The Comeback: Johan Lindeberg

Twenty years ago Johan Lindeberg founded J. Lindeberg. The brand is getting the best birthday present, it’s founder back.

Last night the J.Lindeberg offices hosted a party (they have the best views in Stockholm). Perhaps that’s why Johan forgot his wallet at home this morning, only realizing as he got out of his taxi. He met his new colleagues for the first time at last night’s event. Earlier that day CEO, Stefan Engström, officially stated that J.Lindeberg himself was back as creative consultant, after exiting the company in 2007.

Johan Lindeberg began his career in fashion by turning Diesel into the world’s greatest denim brand. Through his keen eye for design, spectacular events and ground breaking advertising Diesel wooed 90s kids and their love of irony. In 1996 he founded J. Lindeberg with the ambition to creating sportswear, specifically golf clothing, for a new man. “I’ve always found it painful visiting conservative places with white tablecloths and men in suits… so, I wanted to make men who usually dresses in pleated trousers and large sweaters wear pink – it was a doomed project, but I did it. It took six years, but I did it.” When Johan Lindeberg left J.Lindeberg in 2007 he had several projects on his plate, like William Rast – the brand founded by Justin Timberlake. Shortly after that he created denim line BLK DNM. To brand and promote BLK DNM, he photographed women in his inner circle, Anja Rubik, Mariacarla Boscono and Caroline de Maigret for example. They were clad in his signature denim with striking leather jackets.

With BLK DNM you showed us a modern, strong woman. Will we be seeing her at J. Lindeberg now? ”With no doubt. I will be doing the photography for J. Lindeberg and mainly the women’s collections. I am very much a feminist. All the large issues in the world today come from money, egoism and macho men – I want to change that. If women had as much space and influence the world would not look the same, it’s as simple as that.”

Yesterday it was announced that Johan was coming back to J. Lindeberg. That same day he visited the immigration office to photograph some of the refugees who are currently seeking help in Sweden. “I’ve always been engaged, but never like this. It’s very emotional to meet all of these people and hear their stories. People from other cultures and different backgrounds definitely bring something to Sweden, even when it comes to fashion. If I’m out walking on the street, I definitely think the Romans look the coolest. They’ve got their own personal style, they know layering – they’re creative and they put their own touch on everything. It’s incredibly inspiring.”

The political messages that you have communicated at Diesel and BLK DNM (the metrosexual man and woman in focus) have us asking – is Johan Lindeberg more political than we know? “I grew up in Lund and I’ve lived experienced the power that existed there in the 1960’s and 1970’s. My dad was politically active and one of the biggest advocates of women’s rights to become a priest – so I have it in me. I’ve always been one to pick up on things and have a good understanding of what’s to come. I don’t have an explanation for that. I have a good intuition that I make a lot of use of.”

How does it feel to be back at J. Lindeberg? “Emotional. A little nostalgic. It’s a warm feeling, I feel needed and very welcomed.”

Interview by Jonna Bergh
Photo Christopher Hunt