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Q&A: Catching up With Jenny Johansson

The School of Fashion alumna shares updates on the progress of her brand, RAGNHILD

Ever since she enrolled at the Academy of Art University, fashion has been Jenny Johansson’s way to see the world. A 2015 School of Fashion graduate and former Art U Tennis athlete, Johansson came to San Francisco from Sweden to turn her ideas of clothing into an international business covering Paris, Bolivia and the United States. RAGNHILD originated as a project in her draping class and has since grown into a line supporting Johansson’s focus on sustainability and woman empowerment. 

RAGNHILD revealed its latest collection in April—summer-ready garments featuring jumpsuits, dresses, tops and prints—and Academy Art U News spoke with Johansson on creating the new looks.

What have you been up to since you graduated from the Academy in 2015? Do you still play tennis?

Since I graduated, I have been doing quite a few things. Since I was an international student, I stayed in San Francisco for my Optional Practice Training (OPT) working at Club Monaco downtown as a stylist. I went back to Sweden and did freelance work for different companies (mostly print design), while also working at a boutique as a buyer and creating different strategies—it was really fun and also different from what I had done before. I moved to Paris in May to design at Emanuel Ungaro, which was such a great experience working in their show room and dressing models for their lookbook. I have now spent the last six months in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, splitting my time between developing RAGNHILD and working on the launch for a menswear brand called CRACK. 

It’s been a truly amazing experience getting to be influenced by three different continents. I feel very fortunate to have gotten the chance to work and see so many fantastic places, I think it has really helped me as a designer and an artist. 

I am still very much playing tennis! I play as much as I can. It will always be a part of my life because I love playing so much; it is my therapy. Getting to be on the court, it’s like nothing else can bother me.

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Jenny Johansson models garments from her latest RAGNHILD collection. Photo courtesy of Jenny Johansson.

How has RAGNHILD grown since then?

RAGNHILD has been an ongoing project that I have been working on. I did some smaller pieces, just a few dresses and also a bunch of custom made dresses for weddings and I got the opportunity to … exhibit some pieces at a Macy’s event in San Francisco’s Union Square. RAGNHILD is currently being carried in Monark in Paris, as well, which is really exciting! 

I just released the new collection and am working on really spreading our message to all corners of the world. It has been an exciting journey so far, the brand has definitely gone beyond what anyone could ever believe, especially since I am doing everything myself, but I have a lot of supportive people around me that makes the journey super exciting. 

What were some of your inspirations? Is there a story?

When I created this collection, I wanted to create a variety of pieces for any and every occasion—the idea is that you can wear them in many ways and I think I achieved that with this new line. I love the idea of standing out and being remembered which was really the main focus when I chose colors and fabrics for my collection. I am addicted to color, I am completely drawn to all bright (to some, maybe obnoxious) colors you can find. Magenta is one of my go-to’s, I feel like I think in that color.  

I suppose there is no defined story; the story will be how she combines the pieces and where she goes in them. The RAGNHILD woman is in charge of her own story and we are happy to empower that part of their story.

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(L–R) Looks from Johansson’s latest RAGNHILD collection.

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Photos courtesy of Jenny Johansson.

How does this collection follow RAGNHILD’s women empowerment values?

I want people to stand out and feel like they can do whatever they set their mind to. The designs are elegant, sophisticated, sexy and edgy at the same time and I believe most people feel empowered when they’re wearing things they love, feel great in and ultimately, feel their best. The quality of my products are extremely important as well. I want to make sure that all my products are sewn with care and I hope that shines through. 

What else do you have in store for 2018?

While I’m in Bolivia for now, I plan on going back to Sweden and continue working on my fall collection and finalize some production decisions. But before then, I’m going to a wedding in Mexico for an old teammate, so it’s going to be a little reunion which I’m super excited for! Other than that, there is a lot of crazy work ahead and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store. I am ready to work harder than ever before.