Meet Johan Ringdal, the creative designer and founder of SWIMS, the unique water friendly shoes that exude confidence, style, and uniqueness in each design. Born in Switzerland to Norwegian parents, Johan Ringdal grew up in Oslo, Norway in a very creative home; his mother was very artistic and his father was an entrepreneur. It’s no surprise he ventured into entrepreneurship himself, creating one of the fast becoming most successful lifestyle shoe brands in the world. Having studied at Parsons School of Design, and having lived in Paris and New York, his love for the world of fashion evolved into his launching SWIMS. He currently resides in Norway, about five minutes away from the SWIMS headquarters. Learn more about the creative genius of this fashion empire.
Beverly Hills Magazine: How did you get into the fashion industry?
Johan Ringdal: Coming from a country with lots of rain and snow, people tend to choose their clothing for function and practicality, not so much for style. The essence of the idea was to merge functionality with elegance, and I was first inspired to try this by reinventing my grandfather’s classic galoshes.
Something in me would hate to see beautiful leather shoes being destroyed in rainy, dirty streets. With our product, the galosh, I was able to help preserve beautiful shoes by giving them a protective cover that was also stylish in its own right.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Who or what are your inspirations?
Johan Ringdal: I try to find inspiration in everything. Then as my ideas and inspirations collect, they tend to form their own direction when the time is right.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What is your creative design process of SWIMS?
Johan Ringdal: We start a collection with broad brainstorming sessions where we create a framework for a line plan. Then we move into three separate sketch sessions where key markets are involved in the process. Afterwards, we move to a prototype phase with two sessions before the collection is ready. It’s important that we integrate a balance of innovation and more conventional products.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What makes your work unique?
Johan Ringdal: SWIMS products are unique due to the level of innovation and functional surprise. Obviously, it is easier to innovate in the footwear category than on a beach towel, but we still need to ensure that every design detail in each product line is purposeful and beautiful.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What do you think of the Fashion World?
Johan Ringdal: I think the fashion world in general is a tough industry to survive in, and I believe it is important to have a strong vision and strategy in place to be able to succeed.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What do you love most about it?
Johan Ringdal: I love the atmosphere and the creativity of the industry. I am lucky to be working in a creative environment with incredible designers. I find it very stimulating and inspirational.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What do you dislike about it?
Johan Ringdal: What I dislike about the fashion industry is that there are some people that are not able to give constructive criticism and just end up being not very nice at all. We try to keep things positive at SWIMS!
Beverly Hills Magazine: What is your favorite thing to design?
Johan Ringdal: Definitely shoes. They are the core of the company and what SWIMS was built on. It’s fun to constantly innovate and create new products within this category.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What is your definition of style?
Johan Ringdal: Style relates to a way of living and personality rather than the way you dress. It’s how you present yourself to the world.
Beverly Hills Magazine: How is your collection a representation of who you are as a person?
Johan Ringdal: In the beginning it was a direct representation of my style and interests, but as the team grows it’s become more of a team effort and representation, which I love.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What can our readers look forward to from the SWIMS collection?
Johan Ringdal: If I were to highlight two pieces from the FW14 campaign I would choose the George Chukka (waterproof lightweight shoe) and the Zurich Parka (2-in-1 waterproof breathable coat). These are very strong styles and will become part of our core styles.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers out there?
Johan Ringdal: I would urge any aspiring entrepreneur to look for and focus on uniqueness. Try to understand the key essence of your idea and nurture this essence into a business plan.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Where can our readers go to become a fan of the collection?
Johan Ringdal: We are lucky to have a very strong distribution in top locations. Currently in the US we are at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Mr Porter, Scoop, and Bloomingdales. In London, we are at Selfridges and Harrods, and at Colette in Paris.
SWIMS makes clever and smart-looking products for every season. Smart in the sense that the products provide obvious values and attributes to the customer. SWIMS Loafers, a beautiful and familiar look paired with materials that go wonderfully with water. The delicate leather/suede have been replaced with a rubber base with ventilation gills, making the product ideal for the beach, water sports, cocktails at the beach club and even your washing machine.
Whether you’re vacationing in the Bahamas or heading to the local beach, SWIMS Summer collection is the must have shoe to wear. With an assortment of bold colors, you’ll love every pair. The SWIMS Winter Collection offers a wide array of styles and designs that will make you stand out from the crowd rain or shine Purchase your SWIMS shoes today!