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Stories  –  An interview with Elevenate designer Sara Rönngren

Made For Summer

As designer and one of the founders, Sara Rönngren has lived with Elevenate since it was sketches on a piece of paper. Now, nearly ten years and many winter garments later, she has just witnessed the birth of the brand’s first spring/summer collection. We had a chat with Sara about how this came about and where she finds her inspiration.

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You’ve just launched Elevenate’s first summer collection. How does that feel?
Really exciting! We’re finally taking the step from being a purely winter brand to being relevant all year round. When we started Elevenate we focused on the winter, but our summer dreams have always been there. Now we’re big enough to be able to make the leap.

Where did the idea of producing summer clothes come from?
It’s been there since we started. It’s natural really, because our users are active in the summer too, doing everything from walking and cycling to climbing and surfing. We realised early on that Elevenate’s design DNA, with its fit, colours and the style that has made our winter clothes so appreciated, would also work well in a lighter collection.

If you had to describe the collection in three words, what would they be?
Multifunctional, lightweight and modern. The products can be used for multiple activities, the materials are airy and light and Elevenate is recognisable in the fit, colours and design. Personally, I’ve felt a need for the type of summer clothes that lie somewhere between technical and fashionable – it’s easy for things to be one or the other – and I believe we’ve found a unique position here. Our new collection has versatile garments that work for activities on the mountain and in your favourite café in the village.

 

Is designing for the summer different to designing for the winter?
Yes and no. As a designer, I always start from the user’s perspective and our products are quite specialised for winter conditions. For example, we make pants that are solely for ski touring and others that are for mechanised skiing.

"Summer requirements are a bit different. You often do more activities and combine them more, so you want to be able to use the same shorts in different contexts – for cycling, walking and climbing – without them looking too technical. I think that we’ve managed to find a fantastic balance between fashion and function".

 

 


Are there different materials in summer and winter garments?
The technical requirements for functionality in summer garments aren’t quite so high. For example, you don’t need to have purely functional fabrics for a garment to work. Instead, you can work more with comfort and cosiness, as in the summer these are almost as important as design and function.

How do you envision the garments working? Do you have a typical user in mind when you design them?
I often start from myself as a user – skiing in the winter and cycling, running, walking and climbing in the summer. A typical

Elevenate user combines an active holiday with cafés, culture and dining out, so you want to be able to have the same clothes for several activities but still feel that you’re dressed properly. Otherwise, I think that outdoor clothing for the summer is either purely functional or purely fashion. We want to offer a combination.

Where do you find your ideas and what inspires you?
I look at the type of products that I feel are missing on the market – then I start designing based on the needs of the users. I often start getting ideas when I look at our suppliers’ new fabrics, which become part of the design palette.

At the same time... everything that happens in the world around us is inspiring in different ways. From catwalk photos to street photos. And the things I see on my travels, ski trips of course, but also during the summer when the family does a lot of surfing in Portugal. My ideas often come when I’m in the middle of an activity, when I’m skiing, cycling or running on my own. Just me, the mountain and my thoughts – that’s when I solve problems.

Any of the summer’s garments that you are particularly pleased with?
I am very happy with the Versatility Pants, which are great, really versatile for biking and hiking. Simple design, good fit – you feel both comfortable and attractive at the same time.

 

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