Björn Borg, Swedish tennis star and heartthrob of the 1970s, is still known as one of the greatest players in history. With 11 Grand Slam titles and 15 Grand Prix Super Singles titles, there aren’t many that have come close to his level. But what’s a Swede to do when he’s burnt out on tennis and retired (albeit with a brief comeback in the 90s) by the age of 26? Start an underwear company, of course.
Björn Borg, the brand, began as a single sportswear collection in 1984. By 1989, they had moved definitively into underwear, something that wasn’t been marketed as a fashion item at the time. Björn Borg changed all that with their wearable, performance-quality silhouettes and fun, colorful textiles.
The company added women’s underwear to their collection in 1992, and moved into high-quality sports wear in 2014. They now produce a range of athletic performance wear, athleisure, and undergarments. When we spoke with Design and Product Director Miija Nideborn about the intersection of trends and functionality. She’s been with Björn Borg since 2016, joining just after they’d begun to explore the fashion market.
“I came from Peak Performance, so I was used to designing with athletic performance in mind,” Mia explains, “but with Björn Borg, it’s about both performance and aesthetic, in the sense of fashion. You need to have both in mind when you’re thinking about the next collection.”
Luckily for the brand, wearing athletic wear as fashion has breached the mainstream. When I ask why she thinks that is, Mia response, “People are more aware than ever of wanting to live a healthy lifestyle, and have all of their choices reflect that. So I think athletic wear, or athleisure, gives that feeling. Not to mention that it’s comfortable! But for us, the trend is definitely a good thing, but it’s not why we do what we do. We were already creating that clothing – so it’s more about getting our message out to the market, now that we know people are responding in such a positive way.”
The danger of course, is in over-saturation of the market. Does that worry Björn Borg? “Not really,” says Mia, “because we’ve differentiated ourselves in many ways. First, our heritage with both Borg himself, but also as a Scandinavian design company, gives us a certain simplicity and minimalism that is in our DNA. Second, we’re very pattern-driven, which is something not a lot of activewear companies are. Third, we genuinely come from a place of combining sportswear and fashion, so there’s no catering to trends. If what we’ve been doing all along happens to become the thing that’s ‘in,’ well, that’s really great!”
As for next steps, Björn Borg is looking towards heritage pieces, as well as constantly improving upon their underwear and sportswear. “The clothes should have a comfortable fit that is also fashionable,” Mia explains. “People wearing Björn Borg should feel active and attractive.”
Just like Björn himself, right?
See more on Björn Borg here!