A few days ago GANT Rugger announced the launch of their debut womenswear line. Yes us girls can abandon scouring the aisles for XS menswear sweaters, and shop the Americana aesthetic in our own size from July – hooray! The lady ensuring that the womenswear line oozes as much cool as its menswear counterpart is Head Designer Filippa Hallstensson, aka Fifi.
For a twenty-nothing-year-old who has been crowned with one of the most coveted roles in menswear, Fifi is warm, approachable and incredibly humble. Cool, collected and brimming with passion for a menswear label she has put on the map, and a womenswear label bound for similar success, she epitomizes the brands energy. Notoriously hard to please digi-publication Four Pins confirmed that since her appointment under Creative Director Christopher Bastian, “home girl is absolutely fucking killing it” and this Girl in Menswear could not agree more.
Please introduce yourself. I’m Filippa Hallstensson (but everyone calls me Fifi), Head of Design at GANT Rugger. I live in Stockholm but at the moment it feels like I spend just as much time in hotel rooms in different places around the world…
Where can we find you? When I found instagram I pretty much gave up on Facebook. I love instagram, for me it’s total stress-free, you’ll find me as @fifffi. Maybe I need to pick up Facebook again, I never get invited to any parties anymore…My tumblr dreamyoxford isn’t really on a roll, but who knows one day it might explode.. haha.
You’ve been Head Designer at Gant Rugger for over a year now, what challenges have you faced and continue to face in your position? The creative anxiety, haha… Every other month it gets to you “why did I make that?”, “who’s gonna like this?”, “didn’t we do this before?”, “how am I gonna come up with a new theme” but I guess that’s just how it is, anxiety and happiness in a mess – that’s why it turns out good.
Is it a man’s world when you work in menswear, or does being a female designer bring something unique to the mix? Menswear really is a man’s world, no doubt about that – but as a designer I don’t really think it matters if you’re a man or a woman and I think same thing goes for women’s wear, creativity is gender free.
What are the key differences designing for men versus women? For me it’s definitely the silhouettes, there’s so much more to take into consideration for women – titties, waist, hips. When it comes to fabrications it’s not that big of a difference really, we stand on pretty much the same ground.
You’ve just announced the launch of Gant Rugger: Women– why the decision to branch into womenswear? It feels like a very natural extension, the GANT Rugger woman has been in the back of our minds for some years now. Girls have come to our stores to buy our menswear since day one. Now it’s finally time for a collection of her own!
Describe Gant Rugger: Women in three words. “Dressy but messy”
Is there a girl that encapsulates the Gant Rugger: Women spirit? I see the GANT Rugger woman as someone who’s into details and quality and feels just as comfortable in jeans, tee and worn out sneakers as she is when crashing some fancy party in a couture dress and 5 inch heels…Hey! That’s you Sophia!
Gant Rugger cites the slow cooking movement and more latterly the “winter gardener” as its inspiration; will the Gant Rugger woman be as lifestyle conscious? GANT Rugger is all about people with passion, we constantly find inspiration in them, it just rubs off on us. Food, music, culture, travel, style, gardening, biochemistry – passion is everywhere! Who knows where we’ll find passion next?
Do you have a favourite piece from the Gant Rugger: Women collection? Besides the shirts (which you’ll find me in 99% of the time) – it’s our Baseball Jacket “The Homerun”. I see pictures of girls wearing these amazing vintage baseball jackets on my tumblr roll all the time! IRL I find it difficult to find this kind of jacket in a nice fit and they’re very often super bulky and heavy in the weight. So we made a cropped version, went with an uneven yarn body for some texture and kept the fabric lightweight, so you can actually wear it on early fall days. The sleeves are made in this suuupersoft goat leather, giving it that broken-in feeling, just like you’ve worn it for years…
Because of its heritage, people often assume Gant Rugger is purely American. How much is the brand influenced by its Scandinavian base? I really don’t think it matters where the office is based actually, we will always keep our American East Coast roots close to our hearts – it’s where we’re from and who we are. GANT Rugger is constantly re-inventing and re-defining itself, but even if we find inspiration in the Italian’s sprezzatura or the Swedish Midsummer traditions we always have one foot on the American East Coast.
You recently said that if you weren’t designing you would be taking photographs, who would your dream portrait subject be? I love photography; both my aunt and uncle are photographers and I used to spend a lot of time with them during the summers growing up, always borrowing their cameras and doing experiments in the dark room. At the moment the only pictures I take are with my i-phone, it’s a bit sad. I’d say photographing people in the spring, there’s just something about it, the ice breaks and everyone wakes up from their winter sleep. My favorite photographer Edouard Boubat took some amazing pictures of young Swedes in the Spring during the 1960’s. (I actually do have a dream portrait subject, but I think I’m gonna stay quiet about it for some time.. Maybe I get the chance to do it one day… Haha! )
What objects do you have on your desk and what stories do they tell? My desk is probably the messiest one at the office. It’s horrible, but creative chaos seems to work for me… Measuring tapes and scissors are sharing space with salsa and whiskey bottles (from our FW13 campaign with BK Salsa and Kingscounty Distillery). There’s always a bunch of vintage GANT Shirtmaker shirts that I scored on E-Bay. The E-bay scores usually end up on my desks, it could be anything from old rags to vintage safety pins. Next to my desk I have a pile of old handmade-laced handkerchiefs – I always buy them when I come across them. Most probably there will be 2 or 3 half-empty coffee cups around the desk as well..
National icon Ingmar Bergman was said to eat the same lunch every day: sour milk, strawberry jam and cereal. Do you have any daily routines or rituals? I actually didn’t know that – I love sour milk, strawberry jam and cereal! I would love to say I’ve got a similar ritual it sounds very pleasant. At the moment I don’t really have a daily routine. I think I need some more routine in my life. Starting every morning with a coffee, croissant and the newspaper sounds like a plan!