Global Young Designer Spotlight: CDLP
Underwear, environmentalism and grande-dame hotels (with a punkish twist). Meet Christian Larson and Andreas Palm, founders of Swedish brand CDLP, who are on a mission to make men’s undergarments stylish and environmentally sustainable.
10 September, 2020
The brief: to create men's undergarments that are both sartorially stylish and environmentally sustainable.
Premium Swedish brand CDLP set a new standard in the underwear department when it came on the scene/ display stand back in 2016. Specialising in the use of Lyocell - a silky-soft fabric which features breathable, anti-bacterial and moisture-wicking properties - and other innovative, future-oriented fabrics, its line of luxury essentials (including socks, briefs and thermals) offered men a serious underwear upgrade.
CDLP's guiding principles of comfort and functionality (hat tip to the brand's Scandinavian heritage) ensure that "first and foremost, the type of products offered - men's essentials - are just that: essentials. Everyday pieces that you do need, as opposed to excessive trend pieces that you'll wear for a season and then get rid of."
Christian Larson and Andreas Palm, who first met at business school, set up CDLP while on the road. Now, the brand's latest capsule, CDLP HOME, places a real focus on visual journeys and storytelling. "Traditionally a sanctuary for recharge, the home has gained status over the past years, and for many has become the central location for work today. The edit blurs the lines between loungewear and ready-to-wear, closing a gap between indoor and outdoor dressing."
Fronting the tailored loungewear edit is French musician Sébastien Tellier who's 2020 Domesticated album compliments the brand's latest campaign. Putting the capsule to the test, Mr Tellier is captured making breakfast, playing the piano, barbecuing and driving his car to carry out errands - all the while donning CDLP HOME's premium accoutrements. One thing we'll say for 2020: domesticated males… dressed far better than anticipated.
How did your upbringing in Sweden inspire you?
Christian Larson [CL] &Andreas Palm [AP]: We're both from small towns outside Stockholm, but were fortunate enough to travel quite a bit growing up. I think our Scandinavian heritage has formed our appreciation for functional design, but travelling has inspired us in how we see our designs in a visual context.
Tell us about how you met in business school…
CL: We were both outcasts (to some degree), dreaming of creating our own projects rather than pursuing traditional business careers. We met in a start-up incubator and instantly became close friends. I dropped out to focus on my career as a film director, but Andreas completed school. We complement each other.
We heard that CDLP was set up while you were on the road. What was your aha moment?
CL: My film career started to take off and it meant travelling all the time for shoots; Andreas travelled a lot in his venture as well. As we both shared a passion for exploring, we tried to join each other on trips as often as we could. Being best friends with little money, we usually shared hotel rooms, so we got to know each other very well. One day we came to discuss each other's horrific underwear game and the idea took shape to design better essentials than what we had to choose from. From our travels, CDLP's visual identity took shape - the documentary photography and the characteristic destinations.
How would you define your designs?
CL: All our designs are focused on functionality and comfort, with attention to responsibility already in the design process. Aesthetically, we look for understated luxury in the details: fabric, trims and smart functions. Our ambition is to create meaningful and timeless designs.
CDLP is "designed with environmental responsiveness". Can you unpack that for us?
AP: First and foremost, the type of products we offer - men's essentials - are just that: essentials. Everyday pieces that you do need, as opposed to excessive trend pieces that you'll only wear for a season. Our products are made to last, thanks to timeless design and to a quality that ensures durability and longevity. We always look to more sustainable options when it comes to fabrics, and we are keeping our material sourcing and production as close as possible to minimise transports. All our fabrics are sourced within Europe and our products are made in Italy and Portugal in small-scale, family-run factories that we have close ties with. From bamboo yarn to organic wood pulp, smart textiles are used across CDLP.
You specialise in the use of Lyocell. Why is it such a wunderkind fabric?
CL: There are two aspects: the environmental and the actual material. Lyocell is a fibre made of pulp from sustainably grown trees, which is refined in a closed-loop system. It takes much less water and land to produce than cotton, which is the conventional choice for underwear. It's also extremely comfortable to wear; it's soft, breathable and it wicks moisture away from the body better than cotton.
Where is your studio? What's the vibe?
CL: We've had a studio in central Stockholm for a couple of years now, but as we've expanded our team significantly, we have outgrown our space. We're just about to move to a new studio; a big turn-of-the-century apartment, complete with wood-panelled walls, tiled stoves and huge windows. It's beautiful.
What songs do you have on repeat in your studio?
CL: CDLP's musical identity is quite eclectic. We actually share our mixtapes (about four times a year) with our community - they have quite a following on Spotify.
You launched with the Boxer Trunk, now a bestseller. How has your offering expanded since, and what's likely to be your next additions?
