Since 1989 Fredrik Swahn has been wearing Matinique. He started working for the brand in April that year and has been a true Ambassador ever since. His wardrobe is full of vintage Matinique pieces that are connected to a lot of memories and special moments. We met him in Stockholm for a chat about his relationship with the brand.
Where did your interest in fashion start?
I have been interested in fashion almost since I can remember. It probably started with my parents. They were both always really well dressed and wanted us kids to be the same. My mother especially had a big interest in fashion and always dreamed of wearing Armani. We didn’t have enough money to buy everything on the wish list so I had to pick the things that I wanted the most. This probably made me more conscious of what kind of clothes I felt were more important for me personally than others. At an early age, I started to match my clothes into outfits that I liked and felt proud wearing. I remember that I made a cool biker jacket at school when I was 15. It was made of black canvas and had silver push buttons, and I was really proud to go my own way instead of dressing like everybody else. My best friend’s older brother liked it so much that he borrowed it from me and never gave it back.
When did you start working for Matinique?
I started to work with Matinique when I got employed by the mens fashion department at NK in Stockholm. It was in April 1989. A year later NK changed from being a traditional department store and let the brands run their own shops. So I got employed by Matinique instead. I worked there for 5 years and then went on to become the company’s second visual merchandiser. We were pioneers regarding this kind of service. I had 53 shops & shop-in-shops that I visited from Luleå in the north to Trelleborg in the south. It was a fantastic time, I learned much about the fashion industry, but at the same time it was also quite lonely since I slept in hotels 6 days a week.
How would you describe the strengths of the brand?
Matinique is a conscious brand that has a really clear DNA. It offers masculine cool urban clothes with a twist that make them even more interesting. Matinique has a clear picture of who its customers are, and I feel that we really are dedicated to these customers. Matinique always offers the best price possible. In 1995 our shirts was 499-599 sek, in 2019 our shirts are 599-999 sek. No one does it better when it comes to offering great value for money.
Why is Matinique a good match for you?
I think we have so much in common. We both want the opportunity to go our own way. We want high quality at a good price. We want comfort and joy in our life. We don’t want to be like everyone else. We are always trying our best and looking for that something extra.
What gives you that kick from your work?
When I feel that everything is in the right place. From the process of selecting which items should go into production, to visual merchandising the collection in the shop, meeting the customers and getting them to understand the greatness of what Matinique has to offer, and receiving that hand shake, smile or some extra recognition from our customers.
What is unique about the Matinique pieces? And how are they corresponding to the Swedish market?
Matinique offers something extra. Perhaps what is most unique with Matinique is that we give our customers a really high level of comfort. They not only like how the clothes look, they love how they feel. High comfort corresponds really well with what the customers in the Swedish market want today. More and more customers are requesting higher comfort, but not necessarily a more casual look. They still want to look dressed and representable at work.
The Matinique customer – how would you describe him?
A conscious city guy who is looking for something extra. He is aware of the world around him and makes active decisions about things. He is a little bit bolder than the mainstream guy and does not mind going his own way. He appreciates what’s new, but always has room for high quality classics in his wardrobe.
You have been wearing Matinique since 1989 – what is your favorite vintage items and what is the story behind them?
This is a tough question. I fall in love with clothes for so many different reasons. In my early years with Matinique I wore a lot of colour. I loved red, orange, bright yellow, cobalt blue. After a couple of years I had changed to mainly black. I started to look more and more at details and extra features instead of the most obvious. I really liked the zippers on the dressed pant pockets. It was new and innovative. But I remember this favourite outfit so well because I have always loved layer-on-layer. Perhaps that is why I like the autumn season the most. When the temperature drops I immediately start wearing more and more layers. I loved the feeling of the off-white honey comb shirt. It was soft and comfortable. I loved that Matinique offered a range of different cool vests to go with all the blazers. I loved the fabric and the salt and pepper structure. I loved the casual yet sophisticated look. I felt really cool wearing it at work and didn’t feel I needed to change a thing before hitting the town in the evening. I remember getting a lot of positive attention which was really nice being a 24 year old happy guy with most of his life ahead of him. Looking back at the outfit today I feel that it might have been the start of a more timeless era, because it works really well even today.