Louise Linderoth is the designer who’s not afraid to challenge the traditional fashion scene. Her passionate dedication to innovative design is an inspiration, and she loves to mix problem-solving with aesthetics with the body as her focus. With a dream of continuing her research in the design of jeans in relation to a sitting position, Louise is now launching an online collection, Lou Dehrot Seated Jeans, in collaboration with Gina Tricot.
Name: Louise Linderoth Occupation: Fashion designer Age: 27 Resides in: Skövde & Borås, Sweden Latest news: To challenge functional norms in the fashion industry, the Lou Dehrot brand is releasing Seated Jeans in collaboration with Gina Tricot Instagram: @lou.linderoth, @lou.dehrot
Who is Louise? Tell us a little about yourself.
I love combining problem-solving and aesthetics, with the body as my focal point. That’s why it’s been natural for me to work with design, art, and fashion. I’m working with my brand, Lou Dehrot, at the same time that I’m completing my master’s degree at the Swedish School of Textiles in Borås. My life was forever changed when I was ten years old; I lost most of the use of my legs after a spinal-cord injury caused by an immunological overreaction. One of the strongest driving forces for my creativity is seeing possibilities to influence representation and opening avenues to a more body-inclusive fashion world.
When did you first become interested in fashion and design?
I’ve always loved fashion and creating things. Crafts and clothes were my biggest interests as a child. When I was 12 years old, I received my first sewing machine. It was a natural progression to combine my love of crafting and fashion – and here I am today!
What is the strongest motivating force in your designs?
I don’t want anyone to feel like I did when I was younger – excluded from fashion as a result of the body that I live in. I felt like an outsider, not only in terms of how clothes fit me, but also in the recognition of the normative patterns for presenting fashion. During my design studies, I’ve realised that it’s more about how a body is presented, and the context in which it is presented, rather that the body as such. When it comes to fit, it’s incredibly important to understand the body’s shape, position, and function to achieve that feeling of being embraced by a comfortable garment. That’s how a garment should feel. Working with shape and representation is the core of my creative efforts.
Tell us more about your career journey in the fashion industry.
In 2017, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fashion design from the Swedish School of Textiles in Borås. I received a scholarship for my collection, “Have a Seat”, from Gina Tricot and other sponsors. It was an investment in my new company where I could continue to investigate and develop body inclusiveness in fashion and media. The collection was shown during Fashion Week in Stockholm, London, and Brussels. It was also planned to be part of Copenhagen Fashion Week, but I was not allowed to show the collection on wheelchair users, so I chose to withdraw it. However, I did so with this goal in mind: “Even if the collection won’t be at CPHFW, the discussion about body inclusiveness will be there.”
Did this situation influence you as a designer?
It motivated significant involvement and has been important in the issue of body inclusiveness in fashion. Just after that, I was asked to show items from the collection in the “Design Stories” exhibition at the National Museum in Stockholm. The collection has also appeared in “Norm Form” for ArkDes at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, in “A Queen within: Adorned Archetypes” at NOMA in New Orleans, at MoPOP in Seattle, and most recently in “Body beautiful – diversity on the runway” at the Textile Museum in Borås.
How did your brand, Lou Dehrot, originate?
“Have a Seat” is a conceptual collection that focuses on jeans designed for a sitting position. For me, it’s been important to create in parallel to the conceptual path by working with the everyday idea of jeans that focus on fit. I’ve made endless reconstructions of garments to find a fit that will follow and work with the body instead of working against it. The past two years have mostly involved building my brand and creating a stable foundation for my future work, and that resulted in Lou Dehrot.
Your own brand, Lou Dehrot is releasing Seated Jeans in collaboration with Gina Tricot. Give us your thoughts about the collection.
The jeans are based on two of my favourite deconstructions of the Gina Tricot styles “Bonnie Low Waist Jeans” and “Comfy Mom Jeans”. These are deconstructed to follow body contours in a sitting position. Sitting down a long time in jeans that are made for standing positions is often very uncomfortable. Jeans exert pressure on the abdomen and create a “letterbox” at the back. A lot of people know that feeling. Sitting in a wheelchair designed for the best possible manoeuvrability and ergonomics involves a sharper sitting angle, so that the upper body leans forward when the user propels the chair forward with the arms, and the feet are placed on an elevated foot bar. Jeans that work well in this situation are very difficult to find. Having the perfect everyday jeans has been such a big deal for me, for feeling “normal” and “worthy”, and not feeling excluded from wearing the most fundamental garment in the wardrobe. My desire to give this possibility to others in similar situations is the result of this collaboration.
How did the collaboration work, from concept to completed collection?
It’s been brilliant! The highlights have been without a doubt the work, trying on the designs with Gunilla, the director, and the campaign’s photo shoot. I brought my two deconstructed prototypes with me. From there, we worked with the technical aspects to enable production of the jeans on a larger scale. Throughout the process, I’ve had contact with customers who are very interested in the idea. This interaction helped me develop a broader picture of what’s important when it comes to jeans for wheelchair and sitting use. We took this into account in our design choices, for leg length, placement of the back pockets, and reinforced belt loops.
What is your favourite style in the collection?
Oh, impossible to say – all four! But I would have to say “Dehrot Mom Jeans” in off-black. I like the snug waist and the more relaxed fit at the thighs, along with the denim feel that you get despite the fabric’s softness.
Who's your most important role model?
I look up to lots of people. My mother, for example, because of how she makes all her decisions based on love. My father, because he can always find the humour in a situation, and he’s always been passionate about fairness. Jillian Mercado, a model who has greatly influenced the fashion industry’s views of people with physical functional disabilities. And Chelsie Hill, a professional dancer and now a friend of mine. She showed me that a wheelchair does not have to be a barrier to following your dreams.
What are your dreams for the future?
I want to develop the perception of the body in the fashion scene. I want to leave my mark, and give people a reason to reflect. Inspire people to see problems as potential solutions. Make the wheelchair an aid that’s accepted on the same level as eyeglasses, and elevate the body – as it is, irrespective of appearance, form, or function – to a part of fashion that’s just as normal as a mannequin in a shop window.
Do you have any tips for others who are dreaming of a career in fashion and design?
Accept yourself as a part of what you’re creating. Dare to be personal and work with projects that you’re passionate about. My education has played an important role, in having like-minded people around me who inspire, question, and challenge.
What are you looking forward to most this winter?
Clothes in cosy layers, and lots of candlelight! And of course, the fact that the Dehrot jeans will be available online at Gina Tricot.
The collection is available online at ginatricot.com