Kristina Tjäder is one of three sisters who make up the Swedish women’s fashion label, House of Dagmar. Here she tells ASW what a pleasure it is to mix family with business and how House of Dagmar breaks the Swedish fashion mould.
Q. How do you use ASW and what is your favorite site feature?
Kristina Tjäder : I use it to get in contact with people I haven’t met for a long time. Also, if you go on a weekend somewhere it’s really useful to get the information you’re looking for from people you trust.
Q. When and how did you become a member?
KT: I got invited through a friend quite recently.
Q. How did you come up with your label? Was it something you all dreamed up together?
KT: We talked about it for ages. We used to be colleagues at H&M and always talked about starting our own label. In fact, we’ve talked about it since we were small. Our grandmother, Dagmar, taught me how to sew. I always made my own clothes and it was a natural outcome for me to eventually design my own label. I started out making a lot of gowns and wedding dresses. I went to a design school in Paris, ESMOD.
Q. What is it like to be working together as three sisters? Are there any issues with mixing family and business?
KT: I think it can be either perfect or a catastrophe, but for us it’s super good. We know each other so well so it’s easy to take fast decisions. You don’t have to be too politically correct with each other. It’s very easy and fun. I trust my sisters better than anyone else.
Q. What roles do each of you play in the business?
KT: I’m in charge of design and production, Karin manages marketing and PR, Sofia manages sales and Ebba just started as CEO.
Q. Many conflicts?
KT: Not so many – we discuss everything all the time and sometimes we disagree. But as the conversation continues we forget that we have disagreed. We never found any conflicts we couldn’t get through. We work together, we go on holiday together, we meet with families, see each other a lot, have the same friends. It’s wonderful.
Karin Söderlind, Sofia Malm and Kristina Tjäder
Q. What three words would you use to describe Swedish fashion?
KT: Swedish fashion focuses a lot on quality. I’d say: clean, tailored, rich of details.
Q. It’s no secret that Sweden is known for high design. How does that influence the way you design?
KT: I don’t think from a Swedish perspective when I design. I think internationally. I was educated in Paris. Most Swedish designs are androgynous, but we are more international and more feminine.
Q. Do you have a signature design feature?
KT: A lot of knitted cocktail dresses.
Q. What kind of woman are you designing for?
KT: A stylish strong woman. We don’t put an age on her because we have customers of every age. In general our fashion is for very strong women who believe in having their own style, who are a bit arty; from stylish fashionable business women to actresses to stylists.
Q. What makes your line different?
KT: We do a lot in knitwear that other brands don’t do. Then we have a special mind for colors. We take inspiration from the Art Deco era. We mix colors a lot and take a lot of inspiration from art. We don’t follow trends – we go our own way. Sometimes we go in the opposite direction from everyone else. Our clothes are airy and comfortable to wear – light-weight. Our style is more stylish feminine artist than rock ‘n’ roll, which is the style of other Swedish designers of the moment.
House of Dagmar at Gen Art NY, 2007
Q. What were your inspirations for your current line?
KT: The red thread through our collection is ‘work in progress’ – we take inspiration from artists or painters – Jackson Pollock, for example, with prints and colors. Our clothes also reflect various aspects of art – the painter’s coat, oversized pockets, how they dressed, lived, painted, mood…
Q. Who is your favorite style icon?
KT: My grandmother, Dagmar.
Q. What is your ultimate goal?
KT: To grow internationally and become an international brand. We’re looking for more agents and distributors around the world.
Q. Tell us about your involvement in the Gen Art show at New York Fashion Week this year?
KT: Gen Art is a foundation that keeps an eye on interesting brands. They’ve been watching us for a while and chose us to appear at the Gen Art fashion show, along with 11 other labels. It’s not a competition you apply for. It is one where you are selected.
Q. What awards has House of Dagmar won?
KT: Rookie of the Year in Sweden (2005)
The Best New Brand from Elle, Sweden (2006)
Appearing in Gen Art Fashion Show at NY Fashion Week (2007)
Q. What makes you happiest?
KT: That we can work so well together as sisters and still be such close friends.
Q. What is your greatest vice?
KT: I work too much and need more time with my family.
Q. What is your favorite museum or gallery?
KT: The Metropolitan in NY and a lot of small galleries that are not so well-known where you can discover lots about artists you don’t know much about.
Q. What cause is closest to your heart? Why?
KT: I worry a lot about the environment – people don’t worry about the impact. We try to think about being environmental all the time at Dagmar. We try to look for organic environmental options with our fabrics, our factories, transport etc…
House of Dagmar at Gen Art NY, 2007
Q. What's one thing you would like to change about yourself?
KT: There are so many things I could change but one of them could be to be less stubborn.
Q. Who is your favorite artist?
KT: There are really so many that I like; Jackson Pollock and Vladimir Dubko. They both have a very specific style of expression.
Q. What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
KT: When I was a ski bum I was bungy jumping. I would never do that again today.
Q. Who do you admire most?
KT: My grandmother, Dagmar. She was a fantastic person – the person I’d like to be like.
Q. What upsets you the most?
KT: People with the wrong attitude.
Q. What is your favorite bar or club?
KT: Socialista in NYC is really nice.
Q. What are you most afraid of?
KT: Not having time to do all the fun and interesting things I’d like to do.
Q. What are your 3 favorite restaurants?
KT: PA & Co. in Stockholm, Le Pétrelle in Paris, Trattoria ZàZà in Florence
Q. What are your 5 favorite hotels?
KT: Fjällnäs Högfjällshotell in Sweden, Gullmarstrands Hotell in Sweden, Pita Maha Hotel in Bali, Grotta Giusti in Italy, Hotel Riffelalp inZermatt, Switzerland.
Q. What are the top songs on your iPod right now?
KT: ‘Frequent Flyer’ by Nina Persson, ‘Dog Days’ by Soundtrack of Our Lives, ‘Guilty’ by Barbra Streisand and Andy Gibb, ‘Rehab’ by Amy Winehouse
— Laura Jakobovits