Any colour, as long as it's black

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Johan Lindeberg brings decades of denim expertise to his latest label. Peter Lyle meets the designer

Blk Dnm may be missing a few vowels, but thanks to a New York base and Swedish breeding it seems to have the credentials a modern fashion brand needs.

First come the clothes, of course, subtly luxurious wardrobe classics for men and women rooted in a core concept of jeans, blazers and covetable leather jackets that belie a transatlantic back story. Then there is the innate hipness orchestrated from design headquarters on SoHo's Lafayette Street. Unsurprisingly the brand has quickly, and carefully, cultivated a following among downtown scenesters and fashion industry types. In the words of The New York Times these are the clothes top stylists actually wear when photographing the fantasy for their day job, "utilitarian, strong, indifferent to trend... they're anti-peacock, purposefully invisible, and as a result, they transcend".

And as of last month, there was also the seal of approval from that proven fashion kingmaker, Madonna, who dances in a pair of Blk Dnm style Jeans 8 in her video for "Girl Gone Wild".

On a trip to London last month, the man behind the label, Johan Lindeberg, was especially taken with this last endorsement. Madonna. The tall 55 year old decked out in Blk Dnm from top to bottom and sporting an impressive beard said that Madonna was exactly the kind of "strong, independent, political" woman he had in mind when he created the label. As a much-travelled material boy and onetime marketing expert himself, Lindeberg knows the value of getting your wares worn by the right people. Though you may not know his name, chances are you've worn a label that he helped make possible.

Lindeberg made his first major impact in fashion spearheading Italian denim brand's Diesel's celebrated ad campaigns of the 1990s. (As international marketing manager, he oversaw and mentored a Stockholm-based team including Acne founder Jonny Johansson.) In 1995, he left Diesel to form the golf-inspired casual brand J.Lindeberg. In 2007, he sold up to his partners in the label and moved, along with then-wife and design collaborator Marcella and daughter Blue, to New York at the request of Justin Timberlake. Life there working on William Rast and other labels was going brilliantly, until one day, "after 15 years together, and 12 years working together," Marcella told Johan that "she needed space". Lindeberg "ran to the car and drove out to Long Island, and then I just walked crying in the rain for three days".

He decided several things during that walk in the wilderness, he said, like that he'd work even harder to be a good father from then on, and that he'd set up his own label, one that did things differently. In January 2011, he drew his first pattern for the new brand, and the following month, with financial backing and manufacturing muscle from American fashion brand conglomerate Kellwood, Blk Dnm was born.

"I felt like, if I'm going to be involved in a fifth brand in my career, I want to do it very differently from anything I've done before. In that sense I decided to see if I could stretch it in different directions, break patterns ... it's such a great thing to be a brand of this era instead of being 10, 15, 20 years old. I don't need to show respect to anybody, basically."

Fashion seasons, traditional catwalk shows and splashy PR extravaganzas all went out of the window. Traditional distribution was passed over in favour of a wholesale mentality that saw clothes sold direct to customers from the shop-studio or online and at lower prices than the "designer" competition. An image was established not through billboards or glossy mag ads, but via mood-movies, regular blogs and behind-the-scenes snaps Lindeberg posted online. Collections were not inspired by exotic eras or famous painters, but instead built around the idea of a wardrobe and given functional numbers rather than fancy names, "so if you like Blazer 15 and you get on with it, then it's easy to find what you want next time".

"Of course, we do still have stores and traditional things, but I like the digital, and let it dominate the strategy, with everything being complimentary to that. Most brands, they still have it the other way round."

Lindeberg argues that a digitally-enabled, DIY approach to building a label has allowed him to sidestep the normal three-month production cycles and approval processes of big fashion houses and put things out there as soon as they are made, even if there is only one of them. "It's very tiring for people around me sometimes, because if I create a jacket now, I want it out. They'll say, 'But shouldn't we wait for next season?' and I'll say, 'I don't care, just get it out...' You have to learn how to deal with Blk Dnm somehow."

For those who don't have to respond to the veteran fashion mogul's creative whims but are just interested in buying his clothes, the rules are less volatile. Clever, liberating tailoring is a hallmark of Lindeberg's classic-looking blazers, the denim is worthy of carrying the label's name, but the expensive, exquisitely distressed leather jackets, in shades from black to off-white and cognac, are Blk Dnm's real rock stars. And as long as Lindeberg balances the need to stay cool with the bright glare of so-hot-right-now vogueishness, that's not going to change any time soon.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
Actor Ezra Miller who stars in the film 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' poses for a portrait session during the 39th Ghent Film Festival on October 18, 2012 in Ghent, Belgium.
arts + ents
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
News
A girl plays on a Sony 'PS Vita' portable games console
news
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

    £45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

    Day In a Page

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines