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Søster Studio is a fashion brand that produces beautiful, timeless womenswear inspired by Scandinavian design. However, Søster is not only concerned about the look of their final pieces but also about the philosophy behind the brand. Working exclusively with women-owned businesses, choosing recycled paper for their packaging and producing in small quantities are just some of the essential elements that compose the brand’s DNA. We’ve talked to the founder, Pernille Nadine, who has explained us the idea behind Søster in full detail, from its recent launching to its future plans.

Pernille, you are the founder of Søster. How and when did you have the idea of launching your own fashion brand? 
I’d wanted to do it for a long time. I didn't have the resources, the education or the support I thought I needed in order to pursue it when I was younger. I was surrounded by people that weren't that great, and things were difficult at home. This made it hard to stay in school and to focus on my goals.
When I came to the point where I had reached my limit, it was the moment to make a choice between going all-in to pursue my dreams and create a life I wanted to live, or to just give up. I decided to move to London to get into the fashion industry and to kind of get away. I was only nineteen and didn't know anyone there except for my boyfriend, who moved with me. This was one of the best decisions I have ever taken. My years in London have played a huge role in me getting the confidence to just go for it. This is where I rediscovered my own identity, sexuality, and beauty.
You don’t need an expensive education, it doesn't matter how you grew up or what your life story is; you can do whatever it is that you want to do as long as you work hard and are passionate. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. In most cases, not having a comfortable plan B will push you even harder. It makes you unafraid when you have absolutely nothing to lose. It would be great for me to have an education in fashion design and there are tons of practical things I still need to learn, but being self-taught makes me work without any rules or borders. And I believe creativity can’t really be taught.
What is the philosophy and style of Søster?
It’s contemporary womenswear. I’m from Norway, so the style is naturally inspired by Scandinavian design in how the clothes can be used for multiple occasions, are ‘seasonless’ and will hopefully be appreciated for a long time. There is also youthfulness and something sensitive over it mixed with strength and the feeling of being an empowered free woman.
The philosophy is to work towards an enlightened sustainable future. It celebrates women and female sensuality, and the name in Norwegian means ‘sister’, which to me represents inclusiveness and sisterhood. Through Søster I want to explore womanhood, diversity and creativity.
There is a very strong ethical concept behind the brand. In what ways were you thoughtful about environmental and social issues when you were developing the brand?
I don’t want my brand to be a part of fast fashion. It was really important to find a good ethical manufacturer when producing this. I lived in Indonesia for a year and really got to know the place and the people that produced the collection. The factory doesn’t use any plastic, pays good wages, treats animals, the environment and the workers with respect as well as having an inspiring safe workplace. You can find out more details on how they are producing responsibly on the webpage, where I also share the address of the factory. I strive to be completely transparent, which I think is really important in the fashion industry today.
I also didn't want to use any plastic in the packaging or branding. I use alternatives like recycled paper and organic bamboo instead. Deliberately producing timeless clothes in small quantities was also a big factor. I’m very proud that Søster has worked exclusively with women-owned businesses so far. It’s definitely not easy for a small brand to strive for sustainability, but I’m doing my best to evolve and be responsible.

"Treating the environment, animals and human beings with respect shouldn't be something niche or special, it should be the standard practice."
Do you think it is important that more brands become socially and environmentally responsible? In what ways would it help?
Yes. Treating the environment, animals and human beings with respect shouldn't be something niche or special, it should be the standard practice. Unfortunately it’s not, and the fashion industry caters to people wanting more things, faster and cheaper. By doing this, these brands are sacrificing the safety and lives of people (mostly female workers) as well as the environment. The fashion industry holds a lot of power as it’s the second most polluting industry in the world; by producing less and more thoughtful we could create a lot of positive change.
You produce each piece in very small quantities and there will be no physical store. Why did you decide to focus solely on e-commerce?
Producing in small quantities as I do makes sense. It also gives me full control and makes it easier to keep everything within the philosophy of the brand, as there is no middleman. There will be pop up shops in Oslo and London very soon, tough. It’s great to be able to connect, get the feeling of Søster and to try on the clothes in person too! But I think that having a permanent physical store is not as sustainable as selling online, so that’s the main focus.
How did you manage to communicate the brand’s philosophy through the lookbook photos?
All the photos have been shot analogue, which is a nod to slow fashion. Not mass-producing but rather creating something meaningful in small quantities. It is more organic and natural too, which is also why I don’t want any beauty retouching in any of the pictures. Removing ‘flaws’ and promoting an unrealistic beauty standard is not what I believe in. The images we put out to the world have a great power, and Søster wants to celebrate women, imperfection and individuality.
The team I worked with for the lookbook was mostly women I had worked with before and whom I respect. They are all into what Søster stands for – Alexandra Moncreiffe (the model) too, which makes the photos more authentic. She danced around to her favourite songs. The poses are very natural as well as empowering and a little bit badass. We kept the makeup absolutely minimal and the hair natural; it was all about her personality and being herself. The shoot landed on international women’s day and it was filled with good energy and women supporting women; I hope you can feel that through the photos.

"Supporting women-owned businesses is to support the fight for equality and we definitely need more women on top."
As you’ve said, the photos of the first lookbook have been created by an all-female team. In what way do you think it is important to support women and women-owned businesses in the industry?
Women are the biggest consumers of fashion but at the same time we are underrepresented in leadership positions in the industry, and what we see is often through the male gaze. We need to see more design, photos and art through the female gaze. It’s really important to see things that we can actually identify with and makes us feel good about ourselves. Women are intelligent, creative, complex and diverse; it favours everyone to see the world through our eyes as well. We need to challenge the objectification of the female body rather than feeding female competitiveness and the unrealistic beauty standards created by and for the male gaze. I love to support other women and to collaborate rather than compete. Supporting women-owned businesses is to support the fight for equality and we definitely need more women on top.
How will you use social media to lead people to your online store?
As a small business I don’t have the budget for advertising and campaigns but I can use things like Instagram to get the word out there, and to communicate the aesthetics and philosophy behind Søster; I see it as an extension of the website. Søster Studio is not supposed to be ‘only’ an online shop but a place you can go to for inspiration as well as to invest in meaningful pieces.
What will be the next step for the brand? Do you already have future plans or ideas?
Next up now is the pop up shops/launch party and a few collaborations that I’m working on. I have lots of plans for the future, so keep an eye out!

Eva Abeling
Pernille Sandberg
Creative director
Camilla Sverdrup-Thygeson
Pernille Nadine
Grace Alexxander
Make up
Alexandra Moncreiffe
Tomomi Roppongi
Yae Pasoe

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