Growing up in Norway, Elen Sviland didn’t just play with her dolls like other kids did; she designed and sewed seasonal collections for them. This childhood pastime turned into a lifelong passion. After obtaining a degree in fashion & apparel design from Artez Arnem University in Holland, Elen launched her career in 1988 with LuigioCiocca in Milan, starting there as an assistant designer. Noting her sharp eye for trends, Pacific Apparel in Hong Kong wooed her away a few years later. Over the next decade, working with Bodymaster, AgeGroup and Mister Noah in New York, Elen became expert in every aspect of fashion design from concept to delivery, traveling through Asia to sample and source collections. In 1999, Jordache Inc. enlisted Elen as the senior designer for FUBU Girls and Gasoline. By expanding the denim collection and incorporating innovative fabrics and washing techniques for a more cutting edge look, Elen increased annual sales by over twenty-five percent.
Elen currently is the Design Director for JouJou Jeans and Outerwear Collection at BBC Apparel, where she’s been since 2002. She is responsible for the brand vision and strategy, and under her guidance, the collection has tripled its doors of sales. She frequently travels to Hong Kong and China to sample, source and negotiate pricing with factories, and continues to design garments from concept to delivery, working closely with merchandising and sales teams to address creative and commercial needs. As those who work with and for her attest, her enthusiasm is infectious.
What inspires Elen? “Everything!” she says. “When I’m traveling, or walking around the city, I see life in motion all around me, and that’s what I try to capture in my designs. The pop of colors, the energy of the people, the fluid movement and shapes. I find every aspect of this industry exhilarating, because I think of fashion as an expression of life.”
Elen speaks Norwegian, Dutch and English fluently and has a working knowledge of at least five other languages. She currently lives in New York City.