IN CONVERSATION WITH LINUS LEONARDSSON: A Rave New World
Fresh from his London Fashionweek A/W20 Presentation, KALTBLUT chats to talented, up and coming London based designer Linus Leonardsson on his new collection Rave New World, opening fashion up in terms of gender roles and the challenge of making sustainable garments actually look and feel luxurious. Oh also, Björk and Sweatpants.
KALTBLUT: You titled your new collection RAVE NEW WORLD. How did you come up with the name and how does it relate to the collection as a whole?
Linus: Rave New World is a flirt with the dystopic future portrayed in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” from 1932, where society is built upon conformity and an uncrossed social hierarchy. With this collection, I wanted to create a new scenery where raving culture and a liberated youth opposes tradition, entering and ultimately reshaping the segregated high society unapologetically.
KALTBLUT: How do you hope to demolish gender expectations within your designs? More specifically, this collection in particular?
Linus: I like to call my designs ‘gender non-conforming’ rather than genderfluid. I do not necessarily want to cut traditional gender roles off, but I want to open fashion up to the entire spectrum in-between and outside of the two traditional gender identities.
Within this collection, I have mixed garments, textures and fabrics freely between what is considered masculine and feminine. When I design, I first come up with an idea for an interesting garment – the gender of the model who presents it is an afterthought depending on what will tell the most interesting story.
KALTBLUT: What does sustainability mean to you?
Linus: Thoughtfulness! I believe that one of the most dangerous things we do today, is not to consider why we act the way we do. Even if we like to consider ourselves sustainable, many of us forget that it needs to relate to every single part of life – everything from recycling garbage, buying fairly produced fruit, choosing public transport over Uber or choosing not to buy yet another unnecessary sweater. We must remember that sustainability is a way of life, not something applicable when convenient.
KALTBLUT: What inspires you as a designer? What influences your work?
Linus: I love talking with people, and getting to hear their stories! What is beautiful about fashion to me, is its ability to act as a visual language. That is why I think it is really important to get to hear as many honest opinions as possible when I design – even if someone is not a professional, they still have eyes and a mind and hence an opinion that matters.
KALTBLUT: How do you think Rave New World has challenged you as a young designer?
Linus: Frankly, the commercial aspect has been challenging! My previous collection mostly featured showpieces, whereas Rave New World is my first commercial collection to be available for sale later this year. As a strict opponent of over-consumption, it is a challenge to create pieces that will not just last the season, but that will stand the test of time regarding both quality and design.
KALTBLUT: How would you describe the London fashion scene? How does it compare to Stockholm?
Linus: What I love about London is its appreciation and support for young new talent. The city has a great history of bringing forth forward thinkers within the industry.
One down side, everyone works constantly, finding little time to relax, which is both motivating but also exhausting. Stockholm on the other hand is slower in pace I feel, with a lot of both established and new designers focusing less on seasonal fashion and more so on timelessness.
KALTBLUT: What elements from your previous collection have you expanded on or explored in Rave New World?
Linus: Sustainability and glamour! I started discovering both of these topics with my previous collection, but with Rave New World the topic is entirely centred around them. This collection is crafted entirely out of dead-stock, recycled or low emission materials.
Unfortunately sustainable fashion often looks sustainable, so the challenge has been to make sustainability look luxe. Some examples include a top made out of scrap pieces of exclusive laces crocheted together, giving it a very high end and time-consuming finishing. The mismatched buttons feature are another example, as they have been bought second hand but are made out of exclusive materials such as mother of pearl, glass and wood.
KALTBLUT:If you could dress one person in the entire world head to toe in LL, who would it be and why?
Linus: Björk – she is a modern heroine and I admire her never ending social and environmental engagement!
KALTBLUT: If you could design a capsule collection in collaboration with one fashion house, who would it be and why?
Linus: Fendi! Imagine a collection where all their know-how on fur is used to create a fabulous cruelty-free and sustainable alternative to demonstrate what is possible. I think it would be exciting to redefine what fur can be, and bring its heritage into a conscious future.
KALTBLUT: As a young designer, how do you think you can standout, be unique and find success in a heavily competitive industry?
Linus: I think the most important thing is to take one’s time. Plagiarism and uninspired designs occur as a result of the too fast paced industry we are currently cultivating. It is important to always remind yourself of your core values, and take the time when integrating them into your work from the very beginning.
KALTBLUT: When you aren’t designing or creating, where can we find you?
Linus: Out about town at some rave or nightclub! I have always been fascinated by nightlife, it is as if another world comes to life as the sun sets, people become different version of themselves.
KALTBLUT: If you could change one thing in the fashion industry, what would it be and why?
Linus: Tax pollution! Change is happening way too slowly, in order to make a real change, there must be a force majeure from legislation directing the entire industry. That would make more sustainable materials and fabrics affordable, on the cost of polyester and cotton.
KALTBLUT: What’s your earliest fashion memory?
Linus: Constantly playing dress-up as a child with my two sisters – who knew that pirate costumes and grandma’s old dresses could be so fashionable!
KALTBLUT: What is the biggest lesson you have learned since creating your own label?
Linus: Just how dependent you are on the people around you. No matter how great your design is, it does not matter unless you have support and help from people who believe in you.
KALTBLUT: Name one item of clothing Linus Leonardsson will never make?
Linus: Sweatpants – yuck!
KALTBLUT: Finally, how would you describe Linus Leonardsson in three words or less.