The winds sweep calmly along the crisp late winter skies. The fields sway sullenly, as the first signs of spring emerge. My compatriot for the day, is Mr. Peter Simonsson, creative director of THE WHITE BRIEFS. After black coffees in his hillside studio, we explore the beautiful surroundings. He shows me the rugged organic farm next door, the abandoned beaches, the silent cul-de-sac locality and the endless vistas. To me, it seems, Peter is at home here, amidst the sultry quietness. As his brainchild THE WHITE BRIEFS evolves further and further through each new collection, it is this self-found balance that keeps him grounded. During our stroll, we ended up talking of collaborations, form vs function and the versatility of wool.
Peter, let’s start with your origins. How did you grow up and what guided you to where you are now?
Well, I grew up in a small village in the south of Sweden, subject to a pretty modest lifestyle. It was a place of sullenness and slowly shifting seasons. Spending my childhood in such a secure environment, however, quickly made me feel bored and wanting to move on. This urge led me to the creative field, as an art director and designer. When I finally chose to found THE WHITE BRIEFS, I knew I had arrived where I needed to be; a place of sincere creation.
The White Briefs works so much with understatement and functionality, so it is interesting to ask you; how did you decide to move towards full collections?
Actually, this was in my mind, ever since before we launched the underwear. For me it was important to create a holistic brand and to see clothes as part of a full wardrobe. The philosophy behind THE WHITE BRIEFS, is still important to maintain however. For that reason we had to slowly add pieces each season; to keep control and work from a composed selection of garments.
You have always been keen on collaborating with other creatives including Fantastic Man, Stephen Burke and most recently Nick Wooster, for a special Woolmark line. Could you tell us a few words about it?
It is indeed an exceptional collaboration between myself, Nick and Woolmark. We worked with this idea of taking wool into another perception; to evoke its versatility as well as amazing tactile and utility properties. The styles and fabrics in this collection are simply unreal in terms of feel and functionality. Have you tried the wool terry shorts?
Actually, I did try a raglan sweater, so soft and comfortable. I must agree with you, that is crucial to spend time thinking about hand-feel and texture. What is new for AW15?
Besides the extensive Nick Wooster collection for Woolmark which contained luxury terry, mesh and fluffy fleece in merino wool, we also worked on subtly enhancing our silhouettes. This meant the introduction of baggy shorts, 3/4 turtlenecks and boxy robes with elegant minimalistic hook closures. For our own seasonal collection we added velvet, a cashmere silk blend, a pair of new pants and more woven fabrics like sturdy cotton twill. The overall feel is still pretty loose and calm.
There is a soul to what we are doing, whether you start from the collection or by the imagery. The thoughts are in there, in one way or another. They are ever connected for me. What you see in the visuals, translates into a feeling, deriving from both the clothes and the aesthetics. At least that is the aim. In short: the vision needs to be visualized.
Last question; I always like to ask designers about what they would advise young designers and graduates?
Right of the bat; please try to see everything in a wider perspective. Be strong in your vision. Do not compromise too much but listen to the market. Also ask yourself: what is the destination for my designs? I think that if you dig into research and you are not afraid to stand still, this can be a very good start. Finally, I would say that is crucial not to forget the power of great craftsmanship.