Scandinavian surf culture, limestone formations and a dash of punk attitude created the perfect basis for H&M Studio’s spring-summer 2020 collection. Although the grouping may appear to be a surprising starting point, it hits close to home for the brand’s in-house design team. “My father is actually from Gotland [a Swedish island], so I went there every summer as a kid,” says Moa Bartling, the collection’s print designer. “[There’s] such a nice vibe to it.”
The island’s lunar-like landscape inspired surrealist prints on T-shirts and swimwear, while its laid-back spirit gave way to a palette filled with acid brights against balancing neutrals. With a mix of pieces that include airy maxidresses, structured jackets with raw-edge tailoring and chunky platform boots, the collection was designed to be as versatile as it is bold.
To celebrate its debut, party-goers were transported from Beverly Hills to the island for one night. The venue – a minimalistic California mansion – was transformed room by room with nods to the various inspiration behind the designs, from a large outdoor projection of a print to accents of neon lighting that echoed the vivid colours. Throughout the evening, acro dancers created vignettes inspired by the movement of the pieces while guests snacked on gemstone-like rock-candy rings (based on a pattern found throughout the collection) from artist Maayan Zilberman, a.k.a Sweet Saba. Swedish pop singer Lykke Li – who donned a matching set from the collection and fuzzy slippers – ended the night with an intimate acoustic set for the crowd, which included familiar faces like Paloma Elsesser, Jourdan Dunn, Billie Lourd and Selah Marley.
At the collection’s global launch in Santa Monica, California, we spoke with H&M creative advisor Ann-Sofie Johansson, print designer Moa Bartling and concept designer Linda Wikell about their research trip to the island and the art of dressing for yourself.
Why was Gotland the starting point for this collection?
Linda Wikell: It was an inspiration close to home. We went on a road trip on the island from the south end to the north. There was no one there in the winter when we went, and we brought a camera and took pictures of everything. We were inspired by the free air and wind and being able move, climb, whatever you want to do.
Moa Bartling: We thought of Gotland being almost like a lunar landscape because it’s so tranquil and the terrain is a bit rough. We made a collage with the moon and different parts of Gotland and added strong acid colours. We also made a print of the rock formations that stand on the beaches there like sculptures.
How did the surf culture of the island inspire you?
Linda Wikell: It’s a way of living. It’s not so much about the sport itself but the lifestyle – the attitude towards life, the freedom. I think that’s where a little punk comes in as well because you shouldn’t care so much about what someone else thinks about what you do and how you’re dressing. It’s to encourage your own choice. We pushed ourselves as well and talked a lot about stepping outside our own comfort zones.
Freedom and a sense of adventure are big themes in this collection. How did you incorporate that into the design?
Linda Wikell: We wanted to encourage mixing and matching the pieces. It’s about being daring.
Ann-Sofie Johansson: There’s also a bit of contradicting details, like raw endings mixed with more refined fabrics.
Which pieces are your personal favourites from the collection?
Moa Bartling: I love our pants. We had a lot of fun in this process because we tried them on everyone in the team just make sure that everyone felt comfortable.
Ann-Sofie Johansson: The platform boot is really nice because it adds a bit of edge to the collection.
You can shop the H&M Studio Spring-Summer 2020 collection at the Toronto Eaton Centre and on hm.com starting February 20.
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