By Yale Breslin
You might not know his face – but you definitely know his style…and taste. Designer Johan Lindeberg has, in a way, re-branded himself. As the former top dog at Diesel (he was both the Marketing Director and CEO for 6 years), Lindeberg switched gears and launched his namesake label, J.Lindeberg, in 1996 – a collection infused with the threads of the 21st Century. Shortly thereafter, he collaborated with Justin Timberlake on William Rast – his line of men’s and women’s contemporary gear most recognized for their signature denim ‘V’ embroidery. But in a way, he’s entered phase 2 – designing his collection titled BLK DNM, a range he defines as embodying a downtown attitude with a chic twist.
HR: We’re familiar with your previous work for J. Lindeberg – but your latest venture BLK DNM is quite the transition. If you had to sum up your latest adventure in design – how would you describe the aesthetic of the brand?
Lindeberg: It’s a downtown attitude with a chic twist. BLK DNM really reflects the life I live. It’s partly influenced by my bohemian childhood in a university town in the South of Sweden. And it’s also a manifestation of my career from Diesel to J. Lindeberg and Justin Timberlake’s William Rast. I’ve reached a time in my life where I’m more pure in my taste than I ever been. So, what I create now reflects my personal aesthetic more than anything I’ve done before.
HR: You’ve stated that the core of your brand is rooted in denim – how so? What makes your denim products (for both men and women) different and unique from what is already out there?
Lindeberg: I’ve decided to spend the rest of my life in New York and I wanted to create a denim brand from downtown NY in particular. DNM is underscored in our logo to emphasize that it’s our core product. The attention to every detail— fit, fabric, wash—combined with the attitude and culture of the brand makes our denim unique. It’s all created here, in my studio, beneath the store on Lafayette.
HR: Your brand, BLK DNM, is based on an essential downtown item – black denim. How come the abbreviation in the name?
Lindeberg: I’ve had my personal name on a label for so long. This time, I wanted a generic name and to make it more personal than ever. The abbreviation just happened, as it looked strong graphically.
HR: Your clothes are very wearable – but with a unique edge. Are there any common threads throughout your designs for BLK DNM?
Lindeberg: The menswear is completely inspired by my own wardrobe and the way I like to dress. The women’s product is inspired by the way I see women and what I like to see them in. I love strong, independent, intelligent, political-minded women. I think women should take over this era completely. I’m tired of macho men in unconscious role-play.
HR: Your store in NYC is a unique space – as it feels more like a living room than a shopping destination. For those who are unfamiliar, what vibe are you trying to achieve for those who step foot in your brick and mortar shop?
Lindeberg: Throughout my career, store interiors have been difficult to create the way I wanted to see them. It often gets so ambitious that it can feel contrived. And I get anxiety in stores with an overly controlled environment. So this time, I’ve created a store with the atmosphere I want to live in—a kind of free environment where I can be myself, where people can come in and sit on the floor and be themselves. Both the Stockholm and NYC stores have that energy.
HR: You’ve expanded the BLK DNM brand by introducing the BLK DNM GAZETTE. What is this? Why did you decide to launch a newspaper?
Lindeberg: I consider BLK DNM a creative project more than a fashion brand. I felt the world didn’t need just another brand, so I try to do something different. I want to use BLK DNM to explore new paths of creativity. Through the Gazette, I can meet people and share ideas.
HR: As a designer – you’ve seen your fair share of aesthetics around the globe. What is your take on Canadian fashion?
Lindeberg: I think Canada is rather close to Sweden in taste. It’s closer to a European taste vs. America. I once had a girlfriend from Nuns’ Island in Montreal and have spent a lot of time in Canada. I like it there.
HR: What are some staples that you think every man should own? Why?
Lindeberg: Definitely our leather biker jackets. It’s like the handbag of our brand. And I’m quite proud of our men’s blazers. They have the best tailoring I’ve done in my career so far, with flattering shoulders and sleeves.