How did you come up with the idea of starting all over again?
– It came to me when we (Weekday) were bought up. I started pondering and it felt really tempting to start all over again and be my own man.
What are the thoughts behind using your first and last name?
– It’s a bit scary, but sometimes you have to put yourself to the test. It felt challenging and quite natural. I guess I should be able to stand behind my own name – I’ve been at it for so long.
One of Sweden’s leading choreographers shares your name.
– Yes. I know. Sometimes I get emails that are meant for him. Once I received footage from a 23-year old ballet dancer who wanted to come and try out.
You should’ve given her an invite.
– Yep. Those are the things you think about afterwards.
Your love affair with jeans started long before Weekday – right?
– Yes. I ended up doing an internship at JC (Jeans&Clothes) in school. I really wanted to work at a sports shop. The shops were located beside each other and it turns out that my teacher called the wrong one. That was back in the day before mobile phones. Anyhow, I was on my way to my first day of work. And as I locked the door of my parents’ house, where I was living at the time, the phone started to ring. I went back inside and answered. It was my teacher who’d realized he’d called the wrong shop and wondered if I was ok with doing an internship at JC instead. “Sure,” I said.
So that’s where your interest in jeans was born?
– All teenagers are interested to a certain degree – but JC is where it really started to grow. Jeans were the most fun. At that time there was a jeans counter and jeans shelves. That’s how they were sold.
Standing and selling to the customer - is that something you miss today ?
– Yes. I miss daily contact with customers a lot. Working at JC on Drottninggatan in Stockholm on a Saturday was like working at McDonald’s. But at MacDonald’s people knew they wanted a Big Mac and at JC they had no idea what they wanted. It was a give and take before finding the jeans that suited best – a real collaboration with the customer.
So do you see yourself having your own shop going forward?
– That’s what I’ve been doing most and what I know best, so maybe sometime. But it’ll probably take a while. I know how much work is involved.
Why will Örjan Andersson be a success when so many others have failed?
– I’ve learnt a lot from my mistakes – but I’ve also done a lot that’s right. Summing it up, you learn that you can do things in many different ways. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and more reflective now but I’m more open to the idea that there are several solutions out there.
You created a whole new silhouette with Cheap Monday Jeans – is that something you can repeat?
– It’s the changing trends in fashion that enable people like me to put food on the table. And yes, there will be new silhouettes and if I don’t come up with them someone else will. Naturally, I hope it’ll be me.
As a jeans maker, do you have a great interest in fashion otherwise?
– I have merchandised other than jeans – so I do know other things too. I don’t run around without a shirt on.
So you don’t feel like a strange bird in a fashion context?
–A bit quirky perhaps.
How do you scout out trends?
– My starting point is things I like myself and my gut feeling. Of course I need outside inspiration and check out other stuff – but trend scouting trips don’t give me that much. There are other ways of staying on top of things.
Does the Örjan Andersson target group differ from that of Weekday and Cheap Monday?
– When I started Cheap Monday and Weekday the target group was considerably narrower than it is today. There are currently 20 Weekday stores and Cheap Monday jeans are sold in 30 countries. Now Örjan Andersson jeans are available at just over 40 stores – so yes it’s smaller. Mentally, I’m at a stage with Örjan Andersson where I was when the only Weekday location was on Olofsgatan in Stockholm. Of course I think it’s fun when things grow, but not at any price. I never want to compromise on the product.
How do you feel about collaborating with Weekday?
– It feels good to still have some sort of connection, when I’ve put so much of my life into Weekday.
What do you want to achieve with Örjan Andersson – the brand that is?
– My aim is to launch it in different European markets and in the long run in the US too. But that won’t be near term. Don’t misunderstand me, the US isn’t that important to me. My primary focus is Sweden. What’s most important is that I have fun.
And what’s most fun?
– It’s super cool when samples arrive.
You have a clever tagline (in Swedish at least): from Ö to A, which is equivalent from Z to A in English.
– It has significance. Yes, they happen to be my initials and the last and first letter of the Swedish alphabet. However, for me it also means that you can do things the wrong way around, a little different.
So you could say that you’ve already gone from A to Ö and you’re now on your way back.
– Yes. There are a number of approaches. However, it’s a bit limiting as not that many countries use the letter Ö.
The market’s view of jeans goes up and down. Sometimes they’re cool and sometimes they’re not. How has the status of jeans changed during your 20 years in the industry?
– I started at JC in 1991 and personally I think that jeans have been cool since then – but there have been a few dips. None that were long-lasting. In the mid-90s, guys started wearing nicer pants for a while and girls started to buy stretch pants. Then there was a new low in ‘07 and ‘08, when girls started buying leggings. But they all seem to find their way back to five-pocket jeans.
You are undeniably a part of the so called Swedish denim miracle. What’s that all about?
– I get that question all the time and it’s a little tricky. Sweden has Johnny Johansson at Acne, Maria Erixon at Nudie and me. We all worked at JC in the 90s. It was a good school. Suppliers like Levi’s and other major brands were very skilled in educating store personnel. And we were all quick to take everything in and became really interested. Whoever was in charge of jeans was give a lot of responsibility. You were given a budget, bought your jeans and stood there and sold them yourself.
Which jeans brand has the greatest legacy?
– Levi’s, they’ve been the first with so much. But Lee and Wrangler are also very important brands in the history of denim.
How many calls have you had from the major jeans giants over the years?
– It’s been pretty quiet on that front.
Any favourites among the jeans you wear?
– It’s often the same pair that gets pulled on until you find a new favourite. They’re around for about 5 -6 months. Or they fall apart after a year.
Don’t you ever get tired of jeans?
There has never been one single moment when you felt you were done with jeans?
– No. Never.
What do you wear watching TV at home in the sofa - jeans?
Seven days a week?
Do you own any other type of trousers?
– I own a pair of chinos that I never wear.
More about Örjan Andersson, from Ö to A and back again on www.orjanandersson.com