Wednesday, 26 June 2013

INTERVIEW: Sven Eselgroth - A Scandi Fashion Road Trip

Image © Luke Richardson

Fashion and music photographer Sven Eselgroth is currently motorbiking his way through the heart of Scandinavia, on a six week trip to discover and showcase the region's most prominent fashion brands and designers. From Rutzou, Norse Projects, Livid and Velour, to Our Legacy, Uniforms for the Dedicated, Stylein and Libertine Libertine - Eselgroth is visually documenting his journey in a photo diary, capturing how each brand has evolved while exploring their unique design signature.

Here he gives an exclusive interview on his Scandi fashion road trip.

Image © Sven Eselgroth

Tell us about your journey around Scandinavia, documenting key fashion brands from behind a lens. What inspired this trip? 

"I’d been planning a motorbike trip since I knew I was going to be getting my license. I wanted to incorporate my photography, because really, of all the places I’ve visited, the ones that have stuck in my mind have done so because of the people I met. The great thing about this trip is that I’ve collaborated with people who are living and working in the places I’m visiting, and that makes for a completely different travelling experience. I haven’t really ever done a trip like this. It just works."

What are the defining qualities of Scandinavian fashion?

"Scandinavian fashion is extremely diverse. It’s well known for its minimalist style, and for having a quality that almost transcends seasonal trends. Most of the brands have that in common, but I purposefully sought out the ones that are different from each other. It’s a booming industry right now, and it looks like it’s going to carry on that way. I think we’re going to see a lot more of Scandinavia in the fashion world; in my experience, it feels very recession-proof. The brands that I’ve met with, though well-established, are not huge companies. They’re compact. Even Rutzou, a very reputable, well-thought-of brand, really only has one designer, and that is Susanne Rutzou herself. In Scandinavia, there seems to often be a single mind over-seeing the brand, and that singular character comes through into the feel of the whole company, and from my point of view that’s a great thing, because it provides a story. It gives me a personality to write about and capture with my photography."

Your trip to Scandinavia was sponsored by Maple Motorcycle Jeans. How did this collaboration come about?

"I got in contact with David Fairbairn because he’s really the only guy around who makes selvage denim jeans with motorcycle safety features, so I thought I’d find out more. I think he had a look on my website and found information about my earlier trip to Vietnam – something he’d wanted to do for his honeymoon! A lot of people get in touch with him asking if they can try his jeans out and review them, and he just can’t make enough pairs for that, but I think the Vietnam video inspired him to collaborate on this trip. The great thing about the jeans is they are lined with Kevlar include armour, but I can wear them when I’m not on the bike as well. Maple do two different cuts – a classic 1941 straight cut and a slim fit."

I love your Harley Davidson! How did you get into motorcycling?

"A friend gave me a ride on the back of his motorbike when I was a lot younger, and I thought it was really cool. It took about ten years to get round to doing my test though. My first trip was in Vietnam, driving from Hanoi in the north to Saigon in the south over about a month. I left totally hooked. After that, I made a promise that I would get my license and buy a bike. Why I bought a Harley Davidson – I don’t know. The decision to travel by motorbike is one that you make in a less rational part of the mind, and I suppose it’s that same part of my mind that influenced me to buy a Harley Davidson. It’s just very fun to drive. It kind of spoke to me."

What do you love most about travelling?

"I travelled a lot when I was younger – but actually I became quite keen to make some roots, which I actually did in Manchester. I’d been living out of a bag for quite some time, and I just wanted to settle down. But it wasn’t going to be forever. I absolutely love travelling, and I’d recommend it to anyone – especially travelling alone. At first it seems a little daunting, but it renders you much more open to meeting new people. I have the independence and the ability to go where I want on my bike, and I’ve been staying with people in B&Bs, and camping, so the freedom of travelling this way has been absolutely amazing."

Any plans for UK-focused fashion / photography projects?

"There is actually a lot of respect in Scandinavia for British fashion. We have one of the oldest fashion industries in the world, and I’ve now been made aware of several brands that are either hand-making or independently designing very cool garments in the UK. I could definitely see myself doing another trip to visit these people and hopefully have a closer look at what they are doing."

You can follow the rest of Sven's trip via his blog and his Tumblr photo diary. 


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