Photography: Alva Nylander
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Meet the Swedish, up and coming fashion designer Eli Solberg who was recently selected as one of the Vogue Talents 2020 via their graduation collection ‘Pedestrian’ from Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden, which was shown during Stockholm Fashion Week 2020.
How would you describe yourself and how do you think others will describe you?
What kind of community did you grow up around and how did that shape you?
I am Swedish and I grew up in a small town called Eskilstuna, situated nearby Stockholm. I have been lucky growing up in a loving and supportive family, which I am truly grateful for. I had a happy upbringing, but that is not to say it always been easy. In the small town community I grew up there was a lot of pressure on fitting in and even more so, not on standing out too much. However, it taught me the value of standing up for myself from a young age and the importance of respecting others and having an open mind.
“My collection is a personal interpretation of the urban environments and the people I observed, that both strive to portrait reality and go beyond, in a more poetic manner.”
It was an honor to be selected by Vogue as one of their talents and I am still astounded by all the wonderful encouragement I have received for my work so far! My graduation collection was created during my final year at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, where I studied the bachelor’s program, specializing in fashion design. I was inspired by the city life in central Stockholm, and particularly by a modern woman in the city, to whom this collection in a way is dedicated. My work as a designer is very personal to me and I often begin my creative process looking within but in this project I decided to redirect my gaze – looking out, instead of inwards. This was very inspiring, and the shift of focus actually allowed me to keep learning about myself, but through the lens of others.
Inspired by the situationists and international flâneur culture I started my process by walking, documenting in words and pictures the parts of central Stockholm that made up my daily life. My collection is a personal interpretation of the urban environments and the people I observed, that both strive to portrait reality and go beyond, in a more poetic manner. Based on my personal interest in an orderly, well-tailored silhouette and classic garments I was particularly inspired by common garment types and silhouettes seen on the street, but at the same time, I also kept an eye open for the less common, unexpected fashion I encountered, which also ended up being an important source of inspiration for me. After studying the city for several days I started to notice a specific kind of woman that especially caught my eye. She could take the form of a well-dressed sort of businesslike woman, equally practical and stylish, or I could catch a glimpse of her wearing a dress at the local metro station, transcending into the night – always moving and on her way, she is a natural part of the city itself.
What is the thinking behind your work?
How do you work with form and shape on the body?
I believe that great design tells us something about the times we are living in and in some way fulfills our needs, as well as providing us with a purpose in our lives, and it sure is a challenge, but I would like to design with that in mind. Doing so by getting back to what I like most about fashion, which is the people who embody it. Being aware of their needs and how that can be incorporated into my design.
“… it was not until my twenties I first started identifying as an LBGTQ person, and without the wonderful and brave community sharing their stories I would not be the person I am today. So, I find it very important to take responsibility when being given visibility and I always try to give back in any way I can.”
I have used fashion as a form of self expression for a long time and even more so, as a way of exploring my own identity. But I do find it difficult to think of a single memory when I used fashion to express myself for the first time, and if I am to be completely honest, it was not until recently, that I have truly come to terms with who I am and are feeling confident expressing my authentic self.
I do not tend to think so much about being able to influence really, but whenever given an opportunity to share my work or express my views on things I like to think of myself being part of something greater than myself – the LBGTQ community for example, and it was not until my twenties I first started identifying as an LBGTQ person, and without the wonderful and brave community sharing their stories I would not be the person I am today. So, I find it very important to take responsibility when being given visibility and I always try to give back in any way I can.
As a collective, how do you think the fashion society will unlearn old logics?
I think working as a collective actually is key! Just as we can become stronger together as people, I think the fashion society can also gain more from a collective state of mind.
What are your hopes for the future?
I wish that I will be able to work in fashion for a long time to come. I look at the future with optimism and I am excited to take the step from being a recent graduate to a working designer. I am open to all opportunities and hope I will find a place in the industry where I can keep on challenging myself and constantly evolving in my work.
What can be recognised as ‘freedom’ in 2021?
Self acceptance! Whenever it is possible being true to yourself, and equally important being accepting and loving towards others. Allowing the process of self-acceptance to take time and be kind and respectful to yourself, because it can be hard. Finally, also recognising that we all have to go through different challenges in life and be free of judgement. I would say that is the ultimate freedom.
Engage with Eli Solberg’s work: