Just a few days ago, Swedish brand Our Legacy dropped its first-ever collab. Not just with Vans. Ever.* Normally that wouldn't cause us to raise an eyebrow but in today's proudly consumerist culture, collabs are run of the mill. Brands are eager to appeal to as many demographics as they can, cross-pollinating with others, oftentimes resulting in collections that make little to no sense.
Not so for Our Legacy. The brand has been around for just 11 years but in that short time they've managed to become a favorite of many Highsnobiety staff members, all the while expanding far beyond their Nordic borders. In London to celebrate the launch of the Our Legacy x Vans Vault collection, we had the chance to catch up with the brand's co-founder, Jockum Hallin.
Enjoy our conversation with Hallin below and shop the full collection straight from OurLegacy.se.
Please introduce yourself.
I am Jockum Hallin, the co-founder of Our Legacy.
When you started it was you and the other co-founder?
Christopher, our creative director.
How have things changed over the course of these 10 years towards your approach to work and how big the company has gotten? Is it still so intimate? Or are the responsibilities dispersed amongst different people now?
After just a few years, we took in our third partner, Riccardo. Us three were doing everything from the start. At first it was only me and Christopher doing everything from design to sales, packing, shipping stuff. Now we are able to grow the team in a really healthy way. Not like taking huge steps. Right now we are still independent, we don’t have any investors. We can only take one step at a time. It makes us grow in a careful way, instead of doing everything at once. We have to choose what we do carefully.
Right now we are looking at expanding our retail, we are looking at both New York and LA. Even Berlin actually. Our roles changed a bit, because we've been around for 11 years. So of course we’ve changed a bit. Personally, me and Christopher did everything together — shared the design, work in the beginning, and then Christopher took over as a designer. My role was CEO.
Now I have two kids; I’ve been spending time with them. My role changed a bit with Riccardo joining. He’s taken over the operational side. I managed to get back into what I appreciate and what I think I'm best at, which is working on product, on spaces, in terms how our stores look, and the direction. Projects like Vans.
This leads to two questions I wanted to ask. One: how has having kids changed things?
Having kids changes your life in a lot of ways, of course. I love having kids, it’s amazing. It changed in a way that I cannot work 24 hours a day. I have to limit myself, which is good. I think it’s healthy.
Two: you were saying that you’ve gotten back to what you like to do - product and design. What were you doing before Our Legacy?
It’s both a creative and sales-based background. In school I studied graphic design. Then coming out of school I didn’t really want to go to work in that. My time was split between playing music in bands, touring, doing records.
I split my time between playing in bands and working with sales, like helping different brands. Then I started my own agency and I took in a couple brands. This was at the same time we started Our Legacy.
And what year exactly did you start it?
2005. In my younger days I was into skateboarding and distributing skate brands, like Dog Town skateboards, when they weren’t available in Scandinavia. I went around and sold that to skate stores. Then my focus went more into fashion.
Vans is obviously a big part of skate culture. What are your early memories and how did you first learn about the brand?
Vans wasn’t really available in Sweden when I was a kid, but all the bands that I admired, they all had the same shoes. It was that and looking at skateboard videos, magazines. Those old-school ads when they had shoes lined up next to each other. I had the shoes like one big ad when you order them.
It seems Our Legacy is very much word of mouth kind of brand. There’s no obnoxious advertising, just some poster campaigns here and there. Is this an intentional approach? On social media, you guys delete posts from past seasons even.
On our site you can find lookbooks of what we’ve done, but we don’t want to be defined so definitely and put ourselves into a niche. We want to feel free to do what feels right. I think we have a pretty wide customer base; it can be everything from a street-type of customer to high-end fashion, although they're the same these days. We like to leave our clothing open for interpretation - we hand you the palette and then you put together what you feel is right.
You have a wider audience than before. Is there a pressure to appeal to a bigger audience now that some celebrities are wearing your clothing?
Maybe we’re stubborn, but if we’ve done something right, take, for instance, these Hawaiian shirts last season, which were picked up by a lot of big rappers, and we really appreciate it that our stuff gets that response, but next season we cut back completely and do something entirely different, just to challenge ourselves and our customer. Like if one is very explicit and has a lot of prints, we tone it down for the next season and do something more color-based.
Our Legacy is known for innovative materials and different approaches to fabrics. What's that process like at the beginning of each collection?
A starting point for the collections is often colors and fabrics. We never do moodboards with pictures from movies. It’s more like color and textures that are often the starting point. Starting with a couple of fabrics and then we have a color palette, which determines what garments and what fabrics we’re going to use.
Do you guys see yourselves as an innovative textile brand, like Stone Island, for example?
A lot of the ideas come out of those palettes that we start with. It forces us to develop a lot of fabrics ourselves; that’s a big part of what we do, like dying techniques, colors, fabrics. Around 90% of what we do is done in Portugal, the rest in Italy. Over the years we've developed a really good relationship with our factory so we develop a lot of different fabrics and textures.
A recent Guardian article argued that sex doesn’t sell anymore, it’s all about activism. Does Our Legacy have any kind of political leanings or key principles?
We’re not a political brand in any way. From a cultural perspective, we grew up in the '80s and '90s so you can see a lot of subcultural references of stuff that was happening. If you were into the same things during the '90s, hopefully you can pick that up. Younger people find their own references within what we do and respond to that, and what they put together is their own subculture.
*Our Legacy has worked with brands on exclusive products for its stores, but never with a brand directly across design or production.