I first came across Stutterheim a number of years ago, the press surrounding them certainly looked promising (‘The Last Raincoat you will Ever Need‘) but as it was the tail end of summer and I had just purchased a new (just a bit useless) raincoat, Stutterheim did, to my shame pass me by.
Then last night I felt both body and soul onset by high wind, sleet, hail and sub zero temperatures just in an effort to walk the dog round the park. It was within the throws of such everyday melancholy I suddenly thought to myself; ‘Now what was the name of that Swedish raincoat company?‘.
Deep within an abandoned family barn on an island called Arhoma in Stockholm’s expansive, endlessly beautiful archipelago, Alexander Stutterheim found a long-forgotten garment that would change the course of his professional life. The item in question was a simple, sturdy raincoat worn by his grandfather while fishing and sailing. As happenstance would have it, Stutterheim himself a copywriter, and former social worker and psychology student was in the market for an all-weather jacket, but everything on the market had a sporty edge that lacked the classic, rugged appeal of his granddad’s old standby. Unfortunately, however, it just wasn’t quite the right fit. “It was totally cool, but a bit too ‘tent like’. And so, undaunted by his complete lack of experience in the field of fashion, Stutterheim set about updating the design, all in the aid of finding himself the perfect raincoat.
The first oil cloth model was cut and constructed in his Stockholm home. “I made it silhouette-shaped and added a hood,” he says, and it turned out he wasn’t the only one searching for a smart alternative to the gracelessness of Gore-Tex; that one-off evolved into a limited edition run. Growing a budding business where handmade small batches are a key component meant sourcing materials and craftspeople who could stay true to the spirit of the original. In order to achieve the right matte finish, multiple prototypes were made using a variety of fabrics and buttons. “I tested them out in the shower and in front of the mirror and asked some friends for their opinion. It was a long process, but I had lived a really hectic life and wanted a slow project,” he says. “Everything needs to be faster nowadays; I wanted to go against that.” And so it was that Stutterheim was born.
The early designs were a hit and demand for Stutterheim’s practical skills continued to grow. “I decided to make it more than a hobby when the response in my kitchen, where I sold the first coats, was overwhelming. People loved them and urged me to keep doing it. So I did, and added new colors as I kept going.” A textile factory in Borås became the new construction hub, and the two seamstresses there still sign and number every finished product they make. Despite the fact he now has a store in Stockholm and active webshop, production values will remain the same.
The mythology surrounding the collection’s origin story is certainly a selling point, but profit isn’t what drives Stutterheim. “I have never looked upon this as creating a brand with the purpose to attract people; I just mirrored what was in my heart, and saw a need for a cool-looking raincoat that protected against the outer demons,” he says. “My idea was to make people smile in the rain, to embrace it instead of sticking fingers up at it.”
The two main styles, the Stockholm and the Arholma, are understated, functional jackets crafted purposefully to keep the rain at bay. Granted these are an expensive item and they are currently only available in European stores or online, but if you can embrace the shipping costs and make the investment you can get your hands on what looks, for the price-tag to be one of the best crafted raincoats in the world.
Here are is my own personal highlights from their collection, just pop the collar up and step out into the rain – The Avrid. *
Article by Joshua Murray Nevill.
Imagery courtesy of the excellent www.peggsandson.com (well worth a look!)
First published 01.11.15
*The Avrid is unfortunately no longer available, in its place we love the simple elegance of The Stockholm Navy