It might not have made much of a splash in her home town of Stockholm yet, but Emeli Mårtensson’s 5Preview brand is already well-established internationally. Since starting the brand in 2008 her “total look” collection has proved very popular, but she’s not resting on her laurels – she has plans to move production to Europe and open two flagship stores in Hong Kong.
Starting off by printing t-shirts at home in her flat in Rome, Emeli Mårtensson moved back home to Sweden where she hit it off with Gennaro Sorvillo, who is now the brand’s production manager. Together, they created a collection with five items. Five years later they are making around 250 items for each collection, with the brand’s largest markets being Italy, Japan, Denmark and Germany. They haven’t gotten started with Sweden yet, but it’s on the cards.
What is the idea behind 5Preview?
The original idea in 2008 was to make simple nice-looking white t-shirts (made In Italy) with handmade black prints. Straightforward clean messages, very stylized and minimalistic. As I lived in Italy back then, where fashion is very “glamorous” and full of glitter, it was a sharp contrast to that. Then I developed, and so did the collection, but the basic idea was to make easy, usable clothes of good quality.
What is your background?
I was born in Kalmar, moved to Italy to study architecture and got stuck there. Industrial design led to a job at IKEA – I soon got sick of it and ended up in Milano, where I got sucked into the fashion business. It got too much and I went back to Stockholm to study copywriting, sociology and graphic design. Then I got sick of Sweden and moved to Rome where I got a job as print designer at Miss Sixty. I stayed there for a few years before 5Preview could cover itself. Then I left my job and moved to New York and lived la dolce vita until it got too messy with visas and business organization, so then I went home to Stockholm. And since 2010, here I am.
What is the main difference between working in Rome and Stockholm?
Here people are paying taxes and invoices, and do what they have said they would. It is easy to get inspiration just by looking at people, almost everyone is pretty good looking and well dressed. A bit predictable, but in a nice way. Rome was chaotic in all ways. Rome is a lot of talk, Stockholm is more actual shop.
Is there something you miss about Rome? Something you like more in Stockholm?
Of course I miss the food, wine, unpredictability, spontaneity and hanging around at the piazza, the weather – at least in the spring, starting in February there. I don’t miss the traffic, all the irritated frustrated people getting ready to tell you to f*** off if you are in their way, the bad air, the loud noises… Stockholm is fantastic, at least that’s what I think now, but I’m getting closer to middle age and I’m looking for different things than I did at 20.
What is the story of the name, “5Preview”?
The idea was to print some T-shirts and sell them, make some cash and finance a test collection with real clothes, not just shirts. That collection would consist of five items, called “5-piece-wardrobe”. I had read an article about those fantastic French women who always seem to have everything under control, buying clothes after the 5-piece-wardrobe principle – a good basic wardrobe, where they add five new items each season to get the basic items a trendy touch. I wanted to make those five items. And the t-shirts was a “preview” of it. So then the provisional name became 5Preview. Then there was no point in changing it.
Everything around me, in the present and in the past. I’m mainly doing all those clothes you walk around dreaming about. Trying to create the perfect cardigan… the perfect jacket… the perfect pants… Functionality inspires me. And good materials.
What are your plans for the future?
Shops, shops, shops! And fun collaborations and side projects. Maybe have a fashion show some time (if we can get started at some stage – it has never been a high priority, which is probably why were are pretty invisible in Sweden). Use more environmentally-conscious materials and move as much of the production as we can to Europe.
What is your ultimate goal?
To get the company to grow. I am originally an illustrator, so the whole business part was new for me. I have made plenty of mistakes, and learned from them and now I see it as a challenge to get everything moving as smoothly as possible. We are opening two flagship stores in Hong Kong in the beginning of next year, and hopefully they will spread around the world. But the ultimate goal is probably to work only with design, and not have to deal with everything else!