Maybe it has something to do with their Britishness—all that Shakespeare in school—but Anthony Rock and Samuel Thomas are keenly aware that “all the world’s a stage.” They named their just-launched label Self Cinema, accordingly. “The idea of appearance and reality has compelled interested minds since the beginning of civilization,” they write in their brand proposal. “In today’s digital world, appearance and representation have become the principle objectives of a global community.” This duo has slightly different aims. Yes, they want you to look good, the difference is that their casual, sporty pieces marry elevated design and sustainability.
Crunchy isn’t Self Cinema’s aesthetic by far. Straight out of college Thomas joined Gucci’s menswear team, then worked for Burberry, John Galliano, and Loewe before heading back to Stockholm where he met Rock, who was heading up denim development and production for ACNE Studios. Discovering they had a shared interest in responsible fashion, they decided to launch a sustainable project. “Commercially and technologically,” says Thomas, the time is now. It doesn’t hurt that they have an ideal audience for their product.
“Scandinavian governments and society are way ahead of the global norm when it comes to these issues, and it is easier to engage the consumer, collaborate with like minds, and find support from nonprofit organizations,” says Rock. Also: Stockholm is in the midst of a general Scandinavian design renaissance. “We are seeing that there are rising pockets of new design; there’s more expression and cultural experimentation,” adds Thomas. “In addition, Scandinavians are intuitively drawn to clean living and eco issues.”
The Self Cinema designers are making skinny jeans in Japanese denim, Breton jerseys, and EcoNyl anoraks, all using high-quality components with minimal environmental impact, including recycled and organic materials and trims. “We want something that feels familiar but also vague, just out of focus. Then it remains cool,” notes Thomas. There’s certainly a provocative edge to their lookbook—no seascapes or marsh grasses here. “We didn’t want to overlap with the other Swedish brands who really capitalize on the clean living lagom lifestyle, the designer explains. “We see a more complex scene here, and we wanted to show that—something more gritty, a bit more tension. A sense of liminality is something that started to take shape through the shoot process.”