A flashing human Christmas tree, a cardboard bus, or a complete slalom get-up – ski boots and all. At the office, all day. When it comes to the Kids department’s themed Fridays, the inhibitions are few and the ingenuity impressive.
Lovisa Lindstrand is sporting an ‘80s-inspired, turquoise-striped, stand-up-collar blouse and a groovy tiger necklace; Hanna Bergfeldt has paired a frilly floral skirt with a hoodie; and Lena Melin wears a cerise top and a black cap with pom-poms on the top.
All in all, today’s theme is pretty hard to guess!
The trio of designers nod in satisfaction – it shouldn’t always be easy. But as more staff arrive to the Kids department, the common denominator becomes clear: there is the space dress from the Limited Edition collection, a “Unique” sequin top, a pair of slim boyfriend trousers and a number of recognisable shimmery party tops…
Might this week’s theme be KappAhl?
“Yes! It’s ‘An homage to KappAhl!’”
Melin, assistant designer for the little girls’ line, chose this week’s theme after winning last week’s theme of “Nordic space”.
At two pm every Friday afternoon, the head office’s Kids department – i.e. the designers, assistant designers, buyers, assistant buyers, controllers, pattern makers, collection managers and department manager who develop our Kids’ assortment – gets together for a department-wide coffee break.
The climax of the coffee break is an awards ceremony to announce the winner of that week’s theme. After the hum of voices has died down, Melin, last week’s winner and this week’s jury, takes to the floor:
“This week’s winner often brings a lot of creativity to these challenges, and this week is no exception. She’s KappAhl through and through, including with a fantastic vintage top – congratulations Lovisa!”
The applause and cheers resound as Lindstrand steps forward to accept her certificate.
“I would like to thank my mother, for keeping hold of this amazing top that she bought at KappAhl in the ‘80s. And my amazing necklace was in stores 4–5 years ago – can you guess who was a designer in Accessories then?!”
Why yes, Lindstrand herself is the designer behind the flashy, kitschy bling dream she’s wearing.
“We did a whole series of tiger jewellery, which actually sold really well!” she declares.
The kids deparment’s themed Friday tradition first got started three years ago. Hanna Bergfeldt, designer for the big girls’ line, and her then assistant designer wanted to liven up the last working day of the week with something more than the traditional Friday coffee break, so they organised a simple Halloween challenge.
But, being a group of playful and creative people who work with kids, there is no such thing as a ‘simple’ Halloween challenge.
“Pretty much everyone went all in straight away,” says Bergfeldt, showing pictures of all sorts of witch costumes, crow’s-nest hats and gruesome axe-murder get-ups from the very first themed Friday.
Later, the themed Fridays took on a clearer format. Every Wednesday afternoon, a new theme is decided upon and emailed to the entire Kids department, as part of a mood board of images to offer some inspiration.
Staff are then free to interpret the theme however they want to in clothes and accessories, and at the 2 pm coffee break, that week’s winner is announced. The winner then has the task of deciding the next week’s theme and acting as the all-powerful jury for it.
“If they want, they are allowed to appoint a helper to help them decide – known as the ‘week’s guru’ – but the winner has the last say,” Bergfeldt explains.
A wall in the Kids department displays all of the past mood boards and themes that have passed muster over the years. It is a giant collage of bright, multi-coloured images that get the creative juices flowing.
“Of course, besides it being lots of fun to improvise with the different themes, the point is that we get to hone our creativity. It’s super-inspiring to root around in our wardrobes, finding fun new combos, looks and ideas,” says Bergfeldt, before continuing:
“But we think our themed Fridays tick off lots of other corporate values, too. In addition to the fact that creativity requires courage – as some themes take us well outside of our comfort zones – the themes also boost team spirit and energy.”
That energy is shared with others. The entire head office now looks forward to trying to figure out what that week’s theme might be. Normally, the fantastical apparitions seen walking the office corridors have clear connecting factors – an entire department in glittery sequin creations or top-to-toe florals speaks quite a clear themed-Friday language, so to say.
“It’s starting to get hard to come up with themes now. But that’s also a creative challenge!” says Bergfeldt.
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