Feature film Bjorn Borg/John McEnroe (starring Shia LaBeouf and Sverrir Gudnason) has been getting rave reviews after its premiere at the Toronto film festival.
A few weeks earlier, Attitude went over to Stockholm to see the ‘Versus-Borg’ fashion show, and had a sit down with Design Director Mija Nideborn and Marketing Director Jonas Linberg of the fashion brand Bjorn Borg to talk about the brands input to the new film, the Versus-Borg show and the new Signature Collection:
You’ve done a lot of different concepts for your shows at Stockholm Fashion week before- robots, Mars and now you’ve come back to tennis?
Jonas: In 2014, we decided that we weren’t going to stay an underwear brand and we were going to build something bigger, something that helps people train more, or feel better and we wanted to do that through building a sports fashion brand and to make products that people will work out in, feel good in and have a strong identity in. With doing that the tennis heritage became stronger. The sign language of the prints this season are tennis court lines and the crisp nature of tennis and contemporary feeling of what tennis can be.
Mija: With the prints, we often have one main key print that goes through and that’s the one that lands of apparel too, so we can really run it through the whole line. This season we call it the abstract tennis court and it carries a story of some sort that can be told to the customers. We’ve done a lot of camo…we always do a lot of camo, it works really well, people love it. we do a lot of florals, like botanical prints which we see a lot of. We also have a lot of typography too. They’re the three main ones.
So, will next season see a complete overhaul in creative?
J: We could do that (laughs) but the design will always have a foundation in the tennis. The concept could be anything, it could be something like cyborgs!
With the models that you have, particularly Julian Schneyder, do you have a certain type of ‘Bjorn Borg Man’?
J: Julian was our favourite for many seasons. We’re now reaching more into fashion. He’s a very cool merge of fashion and fitness. He is a former Judo champion and a supermodel, and he has these scars and bruises that models don’t usually have. It’s strength rather than just beauty
With the man himself, Bjorn Borg. He has obviously lent his name to the brand, but at the time, he was wearing other brands. How did you navigate it so that you had your stamp on it and not just a carbon copy?
J: It came quite naturally for our design team, what we don’t want to do is a copy, first, we could get sued (laughs) But when we partnered with the movie, it was a dream come true for me that there is a Hollywood calibre movie coming out about Bjorn with Shia Labeouf & Sverrir Gudnason and Stellan Skarsgard in it.
M: We worked super close to the costume designer of the film. I wouldn’t take any credit from her and what she did- we just helped with research, references samples, finding fabrics etc. It was a challenge as we couldn’t do exact replicas of it, but at the same time the director wanted to be incredibly authentic. We helped with the references and the fabrics, but we let the head designer sort out the details! It’s more of a costume design production.
When you went off to do your collection, did you just go off from the film and do your own thing?
M: Yes. So, the signature collection the film hasn’t been involved in. It’s our interpretation of what they wore at that time and how would Borg look today Being a young guy playing tennis today, being a bit more fashionable than the regular athlete. It’s important that it’s a modern silhouette and the pieces that he picked are on trend, like the tracksuit. Colour-wise, it was so evident we would keep this colourway that they wore back then at that time, with the basic colours. The neon’s etc came in in the 80s, but the Borg era is more 70s and the Signature collection takes inspiration from that era. When you move to the 80s the tennis scene was bananas, as was every sports scene then and fashion in general. That’s the beauty of tennis. It’s not only a classic sport, it’s always moving with fashion. It’s been changing since the 20s
With the film, did you approach them, or did they approach you?
J: The approached us. It was a race because they discussed with some other brands at the same time, some of whom Bjorn wore back in the day, but we were the best fit of course! (laughs)
You’ve also got a new performance underwear that cools you down called ‘Ice Borg’ Were you going to do that technology anyway, or was McEnroe fire and Borg being called Ice thing a coincidence?
M: We worked on the technology with the cooling effect and then we realised, My God, that’s a perfect match and to be able to name it that. We’re going to develop it in the future too. So, there isn’t only going to be an ‘Ice Borg’ there’s going to be a ‘Heat Borg’ and developing the concept instead of calling it something complicated, we’re taking it back to our heritage.
What do you think the winning piece from this collection will be?
J: This! (points to the green tracksuit Jonas is wearing) but also the red tracksuit is the key film inspired piece. The red comes from inspiration from what Bjorn was wearing.
The collection is available to buy in stores and online at bjornborg.com now
The film Bjorn Borg/John McEnroe’s UK release is 22nd September 2017