I am the Brand Policeman as well as the Janitor!
My name is Frederik Thrane and I live in Dallas, Texas with my wife and son. I currently work for SKAGEN, a Danish-founded brand that was bought by the Fossil group in 2012. I am the Creative Director – popularly speaking that means that I am the brand policeman as well as the janitor! I make sure that the tools the different design teams need are available: I develop seasonal directions for theme, colours, materials, finishes and techniques and ensure they are applicable for watches, jewellery and leathers.
We work with the different design teams to secure that the line looks cohesive and that it reflects our brand foundation of Danish design values and principles. In addition to our products, we work on assuring that the messaging – visual, verbal as well as the look and feel of the brand – is in line with our brand foundation.
We work on photography campaigns and collaborations and on branded initiatives. An example of a branded initiative is the development of our ‘Connected’ category –deciding the feel we want to convey in the interaction with our products and the supporting apps.
My role with SKAGEN is my first non-product-specific role. Prior to SKAGEN, I worked for Levi’s in San Francisco as part of a large and challenging project to globalize the product line. I was responsible for our non-denim bottoms, the white tab products. At Levi’s I was introduced to sustainability as one of three design pillars for the brand (innovation and craftsmanship being the other two). Sustainability as an integral part of the design process has become one of my chief values, one I am working hard to implement within SKAGEN and the Fossil group.
Before I joined Levi’s I was with Andrew Buckler in New York, where I was design responsible for the line and also involved in the production of each collection. Before I left Denmark, I worked for GABBA in Kolding. I was hired the week I graduated from Design School Kolding and I worked for GABBA for three years as responsible for denim, outerwear and knitwear.
I have a longstanding collaborative relationship with Kopenhagen Fur dating back to 2005, when I won the Golden Fur Pin. Consulting for Kopenhagen Fur, along with my personal leather bag and accessory work, has always been an inspiration for and reprieve from my full-time employment.
When I was a student at Design School Kolding, our Head of Fashion was Annette Meyer. Annette had studied in Antwerp and brought a group of lecturers with her from Antwerp. That made all the difference for me. I became friends with one of our lecturers, Kentroy Yearwood, and worked for him in Amsterdam during a summer break. I also interned for my idol Dirk Schoenberger in Antwerp, and during my time in Kolding I worked as an intern for Bestseller in Brande. My internships helped shape my ideas of what I like to do and how I like to work: with diverse teams in an international setting. The decision to take the leap and move to the US for work was also influenced by my international internship experience.
To me, the design process and product development are ideally inseparable, and to work with the specialists, technicians and manufacturers who make products come to life is the most important part of my work. I adopted this principle while at Design School Kolding: for my graduation collection I collaborated with ECCO on producing my footwear, with Bestseller on making my denim and outerwear, with OX Design to produce my leather, and for my knitwear I collaborated with a knitting factory in Peskov, Russia.
What I have learned at Design School Kolding and in my professional work is the importance of defining the values that guide my work. My values are long-lasting design – visually as well as physically – made responsibly keeping the afterlife of the products in mind. I also believe that collaborative, diverse and inclusive teams are key to good design work.