For us, the "less is more" motto truly reigns. We don't really like to call it "minimalism," more like "functionality". We think good design also makes references to the counter-cultural movements that have shaped who we are. We were and still are: punks, riot grrls, bad boys, ravers, goths, surfers and skaters.
Unsurprisingly, one place where we found this kind of functional design is in Stockholm, Sweden. It's a place where inspiration and innovation runs abundant for the fashion world. Jonny Johansson and Ann-Sofie Back are possibly the most famous designers there, merging clean lines with conceptual inspirations (like Harvest Moon and sexuality). Other brands like Our Legacy and Base Range are gaining popularity quickly for their smart take on basic essentials and sustainability.
And from this cultural center, two guys, Freddie and Robert, who skate and snowboard for inspiration, found their calling. They are the guys behind Monokel, a company dedicated to making well crafted eyewear.
Here is an awesome interview Monokel sent us about their inspirations, love of the outsider and where to hang out in Stockholm.
Where do you both live and work in Stockholm?
Our office/showroom is on Södermalm, and we both live on the south side too.
When did you decide to set up Monokel?
About 3 years ago when we were both injured at the same time from snowboarding. Freddie broke his back and I (Robert) did my ACL for the second time. All of a sudden we had a bunch of free time on our hands on the side of our studies, and without snowboarding, we needed somewhere to channel our creativity. We were attracted by the fact that sunglasses are so personal. People use sunglasses to express themselves or to hide behind, but either way it sits there in the middle of your face. That makes it interesting to work with.
What was your inspiration? Do you design with someone specific in mind?
Sub- and resistant cultures have always been a big source of inspiration for us. Design has to be about more than looking good in order to be interesting and inspiring. In most sub- and resistant cultures, style is a necessity, and a way to experience communion in the exclusion from the rest of society. And it’s bigger than just the visual aspect. Look at mods, greasers, goths, rappers, hippies and ravers for example. Watch “Paris is Burning” if you haven’t already. Maybe the best film ever made about the value and need of expressing yourself. Outsidership is the best catalyst for interesting design and fashion. But we also draw a lot of inspiration from the functionality of great industrial design. That’s a fun aspect of sunglasses. It’s fashion, but also an object that can stand on its own.
When you're not at work what do you like to do in the city (hobbies/cool places to eat/drink/hang out etc)?
We barely leave our office during the winter. It’s a big industrial garage with a skate ramp, a small stage, light rigs and so on, so it's a good place to hang out and bring friends. But we also spend a lot of time at Under Bron for late night fun or at Ugglan for a round of after work ping-pong. Färgfabriken is great too.
Where's your favorite Stockholm skating spot?
The mini-ramp at our office on a Monday morning.
Where do you go to escape city life?
We have a couple of secret spots in Nackareservatet for the quick afternoon getaway. But when there’s more time - definitely the Archipelago. It’s paradise. Preferrably Lilla Nassa.
What 3 wardrobe staples could you not live without?
Vans Authentics in black suede with all white soles and black laces, a black linen tee from Our Legacy and my black polyester coach jacket that I found in a thrift shop a while ago. They all go with everything.
Any favourite Swedish brands?
Our Legacy is still doing a good job; they’ve found a way to tell a story without screaming on top of their lungs. Also really impressed by Common and Uniforms for the Dedicated. But you should also check out our friends from Deadwood Leather. They are doing these perfect biker jackets from recycled leather.
How would you define STHLM style?
For Stockholmers, style is a lot about looking good while not making a fool out of yourself. Everyone’s special in the exact same way. But that’s fine, as long as people are happy.
What's next for Monokel?
We are releasing our SS14 line in the beginning of April with a whole bunch of new frames. At the same time we are also releasing a photo project with the Spanish photographer Crista Leonard. It’s a collaborative effort around the concept of odd Swedish traditions, new and old. Super excited!
Thank you Freddie and Robert! Monokel is coming soon to the webshop. In the meantime, check out their wares HERE.