Me & Bo Bech Nielsen in front of the SuperJeans store on Calea Victoriei, no 25
A few weeks ago, while CEO of Super Jeans stores and creator of the brand SuperJeans of Sweden, Bo Bech Nielsen, was in Bucharest for the their store-within-a-store opening at Victoria Gallery, I had the privilege to meet him and talk to him about fashion, the passion for denim and music, street style and much more. Here’s a glimpse inside the denim universe.
CF: Why did you choose Romania for opening SuperJeans.ro?
BBN: Everybody asks me that! I was invited to Timisoara a few years ago. At that time I had never been to Romania before. I’ve had a lot of business in Kiev and in Moscow, so I knew Eastern Europe. I thought “Romania…oh, I’ve never been there before, that could be interesting”. So I went to Timisoara and I thought that was a nice place. Later on I came to Bucharest… and I fell in love with it instantly because it’s pretty different from the rest of the Eastern Europe that I knew. I was a bit fed up with Moscow. So I found out that Romanians are not much like Russians, they are much more Latino in the culture: women are pretty, people are nice, there is good wine, good food…
CF: Good reasons to come back!
BBN: Absolutely! Early on, I decided to do something here but at that time I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. So I started with Levi’s. It went really well. We started with the online shop and after a year we opened the shop on Calea Victoriei. At the same time I realized that I was doing jeans for everybody else – I’ve been doing jeans for many, many brands, for the last 20 years: jeans collections and jeans production. I was also the Marketing Manager for Scandinavia at Diesel but after I did jeans production for them. So I’ve been involved in fashion.
CF : So you really have a history with denim.
BBN : I did the distribution part for a lot of brands that are very successful in Scandinavia, but it always comes back to denim – this is what is really about for me. And now I’m 45 years old and I have to realize that this is what I do: I do denim! I do jeans!
CF: That’s so cool! Just to say that! What can you tell us about the selection of jeans for the winter season at the SuperJeans store?
BBN : What’s important to understand about SuperJeans of Sweden is that I don’t want us to be a fashion brand; I want us to be a jeans brand. It takes a while to develop a brand and since I live in Sweden, which is THE test market of the world for denim, is the place on Earth where they sell the most denim. Every person buys 3-4 pairs per year – they sell 40 million jeans every year in that country. So it’s a big jeans country. That’s why, when you test something there, you get a right answer. For the first spring summer collection we did some tests: some things worked, some didn’t. For winter we won’t change so much regarding the denim, we will come with some styles in a very beautiful black wash that we worked a lot with, it’s an amazing quality and it’s going to look really sexy. And then we’re gonna come with the pump – this is a blue-black wash , which is a little bit like Superman’s hair. It’s actually a black denim that you over dye it in blue, into indigo dye so it gets this blue sensation. It’s a lot of work with that, it’s pretty costly also.
CF: So this will also draw up the prices?
BBN : Only a little bit, but we will try to keep them down at the moment. Then we’re gonna come with a very cool sweatshirt collection. Ruff cut sweatshirts – you can see the cuts – I think on a man it’s very masculine but on a woman It’s feminine. It’s a little thought – they’re gonna be in black, navy in army. For me it never goes away.
We’ve been working with the fabric trying to make some effect on it. SuperJeans of Sweden is first of all about the vintage feeling and that’s a thing I want people to recognize us by. So if you’re looking for a sweatshirt that looks completely new, you shouldn’t buy it from us because it won’t look new, it will look a little used. That’s real denim for me!
CF: So is that what makes the SuperJeans of Sweden Super?
BBN : No, I think what makes the SJOS super is the fitting of the jeans. I don’t know how other brands do it, but I know how I did it: I spent a lot of time measuring girl’s bottoms & our fitting models. [giggles] It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it! In reality is really about that: it’s about how a woman or man’s behind looks in them. So that’s what makes them super!
CF: Do you have any idea how many pairs of jeans you have yourself?
BBN : Oh, I don’t know. In my house we have a very big basement, full of jeans. I have like 50 boxes of clothes and half of those are with jeans.
CF: Do you ever go back to them?
BBN : I do! Actually, one of the styles we have out for men at the moment – called Pontus – is actually a reinterpretation of an old pair of mine. I was looking inside the boxes and I saw this pair I used to wear back in high school, I was like 17. I took them out and I said “wow, this is cool!” because back then the fitting was a little different, it was more loose, but the fashion was the same: you rolled them up, you had sailing shoes and a Polo shirt – this was in the 80s – so I said “let’s make this fit”. So yes, once in a while, I open a box and I get inspired by my old jeans.
CF: You know this 80s loose style is very in fashion right now, even though they don’t make you look so good.
BBN : Well, Sweden has always been like this: tight jeans for women. It started in ’97 and it was the only country in the whole Europe that women would buy that. It was only in 2003 that the rest of Europe cached on.
CF: So you were many years ahead!
BBN : Yeah, Sweden is a test market for jeans! The big jeans brands use Sweden as a test market. They put our new styles and if it works…
A good example would be that in Stockholm we had the fashion of tight jeans for men for a very long time – for too long, and a year ago that completely died. So now they are looking to do something different, they’re looking for more loose fits, but there are other parts of Europe where this fashion has just began. Like here, it’s not really catching up yet.
CF: Younger guys do it!
BBN : Yeah, but 10 years ago in Stockholm no matter where you were all men were wearing the thigh fit.
with Bo Bech Nielson inside their store on Calea Victoriei no 25
CF: So why did you decided to open a street store and why did you decided to grow in that direction and not just keep the business online?
BBN : Good question! That came after the decision of launching Super Jeans of Sweden as a brand and within that strategy we have for the brand we decided that we are going to open retail stores. Now, Bucharest is a little different because it’s more like a multi-brand store but that will change in a year or so, we will be selling only SJOS. And I feel to tell people that “Yes, I am from Sweden, I want to make a difference! I want to open a different shop than they are used to. So I don’t open at the mall, I open on the street. Fashion belongs to the street.”
CF: How do you blend your passion for music and denim (fashion)?
Thanks to Bo Bech Nielsen and Teodora Teican for this interview.