A new generation of designers is sprawling in the Nordic region, characterized by their minimalist design heritage, sustainable approach to production, and razor-sharp visual sensibility. In Denmark, our friends at Carcel are transforming luxury knitwear through transgressive production partnerships, and in Norway, we have SØSTER STUDIO to pave the way for a fashion practice that exists closer to the heart while never compromising creativity or vision. Founded last year by Pernille Nadine, who also serves as creative director, the emerging brand offers both a ready-to-wear and jewellery line, encouraging shoppers to build up a core wardrobe of timeless classics (as you should know by now, “seasons” are fully irrelevant, set up for you to consume more) that are always hand-made and made from sustainable materials. A new dazzling campaign by photographer Carlijn Jacobs encapsulates the sisterly energy that informs the brand on the rise — we spoke to Nadine to learn more.
What was the motivation behind the founding of Søster Studio?
The only way this industry can change is for new and young people to come in from the outside. The way brands are operating now doesn’t speak to us and it honestly doesn’t make sense. We want to do things differently and disrupt the current system. I started SØSTER STUDIO in 2017, and not long after, my boyfriend joined. We continuously collaborate with friends and this collective spirit is really embodied in the brand too.
What lies behind the name Søster Studio?
Translated from Norwegian, SØSTER means sister, the name represents inclusiveness and a celebration of each other.
You’re based in Oslo but produce in the UK. In which ways do these countries and cultures inform your design process and approach to production?
Having been brought up in Norway gives me a deep appreciation for nature, which I apply to my work as well. The landscapes, stillness and slow paced life informs the process in which we design and produce the collections. It makes it natural to be mindful when starting a fashion brand.
And the city of London is so culturally vibrant and diverse, which is an endless source of inspiration. London is a second home and producing there, close to Oslo, is great. I get to go back there all the time to visit the studio who produces the collection, and I also visit the galleries, museums, markets and do a lot of people watching which sparks new ideas.
How do you source your sustainable fabrics?
For this collection we sourced almost all our fabrics at the Future Fabrics Expo by The Sustainable Angle in London. Its a great place to find new and innovative materials with a reduced environmental impact as well as cruelty-free materials. We also have some local wool from wild sheeps in Lofoten, Norway which we sourced directly from the lady who makes it. By now, we have built great relationships with small businesses who are working with sustainability, craftsmanship and quality as their focus and we even have some fabrics in this collection that was created especially for us.
We always research, and occasionally we create other accessories and objects that continues to convey our story and aesthetics, that offers the customer the luxury of something handmade using only the finest new materials that we discover.
You show outside any defined industry schedule. What are the pros and cons of this decision? Why is this important to you?
The industry’s traditional schedule and relentless need for speed creates a ton of waste and over-consumption. This way of working doesn’t sit right with me, and doesn’t fit us as a brand. By slowing down and creating off-season we have more flexibility in production time, more time to research and develop pieces, to think about whats relevant, offering less choice and it is easier to prevent waste. I hope that the limited availability of the brand will inspire the customers to continue with the same consumption values when buying from other brands. I also hope that by enclosing information about our supply chain in detail through our webshop, that customers learn to be aware of precisely what they are wearing and investing in. If you know whats made well and what can last you a long time, you wont end up buying pieces that you will just throw away.
Working this way is not easy, and as with all new ideas, there are a lot of skepticism. Especially if it threatens someone’s way of doing business.
I believe its really important for us to work with retailers that shares the same vision and understands what we do and why we do it. Transparency and sustainability will become the rule and not the exception one day, and we want to be a leader. The old mindset of the fashion industry describes designers as rebellious if they are visually rebellious. I believe being rebellious these days is to challenge the system and to create in a more responsible way.
How do you think today’s Eco-conscious consumer should build up a wardrobe?
Invest in classic pieces that you can wear a lot, style in multiple ways and that are not motivated by fleeting tendencies. Look for timeless and interesting design that you can cherish for a long time as well as good materials that doesn’t harm the planet. Research the brands you are buying from, and if they are willing to share information about their supply chain. Invest in local brands and small businesses, by supporting them you are helping change the industry by showing demand and support.
Tell me about your silhouettes. In your latest collection, you incorporate power-suits, workwear, and luxurious loungewear styles all at once. Which story are you trying to tell?
I wanted to tell a story with the collection that allows the wearer to express and indulge themselves in every facet of who they are. This can take shape based on the individual, led by their own identity not inflicted on them.
We have moved back to Oslo which is were we have set up our studio, and this is also where the collection was conceived and developed. Nature, colours and textures from the city inspire the pieces. As well as my work always being motivated by powerful women, I like the idea of women indulging in their sexuality. Through the research process I was heavily influenced by the materials I found, so the pieces naturally has something rough and raw to them.
My boyfriend and I borrow each others clothes all the time, and this is something we applied to the collection, with menswear tailoring and unisex fit combined with more feminine silhouettes. The collection also has of a lot of classic pieces, you should be able to wear them for multiple occasions and style them in many different ways. In the end I hope I was able to create a capsule wardrobe that is thoughtful in design and practice.
How has the last year been for Søster Studio? Where are you headed as a brand and as a designer?
The last year has been amazing and really educational. We launched SØSTER STUDIO, and received a grant from Arts Council Norway along with lots of interest from press and customers, we also launched in store and developed our first luxury ready-to-wear collection and jewellery line. It has also been a tough year, and its not an easy road were taking, but we are putting our heart, soul and everything else into this as we believe in what were doing and ultimately we love it.
We want to be a leader in changing the industry and moving it forward. We want SØSTER STUDIO to be a lifestyle and something you can be a part of, and we hope to build trust and to communicate in a sincere way. One of our longterm goal is to be available in concept stores worldwide, be able to do our production in Norway and for Michelle Obama to wear our pieces.
As a designer and creative, I am continuously developing and learning, being self taught leaves me without any learned “rules” which I believe is both good and bad. It also means I am teaching myself, researching and learning from everyone around me constantly and there are many things I don’t know yet. I think its interesting and it gives me an outsider perspective.
For more information, see Søster Studio