Ninna Berger – Restructional Clothing

Ninna Berger – an unconventional textile artist who set out to be a “slow fashion” pioneer before it was even a well-known expression. Ninna’s projects are often ground breaking within art/fashion and handcraft, in which she has managed to build a bridge between with her label Restructional clothing. Ninna continuously tests new waters with her fashion/art projects, where she encourages us to look at textile from a different angle demonstrating playfulness and awareness exclusively working with 100% reused material, all fabrics coming out of second hand material. All handcrafted in Stockholm, Sweden.

We meet in her studio in Södermalm, Stockholm. Over tasty cinnamon buns and fresh brewed coffee, we have an inspiring conversation discussing everything from the fashion industryawareness and consumption, to life in general, how to stay strong and tread your own path.

                 Tell us about your background?

 I always had a fascination of clothing and textile. My actual plan was to be a “traditional” fashion designer. I started at a design school in Malmö, followed with studying fashion design at Tillskärarakademin in Stockholm. When looking back on those days, I was so hungry for knowledge; I wanted to know everything there was about print, design, and pattern construction. I eventually decided to start my BA at Konstfack in Stockholm. Although, all that preparation made me feel quite bored my first year so I decided to take a gap year studying business and marketing. Not anything to do with fashion, but very useful when starting my own label. Once I returned to my BA, everything fell into place.

 Was it a special time in your life where you knew you wanted to work creatively within clothing and textile?

Actually, I have discussed this with my mum a fare bit and since we both can remember I have cut up clothing and re sowed it. I always had a curiosity in what happens when you cut apart a piece of clothing, match material and rework things. Textile in general has always fascinated me, can’t explain why. It wasn’t fashion that caught my enthusiasm even though I have always loved clothing. The process and the transformation of textile, the assemble starting with a thread building it to a definite piece, for me that is an art process.

 Press has previously named you “A self-willed textile artist,“  with your own words how would you describe yourself?

I define myself as a textile artist and by calling myself that it hopefully creates curiosity. It automatically opens up dialogue, which feels extremely important to me that my work allows. I’d like to create a piece that gives (other than the physical impression) enough interest in people that generates a desire to find out more.

 When you start a project – do you normally follow a creative process?

It depends, if  I get asked to be involved in a projects or if I start it on my own and if the starting point has to do with fashion or often with expression and textile. An example of one of my recent projects is the collaboration with Botkyrka women resource center; located in Norsborg, a suburb of Stockholm.  They are an organistaion where immigrant women, who are unemployed and often complete outsiders of society, can come and socialise while exchanging craftsmanship. The project started back in 2011 and was supported by the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. My idea was that through this project we could open up a channel for these women to integrate them in society and to find a method of how crafts can be a tool in recharging creative energy. The project was extremely rewarding and inspiring on so many levels. To communicate with these women on a deeper level, not through language as many of them did not speak Swedish very well, but through the creation process and in the joy of designing together.

 Tell us more about your brand ‘Restructional Clothing,’ and your unique way of working with textile?

 The idea was born during my MA year’s at Konstfack.  It was based on how you take advantage of as much fabric as possible from already made clothing. I decided to base Restructional Clothing on second hand fabrics as I saw how much material already exists and how much material becomes restricted in only one shape of clothing. I love the process of reshaping and solving problems that you always encounter working with a restricted piece of fabric, mostly by cutting everything a part and piecing its puzzle all back together. For me it was important working with second hand fabric also for moral reasons in regards to fashion and consumption that I like to remove myself out of. Although I still love making clothes, I just like to do so in an unconventional way.

 Any current projects that you like to share with us?

I like to keep my focus on the fashion world the next coming year. My plan is to investigate how to work with out of season. All clothing in second fabric, all produced in my own studio, while working entirely on demand, no production beyond what clientele asks for. Everyone keeps saying that’s not possible but I’d like to think it is. It shall be an interesting year anyway.

Do you feel  Stockholm is a designer friendly city?

Yes, I really think so. There are so many skill full people living Stockholm. My friends and I have actually just recently discussed how ‘come there is so many ongoing projects here and why everyone is extremely talented and high achievers? We came to a conclusion that Stockholm is like a strict parent, who gives you compliments but never a proper embrace letting you know how good you really are. So the result is that you create this highly productive persona with a constant feeling that you need to improve. Stockholm can be quite frosty, but that is why we are driven in this city, you never get too comfortable.

 In a fast moving fashion industry, what is important for you to communicate as a designer, artist and independent label?

I like to communicate that you can always do things differently, that you can create your own work, nothing wrong with being an anarchist from time to time, we don’t always have to follow the crowd. To be stubborn is important and to not give up as the easy way out is not always the right way out. Don’t run past the things you feel is important. Don’t stress about things that don’t matter, and try to do small every day things that you feel good about!

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