Body & Sole Interview no. 4 - David Hellqvist
Posted by Steve Monaghan on May 16, 2014
Body and sole talk to one of Sweden's finest exports, David Hellqvist.
1 - What is your job title David? What do you do in your job on a day-to-day basis
I’m Port Magazine’s Fashion Features Editor, but I also freelance as a menswear writer and stylist for various papers (Guardian, New York Times, Independent, Metro etc) and magazines (Hypebeast, High Snobiety, Inventory, Green Soccer Journal, Varon, Obscura etc).
2 - Many people these days are 'nomadic itinerants' - at the mercy of an itinerary and work out of a suitcase - do you feel this is a blessing or a curse at the mercy or flux?
Are you asking if I like traveling? I like it, in healthy doses of course. I love the menswear show season, two weeks of shows in three different countries. I enjoy the traveling in between as well. And it’s a great way of starting to appreciate ‘home’ – go away for a while until you miss the people around you and the city you live in…
3 - Trend is on the stand being accused of slowly killing style - are you the defence or the prosecution? Sub-question - who would design your suits if you were 'that' lawyer?
Trends are a necessary evil. I try and stay away from them as much as possible. Though, I think it’s naïve to say I’m in no way affected by them. There’s trends and then there’s trends. And, oh, I don’t think trends are killing style… they don’t have the persistent longevity for that. Answer to sub-question: I would wear a Dries Van Noten suit, but if I really wanted to win I’d go for a shoulder padded power suit from Giorgio Armani a la 1983. It is, quite literally, like armour.
4 - Menswear is consistently in 'the throes of changing' - what era do you see as being the one that redefined style and mens clothing? Was there a protagonist of this change?
I reckon the 60s did it. It was the first real pop cultural decade, lots changed in society and that affected the wardrobe choices of people. Rock came around, art was different, literature was liberated, lots of people took drugs. People started dressing less formal, television happened, John F Kennedy was the first President to not always wear a hat, and to be photographed on his boat in a polo shirt. Pop culture happened on every level of society, including fashion, and that completely changed how we dressed.
5 - So it's no secret that you love menswear yet your writing continuously alludes to a determined love and respect for geographically diverse subcultures - where are you looking to at the moment to fuel the fires?
What countries I’m influenced by? I’ve never been to Tokyo but a lot of what I like in terms of menswear comes from Japan. I need to go. Love the food as well. No one geeks out on stuff as much as the Japanese, it’s a quality I share and admire. Obvs love New York, it’s not brain surgery. America is a funny country, but you can’t discount the fact that a lot of beautiful things come from the States, be it food, fashion, music or art. At the moment, I’m also loving Copenhagen… great city for menswear.
6 - If you were a retailer what would be your dream TOP 5 brand list and why?
Alden, Prada, Visvim, Dries Van Noten, Lou Dalton
7 - Sweden is home but is your soul residing in London still? If so which part of London and why?
I’ve lived in London almost 14 years, and 12 years out of those in East London, be if Bethnal Green, Hackney or Dalston. I spent my first two years in west London because I didn’t know better, moved east and felt at home and at ease straight away. That said, going forward, I wouldn’t mind discovering new areas in London to live in. Suggestions?
8 - Music is the greatest art form - if so what masterpieces reside in your music gallery - give us 5 quintessential tracks that soundtrack the life of Mr Hellqvist?
Hate these questions. Like your favourite garments, these change… but here’s five bands that have been (or still are) important to me: Kent, Primal Scream, Gang Starr, Pet Shop Boys, Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
9 - Are you possessed by a particular spirit? For example does the spirit of punk, hippy, modernist reside within you - what is your inner driving force?
I’m not actually, not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing. I didn’t grow up with one of those ideas, spirits or sub cultures. Remember, I’m from a suburb to No Mans land in Sweden, there weren’t that many punks around.
10 - Give us one ABSOLUTE brand that the men’s fashion industry has to thank for emancipation and change within the last 30 years?
Again, very difficult but I want to say Comme des Garcons because I feel that Rei Kawakubo, better than anyone else, shows that you can run a company of that size and still stay true to yourself and retain integrity. Beautiful Chaos!
11 - What award would you most like to receive – A CDFA – An EMMY – An OSCAR?
None of those, I ain’t happy until I have a knighthood.