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.
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.”