Hailing from the lush, wintry style hub that is Norway, Carl Johan Malmström is on a noble mission to get the people of his Scandinavian nation off their proverbials and into the local stores to buy more clothes and support the fashion industry. His Instagram is one of the best destinations for men’s style inspiration and, judging by the look of his recent trip to Australia, he’s not having the worst time spreading the word.
Insta shenanigans aside, his website BOYSINSPIRATION has received government funding for its efforts in reducing the environmental impact of online shopping and is one of the most socially responsible social media driven initiatives we’ve seen to date. It also has some of the best photography and modern looks on the web, and should be the first place you check if you’re feeling uninspired about what to wear.
We got in touch with Carl to talk about his vision, brand and style.
You’re based in Norway but travel the world comprehensively – how does Scandinavia stack up against the rest of the world on style factor?
Well we are all about the minimalist contemporary look as you can see very well in the Scandinavian established fashion brands, where we enjoy mixing our outfits up with items from well known international fashion houses. We are very proud of our Scandinavian heritage and what we are able to come up with at home, and there’s nothing more exciting for people from the Scandinavian fashion industry to go out in the world to see that we’re actually doing very well in other parts of the world.
Copenhagen and Stockholm have high style factors and you tend to see that when you’re strolling down the streets in these cities. Oslo has really established itself on the fashion scene with much more interest in fashion during the past few years and it’s good to see the Norwegians putting more effort in what to wear today. We’re not a sub cultural as in London, Paris, Tokyo or NYC were you tend to see a lot of variety in style and not as formal as in Italy for instance but when it comes to wearing contemporary minimalism we’re absolutely killing it.
Tell us about a role model and why they inspire you.
When it comes to stylish role models I would say that you find the absolutely most well dressed men over at Instagram. People like Erik Forsgren, Adam Gallagher, Mariano Di Vaio, Jordan Turner, Moti Ankari, Andreas Wijk and Blake Scott give me enough inspiration everyday to last for weeks. But I have to mention that my true role models are the entrepreneurs that change the world for the better such as Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Tim Cook and Andrew Carnegie – these people inspire me the most.
Name three bits of kit every bloke needs.
You need to have a decent pair of high quality white leather sneakers, produced in Italy or Portugal such as MAMB OSLO or Common Projects. Let ’em cost what they cost – they’re definitely worth it.
A clean black or grey wool coat for the cooler seasons, you will be able to wear it a lot as it suits both casual and formal wear. And a pair of black jeans, wear them to your sneakers in any color or to your boots. Make sure to alter them so they’re the perfect length, just at your ankles.
What’s your best party banger to get everybody dancing?
I put on Thomas Rusiak – Hiphopper. A Swedish artist who never really made it internationally for unknown reasons, this tune gets anyone from whichever country in a good mood.
What’s the one thing blokes need to stop wearing?
You should never wear a leather strap around your neck carrying your phone. Your phone shouldn’t be in the centre of your outfit. Please all fashion brands stop producing them immediately!
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career – and why.
I started on my initiative, a search engine for fashion (MOTEI), a few years back so customers could search for clothing items and locate them in the nearby retail stores. At that time it was very unique because the trend was to shop online and order items to be delivered to the home, instead we wanted to get the customers to go out on the street and shop in the local stores.
A great initiative for the environment too because we reduced logistic companies shipping items back and forth worldwide. I got a great team aboard and we succeeded to receive grants from the Norwegian government in order to create the service. The Norwegian government (Handled by Innovation Norway) tends to be very strict with which companies to support so to get them aboard and finance our project is by far the biggest achievement I’ve done in my career.
Ray Bans or Persols?
I have invested in more Ray-Bans than Persols but today I would say Persol if I had to choose. But when it comes to items like sunglasses I want unique ones so I would definitely try to find a smaller independent brand that can offer me a design that I can’t spot on anyone else. Positive points about Persol and Ray-Ban is that they’re easy to sell on eBay (for example) when you get tired of ’em (usually after one Summer).
Beach shack or treehouse?
Ah wow you have some amazing Tree Houses in Sweden for example but I would say a beach shack for the simple reason that it’s on the beach.
What’s the favourite city you’ve covered so far?
Easy, NYC. New York has everything to offer for every taste and fashion wise you see a huge amount of inspirational variety in styles.
What’s the best book ever written?
I’m sure there’s a bunch of novels written that would take the prize when you ask someone else. But when it comes to books I’m only reading entrepreneur biographies, so I would say that the latest biography about Elon Musk would win. What he’s accomplished with Tesla and now Space X is extraordinary. I’m looking forward to finish Phil Knights biography about Nike, Shoe Dog. I think there’s plenty of motivation in that one to keep me on my own path to change the world.