Fashion made from emotions and life stories

Photograph: Axel Lindahl. Stylist: Naomi Itkes

In the next few years, we will probably see “creatives” increasingly taking over the role previously held exclusively by designers and stylists. The designer will have to move beyond just creating products, to instead tell compelling stories.

From the crowded balcony of the Absolut Iconic exhibition, Anders Haal’s latest creation overlooked the crowd of select guests, as the celebration of three decades’ worth of Absolut fashion collaborations was unfolding around it.

Anders now joins the ranks of iconic designers such as Versace, Marc Jacobs and Jimmy Choo, who have all combined their creative skills with the Absolut brand to create one-of-a-kind fashion pieces.

In 2014, Anders Haal founded his Stockholm-based clothing and eyewear label HAAL in an attempt to visualise a world full of contradictions. In his work, he prefers designing for a certain lifestyle rather than a season, and he seeks to allow for people to express unity and togetherness.

“The story of my brand is being told by the people who choose to wear it, and, thus, I would love for people to use my fashion as a tool to express who they really are”, he explains. This being a common theme among the designers Absolut is collaborating with this year, it is an obvious sign of the times we live in. Maybe the exponential speed of change in society, leaving traditional structures crumbling as a result, has spurred a need in people to more clearly define their own identity and the context in which they choose to exist.

From a fashion industry perspective, Anders has his own perspective on what he hopes the future will hold; “I long for a day when we use fashion to express emotions, rather than the conceptual and strategic thinking which has been very prevalent in the industry of late. I believe it is time for the industry to look for things that truly make a difference – things you can feel. You can see this trend in the many product-centered and identity-driven niche brands making a mark in the world today. In the next few years, we will probably see “creatives” increasingly taking over the role previously held exclusively by designers and stylists. The designer will have to move beyond just creating products, to instead tell compelling stories.”

And when we ask him about where to look to in order to stay on top of this development, he continues “I pull my inspiration from virtually anything, but I often return to iconic archetypes and heritage dressing when in need of ideas. Lately, I have moved towards truly taking the time in my work to find the right thing, rather than accepting the rushed pace of the industry.”

The Absolut Iconic exhibition was a way for Absolut to continue its tradition of building platforms where creativity can grow, and at the same time celebrate the legacy it shares with many of the greatest designers of our time.

“The thing I love about this project is that we let creativity stay in complete focus. It is both liberating and fun to be able to work in that way. Not to say that the context isn’t flattering though, as many of my role models are represented in the Absolut archives, with Helmut and Ann-Sofie being two strong reasons for my interest in fashion. However, since I started working in photography, the Absolut iconic campaigns themselves are what I remember the most from my teenage years.”

Finally, we ask Anders about what young aspiring designers should focus on, to make it in the rapidly changing fashion industry.

“If I were to give one advice to the next generation of designers, it would be to have fun, indulge yourself and to never give up. Don’t care about what others do. Find your own place and make sure to have the right people around you. People who understand you and allow you to grow.”

In other words, people who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are doing it – and Anders Hall surely belongs to the latter category.