Founded in 2002 by Silas Adler and Jacob Kampp Berliner, the totally Danish brand Soulland got off to quite a rocky start. With Adler borrowing money, losing it, putting Soulland in his mother’s name, opening a store and closing it, it was an uphill struggle for the now super popular artisanal brand. Thoughtful, detailed design underpins the label. It throws out the old, by replacing fabrics and cuts on traditional staples and suits, and makes clothes that ‘our generation’ want to wear. Adler, from a skater-boy background, aims to create a universe of clothes that his wearers actually care about wearing. The brand is seeing continued growth, and because of its characteristically Scandi aesthetic, it is often wedged into the same space as the Acnes and Our Legacys of the world. Here Adler tells us about why Soulland deserves to be considered on its own terms, alongside, but not the same as, all the other Scandis.
LCM PROFILE – SOULLAND
Get to know the Danish duo behind Soulland.
This is your third collection at LC:M, what’s changed business wise for you guys since you’ve been showing in London?
We have learned so much about ourself and where we wanna focus with our brand. The competition and creative level here is just on a much higher level. It is motivation for me to push my abilities and try to go out side my safe zone. On the external level our business is growing the same as the awareness. Things don’t come easy and things take time. Thank god I realised that long ago! We are starting to work with Harvey Nichols for spring – our relationship with them has started and grown because of LC:M…
Despite only a handful of showings in London, your brand has been around for a few years now and has seen a few trends come and go already. Do you feel what’s going on in the rest of fashion needs to influence your work, or do you try to avoid letting popular trends and motifs affect your design too much?
Like every other creative I have this arrogant self vision of me as an original. Trends are a reaction of people getting the same sparks of input in more places at the same time. Before the guys in NY got one kind of input and us Scandies got another input. Now we all get them same input more or less. So it’s harder to clear your canvas and get ideas that are not flowing some where else.
Hip Hop seemed significant for SS16, you seem to be interested in the relationship between Hip-Hop and rebellious fashion (I remember, by the way, I once owned a “Bourgeoisie” print sweatshirt of yours that Jay-Z was also pictured in)?
I grew up with counter culture in my teens. And it still has it’s fingers in me. I like contrast, I like people or things that break the pattern and redefine them self and the world they live in. I don’t like the word rebel or rebellion but I like what it stands for.
In fact, a kind of rebelliousness often seems to inform your work, be that through printed phrases (like that conversation-piece “Bourgeoisie” sweatshirt or the “Fuck Inspiration” one back in S/S 2009) or the graffiti scrawled set and jackets of SS16: do you deliberately seek to elicit strong reactions to your work or is that rebelliousness just a part of your aesthetic?
First off “FUCK INSPIRATION” is one of our older prints – I’m amazed that you know it. For me that has always been the collection I wish I had done later, it would make so much more sense now. On the other hand the concept would be corny. I might start sampling old collection ideas in to new collections. Back to the question. I like a reaction. I don’t get a reaction for the stuff I do. I use print as a tool. I use design as a tool. It’s more about maybe getting people to think just a little bit. Rather than offending.
Fabric innovation and print often seem more important to you than radical silhouette innovations, how do you go about working with/choosing these unusual fabrics: what attracts you to them?
I understand texture much better, It’s my language. I’m challenging my self to work more with the silhouette – it’s something I’m slowly starting to understand better. The textiles have been my main focus the last couple of years. I have developed a lot of fabrics from scratch and the new interesting thing for me is to destroy fabrics after I have built them up. I like the engineering side to textile development.
What were some of the inspirations behind this collection?
Old cars being dropped in to nature by ignorant humans. And nature eating the cars.
I’ve often seen you grouped by the press into the Scandinavian “minimalism” movement (including brands like Acne and Our Legacy) that’s become a popular force in menswear over the past 5 years: do you see any merit in these parallels or think they’re completely reductive?
I respect both brands a lot. A lot of what they do has nothing to do with minimalism. For me it’s about saying things clearly. So in that sense I see it as a Merit. Plus for me they are the two most pro active companies in Northern Europe in terms of fashion. I’m fine with standing in their part of the school yard.
You’ve said in the past that “the clothing should speak for itself”. Do you eschew over-explanation of your clothing (compared to say, the extensive show notes provided by some designers) as a matter of principle?
Yes. The fact is the more I feel secure about what I do, the less important it is for me to tell a long story. This season the press release should just say, Google Junk Car River bank or Old Car museum…!
Where are you looking to take the brand next? Creatively or commercially speaking?
To a place where the two work in balance. I wanna create and make money!