Having started out with humble beginnings one cold November day in 2011, the Brixtol brand has since grown into a major force in modern streetwear. Founders Gustav Kjellander and Emil Holmström wanted to create a label that constantly looks to explore and reinvent, following their dream from their home in Stockholm to the UK Midlands (renowned for its manufacturers of traditional British outerwear). Inspired by British subculture, the duo chose the name ‘Brixtol’ because it combines the words ‘Bristol’ (an iconic hangout for 60’s mods) with ‘Brixton’ (home to bands like The Clash).
Specialising in jackets and knitwear, Brixtol collections fuse Scandinavian styles with an undercurrent of British attitude, and are now stocked in 300 locations around the world. We caught up with Gustav and Emil as they reveal a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Brixtol world.
Talk to us about Brixtol’s new S/S16 collection.
Emil: It’s influenced by Swedish weather conditions, technical details and patterns from the 60’s, like our snow-coloured batik print.
Gustav: We always want to have a functionality in our collections. [S/S16] presents good leisure outerwear for all kinds of spring weather – we go from a warmer jacket in a British waxed cotton to styles made in cooler Portuguese linen.
What are the key pieces to look out for?
Emil: The D.W Bomber and E.M Bomber are Brixtol classics, and one of our best-selling styles! This is a long bomber that has the elegance of a coat and attitude of a bomber. Our collab with Official Gallery (Wet Coat) is also a masterpiece; it’s a milky coloured transparent raincoat in a stretch quality with taped seams and a print on the back.
Gustav: Personally, I like our new style O.S Coat, which has the size of a parka but the look of a coat. This jacket has discreet details, which gives the jacket a subtle attitude the wearer will love. I’m also proud of our collection of linen jackets. They turned out exactly as I wished – full of attitude with a touch of sophistication.
What’s a typical day like in the Brixtol showroom?
Emil: A day in the office can be everything from quiet work alone in front of my computer, to the opposite – a loud creative moshpit!
Gustav: For me, it’s like this: measuring samples, browsing through fabrics to find the perfect one, a few cups of coffee, music and in-between some laughs with my colleagues.
You guys started out in a tiny kitchen in Stockholm – what do you attribute to your success over the last four years?
Emil: They key is to stay focused – we are a jacket brand and we won’t start with other product groups as we want to give the jackets 100% time and focus. We have a a vision to make the best jackets there are! Another thing is to work with carry-over styles and create classics; you don’t have to invent the wheel every time but you still need to work hard with product development. Last but not least, you need to take your economy very seriously!
Gustav: Thinking long-term and not being to afraid what and when things will happen. You need to believe in what you do, but still be very humble to the situation. There have been days when you think: is this going to work, or are we crazy for doing this? That’s when you need to stay focused and look ahead. It’s also important to remember one of the main reasons why you start your own thing; the freedom of owning your own time.
What are the top three tracks being played in the Brixtol showroom this summer?
Emil: Agent Side Grinder – ‘Stranger Stranger’, Young M.A – ‘Brooklyn’ and Broder Daniel – ‘Shoreline’.
Gustav: Jamie xx – ‘Gosh’, Ariel Pink’s ‘Haunted Grafitti’ – Baby, Fantastic – ‘Not Too Late’.
What’s your work process like, as a duo? Do you take on different areas of the label?
Emil: When we started we did everything together – design, economy, sales, production, PR etc – but now we take on different responsibilities. As I have an MA in Economics and used to work with PR, those are my focus areas. Gustav is head of production, and he is also the mastermind of the graphic profile. On top of that, we have hired people who are much better then us in some areas.
Gustav: In the beginning we did everything, which I guess is the life of a self-employed person, but now we have clear and divided tasks between us. The design process is where we meet, and then we go back to our individual areas.
If you could pick anyone (alive or dead) as the new face of Brixtol, who would it be?
Emil: Ian Curtis – he is the inspiration for the whole brand. His look, his clothes, his music… we named our first jacket after him.
Gustav: Yeah, like Emil said it has to be Ian Curtis. He has been a great inspiration from the start.
As a Scandinavian brand, what is it about British fashion and culture that particularly inspires you in your collections?
Emil: Your subcultures inspire me. The British people are such strong believers, and when they belong to a subculture, they do it all the way. The aesthetic and attitude from the mods, rockers and punks are really inspiring to me.
Gustav: The multicultural mix and the strong history of subculture. Many of the subcultures when our parents were young came from the UK, and it was the same for me and my friends so we have grown up with it. From the music to the clothing.
On that, who are some standout Scandinavian designers you think we should know about?
Emil: Estrid Ericsson, Sandra Backlund and Gert Wingårdh.
Gustav: Swedish artist Öyvind Fahlström, Official Gallery and the guys in behind L’homme Rouge are great in all aspects.
When you’re both in the city, where is your favourite place to go in London?
Emil: I love the typical British brick walls, so I always want to explore areas where there were once big factories.
Gustav: I want to go all over when I’m in London. I want to see what is going on in the shops in the different areas, what people are wearing in the different social spheres… But the Eastern part is were I feel that I fit in.
What can we expect to see from Brixtol later this year? Any exciting projects in the works?
Emil: We will continue with our green thinking, and are set to launch a bicycle bag together with VARG. The bag is manufactured from old Brixtol designs, one in wax and one in nylon.
Gustav: We have lots of things going on. Some projects we can’t tell you about (but stay tuned!) – other than that we will explore what you can do with outerwear. We also intend to do more things around the brand; tell more stories and express emotions.