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Astrid Andersen
Interview

Astrid Andersen exemplifies how fashion paradigms are changed. The Danish born designer graduated from The Royal College of Art in 2010, with a graduate collection that resonated with her desire to explore the intersection of high fashion and sport. The collection proved to be a cult sensation, and Andersen quickly rose to become one the most respected and authentic designers in the streetwear and loungewear game, long before said clichés became commonplace. Instead of capitalising on trends or focusing on celebrity endorsements, Andersen still prefers to approach her brand in an atelier format, ensuring that each season is as well developed and conceptually relevant as the last. One only has to look at Andersen’s rise to see that she is here to stay. We got a chance to pick Astrid’s brain a little, her thoughts on the industry, her growth, as well as her FW17’s collection.

ASTRID ANDERSEN—FALL/WINTER 2017

Adam Danyluk: So let’s start early on in life, when were you first inspired to pursue a career in fashion?Astrid Andersen: I have always been very crafty as a kid. My mom and I would always make stuff, paint or sow so it was always natural to make things with my hands. I always dressed very differently in school for some reason, like I wasn’t interested in fashion but just in expressing some individuality; I guess I’m kind of the same today.

AD: Did your ideology towards your own aesthetic change at all while you were in school?AA: I think it’s become an ideology once I started studying. When I went to the Royal College in London it was such a huge moment for me to have access to such brilliant people to guide you and help you understand what is your path. 10 years ago not that many designers was championing the tracksuit as a paradigm changing look and the fact that all my tutors only supported me in this vision and truly helped me to understand the importance of it for me as a person was life changing for me.

AD: Even with such an identifiable aesthetic, you manage to find completely different sources of inspiration for each show or season. What do you think motivates you to turn something you see either in real life or on TV into full collections for your customers?AA: It’s just how my brain is wired, it’s something I have studied and trained as well as a way to express something creative that I have always looked for. I’m very lucky to have found this path.

AD: After you graduated, what were your first steps towards solidifying your brand? AA: My graduate collection received a lot of attention and everything just rolled off the back of that. No time to stop and think really. It was a dream for me to receive that recognition so early on and every day since has been about perfecting that vision.

AD: To what extent do your attribute your success to the ability of your teachers to recognize your potential right from the beginning? AA I’m convinced that I would have not reached my full potential without my mentor at the RCA Ike Rust. He truly made me understand my own language and to challenge myself and to always keep evolving as a designer.

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Astrid Andersen

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AD: How do you consider music and fashion to intersect? Do you see a lot of connections between the two mediums?AA: Music is art and Fashion is design. Fashion is inspired by music and the cultures that spring from it, but fashion also adapts super early and creates a way for musicians to visually express themselves and that’s where the symbiosis happens. The two are like lovers that must understand its own dynamic. Like punk would have never had the same impact if it hadn’t understood how to visually Express itself, but punk would have never happened at all if it hadn’t been for the musical force and artists behind it.

AD: Are there any other intersections besides sports and music that you’re focused on?AA: I’m very focused on my generation and how its changing dress codes, potentially forever. It’s a very powerful movement where gender demands equality through comfort. I’m very focussed in this element. To me there’s an odd unattractive submissive element in dressing uncomfortable and I’m very aware of that element in my work.

AD: Do sports and music serve as separate forms of inspiration to you? Or do you identify an aesthetic then use these phenomena or cultures to shape the looks and marketing?AA: Again I think as a generation we are affected by the music of our time - which is hip-hop and the superstars of our childhood - who were athletes, so, its only natural for these elements to exist within me and how I see the world and how I want to dress it. Another part of our generation is the easy access through social media which is good and evil, but one good element is how its somehow transparent when you see lame bought endorsements and when you see genuine mutual respect and love for each other and this marketing is a new way because its not marketing its just real life reflected and it feel much more genuine and fair played.

AD: Without placing you in a static category, you seem to have an approach that emphasizes the subversion of dress code norms while contextualizing said clothing within an atelier setting. As such, you do not seem to be so focused on graphics and “merch” as you are on creating full collections with a specific inspiration. What are some of the pros and cons you have identified after 7 years of such an ethos?AA: This is very true and I’m happy you ask me about this because I have always been focussed on slow growth and a commitment to really create a new direction for us to dress but insisting on its place within high fashion. I want to be reviewed alongside the big houses and I want to play on that level because from the very beginning, so many people wanted to disregard this way of dressing simply as street wear and not as high fashion, but who gets to decide that? Its just fuel, I don’t care what you label it, the fact is that our generation don’t need to dress any different whether you’re walking down the street, in a meeting or at a club so if that’s street wear fine, but I want to create that from a point of view where its considered high fashion. It’s so easy to put a print on a t-shirt, get a famous person to wear it and sell thousands and call yourself a designer on Instagram, but what are you doing 10 years from now? I want to build something that truly represents something new, a new luxury. We get to decide what is luxury.

AD: That analysis of the social media environment and its effect on fashion is spot on. Younger generations seem to be much more aware of the landscape and are better at identifying authenticity, but what are your thoughts on some of the more negative aspects?AA: I choose to stay on the positive path (lol) and not consider the negative effects too much, its all pretty clear and there will always be easy solutions in every industry but they eventually disappear because without substance, even fashion can’t survive.

AD: It is clear from your answers as well as your collections that you are fully invested in a very specific approach to changing certain aspects of the fashion paradigm. To what extent do you like to use the immediacy of social media to help push this change? Do you think there are other routes that would help you accomplish your goal?AA: I use social media to the extent that it still feels personal and relevant coming from me. This is the greatest tool for smaller brands like mine because we don’t have the advertising budgets. I commit myself to traveling whenever I can, to go see the places that are relevant to my brand, to connect with the different territories, I find that super important actually. I can only do one small step at the time, but consider each step carefully and be sure not to go down the easy path and hope that people who follow will see this and appreciate it.

AD: Moving into the future, is there anything more you’d like to do with the brand? You recently introduced accessories, a womens line, and have previously done major collaborations with both retailers and celebrities...AA: Yeah lets see what the future brings. Any new steps has to be organic - like I just did the merchandise for MIA, which was a design collaboration and something that just sprung from a conversation between us, I like projects like that!

AD: Lastly is a question that’s specific to the FW17 collection. It seems to focus on presenting what could be described as historically very opulent or formal oriented fabrics and textiles in the context of Astrid Andersen. You seem to delight in picking and choosing historically significant looks and presenting them in your own unique way, which in turn has other established houses using your approach (ex: rise of athleisure). Do you have any thoughts on the evolution of fashion? Are you trying to write history? Because it seems to be working…AA: Haha thank you! I think I rambled on in a previous questions about the importance of the commitment to this approach. Its very important to me to keep evolving and keep showing how this vision is not a trend its a lifestyle and it can easily be watered out by t-shirts so the commitment to really pushing boundaries and sometimes even pushing the customers to identify with this movement is important to me and I’m very happy and proud if that shines through my work.

Text by Adam Danyluk, photography by Jomar Victoria, styled by Jacky Huang.

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