“Je prends mes désirs pour des réalités car je crois en la realité de mes désirs”.

May 1968.  Roads in Paris tremble under the young anarchists’ revolutionary steps. It’s that the time for the ideals and the struggle, the passion and freedom. It’s that the time for the reflections to become slogans, graffiti stamped on the bourgeois walls in the center streets. Phrases inciting the hearts… even miles and decades away. 

The hero of our story is Johan Lindeberg and he has nothing to do with the hippies. Born and raised in a small Swedish university town, however, he has always breathed the students’ riots and the desire for change air. Johan is a businessman but that life of certainties and routine is for him – so creative and restless – a gilded cage which to escape from. He does it, soon. He hangs on a nail the common man’s formal blazer and wears the leather jacket that leads him straight to meet his fate, maybe uncertain but certainly more exciting. 

In 1990 he joins Diesel and works closely with Renzo Rosso in the years of growth, design, international consecration. 

In 1996 he chooses to change again and founds his J. Lindeberg: a brand with a sporty and minimalist concept. He leaves it eleven years later and moves to New York where he becomes creative director for William Rast, the fashion label created by Justin Timberlake

In 2010 he is offered the opportunity to find his ideal dimension by Kellwood Company together which he dreams and creates a denim brand. So, in 2011 BLK DNM was born: designed, developed and delivered for a modern consumer. Entirely online, it’s focused with e-Commerce as a main point of sale. The idea is to cut the middleman to avoid excessive mark-ups and offer accessible retail pricing. All products are fresh and cool with European design esthetic. 

Therefore, the comeback to jeans, to that eternal symbol of rebellion, might be considered as the closing of a circle but with Johan we can’t say that… ever.

Fucking Young! – Welcome Johan! Let’s recall the milestones of your career in fashion. In 1990, you arrive at Diesel where you stay until 1996: as Marketing Director first and as CEO then. These are the years when the brand founded by Renzo Rosso starts to turn into an international phenomenon. How has being there at that time counted in your life and what has it represented for you as both a man and a professional?

Johan Lindeberg – A great part of my career. I had a great dynamic with Renzo Rosso. We created a powerful brotherhood. He was great in turning my visionary ideas into reality. It was an unbelievable time. Diesel became the most influential brand in the world and we had momentum. It gave me confidence and trust that my ideas worked.

FY! – During the summer of 1996 you simultaneously launch in Stockholm and New York J.Lindeberg: a brand that reflects your personal and creative values and his own identity as well. What was and what is J. Lindeberg now? Why did you decide to leave? 

JL – The idea of JL was to create a modern Ralph Lauren. The combination of fashion and sports. It was a very complex concept from a small home market. Though I became dependent upon investors and in the end I felt creatively trapped and decided to walk out from a board meeting and never came I back. It’s very different today. It’s my name still, but I just see it as any brand.

FY! – Between 2007 and 2009, the experiences as Creative Director for Justin Timberlake’s William Rast and as founder of Paris68. To renew, change, reinvent yourself. Three verbs that seem to act as the glue in your long experience. In your work, how important is to be able to turn the page, start over, transform while remaining faithful to yourself? 

JL I have a low pain level. When it hurts, I need to change and move on. It’s been the most important part of my career. You have to follow how you feel inside. Every time I’ve changed, I experienced new unbelievable moments of my life.  

FY! – Do you consider yourself an innovator, a pioneer or, simply, a restless?

JL – Definitely a restless. And a romantic. The women I have been with have each had massive influence of my life :). Still, I always followed my belief and intuition in everything I do. Though I’m realizing I can be very ADD. I’m impossible.

FY! – That search for something new and unique seems to have found its size in BLK DNM: the brand that you created with the Kellwood Company in New York four years ago.  Downtown contemporary art and social awareness at the core of its DNA. How do you succeed in interacting these two aspects and to what extent do they influence your work and the BLK DNM items? 

JL – I believe that modern brands should inspire people. They need to have deeper content and a true point of view. I try to communicate this culture and these values through the aesthetic of BLK DNM. From the product we offer to what we post on the Instagram feed.

FY! – Why did you choose to do fashion? 

JL – I was working as a businessman very young and began to dread it so much that I couldn’t eat. I felt trapped and blocked, just not like myself. I saw this leather jacket in a film one day and decided then to change my life completely. I felt the need to create something myself. I was always inspired by the look of the student revolts, growing up in a university town in the south of Sweden, and in Paris 1968.

FY! – Then, why denim? 

JL – I grew up in a very political environment in the south of Sweden. And I have always seen jeans as a symbol of freedom. So for me, Jeans have an attitude. I feel like I am questioning the establishment when I wear a leather jacket and jeans. It’s the clothes of an activist. I am trying to add more attitude into jeans again. I think it’s become too polished. Jeans has always been part of my life. It has textures and reflects the way you treat them. It’s a foundation of a modern wardrobe. It’s a grounding item. And perfect to combine with tailoring or a leather jacket. The fit is really important, and we really focus on getting it right. It’s a combination of everything. The rise, the wash, the fabric, the hardware, the size and shape of the back pocket.

FY! – Your essential but unconventional style has often been protagonist in the pages of some of the most well-known magazines so to transform you into a male-icon and a reference point for fans from all over the world. Therefore, what must not ever miss in your wardrobe? 

JL – I wear basically the same thing every day, my silver chain necklace, the BLK DNM scoop neck T-Shirt 17; leather jacket or blazer; Jeans 25 and a silk scarf. My silk scarf become part of my identity. I think it’s great to use fashion to develop your personality and express who you really are. I also love my vintage gold Rolex from the 50’s… and my BLK DNM Moscot glasses. It’s very easy to pick in the morning. I learned not to care too much about trends. I work to follow my own. Style is personal. And BLK DNM is a reflection of my personal taste. I like to see how people take it and make it their own.