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Exclusive interview with Stylein's Elin Alemdar

With its clean lines and refined silhouettes, Stylein epitomises the Scandinavian aesthetic. Sally McIlhone meets designer and founder Elin Alemdar

Sally McIlhone,

Swedish women always seem to be one step ahead of the crowd when it comes to style. Casually pairing dresses with trainers is on point and wardrobes are minimalist and functional, stripped of unnecessary fuss in favour of high-quality, multifunctional investment pieces. Reflecting this trend, and taking pride of place in many Scandinavian wardrobes, is Stylein, a luxury Swedish label from designer Elin Alemdar.

Alemdar has been working in the fashion industry since 2001 and has seen how the international style community has increasingly embraced Swedish aesthetics during this time. ‘I started doing Paris Fashion Week trade shows and I saw a huge amount of interest from the Asian countries eight years ago,’ explains Alemdar. ‘Now the Swedish trend is peaking worldwide, not only in fashion but also in lifestyle. Why that is the case is really hard to answer because when you’re in your own bubble, you don’t really have perspective. Success has borne new success and having brands such as Acne putting the spotlight on Swedish fashion helps a lot.’

The power of simplicity
Stylein is clearly one of the labels benefitting from the Scandinavian style explosion but, unlike directional fashion giants Acne, Stylein focuses on pared-back, refined silhouettes with edge. ‘Sometimes simplicity is the best, but it’s also the hardest to design. People might think it’s easy to design simple styles but, in fact, the opposite is true,’ says Alemdar.

It’s this commitment to streamlined style that has seen Stylein become a leading label for classic wardrobe staples, something that fits perfectly with the Swedish predilection for eco-friendly living and environmental concerns. ‘The long-term investment in buying a piece that you can adapt for different situations is a reaction against mass consumption, fast trends and throwaway fashion,’ Alemdar continues. ‘Stylein has always been focused on the thought that an item of clothing is a precious thing and that you should be able to wear it for a long time, in many different ways. That’s why we love simple designs: you can add your accessories, your make-up or even just your personality, to complete the outfit.’

Trademark style
Even with a staunch commitment to simplicity, it’s sometimes easy to be swayed by sweeping trends for graphic print and searing colour schemes. Thankfully, Stylein has stayed true to its philosophy. ‘Something that’s been very important for me is to keep believing in the core aesthetics that we stand for. You stay consistent and don’t deviate just because that’s what the market is asking for,’ says Alemdar. ‘That took me quite a few years to understand. In the past, if after a fashion show I got the response “Oh, you could really see that was Stylein” I saw it almost as a negative comment, but nowadays I understand that it’s positive.’

That’s not to say that the label is stuck in a rut. Its spring/summer 2015 collection contains hints of print, texture and metallic but these are used intelligently to enhance the overall aesthetic and take it in a new direction. ‘Of course we have to reinvent ourselves, but within the world of Stylein.’

Being brave
Although Alemdar is heavily influenced by the Swedish design aesthetic, she also finds inspiration in New York, the place where she studied and launched her line 14 years ago. ‘It took a place like New York for me to realise that I wanted to do this kind of job and bring out this Scandinavian luxury line,’ says Alemdar. ‘In New York anything is possible and this influenced me more than my heritage in a way, maybe not the aesthetics but the feeling of “Let’s try this and let’s risk everything and be brave about it”.’

After 14 years in the industry, having taken risks and reaped the rewards, many might expect a designer’s passion to start to wane. Not so for Alemdar. ‘To see someone wearing our designs is still the ultimate achievement,’ she confirms. ‘I still do a victory dance in my mind because I’m humbled that someone stood in a queue and paid for our specific design. That’s still a very exciting thought.’ As Stylein continues to dominate wardrobes across Sweden and worldwide, it’s clear that Alemdar will be doing her victory dance for many years to come.



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