By Chere Di Boscio
Unlike most (usually male) designers, Gudrun Sjoden wants women to be two things: happy and comfortable. Her waistbands here are often elastic; hemlines are low; shoes are sensible; cuts are generous. These are not clothes you’d be likely to see on New York fashion editors or sullen French architects – this is style for Earth Mamas and Now Age warriors who couldn’t care less about keeping up with trends or competitive dressing, and there are quite a few of them: when I met her at the launch of an exhibition of her work at London’s Fashion & Technology Museum, she was surrounded by devoted fans, and the crowd was so thick you could barely find the lady herself.
Gudrun Sjoden’s style may not be cutting edge, but her philosophy sure is – she was one of the first ever fully eco-friendly labels, and she proudly carries that ethic to her label still today. The trend for sustainability has only made her more popular, and so I was delighted when she found the time to share her thoughts on sustainable fashion, growing older and the importance of colour in this exclusive interview for Eluxe Magazine.
Your clothing can almost be defined in one word: colourful. What does colour mean for you?
Colors have always been important in my designs. To make patterns in watercolors and mix different colors is my way of create the design and my collections. I love colors but I love also off-white and naturals in different shapes- such as graphics with black and white.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Why do you think most city people are so averse to wearing colour?
Sometimes I think that we don’t want to stick out. If you have bright colors you “stand” for something special. Many customers have told me that different things have happened since they started to wear bright colours – some of them even thank me for this “new life”!
How can people used to wearing black and grey incorporate colour into their wardrobes?
From recycling Gudrun clothing with your vintage scheme to saving the forests, you’re involved in quite a few causes. What are the most pressing issues facing we humans today, in your opinion?
We as a company have a big part to work in the right green way. For us its very important to take the small steps and to always think about the sustainable ways when we start up the design process. The green issue has always been very connected to me- since I started the company 1976 the nature has been my inspiration. Therefore we now this spring have 93% sustainable materials in our range- that is one part, then we also tell about the materials and show the customer to choose the better materials. Green is in our DNA- meaning we are using vintage and natural material when we are putting up a new shop, in the office we have a lot of green methods in our office, too – from not printing out so much paper to collecting the glass, paper, etc for recycling. For us, it’s not a new modern thing; for us, it’s in our soul.
You have a devoted following unlike almost any other designer. Why do you think that is?
You’ve been designing most of your life. Which moments in your career most stand out for you?
I don’t look back- I look forward. So my best moment is now. It’s so exciting to expand in our new markets like UK and US, to meet customers everywhere who likes my collections and my unique style!
What are the biggest changes in the fashion industry you’ve noted since you started your career?
What fact about you would surprise some of your biggest fans?
A…hard question! Maybe that I work so much with the business side as well as design.
Finally, what has growing older taught you?