Finish-born with a Swedish upbringing, designer Josefine Aberg’s passion and talent for streetwear fashion began as the only woman in 2000 for the then burgeoning Swedish brand WeSC. Now, she’s the Design Director for the adidas Originals Blue Collection, the sub-line that offers a sophisticated and mature streetwear range that is gaining as much recognition for their revamped and innovative designs. Here, Life+Times chats with Josefine about being a woman in the industry, Steve Jobs, and how she plans on planning taking adidas Originals Blue Collection to the next level.
Life+Times You joined adidas Originals in 2007 and are now heading up Design for the Originals Blue collection. Tell me a little bit about what you do in this role? What are your responsibilities?
Josefine Aberg: adidas Originals has always been for me the most credible sportswear brand and I am honored to be working on the adidas Originals Blue Collection. As Design Director, my role and work depends on where we are in the season. I work with such a great design team where we all share the same vision, and I spend as much time as possible developing a distinct point of view for the adidas Originals Blue collection. Apart from the adidas Originals Blue collection, I’m also the Design Director for the adidas Originals Women’s (footwear and apparel), adidas Originals Kids (boys and girls) and Accessories (men’s and women’s). All those categories need to get as much love and attention as the adidas Originals Blue collection gets and it’s about guiding the direction of colors, material, new silhouettes, new models and finding the balance between archive, newness and a commercial offering.
L+T: What is your main goal with the Originals Blue collection? What do you want to achieve with the aesthetic of the gear?
JA: The goal is always to improve the collection, to excite the consumer, and to exceed expectations. I try to reflect the reality on what’s happening out in the world our consumers live in. I am always trying to do things I believe in, whether it is for the commercial collection or for highlight pieces. I look at design with a much bigger responsibility today compared to before. An important element of successful design is that the consumer should feel they have a unique garment or sneaker, while still getting value for their money without cutting down on quality and details.
L+T: You began your career as the only girl at the then new Swedish brand WeSC – at the time only called We. What did you learn from that experience?
JA: [Laughs] – you get spoiled being the only girl in the team, it has definitely shaped who I am today and how I look at things. It’s a different world working with guys, they have fun together but at the same time they are getting their job done. Sometimes it can be less complicated working with guys then it can be with girls. Part of my job was to stand up and represent the women’s side. So I see myself as a very lucky person. Being part and learning and getting a full understanding about the culture of skateboarding and its heritage was a unique experience – it was a very special time in my life that has become part of my identity.
L+T: The Original Blue collection was successfully launched in 2010 – offering a sophisticated and mature street wear range. What common threads and ideas do you always keep in mind when designing?
JA: I always want to keep one foot in our heritage and what we stand for but at the same time I also challenge the process and create products which people didn’t know that they need. As Steve Jobs said, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” It’s important to stay true to what you believe. There is no other brand in my eyes that has the unique archive and toolbox that adidas has. My goal is to continue designing products that serve a purpose but that also excite people—and I try to do this with both new models and with archive pieces.
L+T: Who is your customer? What are their interests?
JA: It’s an open invitation to people that respect the brand and like what we are doing and what we stand for. I like the idea of anyone, of any age or style, being the adidas Originals Blue consumer. But our sweet spot is a mature Originals fan who has grown up with the Trefoil and who now is looking for products beyond Track Tops and Track Pants. These consumers want subtle branding and can appreciate the quality and heritage of adidas, while still being open to new ideas. It’s a male and female, young and trend savvy consumer ranging from their mid ’20s to late ’30s.
L+T: What are you currently working on?
JA: We are almost finished with the Fall/Winter 2013 collection. So I am looking into what’s next…
L+T: Where do you want to take the brand? And where do you see the brand going in ten years?
JA: adidas is a leading sportswear brand, and it provides a great opportunity to lead the creative direction for Originals to learn, develop and to achieve success in an industry I really care about. My vision is to take the brand to be the number one sport lifestyle brand and I am trying to be respectful while being disruptive at the same. I hope to manage our history and create the new icon pieces that someone in ten years’ time will manage and then use to create the next icon pieces.