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Stutterheim

Stutterheim

It all started when Alexander Stutterheim went out to the Swedish archipelago to clear out his grandfather’s old hut. 

His grandfather had just passed away and as Alex sifted through the adventurer’s belongings, he came across his trusty fishing jacket.

“I remembered that he used to wear it when I was a kid and we spent our summers at the family estate,” Alexander explains.

“He always put the raincoat on and went out fishing in the worst of storms and downpours. When he returned he read stories for us grandkids.”

The same week, Alex found himself caught in a typical Stockholm downpour, dressed in Gore-tex and looking like a ‘lost golfer’ in the middle of the city.

Burnt out after a long career in copywriting, it was a problem he felt compelled to solve slowly and carefully.

“I always had an urge to focus on one thing and not be tied to the deadlines of others and their interpretation of my ideas,” says Alex. “I wanted to do something from the ground up and do it with the fullest attention to detail.”

Inspired by his grandfather’s old fishing raincoat, he sewed the first 200 Stutterheim rain jackets in his kitchen from heavy, rubberised cotton. The take-up was immediate. 

Eight years on, ‘Stutterheim’ has become a global symbol of Swedish pragmatism and style, is stocked in carefully selected stores around the world,  and is worn by the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z and Dave Chapelle.

But Alex didn’t start out to create a brand.  It was supposed to be a side project - something he has described as a melancholic art project.

Indeed, melancholy is central to the brand’s entire ethos. It’s a mood inspired by the rain, and something that Alex feels heavily. 

“Every day I read about people dying, in accidents, illness and I find it so utterly disturbing and unfair that I soon need to force myself to believe in reincarnation to handle it,” Alex has said.

But rather than ignore the melancholy that the rain brings out in the best of us, and that, it could be argued, pervades the Scandinavian consciousness, Alex has chosen to celebrate it.

“We believe that melancholy is a necessity to creativity as sun is to rain,” says Alex.

Stutterheim is so serious about this that it awards a prize to the most melancholic person of the year. While this year’s winner was musician Ane Brune, last year, there was “no one melancholic enough to win.”

Melancholy aside, Alex’s creation appeals to an impulse that Swedes feel keenly: the need to roam in nature.

“I don’t think there is a Swedish child that has not built a hut during spring, or tried to catch a fish in a nearby lake. Nature was always there. You didn’t think very much about it as a child, that the forest and the nature belong to all of us.”

Alex is now 46 and has an office in Stockholm, though he lives on the wild island of Öland, where the outdoors play the same important role it always has for him.  

“When I need to clear my head I drive out to Hellas-gården where I walk for a couple of hours and refuel and gather energy. I guess you can say that I use nature as a creative office.”

When he was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 21, he says, nature was the perfect refuge.

“When I received my cancer diagnosis I started taking long walks to gather my thoughts and to be alone with my grief, my panic and my fears. There is no better therapy than nature, hearing the birds sing. Right now here on Öland, the birds breed and they sing in choirs that can’t be compared with anything,” says Alex. 

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Shop Stutterheim’s Stockholm jacket now.