13 questions with the Swedish Designer Frida Ahlvarsson, Co-founder of Ahlvar
How did it all start?
At the age of 11 I was diagnosed with scoliosis and because of that I got compensation from the insurance company. To cure the scoliosis I had to stay inside the whole summer wearing a corset almost 24/7. My mum then told me to carefully choose something to buy that could be fun to play with indoors. I bought myself my first sewing machine and made 60 stuffed animals that summer. Two years later my interest shifted from making animals to clothing design. Since then I have studied at Esmod int. fashion school, worked as a designer for Frank Dandy and the last five years before starting my own label I was working as a designer for Odd Molly.
What made you decide to start your own brand?
I spotted a gap on the market that no other brand had focused on. That kind of silk blouse that you want to wear together with a pair of ripped jeans or leather trousers didn’t exist. When I for example was going out for dinner with my girlfriends the jersey t-shirt felt too dressed down, and a dress didn’t feel right neither. I was looking for something in between but all of the blouses in my wardrobe were either too cute or ladylike. That was the first step towards creating my brand.
Why silk blouses?
Nothing can be more sustainable than a timeless silk blouse. A blouse you can wear day and night for a lifetime. Pieces you find yourself relying on no matter if the occasion is a late dinner or a business meeting. Look at them as long-term investment that pays off every time you are wearing them, and we promise it will be often. This is what we call sustainability and as far from mass production as you could come.
"I would describe Ahlvar Gallery as a brand that is providing feminine everyday classics accented with a sense of attitude. The idea is to create timeless pieces that you should be able to wear day and night for a lifetime."
How would you describe Ahlvar Gallery?
I would describe Ahlvar Gallery as a brand that is providing feminine everyday classics accented with a sense of attitude. The idea is to create timeless pieces that you should be able to wear day and night for a lifetime.
What is the goal with your brand?
My goal is to keep working with my biggest passion, to do what I love and to make a living out of it. And since I am a commercial designer my goal is of course also to make pieces that many women want to wear.
"I always describe myself as a clothing designer not as a fashion designer. Fashion is constantly changing but style remains the same."
Describe the design process, do you work with trends?
For a retail brand it takes 14 months from sketching to have the actual garment in the stores. Of course it is hard to predict what women want to wear in the future but in the same time it is that anxiety that kills the creativity. You have to believe in yourself and your design in order to succeed. I always describe myself as a clothing designer not as a fashion designer. Fashion is constantly changing but style remains the same.
Which parts of your job are the most fun?
The creative process is always the part I find most exciting, especially in the beginning when you start sketching on a new collection because then it feels like everything is possible.
"My inspiration comes from the surroundings and the people around me"
What inspires you as a designer?
I am a very social person and travel a lot so I love to analyze what women are wearing and how they want to present themselves. My inspiration comes from the surroundings and the people around me.
Who is the typical Ahlvar Gallery woman?
The typical Ahlvar Gallery woman usually works at an office and she appreciates that our design works both day and night.
She wants to spend time on things that matter so timeless and uncomplicated styling is an obvious choice.
10. Who inspires you in the fashion world, any role models?
I would say that Bianca Jagger is my muse because she has a both feminine and edgy look. Even though she had her era in the 70’s her style still feels current and that is also my aim with Ahlvar.
"The styling should be easy and I personally love the contrast between luxury silk and distressed denim."
How do you style your own Ahlvar Gallery items?
As opposite to layering I want every garment to stand by them self, one-piece-is-enough are keywords I try to follow. The styling should be easy and I personally love the contrast between luxury silk and distressed denim.
Which item among all of Ahlvar Gallery’s pieces is your personal favorite?
My absolute favorite is the Kasumi blouse, because it suits every occasion and goes with any bottom.
What is the best thing about having your own brand?
The best thing is that I am finally able to create pieces that I personally love to wear. And of course that I can choose who I work with and that I am surrounded by other entrepreneurs who are as passionate about their companies as I am about mine.
Ahlvar's FW16 has just arrived in stores. Please contact us at email@example.com if any questions.
Interview from www.ahlvar.com