The Forumist have brought together footwear icon Dr. Martens with local streetwear label and ethical fashion platform this is Sweden in a collaboration that showcases both brands’ rebellious approach to the world around them
Ana Londono and her brother, Pablo, are the designers behind the creative platform this is Sweden. Born in Colombia, the siblings arrived in Sweden at an early age with their parents, as political refugees.
Theirs was a creative family, with their mother sewing clothes and other items for the household for as long as they can remember. Ana and Pablo both always loved drawing and, after leaving school, it came as no surprise when they chose to pursue an artistic education: Ana studied fashion design at Central Saint Martins in London, while Pablo went to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.
Ana chose fashion as her subject because she saw it as a way of combining many different disciplines. Her ambition from the start was to work not only with clothes, but also with other creatives within fields such as photography, art, film and stage performances. Today, with This Is Sweden, that ambition is finally becoming true.
Both Ana and Pablo felt that there was more to do with design than just relating to the “next big” global trends. They founded this is Sweden in 2013 as a reaction to the current political and social situation in Europe, building up a creative hub that has fashion as its base but at the same time works across the borders, tapping into different artistic fields and sectors.
The siblings draw a lot of their inspiration from strong personalities who fight for positive change not only within the fashion industry but also in other areas of society. For this is Sweden, they don’t work with seasonal collections but rather with a more sustainable, long-term perspective. With their design, this is Sweden always endeavours to create things that reflect the world around them and that have a story to tell. They see art as a powerful tool for communicating important messages and this philosophy shines through in all of their projects.
Today, this is Sweden is partly based in an atelier in Stockholm, but they also have a studio in Amsterdam, where the custom-made and limited edition manufacturing takes place. As a part of their conscious agenda, Ana and Pablo work with so-called “dead stock” – in other words, the surplus remaining from the fashion industry after the sales. Using a combination of imagination, skill, technique and a lot of fingertip feeling, the sibling designers lovingly transform the discarded garments into something new. The results are kind of a streetwear take on couture, giving new life to what would otherwise have soon added to the growing amount of landfill.
Besides production ethics, craftsmanship is another of this is Sweden’s core values and their hand-stitched garments have been shown at several exhibitions and museums around Europe as examples of what, today, is a rare kind of dedication to quality.
When it comes to future plans, the design duo are determined to continue developing the company slowly and sustainably, preferring to prioritise their brand ethos over quick growth and profit. The goal is to find new, more sustainable and inclusive methods of working with fashion. And to take good care of the struggling industry they have inherited from the previous business generation.
This inspiring combination of genuine quality and uncompromising attitude is something that this is Sweden share with a small number of brands, artists and profiles, some of whom have become true icons of their times. They all represent a movement that connects people and communities with their creativity. At the same time, they are reaching out to generate awareness of what the society we live in actually looks like, if we would only dare to take our blinkers off.
One of the labels where you immediately see parallels with the this is Sweden agenda is Dr. Martens, which is why The Forumist brought the two brands together for a collaboration that goes beyond trend and season. Ana explains that, for her, this alliance was a bit like closing the circle. Just as the iconic footwear label is seamlessly associated with the punk legacy, so This Is Sweden has a strong and growing relationship with the world of hip-hop. And if hip-hop can perhaps be seen as the punk of this decade, then Ana and Pablo will do what they can to be a part of dressing its advocates – just as Dr. Martens has always been there to cater for the rebels.
With timeless designs that never go out of style and manufacturing processes that deliver products that are made to last, the two brands use artistic licence to create stories that span decades – and beyond. Stories where personality beats mass production and passion paves new ways for good things to happen.
Words by Johanna Bergström
Photography by Ivan Nunez
Styling by Maria Barsoum
Special Thanks to the Dr. Martens store at Katarina Bangatan 15, Stockholm
1: Boots (1460) by Dr. Martens
2: Boots (8761) by Dr. Martens
3: From left: Oumie wears Shoes (1461); Fatima wears Boots (8761); Isabell wears Boot (1460); Bea wears Boot (8761) All by Dr. Martens
4-5: Boots (8761) by Dr. Martens
6: Boots (1460) by Dr. Martens
7: Boots (8761) by Dr. Martens
8: Boots (1460) by Dr. Martens