Newbie’s magical pattern world features everything from foxes, woolly clouds and flying dragons to flowers and – in particular – roses, all hand-drawn by Newbie’s own print designer Karolina Persson. “When you let the process take time, you get a finely-worked feel that does a lot for the overall feel and reliability. I think that Newbie’s customer recognises that,” says Persson.
Around the newbie team’s shared workspace at the head office in Mölndal, rows of hangers are lined up holding small, mild-coloured garments from current and future Newbie collections.
Karolina Persson casts her trained eye along the hangers, stopping on a small dress with a brown flower pattern against a pale pink background.
“I like that print, it came out really well,” she says, holding up the dress.
The customers – the, mildly put, dedicated “Newbie lovers” around the world – agree. The dress is selling like hot cakes on a cold morning, and it is making waves across all manner of Newbie forums on social media, with discussions on how best to style it.
“It’s so amazing to see such appreciation and to hear that they like what we’re doing and the prints I’ve drawn,” says Persson. She’s proud to be part of the Newbie team. Proud of their prints garments, collections, sustainability and success story.
But how do prints come about?
“Before each collection, Sofia Kulle, designer for Newbie, puts together the trends, colours and feel that she wants it to capture. Sometimes she even has an idea of prints; sometimes it’s more open. When we had the forest theme, for example, I decided I wanted to draw forest animals and a bunch of other forest life, like mushrooms. Once the outer framework has been set, I sit down and start drawing.”
Persson pulls out a desk drawer and takes out a bundle of sheets of graphite sketches and ink drawings as drafts for prints.
Do you always draw by hand?
“Mostly, but occasionally on the computer, too.”
Once Persson has finished her drawings, she shows her print ideas to Kulle, who makes suggestions – perhaps wanting more of something in particular, or small modifications to something else.
Do you never feel like, “Oh, come on, that badger was so cute, are we really not going to use it?” – that you feel a bit offended when something is rejected?
“No, not at all, that’s the design process. We’re always talking things through. But I never actually throw away any drawings. Something I’ve drawn might suit a future theme and be of use then.”
Is it hard to innovate when designing for Newbie – when it comes down to it, romantic roses are always romantic roses, aren’t they?
“No, there are so many different looks – a rose pattern can be old-fashioned, simplified, have lots of colour or very little, be minimalist or very detailed. It’s fun finding variation within Newbie’s specific style,” says Persson.
The unique, hand-drawn aspect, she believes, is a big part of why Newbie is so well-thought-of.
“The fact we put time into it means a lot. The process can take time, and the results are how we want and have planned them to be. That benefits the customer, too, in the end.”
Persson has drawn Newbie’s prints for one and a half years and loves it. “I get to do what I really love doing – drawing. Before studying fashion design, I went to art school – I’ve always been one for drawing and sketching. And here I’ve found what I want to do. That’s a luxury.”