24 Feb Tiger of Sweden Brand Feature
Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright
Established in 1903 under the name Schwartzman & Nordström, after founder Marcus Schwartzman and his partner Hjalmar Nordström, Tiger of Sweden has always been a modernist brand of innovation. Persevering through hardships and evolving with the constant change in fashion trends and political climate, the brand grew into and has remained a symbol of Scandinavian minimalism. “A different cut” is not their motto, it’s a state of mind that the company operates under. They’ve got over a century in the industry under their belt, and plan on doing it for at least another 100 years.
What Immortal Hand Or Eye, Could Frame Thy Fearful Symmetry?
Entrepreneur Marcus Schwartzman, and his partner Hjalmar Nordström, founded Schwartzman & Nordström in Uddevalla, on Sweden’s west coast. Rather than the traditional tailoring method of waiting for customers to come to them and get fitted for suits, they cut a different path and went their customers. The customers got their suits faster and more easily than before without a reduction in quality.
Their business boomed, but they wanted more. Schwartzman soon realized, through his meetings with customers, that they needed to cut down on time-consuming trying on and individual fittings. Ready-made suits in top quality materials with a modern design and a perfect fit were exactly what the market wanted. The number of re-sellers kept growing, and during the first 25 years, the company moved to larger facilities three times. On the brink of opening their fourth facility, World War II broke out. Forever the innovators, they simply kept with their ideal of doing things differently.
Rather than slowing down, Schwartzman reoriented production and began to sew for the Swedish army. Unlike all of the Swedish companies and people who led a meager existence during the war, the company’s finances were good enough to start their own kindergarten and a boarding house for their employees. After the War, they developed one of Europe’s most modern factories, founded on the concept that happy workers do a better job.
The Adjustment Bureau
The company fell into hard times. First came the passing of Schwartzman in 1955 and at the same time, Sweden’s textile industry was falling into crisis due to competitively cheaper clothing from Finland and Portugal. Then, under pressure from the ever changing tastes of consumers who were no longer sporting suits much, in the midst of the great Swedish textile crisis, Schwartzman’s successor (his son Robert) died in a car accident. Without a leader, the company was bought by the Swedish government who only purchased the company in hopes of saving jobs and the country’s textile industry. The new owner decided that Tiger would enter into the international market, and was forbidden to market themselves in Sweden, which was reserved for suits from other brands.
Cutting A Different Cloth
Their exile brought them to markets that placed them at the forefront of a cultural movement and led them to discoveries that tested their abilities.
In Britain, Tiger suits were indispensable in mod culture. Their slim cuts and minimal style made their suits wardrobe essentials to the fashion-obsessed British tastemakers. In America, the company came across a across the Swiss manufacturer Bleiche, who had a very fine gabardine fabric in its range.The properties of gabardine makes it much more difficult to make suits of than traditional fabrics, but to their tailors’ mastery in fitting, an intractable material posed no problem. In a short time they were selling 70,000 gabardine suits a year in the U.S.
Changing cultural trends and fluctuating markets influenced multiple changes in ownership and at the beginning of the 90s Tiger found itself in the hands of Tiger Brason, a four-man company who moved operations from Uddevalla to an office housed in a barrack in an even smaller west Swedish town, Alingsås. Looking at the fashion landscape overrun with grunge music’s unkempt aesthetic, the new owners could have easily decided to shut down. Instead, they held true to the mentality of “a different cut” and persisted through the trend. Opting to go a route more Reservoir Dogs than Nirvana, Tiger sought to “take the suit out of the bank and onto the street.” They created jackets meant to be worn without a tie, that fit well with a pair of jeans. They went back to the mod era for inspiration and incorporated narrow lapels and lower waisted trousers to create slimmer silhouettes for their suits in order to bring youthfulness back into their look.