14-07-2012 | 13.04
Thinking of getting a new bikini or swimshorts this summer? Doesn't sound like a good plan with all the rain outside. This year you're better off investing in a good raincoat. And that's where Stutterheim comes in.
Alexander Stutterheim (not related to Duncan) is the founder of Swedish raincoat makers Stutterheim. Stutterheim is the producer of beautiful hand-made coats. Each coat is signed and numbered by its maker. When interviewed, Stutterheim explains: "It's a quality statement but also implies a philosophical insight. The mass production, throw-away mentality isn't good for us, nor for our nature, our wallets and our sanity."
Stutterheim's tagline - Swedish melancholy at its driest - shows where Stutterheim gets his inspiration: "You can't enjoy the taste of honey if you drink it all the time. Melancholy is an active state. When we’re melancholic, we feel uneasy with the status quo and the conventions of our society. I think at it's like a lucky heart with some burned edges. A rather withering sense that is not all bad, but enough to seek out new ways of doing things. That drives creativity."
That's why, one rainy morning, Stutterheim decided the norm had to be changed: "I was about to go to work in a downpour and I realized that I had no proper raincoat. Just a flabby, ugly goretex jacket that made me look like a golfer or mountain climber."
Not long after he found his grandfather's old raincoat. "My granddad was a wonderful man. He often went out fishing during stormy weather, wrote poems in the evening and managed a big theater in Stockholm. He scared me to the bone every time he set off to sea to catch fish, defying the heaviest rain and the loudest of thunderstorms."
Stuttheim continues: "When I found his coat, I instantly wanted to wear it. It was both stunningly cool and very practical too. Carefully, I brought it back home to my kitchen and imagined it in an updated, contemporary version."
That was the start of Stutterheim's slow scale production in Sweden. "I grew up in a country where you shouldn't believe that you have any skills or something that you can be proud of. It actually has a name: The Jante Law. But I'm glad to have challenged that norm. I now have a own rain store in Stockholm and I'm expanding very slowly together with the seamstresses. Mostly new colors for the Arholma coat but also rubber boots."
When asked if Stutterheim will be coming to Amsterdam, he answered: "My grandfather emigrated from Amsterdam after being a spy in WWII, so I have my part of my DNA in Amsterdam. I really like the idea of having everything close to me, so having a own store in Netherlands would be fantastic. In the mean time you can expect me to make new quality stuff focused on rain and melancholy. Well, at least if I can keep my health and make some money out of it. There is a lot of stuff that I want to do and I really really hate the fact that we are going to die soon and be dead for billions of years."
Swedish melancholy at its driest, indeed.
Follow Alexander Stutterheim's open and transparent stories about his ventures in the fashion world on their Facebook page and take a look at Stutterheim's collection. Perhaps then you'll be able to enjoy this dreary summer after all: Stutterheim Raincoats.
Text: Martijn Savenije. Being a photographer and founder of copypasteculture, he enjoys the beauty of observation and discovery.