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The former L’homme Rouge designer’s new accessories brand

Founder Jonatan Härngren doesn’t see his new concept Kultur5 as a brand, but more the name of a platform, structure, and a room for experiments. ”I wanted to answer one question: How can I create something that is inspired by culture, offer products, having a studio, but not being too much of a fashion brand? It might be impossible but something to strive for,” says founder Jonatan Härngren.

Kultur5 is also projects where he makes studies of ethically sourced materials, places, cultures, and products.

— We strive to educate with every project, to be informative and transparent.

He grew up outside of Gothenburg and with a dad working as an artist, he spent almost all the time in his wood workshop.

— Shape, material and color became a natural way to express myself.

Starting in 2008 he studied industrial Design in Italy, followed by Textile art in Stockholm, Fashion Design at Royal Danish Academy Of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Denmark. Shortly after, he became Creative Director and designer for critically acclaimed men’s fashion label L’homme Rouge, where he spent almost 7 years. Since August last year he’s been working for different brands, while developing Kultur5.

— I wanted to answer one question: How can I create something that is inspired by culture, offer products, having a studio, but not being too much of a fashion brand? It might be impossible but something to strive for, says Härngren, continuing,

— I want to focus on exploring, documenting, and defining the ”space in between”. It could be the space in between perfect and non perfect, finished and not finished, diversity, cultures, and groups emerged between two others, fragments of different objects put together. The ”space in between” is going to be the leading word in the beginning of every upcoming project.

Kultur is the Swedish word for culture, and is used to enlighten the importance of collective thinking, and studying objects and materials together.

— I’ve always been fascinated by art schools, their way of thinking, studying something together, and also because they are in the space between creative freedom and commercialism, which was one of the starting points. Let’s call it a culture, independency, a slow project where products are being released organically, where we always strive to keep a kind of freedom. This project allows me to be close to both the idea and the product itself since it is not dependent on too many producers. I wanted to work closely with manufacturers, not become dependent of too many places and persons, and be close to both the idea, inspirations, and the product itself. Therefore Sweden became a natural choice. Every product is handcrafted in Sweden.

Tell us about your first range of products.

— The first project, Conversations on the cliffs, is an idea I’ve had for a long time. A very personal series of jewelry for both men and women, based on my upbringing close to the archipelago, south of Gothenburg. The rocky cliffs, stones, deep conversations and rough music, youthful freedom, diversity, dry wooden bathhouses, and the soft and reflective, poetic ocean. The place is loaded with those feelings, and the idea was to copy a part of this place, stones and structures into another material. Silver became the natural medium, thanks to its abilities and softness to get shaped after another material or shape or surface. In this way, we could copy stone structures into the silver. We called the process copying nature. Silver also has the reflectivity, as the ocean, which was interesting, says Härngren.

The collection is genderless and has a raw expression with the oxidized stone structures.

— I wanted to get away from too much masculine expression and make them more fragile and poetic. Therefore they are not too thick and heavy. It’s about 5 different styles, including a lazer cut metal package (pictured above). Right now I am working on a bit more clean variations of the products that will be released in a couple of weeks, including a bracelet and necklace, says Härngren, adding,

— We will always keep the jewelry as a part in every project. In the coming project, which we’ve already started, we are working with aluminium and other reused materials. The project is based on the idea of personalities and form pressing, and will be released around August. •

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A subscription service raising the bar for second-hand fashion

Hack Your Closet collects second-hand items, unsold goods, or overstocks to match your personal styling profile. ”The clothing industry has to change. The truth is that there are enough clothes out there to dress all of us for the next 10 years,” says CEO Lisa Gautier.

According to a report published in 2017 by Allied Market Research, the global online clothing rental market was valued at $1,013 million in 2017, and is estimated to reach $ 1,856 million by 2023, registering a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.6% from 2017 to 2023. A development led by the North American market, followed by the Asia-Pacific region, the trend has also reached Scandinavia. Swedish service Hack Your Closet is a spin of the French-born CEO Lisa Gautier’s first venture.

— I’ve always wanted to work with re-sale and extending the life of produced garments. I’ve never stopped wishing to make an impact on the clothing industry and changing it for something more sustainable, she says.

After working in the apparel industry her entire life, it remains a passion. But her background is also in fashion-tech, digital innovation, user experience, and entrepreneurship, working for Outfittery GmbH in Berlin, Fyndiq, and Spotify. Her co-founder Mikaela Larsell Ayesa graduated from KTH in Stockholm with an M.Sc in Engineering, Innovation Management, and Circular Economy, where she developed a great interest in environmental questions and services with a greater purpose.

Gautier initially created Hack Your Closet when she saw how many barriers there are for consumers to buy second-hand items.

— It honestly scares off most people, she states. The clothing industry has to change. The truth is that there are enough clothes out there to dress all of us for the next 10 years. I am not talking about dressing like our grandparents, but styles that you and I already wear every day. I can look outside and dress anyone with items taken out of what we call The Waste Stream: second-hand items, unsold goods, or overstocks.

How does it work?

