Read the interview after the jump:
Hi Simon, hope you are staying safe. How do you pass the time during the lockdown?
As I’ve been working freelance since 2010, I continue with my daily schedule just like before. I like to have my routine, it’s all about being organised and consistent. A normal day during the lockdown have looked like this: Waking up, eating breakfast while answering emails, checking my social medias or like today I am writing the answers to your interview 🙂 Then out for a walk with our dog Lala. Once that is done I open up a new shooting to select pictures, arrange it in my feed and then start editing the chosen ones. Lunch. Out for a walk or to the park with Lala. Then I continue with my work again, it changes from day to day. As me and my girlfriend are producing all the content you can see on our Instagrams ourselves, there are many things that have to be done. Select new looks, arrange pick ups and deliveries, style and plan new looks, edit pictures, and shoot the actual content which all have been shot inside during this lockdown. Usually I work on these different tasks until 5/6pm, and then I do some bodyweight workouts and stretching at home. Dinner around 7/8pm, then out for a walk with Lala. After this, it’s time to post my work on Instagram, stay active and engage. And maybe around 9pm I’ll finally put all my work aside, watch Netflix and just cool down.
How were you discovered?
I was first discovered and encouraged to be a model at the age of 14 and for the following next years it happened several times, but I din’t pursue it, even though it was something I have dreamed about to do. Seeing runway shows and editorials in the fashion magazines, excited me a lot and one day I decided to follow that path. It felt so expressive! But I grew up in Finland, so the big fashion capitals like Paris and Milan felt so far away. I wanted first to dedicate my time to get my school done. When I moved to Copenhagen from Finland at the age of 19, I was discovered while working as a shop manager for Levi’s in store at Illum, Samsoe Samsoe. And few days later I was walking on the runway for the Danish brand Wood Wood, what an experience – and all those wishes have turned into reality.
Do you recall your first shoot? How did you experience the first job you did as a model?
My first runway was for Wood Wood. I was so nervous but it felt great to work together with stylists, designers etc. I have been following fashion since a young age and I really enjoyed all the creatives coming together! My first International show was for Commes des Garcons in summer 2010, a dream came true. I was living in Paris for only 1 month, and my career kicked off by walking their show and working in their showroom. After 2 months I went to Tokyo and stayed there for 3 months. I have to say, I enjoy being in front of the camera. My first Magazine shoot was for ELLE Finland – I was the first male model ever to be featured in it. That made me feel very special I have to admit!
What are the projects you enjoyed working on the most, and the ones that were the most challenging?
I was working with Commes des Garcons in Paris for almost 5 years were I’ve learned a lot of things that I could use for my own jewelry brand – SIMONN. The whole process from making a collection, runway, showroom, buying, stores, and finally to the consumer. I’ve always been a listener, maybe because I lived in so many foreign countries and always had to learn a new language. Another project I am very grateful for, is working with Demna Gvasalia and his team in Zurich for 1 year. He is truly amazing in his creative thinking. He fitted so many good denim pieces on me – I wish I could have kept them all. The most challenging job I had, was shooting the campaign for Sony headphones in Tokyo, it was SUPER fun but very challenging! I had to give it all and they wanted as much material as possible, I’ve never been that exhausted but satisfied at the same.
Do you have any unfulfilled dreams when it comes to modeling?
I really think the best is yet to come, my look is more refined now! I’ve been developing my craft and I feel I have so much more to give!
How is working in fashion different today from when you first started out?
Today it’s more real and more life related which I appreciate a lot. There have never been this many people opening an eye for the fashion scene like today, which is amazing, people are more open minded thanks to this! It’s a super fast growing industry which has resulted with some negative sides as well. The consumer behavior and production is out of control, way too many collections and drops. It’s getting harder and harder to digest it all. I really hope we will slow things down after the Covid-19 situation.
I really want to say to everybody out there – Stay true to yourself, do what you love, and wear what you feel!
Aside from modelling social media also plays an important part in your career. As a style influencer, what message are you conveying to your viewers?
I really want to show my creativity and emotions through my looks. It’s born out from my dreams and passions. Coming from a small seaside city in Finland, it’s been a long journey to to where I am now. I really want to say to everybody out there – Stay true to yourself, do what you love, and wear what you feel! I never cared about what other people think about my style as I do it for myself. Seeing the world as a big bazaar, you’re in power of yourself, ask yourself what do I want to do, what do I want to wear, and how you want to express it, no matter if it’s womens, mens, and so on. Break down all the barriers. When I grew up there was a lot of labeling, and I hated that! I wanted to rub all that off. I am all about personal style and gender fluidity
Describe your personal style. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I wear a minimal chic, no gender style, with a “rock” vibe to it. I love to accessorize! I get my inspiration from all around me, when I see something that pleases my eyes I’ll experiment with. Travelling, living and seeing different cultures and subcultures have been very inspiring!
