Christoffer Lundman is a man with a vision. After design roles at Acne Studios (most recently as head of menswear), Tom Ford (as senior designer of sportswear) and, finally being design director for Burberry Runway, working alongside Christopher Bailey and living in London for the past 20 years, Lundman returned to his native Sweden last year, to finally head his own design team. In June 2017, he was appointed head of creative and design at Tiger of Sweden in order to render the brand’s men’s, women’s and jeans collection a wholistic design identity. We spoke to the congenial creative about Swedishness, his vision for the Tiger and the perks of being allowed to express his own voice.
You have been living in London for 20 years, most recently doing the runway collection for Burberry. Where you happy or sad to leave it?
I think it was a good time to leave London. I love Burberry and I had an amazing team, really good friends, but for sure leaving London did not feel so hard in the political climate et right now. Still of course there are things that I miss. But Stockholm is actually a very good place to work and to be creative. It’s changed a lot. It’s not the Sweden that I left 20 years ago!
What do you like about Sweden?
I think we’re a very open society. We welcome people. What’s interesting in Sweden is that the political and society change happens very quickly. What’s been unaccepted can become accepted very fast. It’s a progressive society. But I’ve heard the opinion from others that Swedish people don’t come across very open…I sense this impression is actually created by shyness rather than coldness.
You say that you wanted the Tiger of Sweden stores and collection to be more Swedish. What does that mean?
I don’t think it’s about stereotypes, so it’s not necessarily about minimalism. There are values and things happening in Sweden that as a Swede you can be very proud of. It’s a society that’s built on sort of an equality, it’s a quite flat society. You can reflect Swedishness in the way you approach your customers and in the way you present your collections. For me, it’s about being open, about creating an environment where people feel welcome - even if you think Swedes sometimes are cold (laughs).
Burberry is very known for all their very forward digital initiatives. Is there anything you want to do like that for Tiger?
We’re relaunching the website and our digital platforms in fall. I think it’s very important obviously, but I have to say it’s such a natural part of our life now that I don’t think it’s even necessary to talk about it. It’s a given, we NEED to be good at it.
But we’re not going to NOT have real products on display at a trade show or anything like that. It’s all about the product for me. I mean I guess in the future, brick-and-mortar stores might play a lesser role, but for sure there will be a place where people go for inspiration or experience. Even if in the end they shop at home. To me that’s exciting because it means that we could potentially be more free with the design of our spaces. The shop could be a different type of shop. But I think the brick-and-mortar store will never fully disappear, because it’s where you can tell a brand’s story and the customer can engage with you.
So what made Tiger get you on board?
The journey started in August 2016 and at first, I wasn’t really sure what they wanted. My job kind of grew out of a conversation and I was being very honest with them, with the things I liked and didn’t like; asking lots of questions. I think Tiger wanted to be able to talk clearly with one voice and they wanted someone to unify the collections. So I worked on projects and explained what I wanted to do and it was in line with the company. But it was not in any way a “break up” - I mean the team is still the same team, the setup in the company is the same; the only one that’s new is me.
So the company gave you total freedom?
There has been a lot of freedom, yes. Obviously, I have been very respectful with the products that sell well; the core is still there. But they definitely gave me freedom when it came to building a story and rebranding.
What are the main things that you still want to change? The logo of the jeans?
(laughs) Yeah, the logo of the jeans. I mean I am very proud of the denim collection and the people that work there are very talented. But for me, it’s important in today’s landscape to have a very clear voice and also to tell a story. My job is actually much more about storytelling than even being a designer. It’s a never ending process and it’s not over, there is a lot left to do, but I feel that we’re on the right track.
Tiger is mainly known for rather slim lines. Are you going to stick to that?
We will. We are introducing a new slim silhouette, where we reworked proportions and lengthened the jacket slightly, and we do have some looser silhouettes, too - but they are more in outerwear, knitwear, and trousers. But in tailoring, I felt it was important to stay true to the slim garments for the moment. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t expand into different things….
Are there any other movements in menswear that you find particularly interesting right now?
For me the most exciting is to see where tailoring goes. I know sportswear has been super dominant for some time now, but I feel like people want to look sharper again. People want to feel comfortable; they don’t want to be restricted by a tie or looking too stuck up. Still, I feel like there is a movement towards more elegance.
Do you think so? Even the usual „Pitti peacocks“ are wearing sportswear instead of their three-piece suits these days!
I think people want to look elegant, but they want to do it in an easier way. I don’t know who has time to dress up like that… I literally have 5 minutes in the morning, before I go to the gym and then I go straight to work. I think the way we are building the collection should be able to accommodate people going to work, looking sharp without feeling restricted. Not everyone wants to wear a suit. That’s why we have amazing knitwear, super or sharp trousers. That’s why I’m excited about to see where tailoring is going.
Do you see any jeans trends that are interesting to you?
I mean we’re trying to push the rigid non-stretch. But what we’re really selling is stretch. (laughs)
We use denim more within the collection these days. We style it as part of the main line now which we didn’t do in the past. In denim you can see more and more loose silhouettes and ‘authentic’ washes. That’s something I think we do really well. I don’t think too much about trends though.
But people probably ask you about that all the time?
They do, but I think it’s not my job to think about that too much. I think it’s my job and my team’s job to be very honest with what we like and be honest with our inspiration. To look at things that really inspire us. Today especially, trends do exist, but things move very fast.
Everything is happening at once. But still, if you look for them, you can always find trends. You can see movements…
…but it’s not as clear as it was before! When I moved to London, there was that trend for women to wear flared jeans and skirts on top and it was like that for A YEAR. But this is probably the last time I saw a ‘trend’ like that on EVERY young girl…
What makes your job as creative director different to being a designer?
Well it enables me to move between departments in a way that’s really inspiring. I guess I worked in the background for quite a long time. I worked with some very talented and amazing directors. But it’s super nice to be able to have a voice and share stories that I find interesting myself. It’s also rewarding to see that all this hard work in the last year has sort of paid off. Sometimes you stop and think ‘oh god, I learned a lot along the way’. You realize that you’re in a setting that maybe you didn’t imagine yourself being in and still you don’t feel threatened or nervous. For example at Tiger I had to stand in front of 250 people talking and introducing the collection, which a year ago would not have crossed my mind. But because I was talking about something I care about and have created with my team, it felt very natural.
The difference is that I am allowed to have a voice. I’m allowed to sit and talk to you about what inspired me. But there are a lot of things that are still the same. I still work on products, still pick fabrics, still design with my team. But of course, a lot of my work now is having conversations with people. I do less drawing then I used to. Maybe this is the aspect that I miss, because I used to draw a lot. But I do enjoy it; I work with some amazing people. I’m very lucky that I can choose who to bring in. So we brought in some really, really talented collaborators that I’m very grateful for.
That would be thing that would excite me most. Picking the right photographers, designers, architects…
Yes, it’s been amazing. What’s been nice is that people have understood my vision and what I want. They haven’t challenged it in a way that didn’t work; they made it better. That’s the most rewarding as a director, to work with people and most of time - hopefully -they’re better than you in what they do. So that in your collaboration you can make something that’s even better. That’s super inspiring. I have had more energy now than I had in a long time. And I am working harder, but it has never felt like working. That’s nice.