AP: Our focus always has and always will be luxury men's essentials, but there's a lot of interesting things you can do within that world, and we look forward to further exploring that. During the first few years we focused on underwear, starting with the Boxer Trunk and then gradually adding more styles to the range: Boxer Brief, Boxer Shorts and Y-Brief, and eventually socks. Next up was swimwear, and last year we introduced t-shirts.
This spring we launched our line of activewear Mobilité, and we're now designing a full collection of performance essentials for 2021. We've also done some really fun collaborations over the years, always with our core products as the starting point, but adding an interesting layer or new take with the help of places or people we are inspired by and admire.
Shop your own line. What are three of your favourite pieces?
CL: The first cut is the deepest, so naturally the Boxer Trunk. In addition to that, I'd have to say our T-shirts. Wearing a T-shirt made from Lyocell is just something else. It's light, silky and extremely breathable. Since I train a lot, I'd have to say that my third favourite is our Mobilité Boxer Brief, that we released this spring - it's performance underwear in recycled PES. Working out in anything else suddenly became uncomfortable!
The store is located in Stockholm's main shopping district, Biblioteksstan. Tell us about some of your fashionable neighbours.
AP: Head to Byredo for luxury perfume, to JUS for a great edit of luxury brands, Atelier Saman Amel formodern tailoring, All Blues for jewellery, and to our newest favourite NK Sport at NK department store for an extremely well-curated selection of modern performance wear.
Tell us about your latest project, CDLP HOME.
CL: Many men traditionally come home and dress down to get comfortable. But with the home now assuming a more multifaceted role, we wanted to design a collection of essentials with that same comfort, but also the feeling of dressing up. The result is a collection of tailored, elevated essentials that blurs the line between loungewear and ready-to-wear for wearing at home, or outside. It consists of a long suit, a short suit and a robe, all made from Lyocell. It's extremely soft and comfortable. You just don't want to get out of these items.
Your concept store is an ode to the iconic Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Italy. What is it about the hotel that captivates you?
CL: Hotels have always inspired me, especially those characterful, grand hotels with old buildings and even older stories. When we designed our first swim collection, we used Grand Hotel Tremezzo by Lake Como as our design inspiration. If we could choose, this is where we wanted to spend a weekend in great swimwear assigned for different occasions around this romantic way of "grand-hotel living". The project ended up being a collaboration with the hotel, so we thought it was fun to plaster our first store with images of its lobby, albeit in quite a punk way.
Three destinations on your travel wish list…
AP: I'd really love to explore Russia more; it's somewhere I know very little about still. Apart from that, I'd love to sail around Italy and visit the north of our home country, Sweden.
What are you reading right now? What's next on your reading list?
CL: With so much going on right now, I'm reading The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli - it's really helpful. Next up I'm reading Normal People by Sally Rooney; I recently fell in love with the TV series.
What podcasts are you currently listening to?
AP: Masters of Scale, Making Sense Podcast with Sam Harris and The Entrepreneurs podcast by Monocle.
We're fans of the Voices & Voyages section of your website. What articles should we bookmark for some armchair travelling…
CL: Glad you enjoy it! Voices & Voyages was a big part of our narrative, since our company came together on these journeys, so they are a diary of that. Rio de Janeiro is still close to our hearts. I'd recommend seeing the film portrait we made of hotelier François-Xavier Dussol with his incredible place La Suite.
Where is your favourite place in the world and why?
CL: When I think of time off, my mind wanders to a sailboat in the Mediterranean. That's where I'm fully present and happy.
And finally, what's in your SUITCASE?
CL: I feel the best travelling light, with CDLP essentials of underwear, T-shirts and swimwear as well as my cameras and some Kodak Portra film.
CDLP's Pocket Guide to Stockholm:
Ett Hem: It promises a top-class personal experience.
Lydmar: Beautiful, by the water and central.
Ruin Retreat: A fabulous place, 15 minutes' drive outside town.
AIRA: The newest foodie destination on the beautiful island of Djurgården.
Babette: Best pizza, wine and vibe.
Hantverket: Low-key local favourite that attracts all chefs of the city.
The Cadier Bar at Grand Hôtel: A classic bar in Scandinavia's foremost grand-dame hotel.
Teaterbaren at Teatergrillen: This is where we go for a glass of wine, any time of day.
Tjoget: Internationally awarded bar on the South side, well worth a visit.
JUS: Our favourite boutique, with the kindest staff, hidden on a backstreet.
NK Sport: An incredible assortment of high-tech sportswear.
All Blues: A great assortment of modern jewellery.
Atelier Saman Amel: A modern tailoring atelier with a global fan base.
Visit Fotografiska: Stockholm's photo museum.
Cross the small bridge to the island of Skeppsholmen and walk around to see Stockholm from a different perspective.
Explore the beautiful archipelago by boat.