What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Today it has a very big importance! It has made everything a bit more real and accessible. We can get close to people by wearing all the clothes we see on the runway, magazines and campaigns. It has really opened the fashion and luxury industry to a much bigger audience. The consumers who didn’t feel like they could be a part of it before, now feel like they can relate more. The chance for them buying into the fashion and luxury market is way bigger these days thanks to the social media.
What advice do you have to people who are trying to gain a following on social media?
I don’t think anyone should focus on gaining followers. You should do what is you and spread your message and the RIGHT followers / audience will for sure come to you!
Travelling, living and seeing different cultures and subcultures have been very inspiring!
Do you have any instagram accounts that motivate you?
@ileniatoma_ as we work together we always inspire each other.
You also have your own jewelry brand. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a jewelry designer?
My jewelry brand SIMONN was born in my apartment in Paris. As I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I started creating my own jewelry. Thanks to the modelling I was wearing it to castings and shootings, they asked me to keep it in the photos, which later got credited. One thing lead to another.
What is your strategy in building your brand ?
To be honest I never had a strategy, as I never had budget for making a strategy. I bought my materials with money I made from modelling. Once the jewelry ended up in magazines, I started to get requests, so I did personal orders for clients, and I guess the word started to spread. Soon there were even buyers contacting me to ask if they could have a look at my collection, and like that they ended up in some stores in Paris, London, Antwerp, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Zurich and even NYC. One day I crossed ways with people that worked at a showroom. They asked me if I would be interested in displaying my jewelry there during the fashion week in exchange that I would work as their showroom model. That was the perfect opportunity! Like that I got it out to some more stores. It was like a wave, everything happened very natural, with no hurry, step by step I developed my brand. Around 2018 I decided to focus more on my online shop: simonnygard.com and that’s where you can find my jewelry!
Tell us about your design style.
Most of the designs I’ve been creating for my brand has a personal attachment to me, it’s something I experienced or felt. For the future I would love to create as well new concepts and designs. So please stay tuned!
Where do you go for inspiration when working on a new line?
Inside my head <3
Who are your favorite designers?
Some of my top designers are: Hedi Slimane, Rick Owens, Martin Margiela, Mike Amiri, Kim Jones.
What’s your favorite piece of jewelry that you’ve made before and why?
My absolute favourite is a feather necklace with my signature square. The square symbolize balance and stability, and the feather stands for freedom. The freedom I felt breaking myself free, chasing my dreams.
I always thought it’s better to stay consistent. Running a marathon, not a short sprints.
What was your biggest fear when going out and starting your own line?
As I always been creating and chasing everything on my own, its for sure the financial part.
What challenges do you face in your work?
There are always some problems, haha. The biggest challenge are the clients not seeing the true worth of creativity and don’t respect the artists, they only care about short term effects and numbers. I always thought it’s better to stay consistent, running a marathon, not a short sprints. That’s also the reason you see people and brands disappearing after 2-3 years.
What are the projects you are most proud of?
I see myself like one big project, so I have to say I am proud of always believing in myself and everything I take on.
How has your life changed in the last year?
I have been based in Milan for 3 years, so I’ve learned a lot about the production of fashion which has been very interesting. I started incorporating tailoring and classic pieces more and more into my style. I really got the concept more together the way I want it.
What do you like to do when you have time off?
I really miss the Scandinavian nature so I prefer to spend my time close to the nature. That’s something I will for sure include in my everyday life more and more for the next following years. And working out! Those 2 combined is the best.
What’s on your current playlist?
I’ve reconnected to all the music I was listening to while preparing myself in Finland for my move to Paris and pursuing my career. It’s Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson, HIM, Children of Bodom, Hanoi Rocks, 69 Eyes, Negative, Slipknot, Korn, Backyard Babies.
5 facts about you people may not know.
My mother language is Swedish, I grew up in Finland, but I speak French at home.
I eat Plant-based.
I have 3 sisters.
I played violin when I was young.
I can communicate in 7 languages.
Your personal passion or hidden talents?
My mum thought me how to cook and bake, so I am not too bad in the kitchen, haha. I cook only healthy and plant based foods though!
And finally, what are your plans for the future?
To keep on dreaming, chasing my dreams. To expand and build on my career and my brand SIMONN in an environment closer to the nature. Spending time between nature and big cities.