Whenever I go into Grandpa store I think of the TV show Cheers. Hear me out here. I know that an ultra-hip boutique in central Stockholm has nothing to do with a 1980’s sitcom featuring questionable perms. But it’s the essence of the show – the catchy “where everybody knows your name” mantra, that I relate to Grandpa.
Grandpa has been highlighted as the coolest store in Sweden by everyone from the New York Times to Vogue Italy, and yet the atmosphere is incredibly low key. There’s trinkets on every shelf, vintage furniture forming cozy break-out areas, and people are chatting as they browse the hangers. There’s a certain communal atmosphere that you don’t often find in this city.
Today however, I’m not here to shop, but rather to interview the store’s fashion and accessories buyer Pauline. We meet at the store in Kungsholmen (one of three in Sweden), and cozy up on a communal table with a coffee. Mumford and Sons is playing, and as Pauline points out the various designers she buys-in, I’m struck by how nice this all feels. She talks me through her career and offers insight into the sustainable fashion movement, and it all feels warm and familiar. In short, I feel like I’m sitting in my trendiest friend’s living room. In fact, by the time I leave I’ve forgotten I was in a boutique at all – although my shopping bag affirms otherwise.
And so we’re back at Cheers again. I’m always glad I came.
PAULINE – MENSWEAR, WOMENSWEAR & ACCESSORIES BUYER AT GRANDPA STORE
Grandpa is a carefully curated store of Scandinavian fashion brands and interiors – can you give a brief overview of what Grandpa’s all about?
Grandpa opened its first store in Södermalm, in Stockholm over 10 years ago. Back then, it was one of the first independent multi-brand stores in the city. Today we handpick over 40 fashion and accessories brands, and I don’t know how many interior and home décor ones – a lot! Rather than display products by brand, we curate the store by concept – by feeling. We’ve always appealed to a varied audience. We attract people who buy into our lifestyle. And that lifestyle is created by carefully selecting pieces based on design, clever features, a unique production process etc.
Grandpa store marks its 10year anniversary this year –what have been the biggest changes in retail since you launched?
The biggest change has been online retail. Our website is another shop window. We’ve had to take our in-store culture and create that online. It’s a challenge but an exciting one.
Your company manifesto stresses your commitment to the environment, organic production and sustainability. Why is this important to you as a store?
Fashion moves fast. The world is full of overproduction and over consumption – fashion is particularly guilty for this. We try to source products that we believe will last. We look for high quality pieces that have been produced under the right circumstances. I’m a buyer so I need to make sales, but I always try to combine trend pieces with sustainable ones. We stock Knowledge Cotton Apparel( who just won the “CSR Environmental Award 2014”), Patagonia, KAVAT, Sätila – all brands creating beautiful pieces, that are sustainable too. We’ve even created our very own board game at Grandpa which is made here in Sweden. We try to play a role – albeit a small one, in bringing craftsmanship back to this country.
What influenced your decision to work in fashion?
When I was young I used to love to sew, but I actually studied Fashion Marketing and Communications. I’ve always loved clothes – I know it’s a cliche. Today though, I continue in the industry because of the inspiring people who are part of it.
How would you describe the fashion industry to someone who doesn’t work in it?
The lifestyle of a product you are selling is short – could be six months or perhaps only 10 weeks. You need to stay on the ball and be aware of the changes happening around you. New colours, new trends, new shapes etc. It’s an industry that pushes you to be creative and forward-thinking. That’s what makes it so fun.
What makes a good day at work?
There are those great times of the year when fashion week is on, or you’re visiting a showroom and seeing a collection for the first time – they’re particularly inspiring. But then there’s the everyday too. The best “every days” are when there’s coffee made, everyone’s in the office and we’re listening to music. Sales figures are good and the store managers are getting good feedback on what’s in store. Perfect.
Where do you discover new brands?
Travelling or attending fashion fairs. But to be honest I get contacted by email – a lot. I can receive up to ten emails a day from prospective brands.
So how should a new brand grab a buyer’s attention?
I recommend contacting a buyer by email. Buyers are time poor, so email rather than call. Also, make it easy for a buyer – highlight the most important information: Quality, the Product and the Price. The brand story is great, but you can send that to me after you’ve got my attention. Keep it simple. In my case I’m also interested in the eco-element, as well as aesthetics, so that can be a draw for me too.