In Conversation With Brøgger Co-founder & Designer Julie Brøgger

Selective Attention caught up with UK based womenswear brand Brøgger to chat with their co-founder and designer Julie Brøgger about how she got started, multicultural design inspirations, the changing definition of luxury and inspiration for tomorrow’s aspiring designers.

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Could you tell us a bit about how you got started?

After almost a decade of working for other brands, I had a dream of bringing my own vision to life, but the world never really needs a new fashion brand. I needed that decade of learning and honing my skills before I could circle in on a tangible concept of what I wanted to add to the saturated world of fashion. It started with and is still the main focus, to create a brand that offers women standout pieces that has longevity and desire in equal measures. There is so much talk about about sustainability and the challenges for fashion to live up to any standards in that regard, but to me longevity is where sustainable fashion really excels. I aim to create clothes that will be cherished not only for one season but for many and in a quality that allows that. Like I did from my own mum, the dream is that in the future the Brøgger customer will pass on her Brøgger items to her's. In order to do that people really need to fall in love with the clothes!

From the beginning it has been important to me to be conscious not only about the quality but also the circumstances of manufacturing. Brøgger stays committed to keeping the sourcing and manufacturing within the EU, keeping the supply chain as close to our London base as possible. All our tailoring is made locally in London by specialist manufacturers, and that is a decision based not on pricing vs quality but on supporting what London is best at.

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How does being bi-cultural inform Brøgger's design aesthetic?

Danish design and architecture relates to an aesthetic tradition that that builds on functionality and is stripped of unnecessary ornamentation. They beauty is often found in the craftsmanship and an elegant form that seams to be an inevitable consequence of its function. It is a great privilege to grow in a society where design is valued and public buildings are filled with design classics. But it does also create a normative approach to taste that can seem uniform, and London offers a clear juxtaposition to that. London is wilder, colourful and a true melting pot of influences. Working creatively in London taught me the love of florals, colours and that things should be a imperfect, unfinished at times. My favorite London local is an older woman that always wears florals from top to toe, all mixed up and it has nothing to with fashion it is just what she likes. That level of eccentricity is very rare in Scandinavia and exists in abundance in London.

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Who is the Brøgger woman?

The Brøgger woman is confident in her choices and want wearability from her clothes but will not compromise on the desirability. She likes to stand out in a crowd and to discover new brands that will add uniqueness to her wardrobe.

Based on your team's design experience, what is today's luxury consumer looking for?

I believe the luxury consumer has changed over that last decade of recession and shift in spending, most luxury consumers focus more on displaying their individual taste and style than their wealth. She doesn't only buy luxury any more but across the categories. It is a consumer that demands much more now than ever before from brands. Shopping smaller independent brands like Brøgger offers that sense of exclusivity and a contrast to the worldwide exposure of big luxury brands, which is attractive to a conscious luxury consumer.

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In Asia, the brand is currently stocked in Joyce (Hong Kong), Saisons (Chengdu) and Tom Greyhound (Seoul). Compared to Western markets, what are some key differences in taste or market demand that the team has observed in these cities? What's similar and or different?

The Asian market is of course difficult to describe a one unit, but with the danger of generalization, I think it is a much more explorative luxury consumer than in Europe. One that takes chances with fashion. The before mentioned stores always do very interesting selections. Our bold floral prints can be challenging to some areas of Asia but general we do well across the collection.

Does your team have any advice to offer young designer brands who are interested in expanding their stockists into Asia?

First of all you have to stay true to what your core aesthetic, authenticity is key for a fashion brand in any market.

Be aware that not all shapes and lengths work for an Asian market, so adjust your ranges but always within your brand aesthetic. It is a dangerous path to try to please one market at the price of your identity.

In Conversation With Tony Joshua Sanna

I recently had the great pleasure to meet Tony Joshua Sanna, an Italian designer from Sardinia who is currently based in Shanghai. 

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Sanna first discovered his interest in fashion when he was working as a hair stylist and makeup artist. Bored during down time backstage for a fashion event in Miami he began to drape and shape a spare piece of fabric on a mannequin form which earned him a compliment from a late great designer. On returning home he found an atelier to understudy at, all while working at his full time job.

When the time was right he used his knowledge of pattern making and garment construction to launch his own brand T.J.S. Despite 30 years in the industry Tony still loves fashion and he has an infectious energy starting the conversation off with "I've done so much but there is still so much I want to do." 

To learn more about his story keep reading below:

How did you end up in Shanghai?

I was working in a fashion school in Hong Kong teaching adult students and one of my students who was very good friends with a person living in Shanghai introduced me to his friend who was looking for a stylist to help one of his clients. She was a famous golf instructor who had moved her business to China. Since she was writing a new book in Chinese she needed help with her hair makeup and styling since she was making public appearances. Since I'm very good and experienced in all three things I was asked to come to Shanghai for one month to do this. It was a great success and I've stayed in Shanghai ever since.

You mentioned you still love fashion, what is it about your creative medium that you find so fascinating?

It's been nearly 30 years now of being a dressmaker and designer and even today when I pick up fabric it still feels like the first day I started. My passion has got stronger over the years, I am always trying new looks new techniques as I don't really go with the seasons I make and design based on how I'm feeling at that time. Before I start designing a collection I go to the fabric market to touch the fabric, then my collection starts from there for bridal, evening and haute couture. I also love teaching students across a wide range of ages, I make it so much fun and interesting and really enjoy sharing my knowledge with them. 

Can you tell us how you came to collaborate with GAP China for an A/W 17/18 capsule collection?

In 2016 I was asked to design a new fall collection for GAP China.

I was personally asked by the CEO who had seen some if my work. Since I have a high passion for Asian style mixed together with Western design elements she thought this would be an interesting new look for GAP. After a year of hard work the collection was released in September 2017. It was a great success that sold out within a month of launching. 

How do you consult your clients on custom designs?

When a client come to see me about making a dress, the first thing I ask them is "What is the occasion?" Then it all starts from there, if they have a picture of something they like, that would be a visual guideline, but I will never copy. I want each custom order I make to be personally made for each client, although there will be some details of the dress they are looking included. Everything from the neckline color to fabric will be included in the consultation so the final design suits their personality and skin tone. When I work with a client, I always give her my honest opinion in every way I can to achieve the best result. 

Where do you see yourself in the future?

My future is here in Shanghai.

Right now I am still making collections from my studio and doing many projects with others. I recently worked with a magazine for an editorial, I made a collection that was specially designed for that.  My collection is also being sold on an online platform and a big project that is currently being discussed will see my collection housed in a physical retail location where my existing clients and future ones can see my designs in person. I'll also be consulting for a new menswear brand and soon I will be a creative director for a new store.

To learn more about custom orders or Sanna's studio taught fashion classes add the designer on WeChat, his ID is tibby67.