The stripe that never fades
“It seems like it’s always existed. And I have always loved it.”
These are the words of Gunila Axén, the creator of our classic stripe, which is now known as our PO.P ORIGINALS collection. She began her career in design as a student at Beckmans College of Design.
Over the years, she’s been a trendsetter, not only with her PO.P designs, but also thanks to her membership of the classic Swedish 10-gruppen design group. She’s also been an influential figure for generations of designers for many years as Professor of Textile design at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design.
“The stripe is still one of the most stylish designs in my view. I think it all started with a picture I saw of Picasso wearing one of those classic Breton striped tees. It’s part of our design motto to stay relevant and modern, but to steer clear of short-term fashion trends,”
More to stripes than you might think
“When we started with stripes, Marimekko was already using them, but they’d opted for block stripes, so I made a deliberate choice to avoid those,” recalls Gunila.
Narrow stripes became her signature instead, with the now-classic formula as a pattern unit.
“But this isn’t actually the original stripe. My first collection was for older children. It had a different pattern unit and we discovered it wasn’t suitable for smaller garments. Because I wanted stripes for younger children too, we adapted the pattern unit to the one used to this day.”
The eternal appeal of stripes
“These things go in waves, like everything else. I remember when my son was in his 20s and stripes were back in fashion – he got a bit of extra street cred because his mum was responsible,” smiles Gunila.
“Polarn O. Pyret has always had the feel of a family business,” says Katarina af Klintberg, the business brain behind what is now POLARN O. PYRET, who also happens to be Gunila’s sister in Law!
“We never hesitated to test all the clothes on our own children. My son was 13 when the first collection was released and it made him squirm with embarrassment. He later confessed to lying to his friends by telling them he got paid to wear striped clothes,” recalls Katarina.
“And when my son’s first child was born, my son dressed him in stripes before he’d even left the maternity ward, and I remember thinking that now he’d found his way home,” laughs Katarina.
“That little boy is 16 now and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he turned up one day wearing stripes of his own free will.”
40 years after it all started, it feels as if the stripe has an eternal life. It runs back into the past and on into the future. Generation after generation. Our stripes will never fade.