Johan Lindeberg returned to his eponymous label, J Lindeberg, as creative director after an absence of 10 years. He spoke to Drapers about the future of the brand, and how it feels to be back at the helm
Johan lindeberg press credits nigel perry
Swedish designer Johan Lindeberg founded his eponymous label in 1996, inspired by sports, fashion and an international outlook. He has held key roles with brands including Diesel, William Rast and, most recently Blk Dnm. He recently returned to the label as creative director after a 10 year absence. Drapers spoke to Lindeberg about the evolution of the brand, his passion for photography and how it feels to be back at the helm of his namesake brand.
How did you come to be involved in the fashion industry?
My first girlfriend was a designer and she inspired both my sister and me to start designing.
How would you describe the ethos of the brand?
The DNA of J Lindeberg is fashion and sports. When I started in 1996, after six years at Diesel, I wanted to create a brand that reflected my own personal lifestyle – an international brand for a creative entrepreneur.
You returned after a 10-year absence – what tempted you back?
Stefan Engström, one of the owners of J Lindeberg, called me and said he could take the brand to one level without me and another level with me. I had just left Blk Dnm to focus on photography and I called my daughter Blue and ask her what she thought. She said: “You should do it. It’s our name …” I think it’s very exciting to be able to continue the vision I had when I created it from a dream.
How are you finding the new role?
We are taking it rather slow as it is always hard to go back to old relationships. Aesthetically, we had drifted apart. I decided to focus on redesigning the women’s collection. I also created a magazine and communication platform called The Bridge. I invite people that inspire me to express themselves with personal quotes. It’s important to be a brand with a voice today.
How have things changed at J Lindeberg since it began?
The brand has become more classic over the years. It’s very organised and structured with a lot of passionate people – now we have to add more innovation and creativity again. It’s important to be an engaging brand.
What are some of the challenges you face on a day to day basis?
J Lindeberg is a repositioning process and becoming a more modern brand. Sometimes it’s a challenge to convince stores to have a different perception of us. The overall challenge has been to explain the J Lindeberg lifestyle. Today we have a great opportunity, as fashion and sports style is more culturally relevant than ever. We are well positioned to bring the brand to a new level and create energy and inspire people around the world.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during your career?
To follow my intuition, but also to combine brand value with business value. It’s important to have a very strong backbone to be able to be creatively free.
Is there anyone in the industry you particularly admire?
[Azzedine] Alaïa. I’m a massive Alaïa fan. But I also think [founder] Phil Knight at Nike has done incredible work, in how the brand always reinvents itself.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Probably Diesel. I loved the dynamic between [founder] Renzo Rosso and myself. He’s a very good business man but he always protects creativity. He has guts to create things from the inside and do it his own way. He gave me the trust and space to be able to develop the painting that I saw when I closed my eyes.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting their career?
Follow your heart. I saw Diesel in a shop window in 1990 and fell in love. I wanted to live that lifestyle and flew down to Italy the next day to find Diesel. It changed my life.
Favourite clothing brand
Favourite places to shop
Jus in Stockholm and The Webster in Miami
Last fashion purchase
White Maison Margiela boots for my daughter, Blue
I can’t remember. My life is my work
Last book you read
Shantaram by David Roberts. Incredible
Last film you watched
Cleaner at a hospital in my hometown, Lund in Sweden.
Creative director for a Parisian fashion house
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Photography. I’m very passionate about it