Norwegian designer Siri Sveen Haaland designs clothing inspired by rats. In April 2016 her label Black Rat was accepted and sold in the gigantic flagship store Topshop in Oxford Street, London. Since then black design from Norway has become steadily more popular.
Siri launched Black Rat in December 2012. A few days after launch day she got the honorable award as “Newcomer of the Year” on Oslo Fashion Week in February 2013. The Black Rat concept concentrates on making sustainable clothing in mainly wool with a timeless design. The Rat is colorblind and this sets the color range in black/grey/white. According to Siri, the clothing should be as immortal as the rat itself.
Siri Rat from Norway
For five years, the Norwegian designer has built up a clothing brand that is named after the black rat. But Black Rat has not only taken the name from the rodent, or Rattus rattus, as it is called in Latin. The whole concept is inspired by the animal. The Norwegian streetwear brand has the black rat’s qualities as a red thread. Haalland has even taken the artist name Siri Rat, but the reason is not that she loves rats.
“The idea behind Black Rat is built on the rat itself. It is color-blind, it lives in herds in the underground and it is nearly immortal,” says Siri. Siri started out with only two jackets and has since then built the brand brick by brick; featuring both commercial and non-commercial collections.
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Inspired by reality
One of her collections, “Ansatt/Innsatt” (meaning “employee/inmate”) was built on stories from the book “Skammens Historie” (History of Shame) by Sigmund Aas and Thomas Vestgården. It aimed to tell us how the state of Norway has been institutionalizing different kinds of human groups because of their mental health, religion or orientation. This collection featured the power of the uniform, either you’re an inmate or an employee.
Combining Black Rat and Norwegian national costumes
Siri got her sewing machine from her mother to confirmation, and that was how she learned to sew. Customers who wanted to change their Norwegian national costumes (bunads) approached Siri and she was more than willing to help them. Norway has a long tradition in national costumes. Siri comes from a tailor family who has been making these costumes since the 1897. Next to Black Rat, Siri work together with her mum in the family business, Sidserk Systue. There they make all kinds of Norwegian national costumes and educate others in making them correctly.“
A Norwegian bunad shall last for 100 years and that is just as long as Black Rat clothing should last as well,” concludes Siri Sveen Haaland.
Feature image (on top): Black Rat for Top Shop, London. Photo: Annicken Dedekam
Siri Rat from Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg