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Siv Støldal: Off the Rack and Ready to Wear

The Norwegian menswear designer often gets mistaken for being a bearded man and has moved from London back to her native land.

The Norwegian designer Siv Støldal’s menswear collections always come out highly wearable, functional and hyper fashionable. Inspired by her native country, Norway, as well as the art form, she's truly one of the most interesting designers these days. It’s been a while since I heard from her so it was about time to talk

Dazed Digital: Hi Siv! How are you these days and what's been going on lately?
Siv Støldal: I am very well, thanks. Right now I am in Norway enjoying this winters first frosty mornings. I recently moved my family and studio from London's Bethnal green to a small island of the coast of Norway, and it is still a bit difficult to get my head around, but very exiting at the same time!- like moving to a parallel universe where everything is opposite of what you are used to.

DD: How do you enjoy collaborating with other brands/concepts, such as the collections you did for Fred Perry, Kickers and Topman?
SS: Being in control over your own company is great as you have the final say in all creative and business decisions, but as a relative small company there are also limitations around what production you have access to. Collaborating with Fred Perry, Kickers and TopMan is not only an exiting creative collaboration where you get the chance to work your concept into a larger scale production, it is also exiting to explore the new production facilities introduced to you.

DD: Do you have any future plans on designing women's clothing?
SS: My plan is to continue with projects, sculptures, film and design clothes for men. But I’m sure you will also find something for yourself Julia. I wear my own trousers, shirts and coats all the time, and most shops buy down to size xs...

DD: Your collections indicate clear traces from your native country, Norway. Why do you always find Norway such a source of inspiration?
SS: My work always has an inquisitive starting point, where I often interview people around me about their clothes. I think it has been purely practical that my research groups have been situated mostly in Norway and UK until now. However since the interactive Cover Up project, I have established contact with people all over the world and see this as a very valuable addition for future projects. At the moment I am working on a research project documenting Norwegian men's wardrobes, I was interested in regular guys completely outside of the fashion conscious crowd, (you know, pretty much all my friends!) and document a more pure relationship with a man and his clothes. 'Being interested in clothes' had in a way been hijacked by the fashion industry and automatically means he is interested in fashion. I wanted to investigate if a man can be passionate of clothes outside the influence of fashion brands, and therefore concentrated my research group to the Norwegian country side. You can see a short film I made about this research with the photographer Lewis Ronald at ShowStudio. I also did a film as part of their Political Fashion Films earlier this summer.

DD: How has it affect you growing up in a small village with a population of only 20 people?
SS: I think it has helped me form long and deep friendships with the four other girls my age, even though we are quite different. I have also developed a longing for a bigger place to live in from quite early on,  which has resulted in my schizophrenic love for living in a big and busy place like London and equally love the deserted empty landscape of the island I’ve just moved to in Norway. It is the kind of 'half big' towns and suburbia that stress me out completely.

DD: Do you get annoyed when the press spells your family name / label name incorrect and miss out the Norwegian letter: ø?
SS: Ha-ha, no I don't get annoyed by that but I must say. I’ve been called the strangest things! I quite like being called Mr. Siv though because most people who doesn’t know me thinks I’m a man. I met a buyer once that got so thrown when we met and he was sure I was a big fat man with a beard!

DD: Most of your shows combine fashion presented in an art form, like a room totally larded with creativity. How closely related are art and fashion actually?
SS: Fashion, art... it is all about presentation of a concept and idea. Sometimes the tools used for communicating work within fashion and art get mixed and the boundaries get a little blurred.

DD: How important is the choice of music used in your shows / exhibitions?
SS: The music is one of the strongest mood-setters you need to consider when having a show; it is vital and also very difficult to choose the right music. I have been very fortunate to work with people like Thom Murphy and Jim Richards who both have very good taste in music.

DD: And finally... hand on heart...What do you honestly think about Mylsa*?
SS: Mylsa? Sorry, I do not know who that is...??? Should I???

* Mylsa is a brown milk soup made in Norway.