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A Grandfather’s Raincoat Becomes The Core Of A Growing Business

The discovery of his grandfather’s old raincoat made Alexander Stutterheim start a business making slickers.

Deep within an abandoned family barn on an island called Arhoma in Stockholm’s expansive archipelago, Alexander Stutterheim found a long-forgotten garment that would change the course of his professional life. The item in question was a simple, sturdy raincoat worn by his grandfather while fishing and sailing. As happenstance would have it, Stutterheim–a copywriter, and former social worker and psychology student–was in the market for an all-weather jacket, but everything on the market had a sporty edge that lacked the classic, rugged appeal of his granddad’s old standby. Unfortunately, however, it just wasn’t quite the right fit. “It was totally cool, but a bit too ‘tent like,’” he tells Co.Design. And so, undaunted by his complete lack of experience in the field of fashion, Stutterheim set about updating the design.

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The first oil cloth model was cut and constructed in his Stockholm home. “I made it silhouette-shaped and added a hood,” he says, and it turned out he wasn’t the only one searching for a smart alternative to the gracelessness of Gore-Tex; that one-off evolved into a limited edition run. Growing a budding business where handmade small batches are a key component meant sourcing materials and craftspeople who could stay true to the spirit of the original. In order to achieve the right matte finish, multiple prototypes were made using a variety of fabrics and buttons. “I tested them out in the shower and in front of the mirror and asked some friends for their opinion. It was a long process, but I had lived a really hectic life and wanted a slow project,” he says. “Everything needs to be faster nowadays; I wanted to go against that.” And Stutterheim was born.

The slickers were a hit and demand continued to grow. “I decided to make it more than a hobby when the response in my kitchen, where I sold the first coats, was overwhelming. People loved them and urged me to keep doing it. So I did, and added new colors as I kept going.” A textile factory in Borås became the new construction hub, and the two seamstresses there still sign and number every finished product they make. Despite the fact he now has a store in Stockholm and active webshop, production values will remain the same, even with plans for a cape, boots, and tartan-lined coat in the works.

The mythology surrounding the collection’s origin story is certainly a selling point, but profit isn’t what drives Stutterheim. “I have never looked upon this as creating a brand with the purpose to attract people; I just mirrored what was in my heart, and saw a need for a cool-looking raincoat that protected against the outer demons,” he says. “My idea was to make people smile in the rain, to embrace it instead of pointing fingers at it.”