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PEOPLEText: Victor Moreno

Founded by long-term friends Carl Ollson and Felix von Bahder, Swedish sustainable fashion mavericks Deadwood™ have raised the bar in the leather clothing game internationally. They started off working with factory offcuts, rejected hides and surplus stockpiles from tanneries – as they love to claim, the initial idea has always been “turning trash into treasure”. Sweden is well-known for how important sustainability is in the different aspects of its society.

It was a no-brainer that a Swedish alternative was necessary when it came to the leather fashion world; thus Deadwood™ lead the Scandinavian market of vegan leather garments. Furthermore, they not only fight against virgin animal leather but also PVC materials which use toxic chemicals. For that reason, they have put a lot of effort into working with plant-based materials. Presenting their capsule collection of organically grown cactus leather-like garments, they have broken through to improve the status quo in the industry. Many artists such as the likes of Iggy Pop, Kirk Hammett, Nicki Minaj are confessed fans. In 2022 they will celebrate their 10th anniversary! We sat with Mr. von Bahder to go more in-depth about this exciting stage in their journey.

Felix von Bahder and Carl Ollson

Felix and Carl started out working in a small store on Södermalm in Stockholm, which became a bit of a cult space selling hard-to-find garments, second hand and cool denim and leather pants and jackets, until they began with their own brand.

Please let us know how Carl and Felix meet up and the idea to start Deadwood.

Carl and I met when working as colleagues in another store called SOLO a couple years before we decided to do our own thing. The basic idea was to build a creative space where music, vintage and indie fashion could cross-pollinate. We felt Stockholm in those days was lacking a truly vibey store. So, we went ahead and made one!

Arguably Sweden is in the forefront of sustainability and eco-friendly business. Please let us know how this affects you.

I guess it’s true that Sweden is quite advanced when it comes to sustainability. Not sure why, but it could have something to do with the fact that Sweden was a super poor country all throughout history up until the 50’s. So, there is a culture here of taking good care of what you have, not wasting anything and so on. And over the last 70 years Sweden has developed this social-democratic sentiment of solidarity so that probably adds fuel to the notion that we all have to care for what we share. And we all share this planet, so thinking in terms of sustainability, recycling etcetera comes kind of natural to us.

Photo: Isak Berglund Mattson-Mårn

Fashion has moved onto the idea of delivering more resistant and durable garments rather than cheap and easy-to-consume designs every season. What’s your take about it and how does this resonate with the philosophy of Deadwood™?

To us the idea of sustainability runs deeper than just using material with less carbon footprint – it’s a way of thinking about things. We believe in sustainable style where designs are valid over many seasons. “Timeless” is a cliché word but it is at least something to aspire to. We also believe in quality that lasts, and this is something we have put a lot of effort into the last couple years. If you buy a Deadwood leather garment today you should expect to be wearing it in 10 years from now. And that is true sustainability if you ask me.

Photo: Isak Berglund Mattson-Mårn

I guess for you it is equally important to fight against both virgin animal leather and PVC-like materials using toxic chemicals.

Yeah, I mean every way we can challenge the status quo and improve things in the industry is relevant. But then again, nobody’s perfect and we all have to pick our fights. At this point in time, we feel we are capable of fighting the good fight on two fronts – against reckless use of animals for raw materials, by using upcycled dead-stock leather, and against the naïve marketing of “vegan leather” as the savior of all, by presenting a truly plant-based alternative.

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Stefan Marx