Young Scandinavian Silas Adler is a skateboarder turned designer who has been creating lifestyle garments, under the brand name of SOULLAND, with ease since he was 17 years old. Having no formal training in his already acclaimed career, it is clear to see that some people are just good at what they do, Silas Adler being one of these. He has already been nominated as Denmark’s best upcoming designer (Danish Fashion Awards) and Scandinavian talent of the year by Swedish Plus46 Awards. With an effortless collection on offer during his SOULLAND Autumn/Winter 2009 season, we talk to Silas Adler about his successes so far.
See the interview below.
Hi Silas, how are you? Congratulations on your latest ‘Steal’ collection for Summer/Spring 09.
Thanks a lot. It means a lot. We worked a lot to make it happen.
Starting out so young with no formal education must have seen some hiccups along the way to where you are now. What advice do you give for young designers who also want to dive into the deep end and create their own lines?
When we started we didn’t know anything about anything, which was both our strength and weakness. If I had known then how much hard work it would take to make a clothing company work I probably wouldn’t have gone for it, but we were naive so we went for it and learned along the way. When you leap into the deep end like we did you waist a lot of time on the wrong things and you never know what the outcome of your decisions will be. You’re basically taking a lot of chances. We’ve tried it some times now and it becomes easier and easier to figure out what works.
One piece of advice that I would like to pass on to young designers out there is that you have to have a plan for what you want to do with your company and you have to go over it again and again before you go for anything. You have to be prepared to fight battles for a few years and you can’t count on anyone giving a shit. It’s 70% hard work, 20% talent, and 10% luck.
You used to be an ample skateboarder, what do you think about the relationship that has grown between skateboarding, fashion and art in today’s current industries?
It’s always fun to be able to follow how something develops over a period of time and I have been following skateboarding for the past 15 years, where I’ve seen it go from being underground to a popular subculture and now it’s being picked up by mainstream – in some ways it’s almost corporate now, because so many companies have realized that they can make money by being related to skateboarding.
Skateboarding is a bit fragile in the commercial world, because people don’t start to skate because they want to make money. They do it because they love to skate – it’s completely different with clothes, where the business part plays a huge role. Art has always been a part of skateboarding, because skateboarding is a method for self-expression so it’s natural that skateboarders also express them in other ways.
How have you developed as a designer? What is becoming important to you at the moment?
When we started Soulland we were making prints like everybody else. My focus was on the visual expression I wanted to create with the clothes so they were flamboyant at a first glance. Working with prints quickly became a limited design medium and we wanted to do more and express more so it’s been very natural to create a full collection. Now I have a much more holistic approach to the clothes we make, where I’m focusing on the details of the garments and on letting the design continue throughout the garment so design and details go hand in hand and become more.
How do you think a man should dress? Any menswear designers who’s collections you are enjoying at present?
I think the most important thing is that people try to be themselves. There is no reason to be afraid to try some far out things. Personally I like to alternate between a really casual style and a sophisticated one… and oh yeah, a man should wear a vest.
I love classic brands like Aquascutum, Brooks Brothers, and Pendleton and I love new designers like Adam Kimmel, Hans Christian Madsen, Libertine Libertine, Patrick Erwell, and Acne.
Tell us about your lifestyle in Copenhagen. Your design work has been described as a combination of the countryside’s lifestyle and the urban life in Gothenburg and Copenhagen. Why does this work for you personally?
So far Copenhagen has been really great. This is where I had my late teens and basically where I grew up. It may sound a bit pathetic but I feel confident and safe here because this is where I survived my teens, and security is important when you’re trying to creative something like a clothing company.
Copenhagen is exciting because you have nature all around with the ocean and forests and then you have the city, but Copenhagen is definitely limited by its size and the security can turn into claustrophobia – I need to get out and go places where I don’t have a safety net ready to pick me up and where there’s more at stake. That’s why I’m moving to Paris.
What’s happening next for you and SOULLAND?
I’m moving to Paris in September so some of the company will be in Paris and some of it in Copenhagen. We’re also working on some projects with some old, classic companies, which is really fun and we’re designing for AW10.