Founded in 2005, Sweden’s Our Legacy is a heady mix of high art, mad fabrics and really good sweatshirts.
Seeing as they’ve just released a super-fancy retrospective hardback, now seemed like a decent time for an interview.
I talked with founder Jockum Hallin (that’s him on the right of that photo above with the rest of the Our Legacy lads) about making the book, growing up in Sweden and the current wave of 90s nostalgia…
After 12 years of Our Legacy, you lot have just released a book. Why now?
The book is a ten year anniversary gift from us back to the brand itself. We started the project in 2015 and it has taken us two years to complete.
We have always put a lot of effort into making hard cover look-books together with photographers we admire. This gave us an opportunity to revisit working with our favorite photographers, but also a chance to try new photographers, artists and writers. All 226 pages in the books are new material, and we are really happy with the outcome.
What sort of stuff is in there? Was it good going through the old stuff and taking a trip down memory lane?
All kinds of stuff! Everything from shots of stuff laying around in our office, to articles on important categories in our collections written in a dry academic manner, to full transparency — showing our vintage inspirational garments shot on youths in the countryside.
We brought architectural photographer Mikael Olsson down to mine and Cristopher’s little hometown, to capture where we grew up in a new way. We sent a box of early stuff down to Henry Roy in Paris and he sent back a beautiful shoot.
We have always claimed to make timeless pieces, both style and quality wise. We used pieces from all current and previous collections for the different shoots, and we´d like to think they have stood the test of time pretty well.
You’ve always worked with interesting photographers. What sort of photos are you into? What makes a good photograph?
We really enjoyed working with Anders Edström; he contributed with several shoots for the book. His aesthetics goes really well with what we do. He creates an interesting energy using the ‘object’ rather than the picture.
We have been using Anders’s early street pictures as inspiration in many of our works. Then he shot Cristopher’s apartment in Stockholm for the magazine Apartmento and the discussion of working together started. We got invited to see some of his archive pictures, which were mainly ‘street style’ taken between 1993-2016 in Paris, London and Tokyo.
The floor in Anders’s studio was full of pictures and we selected pictures where people, style and environment inspired the Our Legacy aesthetics. We actually used these authentic street-style images on the cover and back of the book.
Going back to the beginning, how did Our Legacy come about? What were you lot up to back then?
Our Legacy was founded by me, Jockum Hallin and Cristopher Nying. Richardos Klarén joined not long after.
In 2005 we did a small run of men’s t-shirts, put them in a sports bag, and went around in my car to the best stores in Scandinavia. They all liked them and bought the first little collection. To finance Our Legacy we ran a fashion agency for a year or two.
I have always liked buying, presenting and selling. When I was younger I imported skateboards and clothes from the States and sold to stores in Sweden. Anyway, after a while the customers coming to our showroom only wanted Our Legacy, so we stopped the agency and developed the line into a full collection. We showed in Paris 2007, and from then the focus has been an international audience.
The name Our Legacy has multiple meanings. Before we started, we romanticized about wanting to create something sustainable to leave to the next generation, a legacy that would live on. We also started with the idea of taking garments from previous generations, adapting them and adjusting them to our time and our lives, inheriting styles and making them into our own legacy. We also wanted a ‘neutral’, timeless name that we would not get tired of.
How did everyone meet?
Me and Cristopher are from the same small town in Sweden called Jönköping. We hung out when we were young, playing junior ice hockey together at the age of 10. We got to know Richardos when we moved to Stockholm, he was working at Acne doing sales.
I know you were involved in hardcore back in the 90s. How did you get into all that? Was it hard to get hold of things like records and stuff?
Growing up in a small town where not much good things were going on, you had to make up your own little world to live and dream in. So we skateboarded, snowboarded in the winter, and played hardcore all year around. We ordered records and merch from Swedish hardcore labels like Desperate Fight in Umeå, and No Looking Back in Vänersborg.
Once a year we went to the bank, exchanged our Kronas for USD, put them in a little envelope and sent them to Revelation Records in Huntington Beach, and hoped to get some cool things in return.
You mentioned before you used to distribute skate stuff back then too. What stuff were you bringing in? And why do you think American culture around that time was so coveted?
I’ve always been into things Californian. Orange County had the best hardcore bands; they were melodic yet powerful, with vocals nicely in and out of tune. The surf and skate culture was also epic there. So at one point I got these Vans/Dog Town Old Skools, and I thought, “Why can’t you get Dog Town skateboards in Sweden?” So I imported some and sold them to skate shops around the country.
Hardcore was something people could really be into. A lot of people were passionate about that stuff. Do you think people are still ‘into things’ in the same way, or is everyone too cynical and clever these days?
Both yes and no. Since everything is so exposed these days, nothing is really underground — nothing is someone’s little secret any more.
Younger generations seem to be into big things — if it´s a big thing, it´s cool. Supreme… Yeezys… everybody is out for the same things. ‘Back in the day’ it felt more diverse — you could be really friggin nerdy and specific about what you were into, whether it was DC post-punk, early Manchester stuff or French hip hop.
I´m speaking very generally now, and like I´m 60 years old, but still.
Nostalgia seems to be a big thing at the moment. Everything is inspired by something else… probably from the 90s. Why do you think this is?
It´s far enough away now. It usually needs a decade or two to marinate. We who lived it can be nostalgic, youngsters can only fantasize. When I grew up in the 90s, the 70s were cool. People wore flared jeans, drew smileys and listened to Neil Young.
I guess it´s the same now, people wear Polo Sport, Air Max 97s, listen to Nirvana and make 2 Pac holograms.
How have things changed since Our Legacy first started?
The collection has over the years gone from printed t-shirts to revamped classic garments to progressive menswear that both men and women wear.
The industry and climate has changed a lot. The world is different. New rules.
You lot make a lot of fairly classic things like sweatshirts and button-downs, and then you also make some pretty wild stuff like acid-washed jackets and stuff. Is it hard to get the balance right?
We like progress, it´s what keeps us going, but you also need clean neutral things that you don´t need to think too much about, to like you say, keep balance.
Okay, final question - don’t take this as an insult, but some Our Legacy stuff seems to be influenced by quite low quality, everyday clothing… but then made really well. Am I right here? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Public spaces, social and cultural studies — we try to see the beauty in everyday stuff.