OBSCUR Sweden

Swedish designer Richard Söderberg speaks to us about small-town fashion and the crude materials used in his new collection

Fashion Rise
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The S/S 2011 collection from Obscur is inspired by misty landscapes, the roughness of nature and enveloping clouds, where the garments were constructed out of washed lamb leather. Using crude materials combined with varying pieces both in length and volume, their detailing lies in zippers and pockets whilst raw edges are paired with qualitative materials, subtle linings, comfortable knits and rich textures. Dazed speak to founder Richard Söderberg about his new collection and the appeal of Swedish fashion.

Dazed Digital: How you became interested in fashion? / where do you seek for inspiration?
Richard Söderberg: I live in a very small city in Sweden and draw very little inspiration from there. Most of the time, I imagine myself being somewhere else when designing my clothes. It's almost because I can't get anything out from my surroundings I live in, I design my own satisfaction and in turn have learned to love this process... Perhaps, being inspired constantly by my surroundings in a global hub, would have prohibited me from working in the intricate way I do now.

DD: What's your collection about? 
Richard Söderberg: The latest SS11 Collection, which we presented in Paris last June was one about new compositions, a blend between leather, crude detailing and washed linen. For OBSCUR, the process of creating a garment is as important as the result itself. The collection comprised high end quality materials, carefully chosen, washed, coloured, treated, sewn and constructed into a unique piece. I named the latest collection 'Narratif', a way of explaining the story the garments carry, the wear and tear they suffered, and how they became what they are, why they are shaped the way they are. For me, linen was a fantastic material to envelop bodies with, since it is so versatile and we could combine it with zippers, buttons, iron detailing and exposed lining.

DD: What kind of fabrics and materials you use?
Richard Söderberg: Currently, we use an array of linens, wools, cottons and leathers. Henceforth, I am also trying to develop new fabrics by melting them together or blending dyes, structures. A lot of fabrics I use are double or triple layered. In this case, the actual exposure of the layeres by doing raw edges is something that I like to do. We are also trying to combine very rigid/sturdy materials with softer ones. This can be very challenging when one for example tries to mix metal with leather or sheer fabric. The actual fusion of materials can be tricky, but this also adds to the OBSCUR ''Narratif'' of the final processed garment, when it is sewn. Overall, I consider myself most interested in exploring surfaces, insides, dye processes and fits, rather than shapes and silhouettes, although its of course inspiring and joyful to deconstruct these too.

DD: Tell us about the prints? 
Richard Söderberg: The exploration of prints is something I did during the early stages of my work as a designer. Naturally, it is something that has developed into something more three dimensional. Here I am thinking, when one is dying an entire piece into one entity instead of using a plain print. Its something that I am right now aiming for. I am convinced, that this way of working would allow one to add a lot to the garment. In a way, a fully patterned garment would look complete/whole as an entity on its own. In addition to this, such processing would make the fabrics respond differently in different types of treatments.

DD: What do you think about Swedish fashion?
Richard Söderberg: I would like to quote a good friend here. He once told me that Sweden is not about fashion, Sweden is about trends. In a way, I can relate to why he expressed himself this way. In Sweden, we have has several labels coming up, showing in Paris, London and beyond, and they have developed quite a following. Naturally, this is one way to go. In my opinion, by creating trends or hypes, if you will, you cannot refrain from compromising on your own artistic integrity. Of course, I understand that with a larger international label, one has shareholders and a board to answer too, but for me, OBSCUR is a place where we work intensely close with our producers, fabric vendors in Japan, our team and the entire design process. Integrity, sincerity and creativity in a small capsule studio, is what I prefer, and at times, this is far to find in Sweden. Of course, there are many creative younger designers around, that add to the exception

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