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Meet the brand - Morris

Morris is the story about how a exclusive boat sale lead to the most popular preppyfashion brand in Sweden.

By Henrik Malmberg | Interview | 2015-10-28

Sometimes something must die for make way for something new. That pretty much describes the birth of the preppybrand from Sweden, Morris. The year is 2003 and in the water at Jan Alséns house lies a beautiful River Yacht. The type of boat which would blend in perfectly among the luxurious yachts along the coast of Monaco. Jan Alsén had for a long time walked around with a thought grinding in his head, what it would be like to start his own clothing brand?

Alséns idea was to start a brand with a traditional style, with influence from Great Britain and the preppy style. But Alsén wanted to make the brand more suitable for today and with a modern touch on the traditional style. Jan Alsén was no new comer when it came to fashion, during his entire life he had been working for other brands and helped them design new products. Now was the time for Alsén to take the leap and go for it himself but the problem was the money. The IT-bubble bursted around this time and any angel investors nearby ready to invest was as rare as a polar bear on the Antarctica.

Alsén had to face the fact that his darling, the self renovated Riva Yacht, had to go to able to chase his dream. The money he got from the sale was enough to get going with his clothing brand, Morris.

 

Founder Jan Alsén and designer Roker Åkesson

 

The name Morris is inspired by a legendary haberdashy in Stockholm that delivered British styles of clothing to men in Sweden from 1949 to the middle of the seventies. The reason it says Stockholm in Morris logotype is thanks to this haberdashy because the brand Morris is not actually from Stockholm. Like many other swedish clothing brands Morris hometown is the textile captital of Sweden, Borås. The founder Jan Alsén is born and raised in Borås and this is also where the journey began for him and his brand.

 

The breakthrough for Morris came just two years after it was launched. In an colour explosion the brand shipped poloshirts, shirts, chinos and blazers in all types of colours all over Sweden. Morris was shortly after well-established on the swedish fashion scene.

 

Today Morris is sort of a family business. The founder Jan Alséns wife, Eva Alsén Stjernström, is the CEO and their daughter, Linn Alsén, is product manager and also works with markeeting. Linn Alsén is also the brain behind the fleur de lis in Morris logotype.

 

– I asked Linn when she was 14 years old to choose what she thought was a beautiful symbol. She showed me the fleur de lis and first and foremost I thought it was gorgeous and I felt that the symbol really could represent us as a brand.

 

"It's a strength to be able to produce collections that feels new and fresh, and yet you can always say, that’s Morris."

 

12 years after the founding of the brand, Morris is most definitely a strong trademark and Jan Alsén thinks that the success is built from consistency and a clear message of what Morris is.

 

– One of our strengths is that we have always been able to produce collections that feels new and fresh, and yet you can always say, that’s Morris. We feel very confident with our product on our home turf here in Sweden and in Scandinavia.

 

Jan Alsén also mentions one of the reason Morris has established themselves so well in the preppy fashion is because of the Scandinavian touch they have put on their clothes and the inspiration is coming from the English brands, Hackett and Paul Smith, rather than the American brands Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

 

– Of course we see a brand like Ralph Lauren as a competitor but I see this as a honour. To be going head to head with a giant like Ralph. We still feel like we are living in our own sort of Scandinavian preppy world rather than the more American and New Haven preppy.

 

Founder Jan Alsén and designer Roger Åkesson

 

On the Swedish and Scandinavian fashion scene Morris has succeed and has reached a large customer base and the brand is popular in a wide range of ages.

 

– Our customers is everyone from the young guy who like our clothes with the big print to gentlemens that are more in to the more discret and soberly piece of clothes.

 

There is one, or rather there was, person that would be a dream customer to Jan Alsén: the style icon and Jan’s own idol, Steve McQueen.

 

– It would have been unreal to see him in our clothes or why not Bruce Springsteen. It doesn’t seem realistic that the Boss would wear something from us but that would be quite spectacular.

 

Luca Rubinacci and Jan Alsén

 

Jan Alsén and Morris is now turning their heads south and looking out on the rest of Europe.

 

– You feel proud of how well we have succeed on our home court and the growth the last two years have been good. That’s why our goal right now and our vision is to establish ourselves on the European market.

 

Jan Alséns 5 best styling tips

1. The jacket
I advocate sort of casual elegans. I was never a suit type of guy and I like to dress down and make the jacket more casual by matching it with a pair of jeans.

2. The scarf
Choose a scarf in a discret colour that matches the rest of your outfit. Better go with a bigger scarf, otherwise it just looks small and non-important.

3. Brogues
A pair of brogues is a must in every mans wardrobe and they look best with a pair of chinos.

4. Classic shirts
Build your wardrobe around classic shirts in white and light blue.

5. Cardigan slipover
A simple piece of clothing that under a jacket makes you look well-dressed and swell.

 

SHOP MORRIS - CLICK HERE

 

 

Facts about Morris

 

Founded: 2003
Main office: Borås, Sweden
Employees: 22
Revenue 2014: 15 millions USD
Feature: Preppy fashion with influence from Great Britain
Favourite piece of clothing: The cable knit sweaters, perfect over a more leisure shirt

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