A bit like how Picasso had his blue period and then his rose one, in middle school Per dressed in colour phases. One month he solely wore green, even dying his hair. The next, he wore orange and so on, exemplifying his playful relationship with fashion. He hails from a small town in the province of Småland in Sweden, where Astrid Lindgren (creator of Pippi Longstocking) grew up. He cites his way of seeing things as intrinsically Swedish, stating that “Swedes are generally imaginative and Swedish designers have a good sense of balancing imagination with simple expressions.”
What drew you to study fashion? Are you from an artistic background?
I do not come from an artistic background, but my dad is a carpenter and he built our first house entirely by himself. As a kid, I was practical and had a DIY approach; I definitely think it was because of him. I loved dressing up and fashion was always important to me, though for a long time I wanted to be an artist. I thought that I wasn’t smart enough to be one, but I now realize you don’t have to be smart to be called an artist. The same goes for fashion: if something is nice and it is relevant, then it is good, but it has to be both!
What drew you to London and how does it compare to ‘home’?
I worked in London during the summer of 2012 and wanted to come back to get my Masters degree. London is obviously bigger than back home, and I often miss the sense of community which exists there.
What inspires you at this very moment?
This is not an artist or a designer, but I am reading Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift right now, and it is really a great book!
Where is your favourite place to go in London?
I don’t particularly have a favourite spot, but I think Walthamstow, where I live, is very nice. I worked with garments from the market there, wanting to create desirable garments out of the junk I found.
You like exploring functional clothes like a white t-shirt or jeans — why is it important to be able to relate to the garment?
It is an amazing feeling to see someone who looks really good, and who is dressed very simply. I’m not into designs which completely alienate the customer. I like normal things, because they are more valid socially than wearing abstract sculptures — you never see people wearing that in the street anyway! I just want the guy that I’m dressing to feel great.
The project you’re working on at the moment is called poetical functions: can you elaborate on the title?
It is about the poetics and the politics of the garment. This can be quite literal, like with the bottle pockets I’m working on now, which serve the purpose of carrying a bottle of wine on the bus. The driver can’t say that you can’t take that bottle onto the bus, because that is how the garment looks. But that pocket represents a bigger comment about the ‘not so free’ world we live in. Generally, I really try to base my research around functions or needs, and I’m currently working with key chains and key rings, which are like functional jewelry.
You also made your toiles into functioning, wearable garments. Is this a gesture of sustainability?
Sometimes it is not necessary to toile something a hundred times, whereas in other cases you need to. You can just know by looking at the pattern, seeing that it is exactly how you want it to be. Then I’ll try the toile on, and if it feels good it has to be finished.
Do you think designers have a responsibility to be sustainable?
Of course. It is almost as if a designer would say that their work is not political. Everything is. If you are not interested in these aspects, you are just being lazy.
What annoys you most about the fashion system?
You can’t be annoyed with the system. I think you have to believe that you can create your own system, and that is the way to change things.
Do you plan to establish a brand?
Yes, I do.
How do you feel about navigating the business side of fashion?
I have some experience of running a business, working with both big and small companies. With a small brand like mine it is all about organization, determination, good friends and funding.
You told me a while back that you specialize in Menswear design, but have always designed womenswear for a living. Was this an important experience for you?
I had two different experiences working in womenswear. One was with Cheap Monday, working very commercially with customer boards, and the designs were based on sales. My other experience was working with a costume designer for an artist. They were both great experiences, but if I ever do womenswear again, I would create clothes which are very similar to my Menswear designs.
How would you define masculinity?
It feels very 80s. No man or woman I know, including myself, would describe themselves as masculine. I think the word is outdated, although defining yourself as a man is not.
What’s the best thing about studying at the RCA?
The technicians and Zowie Broach.
How would your friends describe you?
I think they would say I have a unique sense of logic — at least that’s what I’ve been told! I have a very hard time understanding things that are designed to be logical, like maps or hierarchies.
What’s your favourite object?
I like my toothbrush for its function, but it’s also very pretty!
And what do you think is one of the most underrated pieces of design?
I am more into things which have a lifespan, such as food. It goes bad if you don’t eat it, and the function is gone. But as for objects, I guess the keychain is quite underrated.
Words by Lilah Francis
All images courtesy of Per Götesson