Scandinavian design is universally known for its strong lines, utility, and an effortless elegance – this holds true for Swedish designer Paulina Liffner von Sydow and her handbag line Little Liffner. Liffner von Sydow has perfected the function and style components of her line, surprisingly a complicated duo to get right. This is especially difficult in a crowded accessories market, but Little Liffner, based in Stockholm, uses exquisite Italian leather and her bags are produced just outside of Florence with impeccable craftsmanship – and this sets the line apart. Barneys was an early supporter of the brand as well as fellow Swede, blogger and designer Elin Kling. Liffner von Sydow’s motivation, and experience in the industry prior to launching the brand is an advantage, not to mention her personal style perfectly reflects the simple, strong beauty her bags embody.
Can you tell us about the origin of the line? What led you to being a handbag designer?
I had a hard time finding a clean-cut handbag in beautiful materials that didn’t come with offensive price tags so I set out to make them myself. Also I felt like the notion of the it-bag was getting really old so I wanted to offer something different.
I’ve been a fan of your line ever since I discovered a bag featured on Elin Kling’s blog – is she a friend?
I’m happy you were such an early adaptor! Sure, Stockholm is small so we have the same set of friends. She has been very supportive of Little Liffner since the start and I’m a fan right back of her brand Totême.
What’s the Swedish fashion community like?
The fashion community is intimate and qualitative. Being the land of IKEA and H&M, we Swedes tend to lean towards simplicity, a certain functionality and value. Which is also a path I’m partially going down with my line. In recent years we also had a few cool brands making it internationally like Acne and By Redo which I find very inspiring.
Is it at all limiting being based in Stockholm?
Not really. I get to meet the people I need on my travels and Stockholm is great for focus and getting work done because it’s quite calm. But, of course being in New York a lot is great for Little Liffner, I get to meet press, potential collaborators and interesting people in general.
Why did you choose New York for press and sales over Paris or London?
I feel that New York is where it’s happening right now if you’re a young contemporary brand. I love the energy and general sense of entrepreneurship here.
I love Swedish furniture for it’s clean lines and minimal aesthetic, was your environment in Sweden a major inspiration for your luxury, minimalist bags?
I did grow up in a home that was all white and quite minimal and with my bags I tend to go in that direction. Clean cuts and minimal hardware are key, firstly because I like that look but also for the functionality aspect, lightness to the product is super important to me.
Is this consistent with your personal style?
My personal style is a bit more eclectic. I use basics from Filippa K, COS and Acne + classic tailored pieces that I mix with funkier vintage finds and cool shoes. When it comes to bags I use my own of course. But in general I love un-branded clean styles in beautiful materials that age with grace. I’m not brand driven – I buy products I love rather than certain brands.
What do you Europeans understand about fashion and accessories that perhaps Americans could take a cue from? Vice versa?
Europeans do effortless style better; American style is more thought out. What American girls do well though is dressing for the occasion and playing around, the attitude towards fashion and trying new things is more open. I feel Europeans are more into picking a look and sticking to their guns, which can be both good and boring.
You were named Accessory Designer of the year from ELLE Sweden in January – What has changed for you or the brand since receiving the award?
It resulted in a lot of positive energy and drive on a personal level. It also helps legitimize the brand, which is always good. I’m very grateful for all the positive attention around it and it has been a great platform to reach a wider audience.
How do you see the line growing? 5 years? 10 years?
In 10 years I would love for Little Liffner to be internationally established as a niche Scandinavian accessories house for smart girls comfortable in their own style with no need to show off labels. And I would love to have a cool visionary concept store revolving around the brand. In 5 years, I’m hopefully halfway towards that 10 year vision.