Fashion brand Hope has a new collection. Changes is a collection that exists outside of the limits of gender identity, instead focusing on creating clothing for the individual. We discussed the collection with Hope CEO Åsa Sånemyr and Head Of Design Frida Bard.
So the Changes collection is one that aims to create clothing that bypasses traditional ideas of gender identity. Where did the idea for it come from?
Åsa: For some time now, there has been a revolution in regards to the term gender identity, which has also had us at Hope thinking about what gender is really about. Changes is a tribute to the development within norm criticism and diversity that we see in society today, and the first expression of a more long-term strategy for us that focuses more on diversity within fashion.
The term that pops up a lot when you talk about the collection is the individual. Is that focus on the individual a way of escaping ideas of gender grouping?
Åsa: We believe that we should focus on the individual that carries the clothes rather than whatever norm may cloud our minds and judgements. Hope has always tried to challenge existing conventions within fashion – and we thought it was time to re-examine ourselves in order to live up to our beliefs and mission in a way that reflects society today. Changes is a way of expressing that mindset today.
The Changes collection comes from Hope’s aim to “continuously mirror movements in society and individual expression”. Where does that desire come from?
Åsa: This has always been the mission for Hope, since the beginning. And it comes quite naturally since we see fashion as an artistic way of expression, just like movies, music or art, to reflect society and individual expression. Rather than working from the inside out, we believe that our clients are our main source of inspiration and start our processes from the outside.
Hope has also said that Changes is only the first step of what’s to come. So where do you see this developing, where do you see these ideas taking Hope in the future? You’ve spoken about collaborations with Rättviseförmedligen.
Åsa: We started this journey with Rättviseförmedlingen, almost two years ago, and have since worked with our internal processes to make sure that we live up to our vision and mission. This has entailed overseeing diversity structures in the management and amongst co-workers in regards to gender, age, ethnicity and so on, as well as broadening our size range with both smaller and larger sizes. This is a process where we will never be done but we’ll keep challenging ourselves continuously. We will continue our work with all of these questions in matters like representation as well as design.
Onto the actual design of the collection: was it more challenging to create fashion to that non-gender identity brief than your previous work? Or was there more freedom and was it more interesting to operate outside gender norms?
Frida: For me as a designer, the focus is on the silhouette, movement and on the story we want to tell. Since Hope is a brand that challenges structures in society and fashion, the work with Changes was always very natural for us. The collection was parallel- fitted on men and women and we had open discussions of how each and every one of us liked to wear the garments, how they made us feel. To work with both masculine and feminine references within a more fluid contextual frame was both a given and liberating.
What were the stylistic themes you wanted to create the collection around? There’s a lot of colour and space in the clothes’ design.
Frida: One of the most important ideas around the collection was to create a sensual, energetic and beautiful expression within the context of Hope. To play with classic masculine elements like the cargo pant and the blazer alongside more feminine references as floral prints and soft velvet and transparent organza. We want persons dressed in Changes to feel empowered and beautiful.
The collection is fronted by Arvida Byström, Casper-Malte Jörgensen, Yunus Rosenzweig, Martina Enevold and Martin Bohlin who are all from different cultural fields like dance, art, music and design. What made you feel like they were the right people to represent Changes?
Frida: Just as all those mentioned artistic forms, fashion is also an expression of individuality and society so it felt obvious that we work with people that stand for individual expression no matter what channel they choose to work with. Also, Arvida, Casper-Malte, Yunus, Martin and Martin have all experimented with the gender notion and share our view.
The Changes collection is available from the Hope stores on Götgatan 34, Smålandsgatan 14 and Odengatan 70.