EcoSalon at Stockholm Fashion Week: Josefin Strid Breaks Gender Barriers

Josefin Strid SS12. Photo by Kristian Löveborg.

Swedish designer Josefin Strid accommodates a new type of gender dressing.

Josefin Strid is one of the most interesting new designers in Sweden today. Her creations exude the sophistication and playful sense of innovation of a far more seasoned designer (she’s only 24 years old), and watching her grow is a very exciting prospect. Strid is also conscious about the environment and chooses her materials with care. Her previous collection, which caused a stir on the international fashion scene, was crafted using waste materials from the auto industry (you would never know looking at the pieces).

This time, she has gathered inspiration from the sulphur springs in Yellowstone National Park and artists like Georgia O’Keefe. The fabrics are all dyed by hand, and the colors are stunning. But most interesting is her approach to unisex dressing. Her pieces are all designed to be worn by men and women alike, and Strid sees no reason why men shouldn’t wear skirts.

“A man wearing a skirt is pure beauty, at least if you ask me. We often talk about the kilt, as the skirt for men and Marc Jacobs made the garment popular a few years ago,” Strid writes on her blog. “I think a lot about genus, gender, values, our history, men today and future men. To be innovative doing womenswear is not easy. It’s hard to provoke or to start a debate — womenswear has had a revolution. I am more dedicated to develop the small things: techniques, fit, finish etc. Menswear is just about to start a revolution.”

Perhaps we are at a crossroads similar to when icons like Marlene Dietrich made it okay for women to wear pants, something that had previously been just as unthinkable as a man wearing a skirt to the office.

Designer Josefin Strid speaks to press after her show at Stockholm Fashion Week

“I am very interested in bringing feminine influences while doing menswear, that’s my challenge,” says Strid. “As soon as you work with feminine elements in menswear I consider the importance of details such as proportions, stitching, function and silhouette. We don’t want to erase the trace of a man. Just like the fit is of importance when dressing a woman in a man’s garment. We need to be aware of the obvious difference how to work with fit when it comes to the two genders.”

Josefin Strid SS12. Photo by Kristian Löveborg.

Somehow, it’s easier for women to get away with being adventurous when it comes to fashion. Is it time we give the guys a break and encourage the next man we see sporting a skirt on the street? Are we at the point where we can share a wardrobe with our boyfriends or husbands?

Josefin Strid concludes: “I have many male friends who’d like to wear silk, ‘feminine’ colours and maybe even skirt and a dress but they don’t dare since the society don’t accept this. As a designer with your own label it’s easy to be a bit egocentric, I always choose to treat the subjects that interest me. I will continue to discuss this, to work with the contrast and the balance. Today my biggest target is men of the future, the ones who dare and want to develop ‘the man.’ Sooner or later I do hope to reach to the man who wouldn’t die for fashion but still is aware of his choice. One step could be that this man chooses to buy a silk t-shirt with a beautiful print instead of a white jersey T-shirt.”

Johanna Björk

Johanna is a sustainable fashion writer currently based in Ojai, CA. Read her weekly On Trend column to learn what's new in eco fashion.