Pressing Questions

The Gilt MAN Q&A: Johan Lindeberg

The celebrated Swedish designer behind buzz brand BLK DNM on personal style, creative inspiration, and his aversion to vowels.

Johan, in BLK DNM.

Johan Lindeberg has more than two decades of fashion industry experience under his belt. Regardless, GQ recently hailed the New York-based Swede as one of the “Best New Menswear Designers in America.” Seems a little off at first, but they were right to do it, because Lindeberg’s latest venture, BLK DNM, is something genuinely fresh. Stripped down, expertly cut, and suffused with Johan’s own personal brand of rakish cool, the label manages to feel at once eminently personal and universally wearable. Here, the man himself lets us know what makes him—and his label—tick.

You’ve designed for a variety of labels, from Diesel to William Rast to the brand you founded, J.Lindeberg. What inspired you to start BLK DNM and what differentiates it from your past work?
My life went through a change with the split of a long marriage. I took the energy from that change to create something new. I wanted to build a brand as a vehicle to explore new areas of creativity. And I decided to make it more personal than anything I’ve done before. BLK DNM is inspired by the life I want to live.

The BLK DNM look seems to echo the way you dress. Is that intentional?
Definitely. I’ve spent the last years looking deeper into my intuition, to really feel what I like and what I don’t like. The BLK DNM menswear is inspired by my own wardrobe, and the women’s product is inspired by they way I like to see a women dressed. I work best when I can live the brand.

Who is the BLK DNM guy?
He’s a person who likes to be inspired creatively.

Gilt MANual is all about helping guys develop and perfect their own style. What style advice would you give our readers?
Find your own personal twist and stay consistent with it. Use style to express your personality, rather than trying to adapt to something. I always wear a silk scarf, silver chains, my ‘50s gold Rolex, BLK DNM glasses … It’s great to find some personal essentials that become part of your identity.

Aaron Young on the beach in Montauk. Shot by Johan.

The BLK DNM blog details a lot of specific inspiration, like artwork and photographs. Can you talk about that part of your process?
I can curate my own life and aesthetic through the blog. I shoot most of the pictures myself and it’s become an important part of my creative process. It’s powerful and inspiring to see a woman dressed in clothes I created through a camera lens. It’s also different to be able to shoot and run a new story every day.

What are you reading and listening to at the moment?
Right now I’m reading a book about creativity called Imagine, by Jonah Lehrer. I also recently read a book about the artist Bruce Nauman. I’m really into a few songs this summer, like Jane Says by Jane’s Addiction and Ramble On by Led Zeppelin, but I also always play Nirvana and Radiohead when I’m working or driving my ‘85 Mercedes out to my summer studio in Montauk.

And we’ve got to ask: How did you come up with the name? Do you have something against vowels?
I’ve had my personal name on a label for so long. This time, I wanted a brand with generic name, but to make it very personal. The abbreviation just happened. It looked strong graphically.

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