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10 questions for Maria Gunnarsson

Name: Maria Gunnarsson

Instagram ID: @amk.atelier

Daily work: Creative technical designer

Who are you and what are you doing within the (denim) industry?

My name is Anna Maria Krestina Gunnarsson. I am a creative professional from Sweden with ambitions to make sustainable textiles and products accessible in the industry and beyond.

​I moved to Amsterdam in 2013 in pursuit of working with quality garments. I began working as a garment technologist at Levi’s XX which gave me the experience with vintage and craft clothing. For almost six years, I worked on Development and Production for the environmentally conscious denim brand Kings of Indigo. Here I developed sustainable innovations.

​In 2017, I began creative side-projects from my own atelier and two years later, decided to let go of the full-time job to give full focus to my professional dreams.

​AMK atelier is my Amsterdam based creative studio. I’m specialized in Technical Design, Garment Technology, Visual Merchandising and creative projects involving upcycling, recycling and natural dyeing.

​I have an education in Fashion and Textile Design, a further education in Garment Technology and experience in Visual Merchandising.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I work on several projects. Together with a denim designer I create a small capsule collection of 7 styles. We work together from design brief to fittings; I create the CAD patterns and the 1st protos to sign off the designs. Finally, I cut and sew the final collection in the atelier.

Next to that, I deliver workshops and education for clients such as AMFI, Blueprint Amsterdam, House of Denim/Denim City, and through my atelier to consumers. Examples on workshops are repair and recycling, patternmaking for beginners, washing, and sustainability, indigo dyeing.

I support brands with fit developments and technical designs, as well as a strategy for how to build up a sustainable design and development organization. For the past 7 months, I worked closely together with Tenue. to develop their organization and collections.

In between my projects, I play in my atelier creating products from upcycled fabrics or garments that I sell through my website or markets.

What is the biggest achievement so far in your career?

For me my biggest achievement is living my dream, to be able to run AMK atelier with creative projects and to inspire and educate others to create sustainable products and work with their hands. I have had the luck to work with talented brands and designers as well as private people who are not working in the fashion industry. The diversity in my clients makes me grow with every project.

What is/are your favorite denim brand(s), and why?

Actually, my favorite denim is all the jeans people already own and walked, danced, and worked in for years, which can be repaired and handed over to the next generation.

Brands I admire are brands that recreate or upcycle already produced stock to something new and fresh! There are also a lot of inspiring women’s brands in “workwear” which I love. It’s important to me that function, design, and quality go hand in hand, which usually is combined in workwear. Below are some brands I admire!

What is your favorite denim store, and why?

I’m a big fan of Japanese culture, food and denims. I’m very inspired by their way of caring for every little detail and to let things take the time that’s needed to get the products just right. It doesn’t matter if it comes to food, garments, or concepts, it’s all thought through and beautifully presented. One of my favorite stores, therefore, is Blue Blue Japan in Tokyo. The shop feels humble and it’s placed in the city in a delicate way, with a feeling of quality and creativity.

What do you think we can expect in the (near) future of denim developments as it comes to sustainability?

Producing less, and more digital. I expect for example many more denim developments using 3D designs for selling and product developments, but also for our online lifestyle. Using advanced digital tools, we need fewer samples and products, we can shorten both the development lead times, lower development fabric costs, and do with less shipping. But I also believe more of our fashion expression will be shown online as well, so our 3D designs will also be a platform for our fashion to grow online. However, this will be growing next to our physical work, where I strongly believe and hope that the consumer will be more educated about the processes for how the clothing production looks like. And by having more knowledge, I hope they slowly purchase a “cleaner” wardrobe.

What is the most valuable lesson your have learned during your work?

What you will put into a project is always what you will get back. I see all my projects as equally important, and being precise and thorough in my work always helps me to achieve a good result. My grandmother told me: no one will see how long you worked on a project, but the result will tell if it's rushed or not well made.

If you could be someone else for one day, who would you be, and why?

Tricky question, I’m quite happy to be me :-) And if I would be someone else for a day, I think I would like to be an animal or creature with extra skills. For example, a bird so I can fly or a turtle to swim and chill in the ocean.

Can you describe your ultimate pair of jeans?

The ultimate pair of jeans are the ones that you don’t want to take off, the ones you’ve worn so much that they become part of you. They have been worn in after your body and after what you have been doing while wearing them. A good fit, strong fabric, and nice details, for example, a classic 501 fits everyone in the way you style them.

Do you have a life slogan, or one that inspires you?

A cookie a day keeps the doctor away :-)

I try to enjoy small moments and as a Swede “Fika” is very important; a small break during the day to take time for something sweet and a coffee, a small break to get out of the work bubble and simply enjoy, preferably with good company.


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