Mats Andersson and Johan Söderlund founded Swedish men’s label Indigofera Prima Jeans in 2008. The duo’s puritan approach has seen the label carve out a distinctive niche, maintaining a loyal following.
What was your goal setting out, and how has the label progressed since the start?
It’s all in the name Indigofera Prima. We chose it as we felt it would give us guidance in our everyday mission to create great products. Indigo is the nucleus and origin of the denim industry –the colour and fading of indigo is like no other. Indigofera is the Latin name of the plant group from which the colour is extracted; it will always provide a beacon of clarity to us, and it is the very reason why we are here. The prima part of the name is equally important. It stands for the direction of the brand and our mission with it. When we’re in the process of developing products of any sort, we always ask ourselves– is it prima enough, i.e. is it crafted using the best fabric, cutting and sewing techniques and attention to detail that will make the product last.
Who is your core consumer?
Indigofera’s customers are typically confident and into the real deal. They don’t spend time chasing trends and have grown tired of products that don’t keep their promises.
How do you maintain loyalty among existing customers, while also attracting new ones?
We work closely with retailers (editor’s note: current stockists include Burg & Schild, Rivet & Hide, VMC and Standard & Strange) and buyers and we also like to attend store events to get the chance to meet our end-consumer. This allows us to get first-hand feedback from the people who wear Indigofera Prima. Word of mouth is behind much of the brand growth, while social media can be a useful tool to reach consumers that have already discovered us. We don’t use gimmicks or bells and whistles to attract customers; we believe that the Indigofera wearer is clever and grounded in their approach to buying goods. I believe we’ll increase our customer base if we continue this way, but we don’t plan to grow into a big brand – we want to continue improving, offering good stuff in years to come.
What inspires you creatively?
Good fabric and periods in history when the best garments were made always inspire us. Aesthetically, Indigofera inhabit the 50s and 60s, decades during which brands still produced clothing to the highest possible standard. In the decades that followed, it all changed and production mainly centred on cost cutting, making things as cheaply as possible.
Tell us a little bit about the AW15 range.
This year we’ve introduced a poncho crafted from a wool/cotton fabric with neck lining in leather. The material is made by the Nihon Menpu mill in Japan. Not only do they weave great fabrics but they also have incredible integrity. They do not sell the fabrics we develop with them to anybody else, for instance. We’ve worked with the mill for about 8 years, developing close to 20 different fabrics that are unique to Indigofera.
Which are the key pieces in the range, aside from the poncho you just mentioned?
We have a new shirt called Dawson, crafted from a heavy flannel. Its 2by2 twill weaving technique gives it depth, adding a new look to our flannel range. It comes in shadow-plaid check blue, white earth orange and beige colour ways. Again, the material is woven by Nihon Menpu in Japan especially for Indigofera. The Norris shirt, meanwhile, has been going since 2009. It’s made of a heavy 3by1 flannel woven on narrow loom with characteristic red-selvedge. In the jeans range, we’ve brought in a bootcut style called Wyatt in our signature fabric – narrow-loom, red-selvage, woven in Japan. It comes in gunpowder black.
You offer blankets alongside your apparel offering. How did this come about?
The blankets were actually integrated into the brand already when we started out. In fact, it was the very first product we signed off. People sometimes ask if we are a blanket company doing jeans, or a jeans company dabbling in blankets…It’s a natural match. Growing up in Sweden, we were surrounded by good-quality wool blankets. I still have old ones at home that used to belong to my grandmother. But new ones are hard to find as the industry has moved to other countries, losing the craft in the process. In keeping with our prima vision, we produce our blankets together with one of the last existing factories able to make them according to traditional standards and methods. As for the design, we bring in talented creatives to collaborate with us. So far we’ve teamed up with Wes Lang and Richard Colman and this year we joined forces with Karl Grandin and Björn Ateldax of VÅR art collective. The blanket range encompasses about 15 designs, and we continue to add new designs every year.
How do you predict the denim segment will change over the next ten years, and where will Indigofera be in a decades’ time?
I can only hope it will move in the direction where quality is more appreciated. We will continue on the same path as we always have, but catering for a wider audience. We’ve been around for seven years, during which time we have grown more confident and finding our voice. We still have products in the collection that we carried in 2009. I can’t see a reason why they wouldn’t still be here in 10 years’ time. If they are, we have truly made something special – classics that stand the test of time; in other words, Prima Jeans.