Clean-Cut Cool: The Designer Behind Sweden’s Mainstay of Prep
Filippa Hallstensson, Head of Design, Gant Rugger
Tell me a bit about your background. How did you end up as a designer for Gant Rugger?
I’ve been eating, breathing, and sleeping Gant Rugger as a design coordinator/creative sidekick since day one, when it was relaunched back in 2010. When Chris (Christopher Bastin, former head of design at Gant Rugger) stepped up and took the role as creative director at the mother ship, Gant, he wanted me to take over the steering wheel. We’ve been working very closely with each other during these past years, building Gant Rugger together, so I guess it was a natural step for me.
Your new campaign for Gant Rugger is called STO-NYC, referencing the mutual love that New York and Stockholm supposedly share for each other. What do you think it is that makes Swedes like the East Coast, Ivy League preppy look so much?
There’s just something about the American East Coast style that gets to us. I guess the Ivy style, or preppy look, with its relaxed yet stylish elements, goes hand in hand with the Swedish mentality. We are people of long traditions and a flair for history, and the Ivy-style look really has stood the test of time, since it can be reinterpreted in so many ways without losing its soul.
Being a Swede myself, I also know we romanticize it a lot, seeing only the beauty in it. Ha ha.
What do you think the two cities could learn from each other?
We should hang out more on our rooftops in Stockholm, or simply just have more rooftop terraces to start with, and New Yorkers really should celebrate midsummer more often.
Gant started out doing menswear in New York, in 1949, before crossing the pond, to Swedish ownership, in the eighties. In an interesting take last year, you had Swedish stylist, Columbine Smille, interpret the collection under the moniker Girls in Gant Rugger. Could you tell me a little bit about that?
We’ve had a lot of girls coming into our stores, buying our menswear, and doing their thing with it. Shortly after, we did a blog post using #girlsingantrugger, girls began using this hashtag when posting pics online with their outfits. We thought Columbine’s effortless yet flawless style was so inspiring (she can combine killer heels with washed-out denim and an oversize men’s knitted sweater like no other), we asked her to collaborate with us on a photo shoot interpreting her own look for #girlsingantrugger. And, boy, she did it well!
For Fall ’14, I’m happy to finally let everyone know that we are actually launching a Gant Rugger women’s line. It will hit stores in August!
What are your top three items from the Spring ’14 collection that are in stores now, and why?
For Spring ’14, we’ve created the quintessential wardrobe for our cross-cultural friends heading to a never-ending Swedish midsummer celebration. I love the navy suede bomber jacket (above, vive la suede!). It’s made in this supersoft goat suede with a chunky zipper. The windbreaker with reflective coating is another favorite, because it is never not fun when taking pictures with a flash (Insta-moment). And, of course, the Midsummer tee with a hand-painted flower-crown print, because it will never wilt.