“I didn’t know I wanted to go into fashion per se, but I knew I was sewing all the time and drawing, so I definitely had a sense of what I wanted to do even though I didn’t know that people could work in fashion, really. Rodebjer is a little bit of the Swedish minimalist, but richer. I think it’s like a rich cleanness; it’s a sharply pure, laidback luxury, and timeless and progressive at the same time.
It’s the combination between Sweden and New York, actually, because I lived here in the Lower East Side on Ludlow for a while in the end of the ‘90s so I have merged the two. I was studying at FIT but I dropped out when the business started going.
I think it helped when I lived here because everyone stopped me in the streets — in Sweden no one talks to you when you’re walking, but here people stop you to talk to you about what you’re wearing. You know, it’s thanks to New York that I do what I do because New York has been so encouraging from the very start. New York is lovely in that way; you get encouraged when you want to do something.
Sweden is so small, I mean compared to here, and the people are so privileged, in a way, because the people don’t work as much as we do here. It’s a different, easier lifestyle, and people want it be practical. It’s very function-oriented in Sweden, so they want to get up in the morning and leave their kids at school and work and then go to a drink all at the same time with the same clothing. There are different occasions, I think.
I started Rodebjer because I didn’t find anything I wanted to wear so I started to do it myself. I just wanted something easy that I could wear here and that I could wear in Sweden as well. And you know those inspiring women? I wanted to dress them as well. The perfect woman would be…maybe Julianne Moore. We actually have a really wide age group.
We have, like, three generations [of women] coming into the store. It’s the same woman, but it could be during the many phases of her life, which I love. I think our woman is one open-minded, self-reliant woman. I wanted to leave it a bit open because I want the customer herself to decide who she is within the collection.
I want to see individuals. That’s why I started. Because I love individuals and I love people. Some people. It’s so important to choose your own life and make your own decisions and to follow your own ideals, and that’s the whole reason of Rodebjer – to make people follow who they are. That’s tricky with fashion sometimes because people get confused if it’s supposed to be lived by the rules or if you choose your own rules, and for me it’s about choosing your own rules. That’s why I picked this business.
Every woman should own something that she could wear forever. Like these old Wranglers jeans I’m wearing right now. Or the Art Dress! It’s a dress or it’s a top or a cardigan.
You can combine it in 300 different ways and open it in the back, and you can actually tie it around your waist. It’s a never-ending possibility. Sometimes the thing that’s timeless is good because it is something that can live. You put it in the wardrobe and pick it out five years later and it still works.
One piece of style advice I would give is to know yourself. Is that too boring? I would say to know your physical and psychological weaknesses and strengths would be the best, but that’s so hard. People are so afraid of their weaknesses but [if you] make your weakness your best friend, it will be easier to get dressed in the morning.”
-Carin Rodebjer, founder of Rodebjer as told to Leandra Medine and Amelia Diamond