I came across Stutterheim raincoats not so long ago. Once I started reading more and more about the brand and their philosophy I fell completely in love. I reached Alexander Stutterheim, creative director and founder of the brand, hoping to learn more about him and the company he runs. Rooted in functionalism and simplicity, Stutterheim’s high quality products succeed in keeping its users dry under the worst storms. As they say, “melancholy at its driest”.
Define Stutterheim.
Simplicity that turns out truly unique on each human being who wears any of my items.
Why does Stutterheim exist?
It all started as a reaction to my former hectic life in the advertising industry. I felt a deep urge to take my time and do things very well from the start. As a coincidence, my grandfather passed away during the same time and we went out to the archipelago cleaning up his house and looking through his stuff. On that sad day I found his old raincoat, which was huge like a tent. I remembered that he used to wear it when I was a kid and we spent our summers at the family estate. He would always put the raincoat on and went out fishing in the worst storms and downpours. When he returned, he read stories for us grandkids.
Later the same week I went back to town for a meeting. I was early, so I took a coffee in the late summer rain and saw people protecting themselves with broken umbrellas, Gore-Tex jackets and newspapers over their heads. This felt a bit strange to me, as Swedes tend to dress very well on all other occasions –but not under the rain? I decided there and then that I should try to update my grandfather’s raincoat for the contemporary conscious consumer. This was supposed to be my slow scale project, where I made everything right from the start.
During the following months I made prototypes, patterns and looked for a factory. I learned everyday, and felt very happy and melancholic at the same time. I gave away for free the first 100 coats to friends and relatives, as I learned that I underpriced it. But in retrospect that doesn’t matter today.
How did melancholy become the central theme for Stutterheim?
This is at the core of our brand. It all started at the cafe in the summer rain, where I got the idea. When I talked to people about their relationship with rain, many of them said they felt melancholic from time to time when it was raining, and that they tried to avoid the rain rather than embrace it. I believe that our climate is part of the reason why Sweden has so many famous film directors, musicians and designers. Melancholia is a pre-phase of being creative. So, in order to be creative, you have to embrace your melancholia from time to time. In easier terms: it has to rain in order for the sun to shine.
What is the importance of drawing value and meaning to the process, rather than just thinking about the final outcome?
Each coat is handmade, each color has hours of testing to find the right nuance, and each item is released with a tremendous amount of work and attention to details. Our story is 100% true. We expand our existing range every season, we don’t sell-out stock to invest in a new collection. I think that is why we differ from our competitors that are doing more stuff –not just rainwear. They are using much more simple technics and material than what we are doing. I think the consumer appreciates the craftsmanship and that you actually see and feel it - even at first glance.
What is the process behind the craft of a Stutterheim raincoat?
In terms of inspiration I tend to stay on a journey of simplicity that is more or less accessible to anyone. I talk a lot to many of my clients and listen to their questions and proposals on how to improve my items. That shapes a lot of new ideas and needs to fill, if they’re in line with our overall story, of course.
What is the key to quality products?
I believe that people should do one thing, and do it well.
How have the different raincoats adopted their names? There is Stockholm, Arholma, Arvid, Inferno and Örland.
Everything I do is clearly interlinked with the starting place of the journey –in the archipelago of Stockholm, Sweden.
As a product designer, what do you want transmit? What is your message?
As you should do what you love you should wear what you love.
What lies ahead for Stutterheim?
Let’s say that we have found more ways to make you look good in rain that we didn’t thought about when this started.