Soulland’s progression, especially over the past few seasons, has impressed us greatly. They have been pushing their menswear line to a whole new level, innovative and classic are words that come to mind.
I asked the guys and girls over at Soulland if Silas Adler, the founder and designer of the brand, would be willing to do an interview for the site. Luckily he agreed, so the rest is history really.
Silas is a very humble guy, and no doubt an inspiration to a lot of people. The imagery is from the Spring/Summer 2011 showing in Copenhagen, backstage and exclusive, taken by Michael
Falgren. I hope you enjoy it, read on below.
How did the brand start in 2002? What was your original concept?
Well, I started without a concept, knowledge or cause. But all those things grew day by day. With knowledge came a cause and with the cause came the concept. When the brand started I just wanted to make t-shirts with my friends and skateboard all the time. But my ambitions grew and I wanted to start a full menswear collection. I had to learn everything from scratch and things take time. But for me it was the right way and the only way to learn it.
Has this concept changed much over time? For example we know you originally started as a small company specialising in printed t-shirts.
I would rather say that the concept developed over the years. Making printed t-shirts was the first stone in the foundation. It’s not my main focus anymore even though we still make t-shirts, but it has been a very essential part of the process and development of the brand. Today, our concept is centered on making great menswear by mixing classical and contemporary elements.
Obviously every season you use a theme as inspiration, and that can be seen in a big way if we compare FW10 to SS11. But how do you make this relevant to the public, especially the customers who want to buy your clothing?
Do you just follow your instincts and go with what you like. Then in turn hope your customers and fans will too?
The inspiration has different purposes. For me having a clear theme or inspiration makes the collection more focused. The inspiration that runs through the collection is also my way of communicating to the world. I’m commenting on society, highlighting a period of time I find important and so forth. The inspiration is a key driver in the design process, but I’m also very aware of staying true to Soulland’s design aesthetic. I would never stray too far from that.
I’m also a firm believer of challenging people and giving them a new perspective on clothes. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I just made what I knew they wanted – but that would also be boring for everyone. That said,Â I always do re-runs of styles that are successful or a hit with the people who follow us. It’s a balancing act between giving people what they didn’t know they wanted and giving them something they know and feel safe buying.
Any designers or creatives that particularly inspire you?
Hmm I’m not a fashion nerd, I am a skateboard nerd, but of course there are designers I find interesting. Gianni Versace was obliviously a genius and I like Brown and Kimmel as well. It’s good to see some American high-level menswear.
But when it comes down to it the people who inspire me the most are the creative people who are close to me, like Marco Pedrollo [graphic designer], Nikolaj Holm Mller [photographer] and from the Soulland crew Kristian, Lisa, Stine and Jacob and of course my girlfriend Sascha Oda, who is a great photographer. It may be corny but it’s true!
We loved what you did with the Adler Fedora, and the way you promoted the hat. What attracts you to the classic pieces of clothing that return year after year? Are timeless products important in your eyes?
Of course! I’m from Denmark, the timeless capital of Europe. The biggest Danish designer and architect, Arne Jacobsen, defined the timelessness of the Danish design heritage. So we where raised with functional and timeless design solutions.
And I can’t help but take some of this heritage with me in my design. However, it’s very important to add something new when you work with classy items. What makes the fedora cap interesting is that it was designed in a new way.
Did you ever imagine that you would get this much recognition as a designer? Especially at such a young age.
Nope. And the road to some of the recognition has been bumpy. But recognition is not what’s interesting to me. I want to design good menswear.
Do you think being Scandinavian has helped Soulland as a company and worldwide brand?
Hmm I don’t know. I guess there is a Scandinavian thing going on now and perhaps it has some kind of effect, but I don’t see Soulland as traditional Scandinavian. As mentioned before we have some Danish traits in the way we think but being international in our way of communicating is just as important.
From previous interviews we heard that you moved out to Paris. Do you still live out there? What made you want to try and live out there in the first place?
I came back to Copenhagen for love. And there are so many things going on in the company that being here with the crew seems to be the best solution. But I will travel out soon again. Maybe Paris or somewhere else.
