A Swede in Florence
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A Swede in Florence

There is a thin red line that links a dark and minimal style code with the best Tuscan craftsmanship tradition. It is the Original Total Look of Erïk Bjerkesjö, a talented Swedish designer and this year's winner of the 2012 Who is On Next? Pitti Uomo

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Thu 25 Oct 2012 12:00 AM

There
is a thin red line that links a dark and minimal style code with the best
Tuscan craftsmanship tradition. It is the Original Total Look of Erïk
Bjerkesjö, a talented Swedish designer and this year’s winner of the 2012 Who
is On Next? Pitti Uomo award and contest dedicated to upcoming talents in the
fashion industry, organized by Pitti Immagine, L’Uomo Vogue and
Altaroma.

 

Attention
to detail, creativity and careful research are the keywords of Bjerkesjö’s own
fashion style. A strong personal concept of contemporary masculine elegance.
Born in 1982 on an island outside of Stockholm (the same island that gave the
world Ingmar Bergman), Bjerkesjö moved to Florence to study Footwear and
Accessories Design at Polimoda under the aegis of the visionary Linda Loppa. It
was fashion and love at first sight. Love for a city, Florence, and its artisan
heritage.

The
image of this tall man with big cerulean eyes, glasses and his usual black cap
is that of a real gentleman, a man of times past, with his gestures, polite
words and timidness. Nevertheless, he is astute and knows exactly what he wants
from his career; his hands, always dirtied with color like a real artisan, are
evidence of this.

 

He
started creating shoes with an innovative design that was characterized by a
special signature: two visible holes in each side of the shoe. Each bespoke
collection is manually produced by the designer himself together with skilled
Tuscan artisans. Each detail is special: hand bevelling, punching on toe caps,
soles enriched with the signature of their creator and three 18-carat gold
nails in the heel.

 

Recently,
Bjerkesjö debuted with his first menswear collection, steeped in minimal and
post-modern moods. His clothes are revisited through an experimental
combination of materials, paying meticulous attention to every work process,
like special treatments with shoe polish, to offer an unexpected contemporary
effect. Pure and austere as the Nordic clean-cut design tradition, his style is
inspired by the melancholy of film, music and literature icons from Swedish
culture.

 

Tell me about yourself. What is your fashion
background? Why did you choose to be a fashion designer?

I’m
from Sweden and I grew up on an island outside Stockholm, called Gotland. I
have a masters in fashion footwear design from Polimoda in Florence and I was
working for designers and close to craftsmen when I decided to start my own
line, produced in Tuscany. I chose to be a designer because I like to build and
piece things together, and because I love it.

 

What inspires you?

High
quality garments and leather. I can imagine something that I want to create
when I see and feel nice fabrics and leather. Buildings and interior design
also inspire me a lot. When I create a look, I think of an ideal character for
my collection. Mine is a bit aristocratic, lonely, ambitious and thoughtful.
When I make a collection I picture, for example, what Ian Curtis would wear if
he was alive, where he would have gone and lived, what music he would have
listened to. The character just grows more in my imagination. I also love going
to live concerts with fantastic bands, such as The Soft Moon, Kurt Vile, M83,
and my brother’s band, Bmob.

 

What are your plans for the future?

I
am doing a collaboration with my friend ‘The White Briefs,’ called ‘The
traveling gentleman’ and it will be a continuously traveling collaboration. I
also have other footwear projects, but it is too soon to speak about them!

 

What was it like to win the Who is on Next Prize?

What
more can a young designer wish for? For me, it was absolutely the greatest
feeling to win the prize. It is something I will always appreciate, and will
treasure it for the rest of my career.

 

Why did you choose to live and to work in Italy, and
why in Florence?

This
is where I feel at home; I go back and forth between Stockholm and Florence,
and I like both places. But to live and work in Florence is perfect. You are
always close to production and stores. But aside from that, I really like
Florence because it is alive, my pulse beats quicker when I am here!

 

What do you like most about Florence and what would
you suggest seeing here?

The
countryside around Florence is fantastic and the tradition of craftsmanship and
small production studios is something I recommend. Florence is easy to get
around, and my friends and I have many spots where we like to meet up,
including a small park in Fiesole, where you can relax and have a great view of
the city.

 

I
also really like stores such as Luisa Via Roma and A Piedi Nudi Nel Parco,
which are amazing. As far as restaurants are concerned, in the summer I love
the Ristorante-Bar Acqua Otto at the Canottieri Firenze rowing club.

 

For
more information and photos of Erïk Bjerkesjö’s collections, see www.erikbjerkesjo.com

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