We had the pleasure of interviewing Carin Rodebjer to find out more about her eponymous Scandi fashion label Rodebjer (pronounced rod-eb-yer), which she launched almost by accident in 1999.
HI CARIN! PLEASE TELL US – WHAT WAS IT LIKE GROWING UP ON A SMALL ISLAND IN THE BALTIC SEA? AND HOW DID LIVING SOMEWHERE REMOTE ENTHUSE YOUR PASSION FOR CRAFT AND CREATIVITY?
Growing up on a farm on the island of Gotland, I was brought up to be aware of the nature and the animals around me, and I saw directly the impact life had on the surroundings. Responsibility and resourcefulness were general practice, and I believe that has inspired me in my craft and creativity.
Way before sustainability became the buzz word it is today, Rodebjer committed to a path of responsible design by creating pieces conceived to be lasting in quality and style. Also, I think that the slower pace on the island made me appreciate unique ideas, and the passionate and time-consuming art of craft.
"Rodebjer was born on the corner of Ludlow Street in New York and a gravel path on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea." - Photo: Carl Jesper Versfeld och Marcus Ohlsson for Bon Magazine
Carl Jesper Versfeld och Marcus Ohlsson for Bon Magazine
YOU MOVED FROM GOTLAND TO NEW YORK. CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW THE ENERGY OF BOTH PLACES COMPARED?
Rodebjer was born on the corner of Ludlow Street in New York and a gravel path on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. The brand is a blend between the tranquility of the island with its vastness of raw nature surrounded by the endless sea, the long-lasting values and practical down-to-earth mentality contrasted by the intensity of the city and the collective mix of people, styles and perspectives and a way of living life to its fullest potential.
These strong opposites transformed me as a woman and are the foundation of what Rodebjer is today. Somehow both places gave me the full freedom of expressing myself.
YOU FOUNDED RODEBJER WHILE LIVING IN NEW YORK. TO WHAT EXTENT DID THE CITY INFORM THE BRAND?
When I founded Rodebjer in my Lower East Side studio in 2000, it became a platform for sharing thoughts, an ongoing curiosity, a way to explore our authentic selves and for me to transform that conversation into clothes. The city really inspired me. I think the open-mindedness, energy and the richness of different influences really has shaped Rodebjer.
Also, the time of course was different in so many ways. Sustainability was still not anything people talked or cared about, and there were no social media or Ecom business. Times have changed but Rodebjer has always had the drive to be relevant, so we have adapted because we listen and transform to the needs of women
"Times have changed but Rodebjer has always had the drive to be relevant, so we have adapted because we listen and transform to the needs of women"
ONE OF THE CENTRAL DRIVING FORCES OF YOUR BRAND VISION IS THE ENVIRONMENT. IN 2000, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SEEN AS QUITE PROGRESSIVE. HOW FAR DO YOU THINK THE INDUSTRY HAS COME AND HOW FAR DO YOU THINK WE STILL NEED TO GO?
Rodebjer, as well as the entire industry, still have a long way to go. As of now, we are ethically vigilant in terms of factory practices and internal policies. We are continually exploring alternative material choices and as new technologies emerge, we remain a brand in progress, evolving with the innovations at hand and constantly challenging ourselves to rise towards sustainable progress in these ever-significant global times.
At this point we are at 70% recycled or organic fabrics. Sustainability issues are often complex, and we aim to have a holistic perspective where we take various considerations into account and focus on the activities where we can make a difference and where we have the highest environmental impact.
"At this point we are at 70% recycled or organic fabrics."
YOUR PIECES ARE INCREDIBLY VERSATILE AND YET THERE IS ALWASY SOMETHING INTERESTING AND VISIONARY ABOUT THEM, HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT MIX FOR YOU?
That’s right. I’m glad you are seeing this because it is so true. Being practical and visionary at the same time is important to me, as women want to live their lives without restrictions, while still looking good. This design idea has led Rodebjer to the optimistic down-to-earth style that has been our signature from the start. A wardrobe that is practical yet modern, relevant and lasting.
WITH YOUR COLLECTIONS, WHAT ARE YOU EMOTIONALLY TRYING TO BRING TO YOUR CUSTOMERS?
My dream has always been to serve women, the Rodebjer woman rises to many roles and therefore she needs a wardrobe that inspires her to be her best self in any given situation. A well-considered uniform respectful of women’s day-to-day existence and of the planet that she inhabits. I want her to feel that we have her back and I want to evoke emotions of beauty, confidence and responsibility.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
● Favourite documentary or series?
The last dance
● Countryside or city?
I need both
● Sweden or New York?
● New York in the 90s or now?
I always like the now and I am
never nostalgic so definitely now
● Sky or sea?
● Painting or photography?
● Colour or monochrome?
Can I have it all?
● Dress or trousers?
Dress for summer and
trousers for winter