Exclusive Interview: Per Fredriksson of C.O.F. Studio
I can’t think of a better lifestyle than hanging around with my friends and creating garments. This is exactly what Per Fredriksson had done with C.O.F Studio. It’s a Circle Of Friends.
The denim thing, as much as it’s about the sick fades and the latest neppy denim out of that obscure mill in Japan. Its also about the community that builds up around Raw Denim.
This is something Per Fredriksson of the aptly named C.O.F. Studio knows very well indeed. It’s all in the name. Circle Of Friends.
Per has had quite a career in the denim business. From humble beginnings stocking shelves at Gul & Blå, a denim store in his native Sweden, then to Japan in the 80s and then onto Italy. Each step of the way, Per honed his skills and learned all there was to know about the nuances of the denim business.
Throughout his career, Per came into contact with others who shared his passion for denim and strong friendships were forged. This “Circle of Friends” would become the foundation of the brand Per had always envisaged. On his return to Stockholm after an 18-year stint in Italy. C.O.F. Studios was formed.
To dive into the details, we sat down with Per for a chat about his passion for denim, building the brand and the journey along the way.
Rope Dye: Who are you and what do you do?
Per Fredriksson: Per Fredriksson, founder and owner of C.O.F. Studio.
All In A Name
RD: How did the brand get its name?
PF: I was living and working in Italy during the early stages of bringing the brand to life. While having dinner with friends, we ended up discussing the fundamental values of what I would like to achieve, involving the premium suppliers and factories I have had a close relationship with over the years. At some point, a friend’s daughter says; “It sounds fun working with your Circle Of Friends.”
Step By Step
RD: How did you get into the denim business?
PF: The initial step was when I started working part-time in a clothing store while still in school. I thrived best in the environment of the denim department, where I started meeting sales representatives and eventually getting the opportunity to work with the Finnish produced, Beaver Jeans.
It All Started With Levi’s
RD: You clearly have a passion for denim and clothing with history, how did it all begin?
PF: I remember so clearly the impact Levi’s Shrink-To-Fit had on me when introduced to the Swedish market in 1976. I fell in love with these ‘Made in the USA’ selvedge denim products that really fit into the punk and mod trend that was popular at that time. (The movie Quadrophenia really sets the tone of the era.) Beyond this, they created a culture and environment that was so much more than just a pair of jeans. They united everyone of different ages and backgrounds, exploring and testing different ways of breaking them in and how personal and individual they became over time. Me and my friends could sit around for hours and just compare our progressing work.
RD: What is the concept of C.O.F. Studio?
PF: As the name insinuates, I want to create a sustainable and transparent product by working closely with friends in the industry whom I consider ‘best in class’ using premium components. No shortcuts or cutting corners. Jeans will always be the backbone of the company and we strive to produce everything inside the EU. We stay true to the traditional making as denim has always been by having a modern contemporary approach, so that everything that does not bring value to the product is shredded away, leaving the fabric and precision in manufacturing to stand in the spotlight.
It’s All About the Fabric
RD: What inspires you when crafting a garment?
PF: Fabric. I see so much fabric on a day-to-day basis that when I come across something that really catches my eye, my mind starts researching which product category I would like to see in a certain fabric. From this point on I feel most of the inspiration comes from memories of movies and products I’ve seen growing up. I really like the relaxed lifestyle vibe Picasso has.
RD: Do you remember your first pair of jeans?
PF: My mother bought me a pair of jeans made in Sweden called ‘Silver Dollar’. This was around 1968 and I was 7 or 8 years old.
Agree or Disagree?
RD: Why do you think denim has become so popular recently (over the past decade)?
PF: Growing up in the late 70’s, early 80’s I somewhat agreed and disagree at the same time to the question. Growing up, denim popularity was booming and wearing denim was just as much a statement as a trend. After taking the train to central Stockholm to buy a pair there would be lines outside the shops like you wouldn’t believe. Everyone probably owns at least one pair these days, as they are just as acceptable to wear at the office as to dinner during the weekends. The diversity in brands, styles and fits has in this sense breached across every trend making it appealing to a wider audience, at the same time categorizing the end consumer in a different way.
RD: What do you love the most about denim?
PF: There is a kind of unexplainable beauty to denim. The way it changes over time and adapts to whatever lifestyle you may lead, still, no two pairs will ever be identical. It creates an artistic appeal of creating something yourself. Besides the product, there’s a community of like-minded, good, easy-going people.
RD: How do you wear and treat your dry denim jeans – any special routines?
PF: Personally, I give them a wash or soak almost immediately. In my opinion, they get more life after a rinse, since the resin used in the weaving process can often make them look somewhat flat. After this, I might machine wash them every other month in lukewarm water with a little detergent, without turning them inside out. A notable mention is that I personally stick to 16oz fabrics.
No Right or Wrong Answer
RD: What do you recommend your customers to do regarding breaking in their jeans?
PF: There is no right or wrong way of washing denim. It’s completely individual depending on what you want to achieve, and there are so many factors such as fabric weight and construction, all the way down to the staple length of the cotton fibres. I know some people follow very strict guidelines, but in this aspect, I suppose the younger punk version of myself wants to through every rule out the window.
RD: Do you collect anything (other than denim)?
PF: Watches, sneakers and boots.
RD: How many pairs of jeans do you have in your private collection?
PF: I have no idea. Maybe 1000+ pieces. It’s worth mentioning however that a lot of these pieces are collected as references for work.
RD: Which pair are you most proud of?
PF: Not to be to boastful, but my very own C.O.F. Studio – M2 Regular – 16oz Ind Selvedge – Unwashed. I have created them myself after all, so of course, I’m proud of them and love the fit. Other than these I really enjoy owning a pair of 45rpm jeans that are limited to 60 pieces.
RD: Is there another brand that inspires you?
PF: 45rpm has to be what I consider to be my ‘House God’. Leaves me speechless in every way. Margaret Howell as another honourable mention for their overall leisurely aesthetic and contemporary mix of materials and design. I find different things interesting from different brands and designers, but it essentially all comes down to the making of the garment.
RD: Are there any up-coming or unknown brands that you think are worth looking into?
PF: I find Matias from Southern California doing a lot of interesting things and his innovative thinking and details giving a 21th-century value to his products. He has great technique and always stays true to who he is and what he does.
Looking to the Future
RD: Where will C.O.F. Studio be five years from now?
PF: I would like for the brand to be self-financed through organic growth and can continue to work uncompromised. The goal is to reach 100 premium independent retailers globally and have our own web-based platform.