"Berlin is a really important city" Our Legacy founder Jockum Hallin explains in what is due to be his brand's fourth flagship store, located in the heart of the German capital. Power tools and interior fittings are strewn around the space, with a few rails of clothing kept away from the workmen installing light fixtures. "It's not home, of course, but we love coming here. Good energy in the city."
Since Our Legacy's inception in 2005, the Stockholm label has quietly invaded guys' wardrobes the world over, and will soon be launching womenswear for SS19. The brand makes eccentric-yet-timeless clothing, that's done in a way that many style-conscious guys can relate to, and, more importantly, afford. The collection is anchored by wardrobe staples, of course, but the brand isn't afraid to put some more adventurous options out there: in among this season's perfect bombers, topcoats and tailoring, there's a nylon sarong, quilted like a military liner jacket, shiny pink chinos and croc-embossed cowboy boots.
Hallin explains that Our Legacy's biggest market is in the USA, followed by the UK and their home territory in Sweden. To date, the brand operates two flagships in Stockholm and one in London, plus "WORK SHOP," a conceptual retail project that recycles and reworks archive pieces, also in the Swedish capital (the London WORK SHOP space is currently closed, and due to reopen at a new location). Hallin explains that the WORK SHOP concept will soon be launching at Dover Street Market in Ginza, Tokyo, where the brand is also experiencing strong growth.
Our Legacy's Berlin store is located on the corner of a quiet street in the city's Mitte district, not far from the COMME des GARCONS' pocket store, and is officially open for business from Thursday, October 25.
Our Legacy Berlin
Tucholskystrasse 45 Berlin 10117 Germany
I caught up with Hallin to chat the brand's roots, its transition from menswear staple to bonafide fashion brand and the decision to launch womenswear.
As the menswear market has grown, the interest in men's brands from your part of the world has grown with it. Do you get sick of the whole Scandinavian minimalism cliché?
Scandinavian brands, in general, are not really good at getting out in to the international market, but for us it's always been the main focus. We've always been out there from day one. We traveled with the collections to Paris, to New York, even when we were a tiny, tiny brand. And we've never, like, pounded our chest and said "We're Swedish fashion." We've always tried to be free, to not be cornered in to something.
The business is obviously doing really well because you guys make something that is relatable to people. How do you find the balance between that, and doing the cool, weird shit? From the outside, it seems like you guys do a pretty perfect job of balancing the two.
Yeah. Thank you. It's nothing calculated. The last two years we've sort of transcended from that "contemporary" segment of the market into the designer, high-end section, and we're having a better time now. If you're just talking sales, we're better when we're in that game, as an entry price point for the design world, than being the most expensive contemporary brand. Working with Liberty, for instance, in London, we've moved from the contemporary room to the designer room and it's been excellent. But we're not marking stuff up crazily. It's costing what it should cost to make what we do.
Do you consider yourselves a fashion brand? A lot of people in the menswear part of the market, where your roots are, would almost think fashion is a dirty word.
We try to be progressive and have fun. If that's fashion, then yeah. It's a free and fun art form that people put on themselves.
How did the WORK SHOP concept come about?
We want to take care of everything that we produce. If we buy a fabric roll and don't use it up, or if we have 12 too many units of a shirt or whatever, we want to take care of it. But in a good, sensible way that works for us. The general way for a fashion brand is to have stock sales. Just sell it cheap. Get rid of it quick, or if you're high street chain, you burn your shit or whatever.
We're doing something with it that makes it more valuable, and selling it in a different format to the regular Legacy store. We want to make a sustainable shop concept that takes care of old stuff and makes it interesting and new and fun. It's a format that gives us possibilities to do a lot of fun things.
Does it translate commercially?
Yeah. The interest is really there. Maybe in the new year we'll open up an online segment because we get bombarded with emails from people that want the stuff.
Is sustainability something that you guys are thinking about consciously?
Yeah, but it needs to be a natural part of what we do. I think people struggle when they make something sustainable, because they label it really hard. It's as if it's more important that something is sustainable than a good garment. It should just be natural. That's what WORK SHOP is about, too.
How does that manifest itself in the mainline?
If there's a choice that is better for the environment, we make that choice. 100% of what we do is not, like, organic fabric or whatever, we're not there yet. But that's the aim.
You'd rather keep that behind the scenes then communicate that?
Right now, yeah.
Do you guys feel like a big brand now?
Good question. No. We're in a growing phase, opening new stores in multiple locations. We're adding womenswear, which could be a huge thing. In our own world, we're much bigger now than a couple years back. We have 25-30 people in our office. We have a lot of store locations. It's a growing thing.
Do you want to be big?
Not for just the sake of being big, but if being big means we're be able to do fun things that we think are right for the brand, then it's good to be big. But not just of the sake of having a massive brand. That was never our dream or intention when we started Our Legacy.
What was behind the decision to move into womenswear?
Since years back, we just felt like that's a way to make the whole thing complete. The synergy of doing men's and women's collections has been amazing. Ideas bouncing back and forth. It's developed and designed with the idea of one big collection, but it's not like there's a men's shirt and then there's a women's version or vice versa. Once when you hang it all up, it feels like one big collection. And we want to see crossing over. I want to see guys picking something from the women's or vice versa.
I can see women buying from the men's side, but what in the women's collection could men buy?
Our Legacy menswear is quite generous in its cut. It's not skinny, but if you want to go that route, you could easily do the womenswear. Also, we've experimented a lot with dressing guys in men's wear piece but then just have a skirt underneath or a dress even. It's something we find aesthetically interesting. Conceptually, it's hard to sell to every customer, but we love the idea of just being free. Do whatever the fuck you want.
There's an apron in the collection this season that's made like a quilted bomber.
Yeah. Like an insulated army sarong, or kilt or whatever you want to call it. I have one of those hanging at home for colder weather. To push myself a little bit.
Good for you. Someone's gotta do that sort of stuff. Do you pay much attention to runway fashion?
Not so much. Of course, it's part of our job to know what's going on, but it's draining to be too concerned with what other people do.
Are there any particular brand or designers that kind of inspire you, either now or back when you started out?
Back in the day, of course, old Helmut Lang. Old Margiela. Stuff that's interesting. Old Yohji. But it's always old.
How did you get into the industry in the first place?
I used to do touring with my band, we played classic hardcore. In both music and skateboarding, those subcultures, of course clothing and how you dress, how express yourself is a big part of the game. Me and Christopher [Our Legacy's co-founder and creative director] started fiddling around with stuff. We were both graphic designers at the start, and we produced our first T-shirts just outside of Florence.
Nice. I got into streetwear through hardcore. There's a DIY mindset in both of those scenes.
Of course. Print your own shirts. Press your own records. Whatever.
That mentality is giving us a lot still to this day. Right now, for instance, with the WORK SHOP concept that we're taking to Dover Street Market, we've been hand-dyeing a lot of stuff. Screen printing ourselves.
Visit Our Legacy's Berlin flagship located at Tucholskystrasse 45.