Blue Sky Agenda: Designer ANDERS HAAL in Conversation with 032c

ANDERS HAAL is a Stockholm-based designer who, after completing his studies at Beckmans College of Design, moved on to become first designer at Ann-Sofie Back Atelje. In late 2013, he left the company to start his own label, HAAL, which was quickly picked up by forward-thinking retailers such as LN-CC and Opening Ceremony. His second collection, which debuts here, features HAAL models digitally plastered across big city billboards set against blue sky backdrops. 032c spoke with Haal about hacking, big brand mentalities, and carefree living.

 

grid21032c: You’ve described your work as “applying a ‘hacker’ mindset in seeking a new conceptual lifestyle approach.” What do you mean by that? 

ANDERS HAAL: A hacker’s mindset is an outsider perspective, a code breaker. Designing lifestyle is more interesting for me than designing collections.

HAALSS15_0898What does the HAAL lifestyle approach look like?

HAAL is carefree and casual.

This collection brings together a lot of disparate elements, but the way they’re presented in the look book brings it all together. It seems in contrast with what’s often expected from a brand, where the clothes themselves develop a trademark look but the packaging changes every season (see: Chanel).  How concerned are you with designing clothes which are recognizably “you”? 

I work a lot with mismatched elements, almost un-designed at times, like a wardrobe. The way I work with continuity and repetition is probably the answer to my trademarking. I stick to the things I like. Some things won’t change, while other parts of the collection will change completely every time. It would be too boring for me to work with just one look. It’s more about the mix, how things work together and the gap it creates. How you combine with a certain body or a certain character because this is how you dress. That’s the most honest way to design for me.

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I see a bit of a connecting thread to K-HOLE’s definition of normcore – an open-mindedness and willingness to adapt. What are your thoughts on the term?

Hot topic. Stockholmers seem to be really scared of it actually. Scared of being themselves or not, I don’t know. But this thinking is old news to us. It’s part of our culture. Open-mindedness and diversity is important ingredients in HAAL, yes, but these kind of fully fledged ideas aren’t necessary to me.

grid3Brand identity is arguably more important than clothes at the moment, at least on the mass market level. How do you think about the visual identity of your brand and how important are the garments themselves?

Either way, clothes are important, the craft is what I do best. But they are never precious to me. Even if we worked on something for a long time, probably too long, in the end it’s not so much about the product. Those mega-brand formats like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s might have an aggressive approach to growth or marketing . I really appreciate that kind of larger than life attitude especially if you take that approach and focus on identity instead of things. Claiming territories, no boundaries. But I prefer to see it visually. Billboards look good, campaign shots are sexy. The corporations offers the iconography of our time. Working with a Marlboro red, a blue-sky denim packaging felt like the most natural thing I could do in this collection. It’s in our DNA.

I try to feel more than I think. I have a lot to explore with imagery and photo series in new formats and I feel the identity is growing.

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What are you looking for in your collaborators? 

I want to work with new people now, trying to kind of handpick because I’m looking for certain ingredients. In this project I was working with photographer Rémi Lamandé, who added spontaneity and humor and Niklas Bildstein Zaar who adds sharpness. We were going for blue skies and open air. Existential pop.

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Image Credits

Photography: Rémi Lamandé
Art direction: Niklas Bildstein Zaar
Landscape photography: Yoshi Tsujumura & Niklas Bildstein Zaar
Wearers: Sojourner Morell, Rijntje van Wijk, Laia Bonaste, Clara 3000
Hair: Yuji Okuda
Make Up: Cathy