Swedish denim player Dr. Denim has built a global business on democratic brand values. Now, these principles have moved beyond the selling of affordable, unisex jeans to setting up a fund in support of visionary creatives working to make the industry more inclusive. A designated collection called Backed By Dr. Denim is due to hit stores in January – €3 from each piece will go to the fund. Donations can be made at the brand's homepage. Here, Dr. Denim’s brand experience director Daniel Kvist sheds light on the freshly launched initiative and its inaugural project.
What inspired the idea behind Backed By Dr. Denim?
Dr. Denim is built on the belief that denim is for everyone. It’s a democratic fabric that can take you anywhere, from lazy leisure to crazy clubbing. And every day should be a denim day. Denim is timeless, standing the test of trends, yet constantly moving forward. When the time came to create a new logo for the brand, it was important to us that the trademark stated those things, communicating more than the brand name – Backed by Dr. Denim was born.
Tell us about the fund and the collection you’ve launched to help finance it.
The fund is for dreamers and doers across the globe with vision and ideas, small or large, which contribute to a more inclusive society. We’ll be introducing the new logo by launching a new addition to the main collection. The so-called “logo collection” consists of t-shirts, hoodies and accessories. Some colors will be carry-overs but each season will see the introduction of new colors and patterns, as well as exclusive collaborations and limited editions from across the globe. €3 from each piece sold will be allocated to the fund.
Please give us the lowdown on the inaugural project – your teaming up with Swedish denim designer Louise Linderoth, who’s created jeans for people in seated positions, such as wheelchair users.
Louise Linderoth is the personification of inclusive design. She pushes her work and principles to the max by challenging the actual production and construction, so supporting her vision was a given for us. Instead of simply adapting already existing fashion for seated positions – used for people in wheelchairs, for example – she wants to change traditional design processes, creating fashionable denims for everyone. Dr. Denim and Louise Linderoth share the vision of more inclusive fashion and agree that conventions exist to empower change. If you truly want to make an impact, you have to question the very system itself. That is in a way the soul of denim, and this is reflected in our project with Louise Linderoth.
Will you offer some sort of mentoring as well as funding?
Yes, the fund is not only for financial means and all collaborations will emphasize the partnership itself, taking into account the specific project-needs case by case. Dr. Denim and our project partners should benefit and develop along the way.
How will the project develop long-term?
Backed By will grow together with the people getting involved. We set our own speed and focus on each project’s mission instead of being profit-driven, something that feels very refreshing in the fast-paced fashion industry. Backed By is run organically. Dr. Denim doesn’t want to contribute to customers’ overall feeling of being dictated to – “buy this, like that”; way too many companies do this already. Instead, we want to listen to people, hearing about their dreams and desires, and help to facilitate them.
Sweden is known for its democratic values – is this as pronounced as it could be in the local fashion industry?
Scandinavia is at the forefront of democratic fashion, facilitating freedom of choice. However, it’s time to take the next step, digging deeper and attacking the problem at its roots instead of acting on symptoms. It’s time to move from marketing to actually changing production chains; and it’s time to inspire inclusivity. I look forward to the day when so-called “larger” customers don’t have to seek out separate departments because of their size – what does “larger” even mean? Not having to turn to a niche model agency in the search for a more diverse portfolio would be another refreshing change…
What are the biggest growth challenges for designers and entrepreneurs in Sweden?
Fashion is a very mature market and one of the biggest challenges – and opportunities – is to find new segments. Globalization and digitalization have presented golden opportunities and quick-fix solutions for many companies over the last decade, but we have reached the limit for what traditional growth and expansion can do. We need to start looking inwards, changing internally instead of only striving to expand externally. Implementing strategic design processes and actually meeting the demand of different target groups will open doors to many exciting paths going – and growing – forward.