Approaching her third decade with H&M, Ann-Sofie Johansson, Head of Design for the fast-fashion clothing retailer, is no slouch when it comes to forward-thinking design. Her clear vision for the Swedish fashion giant is one that has thrusted H&M into the conversation in everyday fashion circles. And with its recent success on collaborations with Maison Martin Margiela, Versace, and Japanese Vogue editor Anna Dello Russo, H&M’s momentum isn’t slowing down.
In an email interview with Ms. Johansson, she explains the difficulties of creativity, her inspiration outside of the fashion world, and why curiosity is a key motivator in today’s fashion scene.
6 Questions with Ann-Sofie Johansson
1. How do you motivate yourself and your team to come up with great ideas?
I think a real motivation is curiosity – fashion always wants to move forward. And it is always exciting to see how it is being interpreted into personal styles and mixed in ways that really surprises you.
2. What is the biggest challenge you face when trying to be creative?
The challenge is to always find what’s new within fashion and to understand what our customers would want to buy in the future.
3. Do you have any rituals to reset yourself to be creative? Any hobbies or interests outside of the fashion world that help inspire you?
Working with fashion means you can find things that inspire you all the time. I do not think I am ever completely disconnected, as fashion is such a great hobby of mine. I enjoy art, music, film but also spending time with my family and friends
4. What is the culture like behind-the-scenes at H&M? How do you create a culture that is innovative, creative and cutting-edge?
Our strength is our teamwork and our values. Working in teams, discussing and trying out new ideas is very creative and really pushes our fashion forward.
5. How much has H&M’s brand identity changed over the years since the much-hyped collaborations with international fashion houses and designers?
We have over 150 talented in-house designers creating our great collections and fashion items that our customers find in our stores every day. The designer collaborations has strengthened the brand but also showed that design is not a matter of price, putting the emphasis on our business concept fashion and quality at the best price.
6. How do you define your style? What influences your fashion choices?
My own style can be defined as very eclectic, depending on my mood of the day and how my schedule looks like. I never fail on accessories, the one thing that can change a whole look and outfit.
In addition to this interview, we’ve included a small list of top fashion trends Ms. Johansson sees making a splash in 2013.
“I really like the new bohemian look at H&M,” says Ann-Sofie Johansson. “It feels fresh thanks to the sporty shapes, sun-bleached colors and new forms of embellishment.”
QUILTED BOMBER: “The bomber is the perfect piece to kick off the season. H&M’s updated version softens a rugged classic with quilting and printed
DRAPED BLAZER: “This is one of those pieces I can’t wait to wear. I know I’ll rely on it all season long because of its softened, tailored silhouette!”
RED WIDE LEG TROUSERS: “It’s great how something this clean can also translate as bohemian. The silky, soft ease of these pants are a must-have for this coming spring.”