experiencing the brand, the product and the people and the importance of authenticity in their communications. For this first installment, I went to Sweden to check out Nudie Jeans. A good start, I promise you.
Scandinavian fashion is rising fast. Admittedly, it is also becoming prominent in my wardrobe. Acne, Hope, Cheap Monday and Nudie Jeans offer up to date, no frills fashion, easy to wear and easy on the eye. Reason for a short visit to Stockholm, where I was kindly welcomed by the team of Nudie Jeans. It turned out to be the perfect brand to start my worldwide Authentic Brand quest.
Okay, Stockholm is cool. Swedes seem to be solid, but in a stylish way. The country is well organised compared to our standards, people are friendly and helpful. Come to think of it, these are also the basic ingredients for their lifestyle, which in turn is projected in the way the Swedes dress.
Having said this, you may think that these guys and girls are somewhat boring. No way. As my main area of interest is men’s fashion I will focus on guy’s stuff. On the streets of Stockholm you see a lot of casual business wear. The suits are worn properly; I mean, Swedish guys show self-confidence and style. I personally love the basic cut of the Swedish brands.
Entering a more casual mode, the Swedes are also able to wear colour. More than in many other countries and definitely not what I expected to see here. Chino’s are popular here too, worn in lots of cool colours. Cleverly combined with all kinds of shoes and shirts; with a taste of Saint Tropez but… way cooler. Defining trend this season: show your ankles…
The Swedes are also renowned for their tight jeans. Whereas this may seem to be a no-go to many ‘serious’ guys, let me tell you: it is a ‘go’ in Sweden. Wear them like they do: confident and comfortable. Swedes are supposed to be tough guys and they are; even when wearing skinny jeans they are pretty convincing to me. No surprise Acne, Cheap Monday and Nudie Jeans offer a great variety in slim and skinny jeans.
So let’s check out one of these brands: Nudie Jeans Company. I was invited to their oldest flagship store in the trendy Stockholm Södermalm area to chat a bit with some of their experts. Of course I wanted to find out if this brand is as authentic as it pretends to be.
I should start by telling you that the Nudie Jeans HQ is not based in the Scandinavian capital, but in Göteborg, which is more of a down to earth kind of place (they tell me). It is the main port with lots of hard working going on, as opposed to white collar dominated Stockholm. Nudie Jeans, as a result, is not into trends but rough and tough. Make no mistake however: at Nudie they really know how to design , communicate and market their basicness.
Talking to Johan at the store, it becomes pretty clear to me that at Nudie Jeans it’s all about being cool and relaxed. This young brand, just 10 years old, is strong. It oozes authenticity. It is based on the jeans which all have the same basic design, but with subtle differences so basically everyone will find the right pair, including various Selvage denims and since this year (still only up there in Sweden) a Recycled collection. There is nothing aggressive about Nudies who, as far as I can relate, have picked up the basic jeans theme where the popular American brands left off after experimenting with different designs. The down to earth strategy accounts for the increasing popularity of Nudie Jeans. From my experience in the international communications arena I am convinced this company is doing a really good job. Their communication is direct, open and honest to customers, without exaggerating at any time or place. No bullshitting. It makes for a very sustainable brand.
The main collection is based on organic and dry denim. Real Nudie addicts (check them out on www.mynudies.com, an independent users’ community) will buy dry jeans and wear them without washing for at least half a year. This way, Nudies will really become personal, with all the folds and abrasions on the right spots. No pre-washed wrinkles here, though these washes are available too. Nudie’s flagship store has more to offer, though the focus will always be on the jeans, Johan explains. One can go totally Nudie, with shirts, socks, underwear and even Swedish clogs.
Time to experience it all again – I already own some Nudies. Johan, a real Nudie expert, will help me choosing my new pair of jeans. I am curious, I want to do it right this time. His advice is to try a pair of ‘Grim Tim’, dry and organic (of course). He is right, no need to look any further. They fit perfectly but will have to start growing on me (quite literally).It will take many months of hard living in these jeans to make them my own.
In the accessories area I discover the ‘Alfred’ wallet. Hey, my name is on it! I buy it for no other reason! Handcrafted heavy leather that will age beautifully, it fits perfectly with the new jeans. This brand is all about working hard and playing hard. That’s exactly what I intend to do.
Nudie Jeans Company – the Authentic Index (2011#01)
Truth: Open, honest, socially and environmentally responsible
Beauty: Product design, presentation, identity is simple, strong and timeless
Love: Passion for the brand is high among Nudie staff and customers alike
Fun: Fun factor of the products is particularly supported by the ‘dry’ wearing experience
Authentic Index score: @@@@@
As an Authentic brand, I invited my friends at Nudie Jeans to tell me which other brand, service, shop, city, community, persons, work of art, or whatever is most authentic to them. I will report on this one soon; for now it will be a surprise.
In the meantime I welcome your suggestions. Just explain to me why you think your proposal is authentic, using the four themes Truth, Beauty, Love, and Fun.
Report by Alfred Jansen
Thank you Johan, Katy, Max and Axel at Nudie Jeans Company (Stockholm shop and Göteborg HQ).