Sweden-based fashion label Toteme is returning home with its new Manhattan boutique, opening July 26 on Mercer Street in SoHo.
Toteme co-founders Elin Kling, 39, a former fashion editor, and Karl Lindman, 40, formerly the design director of interview magazine, were living in New York City when they started the brand in 2014. The couple returned to Sweden three years later, and while Toteme has stores in Stockholm and Shanghai, American shoppers have only been able to purchase the brand’s minimalist clothing. online, either on the brand’s website or through retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Net-a-Porter and Ssense.
During the pandemic, as Kling and Lindman read reports of New York stores closing and the city losing its magic, it became important to them that Toteme have a presence there, especially if they could play a role in bringing back the city in life. Last year, private equity firm Altor acquired a small stake in Toteme, and the investment has helped expand the brand in China and the US
“I used to have my own office interview magazine across from Mercer Street, and we were always looking at the Judd Foundation and all these cast iron structures that are still typical SoHo,” Lindman says. “The building we’re in is this beautiful old cast iron building from the 1870s.”
The pair designed the new store with Halleroed, an architecture studio co-founded by another Swedish couple, Ruxandra and Christian Halleroed. The firm, which has done stores for other well-known Swedish brands like Acne Studios and Byredo, has also worked on other Toteme locations—but the partnership goes even further. “Even when we had absolutely no money, [Christian] he was making us very simple plywood structures”, says Lindman.
While Toteme’s flagship store in Stockholm was inspired by a house on the Upper East Side, the new space mixes Swedish heritage with the store’s New York bones. For the store’s lighting, for example, the couple was inspired by functionalist designer Gunnar Asplund’s ceiling lamps in the Stockholm Public Library.
Kling and Lindman are particularly excited to feature pewter pieces from Svenskt Tenn, one of Sweden’s most renowned interior design companies. Now overseen by a foundation, Svenskt Tenn was created by designer Estrid Ericson in 1924. Pieces in Toteme’s New York store include candle holders textured like tree branches; a decorative plate in the shape of a leaf; and a hand-shaped paperweight, complete with a frilled sleeve and delicate ring. “We have always been very inspired by Svenskt Tenn and we feel like them, in the same way we do, like the idea of offering something minimal but bold and expressive,” says Kling.
Svenskt Tenn’s selection will be displayed in a steel cabinet designed by Halleroed. Nearby will be armchairs by Svenskt Tenn designer Josef Frank, with bright patterns that serve as a foil to Toteme’s more muted palette.
This fall, the brand is also launching a new bag collection. “It’s been a long process because it’s so important that it feels like a product where you feel, that is JUST how I want it to look,” says Kling.
The couple say they take design inspiration from the specific needs of women’s clothing. Lindman gives an example: “We were at dinner and a friend of ours was saying, ‘Why aren’t there any amazing raincoats?'” Kling adds, “Everyone talks about what to wear to a wedding, but what do you wear. the day after the wedding?”
When the couple comes to New York for the store opening, they’ll have a list of city traditions to check off: burgers at JG Melon on Third Avenue, shopping for vintage jewelry at Doyle & Doyle, a haircut for Kling. Plus, she’ll take their daughter and son for manicures and pedicures. “It’s something that’s so New York to them,” she says. “They believe you can’t do that in Sweden. So this is the first stop.”
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