Industry Insi-Der: Fashion’s Secret Weapon Lars Nord

With New York Fashion Week fast approaching, i-D goes behind the scenes to talk to our favourite industry insiders who've been defining and reshaping fashion for decades behind the scenes. We talk to tailor Lars Nord, who is what you could call a...

by i-D Team and Adam Fletcher
01 September 2014, 1:50pm

Brayden Olson

On his upbringing… I was born in a small town in Sweden and started sewing by neccessity. In the early 60s, I needed a pair of bell bottoms, so I made them. Eventually, I began to make other pieces for myself, my mother, and my two sisters. I used a mix of old clothes and new patterns to figure out how to construct the pieces. Many ladies in my neighborhood were good seamstresses and taught me a lot. Through a few summer jobs and internships at sewing factories, I learned even more.

On his education… I studied Business Administration and Marketing, and some Patternmaking on the side, at university. I later found a job at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, which inspired me to study Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I became a design assistant at a small firm before starting my own little collection of women's clothing in the 90s.

On his business… Through a friend, I learned about freelance tailoring. With her help, I started to work on photo shoots, commercials, and fashion shows for Banana Republic, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Victoria's Secret, Esquire magazine, and many others. Soon, the workload became too large and I decided to create an agency to find jobs for other tailors who wanted to work on a freelance basis. Thanks to all the clever and talented tailors I have met in the industry, my agency has developed over the years and now represents freelance tailors in New York, Florida and California. The jobs range from photo shoots at studios and locations to fashion shows, editorial shoots for magazines, and high end alterations for personalities in the film, theatre, music and art worlds.

On anticipating challenges… To cope with tough tasks and tight deadlines, you have to draw from your experience and imagination. Knowing the right questions to ask at the right times creates a good repore with stylists, photographers and designers. It also helps establish a plan to get everything accomplished. If you go about your work in an organised manner, the chaos is less than it may appear to be from an outsider's view. Having had my own collection prepared me to understand the stress that stylists or designers are under during fashion shows.

On learning new things… Be open minded and try to get as much hands-on experience as possible, you never know what will come in handy. Try to get to work with an experienced person, pay attention to how a garment is put together, and learn sewing techniques both new and old. Maybe specialise in a specific material, learn to embroider with beads, learn to paint or print fabric, or look into learning how to knit both by hand or by using machines. Realise that the learning process and the actual execution of a project should and will take time, some things cannot be rushed. I have had the chance to be a guest teacher at my alma mater and I am happy to see that there are so many people who are interested in learning to sew, especially by hand, in our very overly technological times. It bodes well for the future!

On attitude… It is important to be curious and positive, to see yourself as a problem solver. Be practical and realistic about the projects at hand and explain the various solutions you may have for the project to the client. Be a good listener and try to look at the work you do from the client's point of view. Listening is sometimes more important than speaking. Remember to compliment people for their work, it is always a morale booster and can be an ice breaker, too. Being enthusiastic is important both for you and for the people around you. When I was new in the business, I decided to say "yes" to new to projects even if they seemed out of my scope of knowledge. I then tried to figure out how to do them. It lead to some sleepless nights, but I got it done.

On experience… Even though fashion is very fast paced and youth oriented, there is something to be said about having paid your dues. With time comes respect and trust and your client will understand what you bring to the table. Remember that you learn every day, from both your younger and older colleagues. All the seeing and learning is why I love this business.



Text Christopher Barnard
Photography Brayden Olson

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