Vogue Interview

Vogue Interview

From the mountainside to the city of Oslo – Norwegian label White:Space wants to keep us warm in puffer jackets made of recycled plastic bottles

After 16 years in the fashion industry, Simen Staalnacke and Leif Rune Loen decided to start a new brand from scratch. The result was White:Space, a Norwegian brand offering seasonless and genderless puffer coats in bright pops of colour focusing on sustainability. Launched in 2020, the label's eye-catching outwear is made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles and industrial waste. Even the hangtag is plantable.

We meet the Oslo-based designer duo on a cold day in the city just a few days before launching internationally with Browns, London. "The idea is to only focus on the product and take away all unnecessary noise," they explain. "We only want to focus on making premium recycled down products."

The name White:Space refers to the idea of white space in design philosophy, the area surrounding the object depicted. "Our philosophy is reflected in the name," Staalnacke explains. "We try to let this guide us in all aspects of the brand. Simple and razor sharp." As a result, the lineup is small, with seven silhouettes in six colours. Materials take centre stage, with every detail considered – such as the plantable hangtags containing 60 seeds each. "To be full circle, we also plant one tree for every product sold."

Puffer jackets were a big part of their childhood in Norway. The Norwegian founders grew up in the village of Stryn, on the west coast of Norway, surrounded by breathtaking fjords and high Mountains covered by glaciers and permanent snow all year round- a perfect spot for summer skiing and snowboarding. They both remember how proud they felt wearing their puffer jackets to school and on the slopes. "It was probably a big statement piece back then as well. We have always been very interested in clothing and its astetics, but I guess our parents' approach was more practical back then," says Simen.

Historically, the style has been associated with extreme weather and mountaineering. Since the 1980s, the puffer has become an iconic piece, much like the denim jacket, the trenchcoat and the bomber. Today, however, it has become an urban street style staple as well. "We want to create puffer jackets that also look smashing in a big city landscape. Our vision was to make the urban version of the ultimate puffer jacket that stick around for a very long time."

Retaining the production as close to home as they can, the garments are all made in Europe. They keep the stock small and made to order, only retailing in a few selected stores in Scandinavia and the UK. This, in tandem with the use of recycled materials, is a core aspect of the brand: expanding the lifecycle of plastic bottles and industrial waste into a premium product. "It's the first time 100% recycled plastics are good enough to make super soft quality fabrics."

Looking towards the future, the young brand is excited for 2022. "We will do the fashion fairs in London, Paris and New York as well as Oslo. This year's collection has been very well received," the founders say. "We have some top-secret project that we're working on and that we can't wait to show people."

On a final note, as they expand and grow, the founders feel it's important to not lose sight of their core values. "We started White:Space one year ago and we really wanted to create something new that feels good to design, produce and wear. Both for us and the environment," they say.

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