— After creating your style profile with us, you will be matched with a closet assistant or stylist, in order for us to build a both strong and unique relationships with our customers. When your style profile is saved and you have subscribed to our service, you will receive four handpicked items every month. You can wear them as long as you like before returning them.

How do you handle the hygiene?

— All of the clothes that we cycle are repaired, sanitized and washed between each cycle. Because of the scale of our closet, we’re able to use efficient but also sustainable processes to wash our clothes.

In the middle of the COVID crisis, the startup just secured investment from several industry profiles, including Babyshop chairwoman Susanna Campbell.

— We have been supporting small and bigger retailers during this difficult time, as we take in leftover goods to prevent them from being wasted. Our biggest challenge has been to grow our company during the crisis. We were ready to scale-up, but the economical instability has definitely affected the consumers which directly impacts service like ours that works with a direct-to-consumer model, says Gautier. She continues:

— We’re extremely humbled and excited to welcome new shareholders. Raising capital is all about building relationships, most of our new investors have known me and followed my journey for the past three years. We believe a lot in each other and are excited to be working together in challenging the clothing industry. I’m also confident that we will expand to a new market before the end of the year, the question is which one are we going for first. •

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It’s 2020 – are men ready for makeup now?

With a solid career within beauty and fashion, Wiik’s wife Jessica was contacted by investors to put Carl&Son on the market a few years ago. She then spent 1,5 years developing the concept and product range.

Andreas, on his side, is raised on a farm with a low engagement to beauty.

— I used to go to soccer practice with my deo and shower gel in a plastic bag. I just got introduced to skincare when Jessica told me her idea to launch makeup for men. I remember I was surprised and thought, really? But when she explained the concept and I got to try the products, I realized that she was on to something. I decided to join Carl&Son in the beginning of last year to strenghten the sales and prepare the launch at world’s biggest beauty fair, Cosmoprof, in Italy. Two days before the fair, the former investors decided to file for bankruptcy. Jessica and I went from super excited to suddenly unemployed. Slightly shocked we decided to follow through the fair and fight for Carl. The response was overwhelming and we decided to buy the brand ourselves with a new investor and continue the journey.

The brand, he tells, aims to be a modern and conscious choice for all men who want to look and feel good, regardless of age.

— It’s based on a simple philosophy; we want to offer men the best possible solution for their skin that is efficient and gives visible results, yet keeping it simple. Therefore we offer men high quality products that are vegan, dermatologically tested, cruelty free, and easy to use. Our skincare is made in Sweden with always a minimum of 95% natural ingredients and organic moisturizing agents. Oils and plant-extracts specifically target the needs to strengthen the skin barrier and give an instant feeling of freshness and a long lasting hydrating effect. All products are free from parabens, silicons, microplastics, and sulphates. Our signature scent is allergen free and contains, amongst others, cedar wood, mild grapefruit, pink pepper, sage, ginger, notes of musk, and marine tones. Like a fresh and masculine, yet subtle scent of pure, clean Scandinavian air.

When the brand started to develop their range of ”no makeup makeup” products, makeup for men did more or less not exist.

— You could find single products but not a complete concept. Six months after we started to develop the range, Chanel launched Boy de Chanel in South Korea. Then we knew that we were on to something and last autumn we finally launched it. Two major players at the Swedish market — Åhléns department store and Apotek Hjärtat pharmacy chain — saw the potential and listed the entire assortment, says Wiik.

The collection is a lightly pigmented range that covers small flaws and aims to give men a natural and fresh look.

— Since men in general are a bit novice around makeup we offer easy to use products with straightforward communication. We name our products according to what they do instead of industry standard names. Instead of concealer or powder, our products are named Dark Circle Eliminator, Beard Filler, Spot Fighter, Face Filter, and so on.

What’s the reception? And who’s the customer?

— There is really no particular customer profile. I’ve met so many men, from young guys to older gentlemen, during the last year who are struggling with their skin in different ways or just being positively surprised how such a small thing can lift their appearance so much. I believe my history going from zero knowledge regarding beauty to today being confident to both discuss and wear makeup enables me to understand men’s uncertainties regarding grooming and in particular makeup. I always assume that men do not know anything about makeup and see every talk as educational and informative. The gratitude and happiness when they understand the concept and see themselves in the mirror after a small touch up is priceless and the best response I can get.

Would you say 2020 is the year when men are finally ready to wear makeup?

— I believe men have been ready for a while but the options have been few. There is loads of advanced makeup for women but now there is a straight forward concept also for men. Men need to understand that you don’t have to spend 30 minutes in front of the mirror to put on makeup, it takes me a few minutes to do a touch up.

How will you develop yourself and the concept?

— We have a couple of exciting products in the pipeline and we are continuing our sustainability journey with packaging being next in line. Another focus is of course to grow distribution and find suitable partners. Since our launch we have continued to expand and now have 4 export markets, with the latest addition being Australia, says Wiik, adding,

— The other week Danish prince (and model, Ed’s note) Nikolai was wearing our makeup at a photo shoot so who knows where Carl will end up. •