Designer Ase Lund Jensen │ Vintage Danish Designer with Minimalism in Mind

A vintage label inside of a cardigan
Over the years of selling vintage clothing, I've come across many different brands, with beautiful labels. They're as diverse as someone's business card.

In fact, finding labels in old clothing is one of the highlights of acquiring vintage. Most vintage sellers have an extreme love for labels, also known as "label love." Due to wear, age, use (and misuse), labels often disappear, are lost, or thrown away. 

To me, this devalues the piece. While, it isn't actually devalued (the item is amazing), it's disappointing. The label is the item's lifeline and identification. It's the piece's lifeline because many times, that label is the only way to identify who made it, where it came from, and a clue to the piece's decade.

When you can't identify the article, it makes dating it a bit trickier. It's not impossible. It's easy enough to assess the materials as well as the buttons or stitching to hammer down a more definitive way to date the decade from whence it came.

But the label is the crowing piece; the pride and joy; the way every maker makes a literal name for themselves. Today's labels are lasered (or glued) into the fabric and rarely do you find pieces of clothing with actual labels. It's a treat to buy anything new with an actual separate piece of fabric for a label.

The vintage label allows the buyer, seller, wearer, or admirer to see who made it, the vintage size, as well as the materials used to make the piece. It's a part of the history of the piece and when the label is there, it's like striking gold.

Some labels, I see regularly. Others are once in a lifetime. They're that rare, and hard to find.

When I came across this label, Ase Lund Jensen, on a gorgeous all-wool hand-knitted Danish cardigan, I knew it was special. 

I'm already a sweater gal. Vintage sweaters or cardigans (men's or women's - but especially men's sweaters because I fit a men's small perfectly) are my weakness. I've sold nearly 10,000 items in my Etsy shop and about 1500 of those items were sweaters.

That's 15% of sold items as sweaters. If I had more storage room in my home to hold more sweaters, my goal would be to have a shop nearly 25% full of quality vintage cardigans and sweaters. That's how much I love them.

This cardigan by Designer Jensen stood out not just because of the quality, but the colors. There isn't a whole lot of information about her, but the little bit I did find is fascinating. It’s probably from the late ‘60s to early ‘70s.

She was born in Denmark in 1920 and died young at the age of 57.

According to a kitting blog I came across, "Jensen designed impeccably tailored knits, studied traditional textiles of Greenland and Denmark, and had a fondness for muted shades that couldn’t be satisfied by the yarn manufacturers of the day. Working with a Danish mill, she developed a color palette informed and inspired by natural, plant-based dyes…."

A cardigan laying flat

This is what drew me to the piece. Yes, the wool was outstanding. Sweaters are just not made with this quality wool anymore. The processing isn't the same, the threading, the buttons - none of it is the same. Even how it’s put together isn’t the same.

But the colors... these muted olive greens and ivory caught my eye. Olive green is my favorite color. And the minimalistic style, with its tender shades, gave me a thrill that doesn’t happen often. I mostly see modern polyester and cheap acrylic sweaters in thrift stores, estate sales, and yard sales.

So when a quality one appears, it jumps out at me. The sweater isn't minimalistic, per se, in that it isn't a solid color. But, it has the tell-tale signs of a naturalistic "simple but quality" piece.

Its minimalist aspects shine through in the piece's toned-down colors.

Jensen was a popular clothing designer from the 1940s to the 1970s. Apparently, she believed that all garments should have a professional, if not tailored look, regardless of the piece. She was a pioneer in creating and developing more modern yarn that reflected the colors of her native Denmark.

A few years ago, a book came out featuring her patterns and highlighting the gift of her wool fabrics and design.

As I write this, the book is unavailable (and maybe out of print). But, as the book website explains, “Each pattern section is prefaced with an article about the knitting technique used: jacquard, texture, lace and eyelet, entrelac and spot knitting. Woven through the book are articles and vignettes that chronicle Asa’s life and work, including inspiration, photographs, fashion sketches, quotes, and letters.”

Her work is rare and to be able to find a piece, a piece that not only exudes attention to detail but is filled with a gorgeous pattern in hues that make my heart beat fast, I feel like this piece was meant to be for me.

It’s hard to explain to someone how special this cardigan is. If this person makes clothing, loves fabrics, or loves vintage clothing, they get it. 

This cardigan merits the glory I give it because this person knows the love, talent, skill, and time spent in creating a piece that – 50 years later – is still appreciated. It transcends time, style-wise, and physically, in its condition  

This is the sacred specialty of slow fashion. Here is a vintage piece that gave life to the wearer 50 years ago, and is as full of life in all of its vintage glory today.

This piece is in my own collection, and will probably stay there for a while. But if and when I find more - or find other quality vintage cardigans and sweaters - you can be sure they'll be in my store, ready and waiting for you to own.

Thank you Ase Lund Jensen for creating impeccable designs out of the best wool!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts