Four years ago Alexander Stutterheim came across his late grandfather’s raincoat while going through his belongings. Shortly after, he began developing his own design based off the one his grandfather treasured so dearly. Today, Alexander awaits the November 20th release of his collaboration with Jay-Z, selling at Barney’s New York. Much has happened in between, but the pace of things has been faster than many could have imagined. We check in with Mr. Stutterheim in his hometown of Stockholm, Sweden to discuss the last few years and explore their flagship store. Head to the gallery and read on after the click.
Images: Marcus Wilén / Selectism.com
Many have heard the story of how you discovered your late grandfather’s raincoat and used that as a template to create your first model, but has it always been a dream of yours to build a brand or was it more a matter of a project that took on a life of its own?
I think I was fully focused on the product and its details and telling people the story behind it more then consciously creating a brand. Of course, this is something that became relevant as I walked down the road - mostly because people asked me a lot of questions and I was somehow forced to define myself and what I was actually doing. We have a great creative force in the company and often we just do stuff without stopping ourselves because we think it is fun. This happens often in direct communication with the followers and owners of the coats and somehow things – and the brand - come to life when the coat reaches the shoulders of the people. A lot of my clients send in thoughts, images and videos every time it rains where they are. They have done so since the beginning and that has really helped to define what is important both with the product and the brand. The brand is somehow us together with a story that we share.
There has been a lot of talk about the release of your collaboration with Jay-Z and Barneys (November 20th), can you tell us a bit about how that came to be and what kind of experience it has been having such a big name as your first partner in a collaboration?
It started after Barneys bought the Stockholm collection this Spring and it did very well. Their president contacted me this Summer and asked if I was interested in a very special collaboration and after signing a lot of confidential agreements we got informed that the main collaborator was Jay-Z. So I said yes since I've never done a collaboration and like Jay Z as an artist, perfomer and as a human being. As soon as we got started it was important to me to focus on the quality of the coat and not so much that it was him and me together. I think we succeeded. The coat is a version of our matte black Stockholm with golden end stoppers, Jay-Z's official crest on the back of the hood and shiny golden buttons. He was really involved in the process and really influenced the final output of the coat.
There’s been a rumor that you have finalized things with Dover Street Market, can you confirm this?
I can confirm Dover Street Market will start selling the Stockholm series within a short time and other things might happen along the road but I can't speak about the details right now.
You seem to value the importance of having an open forum/dialog with your customers via Facebook and social media. How, if at all, have you seen this effect your brand? Is this something you plan to keep up as your brand grows?
It has been important to me as this is my way to get feedback as a designer and I want to be transparent and share my thoughts and experiences with all the people that like to listen and give their ideas to me. I think this is a nice way to stay grounded and really invite people to tell us what they think about the brand and our products. And we really want to listen - something I think a lot of brands don't do today.