Oi Polloi

Interview: The Jante Law

Published: Thu Aug 29 2013

The Jante Law is a new name to Oi Polloi. Who are they? What do they make? Well, settle down friend, we’ve just interviewed one of their main men, Bent Van Looy, so read on and all will be revealed.

How’s it going?

Really well!

What have you been up to today?

Traveling from one capital to the next. Being an efficient nomad can be tricky. It easy to miss trains or misread plane tickets when you’re in your head, dreaming up new stuff!

Seeing as you might be a new name to a few of our readers, can we have a bit of an introduction: how long has The Jante Law been going, where are you from and who is involved?

We’re really happy to present our third season at Oi Polloi. Even though we’ve been working on TJL for some years, we started producing the clothes about two years ago. TJL is a pan-European brand and is organized like some sort of spy agency from the Cold War. We have ‘agents’ everywhere, who contribute what they do best. Most of us live in France, some of us are Belgian and some stuff gets done in Stockholm or Zurich. Our backgrounds differ widely: pop music, industrial engineering, art, fashion.

I don’t want things to get too intellectual here, but can you explain where the name Jante Law comes from?

Not to worry, there is no such thing as ‘too intellectual!’ The Jante Law is what people up North call a series of rules to live by. These make sure everyone keeps in line, lives in a humble way and doesn’t pretend he’s better than the neighbours.

It’s quite restrictive and dark. One member of the TJL team moved there a while ago and was intrigued by this social dynamic. The term itself comes from a Danish novel from the 30’s: Axel Sandemose’s A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks. The little village where the fugitive washes up is called Jante.

How does this name reflect what you do?
We aim to make simple, expertly produced clothes that have a certain sparseness in concept and design. The other side of the medallion is the extreme, positively luxurious quality of our garments, made to last well beyond a season!

What are your favourite pieces from this season?

We’d have to say the camel bomber is hard to ignore. Manly, warm and unlike any other. Also our big Breton seaman’s sweaters are something we’re very proud of.

Where do you look for inspiration?

We get inspired by literature, films and good old walks in the street, wherever we are.

How would you describe your clothes?

We like to make clothes with a very strong identity. Instead of making ‘a cable knit sweater’ we won’t be happy until, at least in our mind, we’ve made ‘THE cable knit sweater — a piece you’ll want to carry with you through the years, becoming a companion of sorts, a second skin.

What do you get up to outside of The Jante Law?
Very different things. Some of us work in a knitwear factory, some are expert chefs and some graphic designers. I mainly travel the world, playing my sad songs on piano’s everywhere. In general, we feel one medium should inspire the other, rather than stand in its way. Even if it’s a lot of work, it keeps minds open and things fresh.

What was the last good film you watched?

I re-watched Less Than Zero last night. A dark, nihilistic view of 80’s Hollywood. I saw at least one amazing red sweater though, inspiration is everywhere!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Our motto: Don’t think you’re anything special.

Fair enough.

Take a look at our selection of stuff from The Jante Law here