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Meet Bryan Conway, the Irish man bringing contemporary cool to a heritage Swedish brand with global appeal.
Tiger Of Sweden is one of Scandinavia’s most successful exports. Founded in Sweden in 1903 with a mission to bring ready-to-wear tailoring to the masses, the premium clothing brand has found fans all over the world, including Ryan Gosling and Jude Law. Now, headed up by Irish man, Bryan Conway, the brand is developing even further. Having worked for six years at Burberry, Conway worked closely with Christopher Bailey (he had the responsibility of leading the menswear catwalk team), before moving to JW Anderson, where he was senior menswear designer.
Although based in Sweden, Conway is very much a global citizen, however his heart remains in Ireland. “I have a very English accent, so it throws people when they hear I’m Irish. My family moved to England when I was young so I grew up just outside London instead of Dublin where I was born. I love going back to Dublin these days. I went to Trinity to study economics after leaving school and that period really shaped me and put me on the path to where I am now. Home in Ireland now is right at the bottom of West Cork. We try to head there whenever we can from Sweden. It’s such a special place; the landscape has undoubtedly had an impact on me, and I think it will always continue to do so.”
What are some of the key design signifiers of Tiger of Sweden?
“Our most classic signifier is the double buttonhole and the lapel on our tailored jackets. It’s something that I love and have pushed further to include in our womenswear garments, tailored coats and even rainwear pieces.”
How do you think the pandemic has changed the way in which we dress, and how have you adapted your design to accommodate this new way of dressing?
“For a tailoring brand such as Tiger of Sweden, I think everything has changed as society has changed, and what’s happened with the virus has sped up an already underlying dynamic.
"When designing a new collection, a shift in approach was needed to transform the conventional expectations of a collection. As more people are spending time indoors, casualisation was an important consideration, offering a full wardrobe rooted in comfort and functionality."
"We also had to rethink our approach to tailoring and offer the chance for consumers to mix and match tailored pieces. The main aim was to offer people all the function of outdoor pieces whilst maintaining the elegance of our more refined classics."
A tailored suit is so loaded, it’s not just a piece of clothing, it comes with so much storytelling and richness.
In your opinion, where will the traditional suit fit into the future of working?
“It is important to question, ‘what does it mean to wear a suit?', 'what is a uniform for a man now?', and 'if the tailored jacket is less important, what takes its place?'. A tailored suit or a tailored jacket is so loaded, it’s not just a piece of clothing, it comes with so much storytelling and richness - information about how society has evolved over the years and how it looks now.
We must think about how we can re-conceptualise the classic suit and make it relevant for the current landscape and how people wear clothes now. Blazers crafted from fabrics such as knits, and jersey aid the casualisation of our suit offering. More relaxed fits without the usual strictness a classic suit imposes on the wearer is the starting point but perhaps the most interesting part is in what other types of garments worn together we will find the elegance that was once just the space of the suit?”
What are the three key pieces you always wear on rotation?
“I’m very boring when it comes to what I wear. When I was younger living in Dublin, I was far more adventurous and spent a good bit of time in Brown Thomas! These days I try to wear very classic and timeless pieces where I’m really focusing on the quality and how the garments make me feel. I will usually have a great pair of jeans and a knitted jumper. They are my essentials. More and more recently though I have been wearing a suit during the day in a relaxed way with a T-shirt and trainers. A suit doesn’t have to be just for an occasion, and I’ve been enjoying that little feeling of dressing up without being in anyway formal.”
Tell us about the upcoming Swedish Wool initiative?
“For our Fall Winter 2021 Collection we have started working with Swedish Wool which is seen in two signature coats both for menswear and womenswear. We wanted to take the consumer on an experiential journey documenting the processes and craftsmanship involved in the production of Swedish wool. From Gotland to Italy to the store. A story-telling piece with a humanistic look into the people behind the wool and the sustainable efforts involved in working with this unused resource.
“Using these natural resources on a local level is a great way to learn about the environmental footprint of a product and value the craftsmanship that goes into producing a wool garment. By using Swedish wool, we are using an un-used resource that guarantees animal welfare under Swedish law and also ensures European production – from fibre to final product. Some of the main incentives in using this un-used fibre resource is that it is 100% natural and undyed, ensures guaranteed animal welfare, reduced carbon footprint.”
Why is sustainability important to you, either in your industry or as an individual?
“At Tiger of Sweden, we believe that a strive towards sustainability is important for the better of our planet, our industry and our society overall. To us, this strive is what defines modern and responsible companies. We want to work actively and inclusively to change the industry we are in, through developing sustainable fashion in collaborative and innovative ways.”
How did your time at Burberry and JW Anderson influence your work today?
“Burberry is where I really learned about how to make clothes well, and most importantly how to make the fundamental garments, coats and tailoring. It’s also where I grew as a designer and developed from starting as an intern all those years ago. Most importantly I had a great time and enjoyed every day working there. It was hard but so much fun!
“Then, after, working for Jonathan Anderson was completely different. Design is approached with no preconceptions, and everything is utterly free at the start of the collection. The end result shows it, his clothes are so free and exciting, and it was great to be a part of that for a time. Now that I am at Tiger of Sweden, I like to think that I take a bit of the way I worked in Burberry and learned at JW Anderson to have my own style and way of working with the design team.”
What inspires you most about living in Stockholm and how do you incorporate Swedish values into your design?
“Our Fall Winter 2021 Collection is inspired by life in Stockholm. Observations of what is happening around me, of life and how people live here in Stockholm. There is the element of being a voyeur in the city in which you reside, just going for a walk and watching life as it unfolds around you. It is a personal view, a newcomer’s view - looking and celebrating the familiar and the minute.
“What is great about Swedish, and Nordic design is how functionality is always at the heart. Nothing is made for the sake of it, no over elaborate embellishments, so when designing, how a person will use and wear the garments is always fore front of your mind. Functional but emotional clothing would be a way to describe it.”
What was the biggest challenge of taking on a 118-year-old brand with such a rich heritage?
“I wouldn’t call it a challenge, but more of an opportunity to make an impact, however small, on such a big company. It has been 118 years, and I really hope it will be the same amount at least from now on, so being part of such a long story is a really humbling feeling. One of the main things that myself and our CEO, Linda Dauriz are focusing on is making Tiger a truly dual gender brand. Coming from a traditional menswear, and men’s tailoring background, it is exciting to bring all that knowledge and heritage to our women’s collections – there is so much potential here.”
TIGER OF SWEDEN Gordon Formal Trousers
TIGER OF SWEDEN Henrie Jacket
TIGER OF SWEDEN Farrell Formal Shirt
TIGER OF SWEDEN Jarl Single Breasted Blazer
TIGER OF SWEDEN Truane Polo Shirt
TIGER OF SWEDEN Janos Crew Neck Sweater
TIGER OF SWEDEN Didon Short Sleeve Shirt
TIGER OF SWEDEN Maddon Bomber Jacket
TIGER OF SWEDEN Travin Drawstring Trousers
TIGER OF SWEDEN Jamonte Linen Blazer
TIGER OF SWEDEN Riccerdo Short Sleeve Shirt
TIGER OF SWEDEN Tordon Tailored Trousers
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