W22 Gothenburg: Inside the collection with búl designer Virginia Martin.

What was the inspiration behind this collection?

Gothenburg, locally known as Göteborg, is a major city in Sweden located off the Göta älv river on the country’s west coast. I have been lucky enough to visit twice, once in winter and once over summer, and was instantly drawn to the Scandinavian charm. Most choose to visit Stockholm, however Gothenburg is a bit more off the beaten path, more underground and is slightly more left of field, similar to Melbourne if you are comparing it to Sydney. Being interested in Scandinavian culture and design, both visits have been extremely memorable, especially experiencing the city across the two seasons. Discovering the contrasts of the land were incredible, from downtown Gothenburg, the bustling Avenye (main boulevard) and the Dutch-style canals, to the solitude and serenity of the Gothenburg archipelago, 20+ islands dotted along the Swedish coastline. From such wild variations in landscape to the refined Scandinavian art, style and design, alongside the wonderful memories I created there, it was an organic decision for this Autumn Winter collection to be inspired by Gothenburg, Sweden. 

What story are you trying to tell?

There is a Swedish word Lagom (La-gum) that means, just the right amount, in balance, not too little, not too much. Following the concept of Lagom, alongside our core ethos of ‘less is more’, this story reflects ease, comfort and minimalism with an appreciation of functionality without sacrificing beauty all whilst keeping a conscious approach.


What styles can we expect to see?

As Gothenburg is especially cold in the winter, the art of layering is at the forefront of this collection. There are a lot of trans seasonal pieces combined with oversized and androgynous looks that reflect a very classic Scandinavian style. You will find cropped, wrapped and tie feature tops paired with fitted skirts and flared to slouchy pants. Utilitarian overalls and rigid denim that contrasts soft fluffy knits and tailored winter suiting. Floaty long sleeve dresses in mini/ maxi lengths are worn with oversized outerwear in glossy, quilted and multi-checks. Footwear features durable lug soles across lace-up brogues and ankle to knee high boots, and lastly, cashmere accessories add an extra layer of warmth in complimenting colour to complete the collection.

How did you create the colour palette?

Always guided by the land, the colour palette is an inspired reflection of Gothenburg itself. You will see large variations of blue that pull from the historical seaport town and maritime hub as well as the blue and white electric trams that criss-cross the city. Dark leafy tones mirror the Avenyne, the central boulevard of Gothenburg as juicy greens and glossy mints muse the surrounding landscape and scattered archipelagos. Alongside Scandi neutrals of camel, tan and variations of nutmeg you’ll find bright jewel tones and pops of pink and red that muse heather, the national flower of Västergötland, Gothenburg’s province on Sweden’s west coast.

What fabrications can be found throughout W22?

Natural fabrications are always at the forefront of the label and were a welcomed alignment with Gothenburg’s sustainable approach. Breathable cotton and flaxen-based linens are found in heavier winter blends across textural drill, stretch checks and thick jersey varieties. Innovative fibres such as wood derived tencel and eco-friendly rolva mix with warm woollen knits in merino, alpaca and cashmere blends. The fabrics featured throughout the Gothenburg collection have been thoughtfully selected to not only connect back to our destination muse but to offer the wearer a slow-travelled and mindful awareness.

What are your favourite design details in this collection?

The subtle embroidery feature on our denim and leisurewear feature an Art Nouveau inspired búl symbol that we developed in house at the studio. I also like the contrasts this season from an exposed zipper to an outer trim or larger displays like the inner fusing on our Rohsska Coat that comes in a bright and buttery yellow against the outer brown check. Typography prints on knitwear are something new we have also explored this season and feature across the Vacker Jumpers with a hand crafted ‘Gothenburg’ text woven into them.

 

While visiting Gothenburg, what do you enjoy most?

My winter experience was very cold and grey, but in a beautiful way. I loved simply walking around the city, taking in the architecture and enjoying a hot cup of coffee and cake/ Fika with friends around the harbour.

In summer the archipelagos were definitely a highlight, from the tiny little forests and quaint housing to the big bouldering rocks along the coastline. I also visited a music festival that was held in a large open park where everyone was immaculately dressed and very well behaved. Throughout the festival there were pop up events all over the city, from tiny shows in hidden laneways to live bands in little cafes.

I also enjoyed trying local foods and learning about their traditions. Warming up on a cold day with Swedish meatballs served with lingonberry jam, pickles and potatoes or enjoying their special hot chocolates with a shot of mint liqueur to warm up the throat. Trying Semla bun, a delicious sweet bun that has a marzipan type filling, whipped cream and a powdered sugar finish, simply delicious. Breakfast was knäckebröd (hard bread) with cured salmon, lots of coffee and this very interesting fish spread called Kalles, which I could liken to Vegemite, you either love it or you don’t. I also happened to visit during Easter, which was a very unique experience where it’s not so much bunnies and chocolates but more so roosters and colourful witches.

What is your favoured piece of the collection and why?

The Klippan Coat is a new style we have explored this season and is a long quilted oversized coat that reminds me very much of Gothenburg. It’s super soft and lightweight but feels like you’re wearing a sleeping bag due to its texture and warmth. It features contrast trims and an open end zip so you can play with top and bottom closures and it also comes with a belt to cinch at the waist or wear lose and oversized.
 

And lastly, what are you looking forward to this winter?

Whilst in Gothenburg I came to understand and appreciate the concept of Fika. On a surface level, Fika, pronunced fee-ka, is to share a cup of coffee and cake with a friend, but on a deeper level it is a chance to slow down and appreciate the good things in life. Fika cannot be experienced alone; you must share it with another. So this Melbourne Winter (and beyond) I am looking forward to Fika with family and friends, enjoying each other’s company by taking the time to slow down. I’m also looking forward to rugging up near the fire (which is hard to think about, as we are currently mid heat wave in Melbourne) listening to the rain, reading a good book and taking it easy. I also love to surf and the winter is always much better for waves here but of course is incredibly cold, so if I don’t brave the waters in my wetsuit I’ll be up the mountains enjoying snowboarding. In short a mix of slowing down, taking time for myself and others, but still getting amongst the wild Australian winter to experience the season.

March 03, 2022 — Karla Mathieson