Meet Birgitte Drud—Coverall Designer, Tango Dancer and Quite Possibly Copenhagen’s Coolest Lady

Rejoice! Coveralls are cool again—and it's all thanks to Birgitte, her new brand and her kick-ass personality.

 

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All photos by Ditte Valente

When was the last time you saw somebody wear a pair of coveralls? Probably while walking past a bunch of construction workers wearing super-thick, dirt-caked ones, or perhaps while flipping through old photos of your mom rockin’ big hair and big coveralls back in the 70s. In our era of sleek silhouettes and minimalist, black everything, inherently bulky coveralls haven’t been ‘hip’ for a while—but after stumbling upon Druds, it’s a safe bet that that’s about to change.

Druds is a Danish coverall brand founded earlier this year by Birgitte Drud—a self-proclaimed foodie, tango dancer and lifelong coverall devotee. However, you can tell a lot more about her simply by checking out her website: the Druds look book features Birgitte and her pug, Bobcat—and quickly communicates that she gives absolutely zero fucks. In the photos shot by Ditte Valente, Birgitte is smoking cigs in fancy cars, rocking a massive fur hat and laughing her head off with her pug (whose coveralls match hers, by the way)—all while showing off her product. Birgitte’s personality is so infectious it practically seeps through the screen—and as a result, it permeates her coveralls, too. With a bomber jacket look, ultra comfy vibes and stylish colours, the coveralls look damn cool—and kind of make you wish you were Birgitte, kicking off stilettos and chain smoking in a car.

After coming across Druds, we just had to find out more about Birgitte—so we gave her a call to ask about her brand, her taste and her life mottos.

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GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hey, Birgitte. I read that you’ve always loved coveralls, but what made you decide to actually design them yourself? 

Birgitte Drud: Well, I’ve been wearing coveralls for 30 years. People have always come up to me to tell me I look great while wearing them, and it’s always been a mystery to me why people don’t wear coveralls more often! Coveralls were only really a big hit in the 70s, but then recently, they started getting cool again. A few years ago, I came across a firm that gave workshops for unemployed designers and artists. There, I met a lot of enthusiastic people who were also creating stuff, so then I thought, ‘well, I’m fucking going to do that, too.’ Then, I saved up money to make it happen. I started to work on my coveralls in early 2015.

What was the process like to get your brand off the ground, from saving money to actually having product to sell?

I’m a tango dancer and organise tango festivals. I’ve been organising them for twenty years, and over the past few years, I used the profits to save money. I’m also a foodie: I make food for events at NGO’s like Sex go Samfund and Red Cross, plus for a lot of private parties. Also, I work part time at a kindergarten and I simply love it. Kids are amazing and the future.

Last March, I decided to take the coverall project seriously. I had people help me and I googled production possibilities in Riga, just to have production nearby, and visited a few places. I was quite lucky to meet some people who were very strict and good with production.They make work wear, they’re not into fashion, but I like that: they know what it takes to make functional clothes. They know who makes each item and there’s a direct accountability if something is wrong with the zipper or another detail. I had sketches and so on for them to refer to. I wanted the coveralls to be in the style that I envisioned, and the manufacturers were really nice about it even though they couldn’t imagine why women would want to wear coveralls in the first place. It was fun to see that there is another tradition and point of view about women and fashion.

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How would you describe your visual style and aesthetic?

If we’re talking about the coveralls, I’ve always been in love with bomber jackets. I thought that if people were going to fall in love with my product, they would have to have something to refer to, which is why there’s a bomber style to it. I think it’s cool but also a bit raw, and still has some sort of elegance. Also, I’m just making what I like to wear myself. It’s made for me, so to speak.

Personally, I have many kinds of visual styles and aesthetics because of my tango dancing. It’s quite odd because I’m nearly 60 years old and in the tango environment and community, there are a lot of younger ladies, and some of them are so pretty! They’ve got boobs and long legs and all that so in a way, you have to stand out. I really like to dress up. I don’t buy the dresses that the other people wear, though. I like clothes that are not fashionable in a classic way. I’d compare myself more to some of the Japanese fashion designers, or Henrik Vibskov. He’s the only one in the Danish environment who is doing something odd, really sharp and aggressive.

What was your design process like?

I made a few design compromises. If the coveralls were going to be truly functional, I’d have to make them with a hood. I didn’t want that because I never wear hoods myself, and I think you look like shit when you’re wearing one, anyway. The second thing is, I made the legs of the trousers a bit too short. I’m not quite sure if I did the right thing but it was to sort of signify that this is new. This is not a coverall for working guys: it’s something different. Also I reckoned that in fashion, it was sort of a trend to have the legs of the trousers a bit shorter. People want to show off their socks these days! It’s a minor detail but it matters. So those are the two compromises I made between function and style. Regardless, I wanted the coveralls to be warm.

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What are they made of?

Inside, they’re polyester. If I was a millionaire I would have made them with down feather, but most of that kind of production is not very nice to animals—and if I wanted to have production where they were nice to animals, it would have been much too expensive. So I decided on the second best option, and now it’s polyester all the way through, but the outer layer is cotton and polyester. So the coveralls have strength and will be easy to put in the washing machine as well as the dryer. It’s very practical. It’s a bit shiny but not 100 percent, because of the cotton.

What have reactions to the coveralls been like so far?

Well, all my friends on Facebook and Instagram and in the tango environment have taken the coveralls very positively. People find them so fucking cool. So it has really been great! Some of the women who bought them are my age and some are young, so they work for many people. However, in the process of trying to get my product into fashion magazines, I found out that some of them are really conservative. They don’t have the guts to talk about items like my coveralls because I don’t have a name for myself and I’m not educated as a fashion designer.

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On that note, to what extent do you feel like social media has the power to help promote your product?

Well, that’s the reason I gave up on fashion magazines. It’s worthless. It’s more about Facebook and Instagram. It’s much more fun on those platforms, too: I can do the promotion myself, write stories and say anything I like. Sometimes I’m a bit weird, but it’s my way of doing it. That’s also another thing: of course it’s a hell of a lot of work, but if I’m not having fun, I won’t do it. That’s the reason why the pictures from the photoshoot on my website are the way they are. I had so much fun shooting them with a wonderful photographer and I was so determined to be happy and smiling. ‘Cause in a lot of those fashion magazines, they have young girls who look like they’re dying! They’re anorexic and don’t smile… it’s awful. I’m so pissed off about it. It’s horrible for young girls who think that they have to look as skinny as them. So I wanted to have fun and I didn’t want to hire anyone else to wear the coveralls. I had a coverall made for my dog too.

Since you started your brand, what have been some of the more surprising or challenging things you’ve encountered?

In the design process, I knew how to create the look—but still, there were a lot of details I was insecure about. The placement of the pocket, etc. I was really keen about it: it had to be just right. I see it as a sort of image, when you look at the coverall, so it was important for me to make the right composition. It’s like a painting or a surface or a graphic poster. It has to be composed correctly.

But now, the challenge is to actually sell them. Because, well, I thought about it over the last few days and I feel like women in general are terrified of looking fat or different from the others. To wear coveralls means you’re going to stand out. You can’t hide in them.

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What would you say is your life philosophy and how does it feed into your brand?

I’m quite restless in a way and I’ve tried many, many different things. In my life, I go for quality, I go for sensuality and I go for passion. I’m really sad when I come across things you can tell don’t come from the heart. I’m really grateful for the people who do a fucking good job of having other people enjoy what they make.

Thanks a lot, Birgitte.

Buy Druds online at Birgitte’s webshop.

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