Born approximately a year and a half ago, 5preview is already selling in nearly a dozen countries. So, what’s the secret?

This week, I had the privilege to ask 5preview designer, Emeli Martensson, this very question and more!

In this exclusive interview with Men’s Fashion by Francesco, emerging designer Emeli discusses her road to success, her source of inspirations, and the tastes of Swedish men.

I understand that you are well traveled, Emeli… Where are you from originally?
I was born in a small village in the south-Swedish countryside in 1979; I left that village as soon as I could and then moved to Spain at 18, Italy one year later.

What attracted you to Italy?
In Florence, I studied industrial design, then I moved on to Milan to study fashion design. I moved back to Stockholm, Sweden to study marketing, advertisement, and graphic design. Then I got a job as graphic designer/print designer for the Rome-based brand Killah (Sixty-group), where I worked for more than 4 years.

Tell me a bit about your family…
My father is an architect and D-I-Y-guru in Scandinavia, my mom is a textile designer.

Did you inherit the love of travelling from them?
They always traveled a lot with me since I was a kid, and they always brought me to art exhibitions and museums all over Europe. Since I was 4 years old, my father brought me every year to Salone del Mobile in Milan.

Where are you currently living?
I live in NYC at the moment. I wanted to leave Europe (and my full-time creativity-sucking job) and I couldn’t come up with a better idea than NYC.

Why is that?
There are so many things going on here all the time; the time is never enough. So much stimulation, so much “new” culture and architecture. (Europe is beautiful and unique; but, in a way, we’re all brought up with American culture and it’s really easy to adapt here.) So much iron instead of wood (Sweden), or stone (Italy).

When did you know that you wanted to design?
In a way I always did it, from the first shirt I printed in kindergarten with a sailing boat and my name EMELI below it. (I stayed every summer on an island close to Norway.) Then as a teenager, I printed all band T-shirts that weren’t available in the small record store of my small town.

How would you sum up your new label?
5preview is a unisex brand. Nowadays, my boyfriend steals my boyfriend-cut-jeans that, then, would become girlfriends-jeans, if you know what I mean.

What was your real “start”?
When 5preview did a collaboration (and then another one because everything was sold out in a weekend) with the Swedish brand Weekday (the ones that makes the Cheap Monday jeans, now bought by H&M), we became well known up there too and everybody wanted those shirts (it was a limited edition).

I’m very curious about the men’s fashion scene in Sweden…
Swedish men and designers have a lot of taste and are really aware of what they put on. They read fashion magazines and a lot of Swedish guys have fashion blogs where they write about what to wear and why.

How would you describe their style?
The style is always really simple and clean (Acne, 5th Avenue Shoe Repair, Filippa K, Weekday, etc.)

What role do you and your label play in this scene?
The role we play is that we keep the designs simple but eye catching to match the Scandinavian minimal style.

So, what inspires your designs?
I’m working on the new collection now and I find inspiration observing people here in NY: all kind of people from the hipsters down in Williamsburg to the gangsters here in Bed-Stuy, or the rich girls in the gallery openings in Soho, or the college-students you don’t see here but going out of town…

Where do you find these themes?
I do a lot of research online watching fashion blogs (Cobrasnake, Facehunter, Sartorialist), forums as the Fashionspot and trend sites as WGSN. I’m curious and go to a lot of art shows, concerts; I watch the street art, which is always changing here in NY, drawings in public bathrooms, street fairs, and markets (a lot of creative people around here to inspire). That’s about it.

How would you describe your particular “style”?
Simple, high quality, black and white (now with the new collection also a grey scale), eye-catching, bold “dirty” handmade prints. It depends on your styling what style it becomes.

Do you have a defined target audience?
Our target is huge: fashionistas and party people, teenage girls and boys, ironic rich people and rich-wannabe-poor people, gays and heteros, young and old, girls and boys… It’s strange, isn’t it? Those shirts create desire!

Photo 2009 s/s collection Copyright 5preview.

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