SWEDE AND CROWE
When you meet Dale Strime, Swede and Crowe’s owner, you are greeted by this friendly smile, a red beard and enough character to keep you hanging on his every word.
As fellow coffee addicts, we met in Braamfontein and proceeded to hunt for the perfect spot to get our caffeine fix. Dahlia’s was where we settled, the perfect location for me to come to grips with the man and the brand.
Where did your love for fashion begin?
My mother used to show me a photograph of an eight year old me. I’m in a pair of red cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. I apparently used to sleep in them, and when they became too small, I still squeezed my way into them. This was the beginning of my love for fashion.
Growing up, I only had two dreams: becoming a drummer, or becoming a part of the fashion industry. I know kids have a variety of dreams, but I knew what I wanted to do. I unfortunately I was a terrible drummer, so fashion it was! I’m an artist – I design for the love of the medium.
What’s the process in deciding to start your own label?
I had always worn my own stuff and I’d always wanted to do my own thing. Issues with fit and style seemed to be the main problems when it came to buying clothing. I started my own brand because I wanted to wear clothing I loved, clothing that I just couldn’t find in any stores. I do what I love – there’s a necessity to business, but for me also a deep-seated passion.
You seem like someone who remembers where you’ve come from and you remain grateful for your success. Where did you learn this approach to business?
I have always believed that people are your family or community. While paving my way in life, I learnt to appreciate the different encounters I have with strangers. I would rather have a cup of coffee and conversation with a stranger who just wanted to find out about me. I believe we are A WOLF PACK, I believe in family.
Is this your message to the South African fashion industry?
It is. My message to this industry is about the appreciation of consumers. We need them as much as they need us. Local brands should remember to give the consumer well deserved appreciation and respect. I would rather thank people for their time than make them feel ignored.
Swede and Crowe, describe the brand.
We are a headwear and footwear brand.
Our two loves are headwear and footwear and I have this mad desire to do it all. I love shape, colour, patterns and prints, and I want to know it all. I don’t have all the technical skills necessarily, so I learn by doing, and I try to learn as much as possible in the process.
What we like to do is throw different products into the mix, products that go well with any style you wish to accomplish. We throw creativity into every season, showing our consumers how they could use our products to accomplish a myriad of different looks.
I wouldn’t like my customers to feel like walking billboards because they think they have to wear our brand together. I design specifically so that people have the freedom of wearing Swede and Crowe with any outfit.
I discovered I LOVE UGLY and they are an amazing brand. The androgyny in their styling allows for a multitude of looks. Would you compare Swede and Crowe to them?
Joshua Kissi from Street Etiquette compared us to them, funnily enough. I have mad respect for the brand and I have been watching them for years and to receive such compliments humbles me.
When we first started out we did a lion with a leather peak print. A few months later I LOVE UGLY did a similar design and we were floored. We emailed them and showed them our design, and thanked them for doing something which could have been inspired by us, even though we’ve no idea how the inspiration channels would’ve worked!
As the conversation continued I could see the new face of fashion. There is a generation of business men and women who have decided to embrace a spirit of Ubuntu in their business practice. When you no longer see yourself as more than the consumer, you open yourself up to a customer base which follows and adores you completely.
Dale’s mentality when it comes to this business is to “Think locally but act globally.” This way of thinking has helped him push through the daily struggles of this young fashion industry and see the bigger picture to his hustle.
When you speak to this man, you see a dedicated spirit which strives for more than just personal fame. He works for the love of his vocation, selfless in every item of clothing he produces.