[dropcap letter=”F”]ounded in 2004, T-post is a Swedish brand in its own field. Made to create a new type of “magazine,” T-post brings together fashion and wearable stories that give their customer something fresh and new each month.
Mackie Schroeter: Tell me a little about yourself.
Peter Lundgren: I am 47 years old, and I have done a lot of different things in my life. Before T-post was actually invented, I was a chef, bartender and most recently I had an ad agency. One of my old friends, also named Peter, had just started a new agency and wanted a partner, so we worked in that space for a couple of years before T-post.
MS: T-post was created in 2004 to give a new meaning to the word magazine. What do you think inspired that need for something new?
PL: When we had the ad agency, all the employees did 75 percent of ad work and 25 percent of their time was spent on personal projects. It was a way for creatives to evolve and expand their creative thinking, and there was no worry about making money. During one of those creative sessions, we played a game where we combined different things, like a pen and a pair of glasses, into an idea. While playing, the idea of a magazine and a t-shirt was thrown out, and it seemed like something could actually come from this idea. Around that time, there was a lot of conversation around the death of print magazines, and we saw this as a new and cool way to possibly breathe more life into the magazine through the medium of a t-shirt. In our office of 5 people, we told them to go force ten family and friends to subscribe for the first drop. After that we just kept doing it, and it started to have its own life. We put up a website, gave out a bunch of shirts, and people started wearing them and blogging about them. After two years, Peter and I parted ways, him taking the ad agency and me taking T-post. Shortly after, I released a press release saying T-post was its own thing and it blew up. People started writing about it and editors liked that it was a new way of telling a story.
MS: As it evolved, you started making more and more shirts. How do you pick the stories that go on the inside of the shirts?
PL: I run a tight ship with T-post, as it is basically just me, my business partner, someone doing support, and a few freelancers. Though I do about 80 percent of the graphics myself, I do work with some illustrators. The stories that we do are things that I think about and see. Sometimes I find something graphically that I like and then think of something I want to talk about with it, or it is the other way around. Overall, it is a combination of both visuals and storytelling, and because we have subscribers in over 50 countries, I try to keep T-post off of politics as much as I can.
MS: What is the hardest and most rewarding part of starting a brand?
PL: I was lucky when I started, because T-post blew up right away, but I sort of did it backwards. People were talking about it and it went from blog to blog and from magazine to magazine. After a while, it started to stall and there was less talk about it, so I had to reinvent it and keep finding new ways for it to be part of the conversation. From the beginning, I thought I was the best businessman in the world, like shit this is easy, because it just goes by itself, but I didn’t pay much attention to what was actually happening behind the scenes. It is easy to say that if you do something good enough people will come to it, and that is true, but it is not the whole story. You also need to find a way to put the product in front of people who like it and that’s the thing that I learned. It has really been a rollercoaster, because normally when you start a brand you work your way up slowly, but that wasn’t the case for me. I had to learn to keep the momentum up.
MS: What are some of the things you did to keep the momentum driving forward?
PL: When we started T-post, all we had was the shirt and a small note that came with it giving an overview of the story. I evolved that into being more like a written editorial piece and we also developed our packaging into something that really underscored the higher quality nature of the product. We really rode on the wave of being, as far as I know, the only wearable magazine in the world. Finding good collaborators was also a key in creating connections and providing quality content with a purpose, and it was easy to take T-post to other brands and work with them to create something together.
MS: How does someone become a subscriber?
PL: You basically just sign up for it, and you get one shirt a month until you decide you quit. It is not like a yearly thing. It is continuous, like your Netflix account, and it keeps going until you stop. It really mirrors the subscription style of a print magazine.
MS: Do you have a favorite T-post shirt to date?
PL: I tend to usually like the latest one we put out! We have our own factory in Portugal that does everything from weaving the cotton fabric to cutting and sewing the shirts. Usually it is about two to three months that we have a shirt in production. So, I have a process that when we first create the shirt. I end up eventually being fed up with it, but then it goes to production and once I get it back, I am usually like shit this was nice! Sometimes I will remember how much I like a shirt after seeing it again on someone else.
MS: What advice would you give to a brand just starting out?
PL: You need to be consistent, because stuff is not going to happen overnight and you have to know that. Everything you do is important and all the small things will add up in the end. I have done so many events and things that I thought would give me a lot of monetary gain, but usually that wasn’t the case. If you are consistent at a high level and keep putting so much into the brand sooner or later it is going to happen for you. You also have to evolve the brand and keep growing on the path you set out.
MS: How do you see the fashion world evolving in the next 10 years?
PL: I have never been into this idea of a collection and I have always dropped only one shirt at a time. I think the industry is going towards that. You either do small collections or drop only a few things at a time multiple times a year. You can drop things while the idea is hot and don’t have to wait to do so in a full collection. This the best way to keep oneself relevant. We are, in some ways, already there, but I think we will continue to be fast on our feet.