Cut from the right cloth
Stenströms’ Creative Director Talks Shirts, Craftsmanship and Quality
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Peter Juriado, Stenströms’ Creative Director, didn’t follow a typical route into menswear design. “I trained as an electrical engineer,” he tells us, when we catch-up with him at the brand’s impressive shop-in-shop at NK Stockholm. “But, I got a Saturday job in a menswear store while I was studying in Helsingborg, and I remember thinking even at the time, ‘wow, this is more interesting than what I’m doing’.” To cut a long story short, said store was owned by the same family that also owns Stenströms’ shirt factory, and on spotting Jüriado’s keen eye for product a manager at the factory snapped him up as a salesman.

“I’ve been in the company for 25 years,” Jüriado continues, “when I joined I was given a hands-on introduction to the shirtmaking process, plus I was handling customers and sorting admin – it was quite a small company at the time. Over the years, the owners noticed that I took a keen interest in the product and I was made Creative Director around 15 years ago.”

Thanks in no small part to Jüriado’s guiding hand over the past decade-and-a-half, the Strenströms of today has an equally intriguing story to tell. The brand is one of the oldest continually operational manufacturers in Sweden, founded in 1883, and still occupies the same historic factory founded by one August Stenstrom, who established a workshop on the same site to cope with the growing demand for his luxurious handmade shirts. Today, Stenströms is still family owned and run, and this gives the company a unique perspective on what it does, as Jüriado explains.

“We’ve been running our own production for over 120 years now, and I think the key to long-term success in menswear is really to own your own production. We do also have sub-contractors that we use for a small proportion of our collection, but to make a well-cut shirt I think you need to have a certain level of expertise in-house. In the same breath, being family owned is also important. It allows us to be quite flexible, to think about the long-term instead of short-term returns, and there’s a good atmosphere in the company. We’re not pushed to cut costs or make product cheaper – the family keeps our philosophy alive.”
— Peter Jüriado

Said philosophy, when it comes to shirts at least, is focused on offering exceptional quality while moving with the times. “We’ve seen a lot of changes in fashion over the years,” Jüriado continues, “we’re not making so many straight business shirts these days – we make more sports shirts and concepts for different kinds of shirts. That’s important to us too, we’re not just a shirtmaker, we try to think conceptually about men’s shirts.”

This shows in the Stenströms product range, which offers four different fits ranging from Superslim to Classic, two levels of quality, and a huge variety of shirt fabrics and finishes. The one thing that unites all of Jüriado’s designs is a soft look and feel; Stenströms specialises in making shirts with loose-lined collars and cuffs, which are as comfortable to wear as can be. “Today, we think menswear is about looking ‘formal-relaxed’, not too conservative and with a little bit of a twist. Many business shirt brands are creating quite stiff products at the moment, but our shirts are the opposite. They work well with a softly structured jacket or casual outerwear.”

Two of Stenströms’ ranges in particular showcase the brand’s approach; the first is the 1899 Collection, which is made to the highest standard of all the brand’s shirts (special features include split-yokes, fine single-needle stitching and set-in sleeves for the cleanest possible shirtfront) and the Stenströms Washed Programme, which launders shirts once they’ve been made, often in unusually luxurious fabrics, to create the most comfortable ‘formal-relaxed’ shirt possible.

With this in mind, attention to fabrics is crucial to Jüriado’s designs, and he works closely with Thomas Mason on much of his collections. “We use Thomas Mason’s Sea Island and Giza 87 fabrics in the 1899 Collection,” he says, “Giza 87 in particular is very special – it creates white shirts with such vibrancy. We use a lot of Thomas Mason’s stripes too, because they are similarly bold in colour, and there’s also a Gold Line linen range that’s really great for summer.” And, if he had to pick one favourite? “We also use a lot of Thomas Mason’s Royal Twill, even in our Washed Programme, it’s one of our signature fabrics and it wears beautifully over time.”

Stenströms is also one of a new generation of menswear brands who are turning their attention to Thomas Mason’s organic cotton qualities, in an attempt to do their bit for the planet. Here too, Jüriado explains: “Lots of brands are cheapening their production to stick at a certain price level. We are very lucky that we own the factory, it gives us flexibility to work with really high-quality suppliers like Thomas Mason. A big change for us at the moment is the way we’re going to start thinking about the environment. We’re looking at organic cotton and also at how we label our shirts – there’s going to be a lot of focus on that from now on.”

“The quality of a shirt is like anything else; driving a nice car or having a bottle of wine. You can get everything at a certain price, but the difference is tangible,” Jüriado says knowingly, leaning on a display cabinet packed with pastel colours shirts. “When you start compromising on quality, that’s dangerous. We won’t ever do that – we’ve lasted for over 120 years, and we’re not about to change that now.”

 

(Photography by Milad Abedi)

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