The time spent in Paris was very useful and meant a lot to me as a person and as a designer. I was bored by Copenhagen and needed fresh air. Now Copenhagen is interesting again and I’m happy here.
What is the main difference between Copenhagen and Paris, is menswear viewed differently in France?
Danes are much more relaxed but I definitely miss the pride that the French have. There are many differences but the main difference is perhaps that Paris is an international metropolis and Copenhagen is a small capital. Sometimes Copenhagen can feel like a village and Paris like a jungle. I love both places!
When it comes to fashion there is not that much new menswear coming out of Paris right now, you have some interesting designers in the avant-garde genre. In Copenhagen or lets say Scandinavia there are so many talented designers and brands like Vibskov, Acne, Our Legacy, Wood Wood etc. that all make menswear and are doing well on the international market.
A lot of fashion designers move onto other areas of design, for exampleÂ architecture and furniture design. I guess this sort of design isn’t depicted by a trend, and the work becomes much more ‘solid’. Do you think you would ever go down that route?
I’m working on a design project as we speak that is in another design field and very interesting. I can’t say much about it yet. It’s a collaboration with a very important player in Denmark and size is not an issue…
What gives you the urge to wake up every morning?
Life, love and this…
Is there one significant point in your life that reminds you that you are on the right path?
When I speak to my mom I get a good sense of where I’m going.
What do you think about the internet? Have you always embraced it?
I was born free (but with internet), so there is no way I cannot embrace it. But I can be annoyed with having to be on so many social networks and all the blah blah, but you can always just shut off your computer.
Do you enjoy presenting your clothing on the runway? What challenges areÂ involved? Is it hard to get all the models together, fitting them etc?
Doing a show is a lot of hard work and so changeling because you never know exactly how it’s going to turn out. We have done shows for seven seasons now and have a lot of experience. The most important thing is to have a good team and a plan for everything. The one thing you can’t have enough of during a show is time, so not wasting it is rule number 1.
It’s also key to have a message with regard to styling, music choice etc. That will guide you through a lot of the decision making. Again planning is everything!
For any up and coming designers, what advice would you give to them?
Work, sleep, eat…
What do you think are the main misconceptions about menswear?
I think a common misconception about menswear is that it’s boring and doesn’t evolve as quickly as women’s wear.
I’m not sure that men’s and women’s wear can or should be compared. Working with menswear the way we do, I feel that we are pushing the envelope and constantly evolving and introducing new styles and materials to our customers. The silhouettes don’t change as dramatically as they do within women’s wear, but that’s also a wrong place to look for comparison.
Within the kind of menswear we make, focus should be on de details, the material, the lining etc, elements that are crucial to menswear.
What made you start a business, and more importantly, follow your dream, rather than pursuing further education, like University etc?
I was never good student and I don’t like spending time on things I’m not good at. Instead of following the path that was set out for me, I’ve built my own path and I don’t think I’d ever have come to the point I am at today if I hadn’t made my own decisions beck then.
I feel that society is very focused on education as essential for survival, but I think that knowing you strengths and weaknesses is the key to everything. I’m also lucky because I have a natural curiosity, which drives me to explore books, art, movies and life. It keeps me inspired and on my toes.
Is it hard to keep the balance of being business like and being creative, and how do you manage to maintain this?
It can be a challenging balance to find, but I have a good team now and they help me a lot. I try to focus mostly on the creative part, but the business takes up a lot of time as well.
What would you want your legacy to be?
I don’t think about stuff like that, one day at a time… I’m also a long way from even leaving a legacy. I just turned 25.
Outside of the brand, what other hobbies do you have?
I used to skateboard a lot but my body is too fucked so now I have my bike and that’s it. I have a DJ crew with two friends, which is a fun thing, we are called SunnyBeach HappySlap Mardigras and music is a good way to clear your head. In general I seem to spend most of my time on Soulland for better or worse, but it’s the way it is and I’m happy with it for now.
Any last words?
Never forget love!
A big thanks to Silas again for giving up his time to do the interview. The Spring/Summer 2011 collection is sure to be a big hit, make sure you check our previous posts on it here :
Photography by Michael Falgren