My Story: Maria Erixon, Nudie Co-Founder

My story:
Maria Erixon,
creative director

"I grew up in Vetlanda, a small town in the middle of nowhere. My father moved there after World War II. There was still a shortage of commodities, so he started a workshop where he retreaded car tires. Since Vetlanda had many small industries, which depended on truck trans ports, business was quite good.

I guess Vetlanda was a nice and safe place for a child, but my daydreams were somewhere else.


Drawing was my world. It was also the only school subject I excelled in. One time the chemistry professor hit me with his ruler. I had probably been talking and disturbing the discipline he required.

In many ways, I haven't changed. I've never been good at adjusting myself to what others have wanted me to be.

My older sisters moved out when I was little. They inspired me to see that the world was bigger than Vetlanda. Birgitta studied design in New York, Solveig went to an acting school in Stockholm. Every time I visited her she brought me to the Gul & Blå jeans store. I fell in love with the rigid unwashed jeans. For me, jeans were linked to culture. This was in 70's and there was a jeans mania going on in Stockholm. Even the King wore patched jeans.

In contrast, Vetlanda had only one store that carried Levi's 501 Shrink to Fit. I went there every day after school. Those jeans were all I wanted for Christmas. I still remember their indigo smell.

For me, jeans were linked to culture. This was in 70's and there was a jeans mania going on in Stockholm. Even the King wore patched jeans.”

After working as a cartoonist for a short while I was accepted at HDK, an arts school in Göteborg, where I studied graphic design. During my studies I sent some of my illustrations to the clothing chain JC, along with a letter where I simply wrote: 'I like jeans and I like to draw.' They had no art director at the time, but they created the position for me, and I quit school.

A while later, I started a JC store in the small town Alingsås. It was quite hectic. In the days, I created the graphic profile for JC's own brand Crocker. In the evenings and weekends I decorated the storefront. Because JC also sold other brands, I learned how to present your own brand so that it stuck out, while still fitting in the big picture. It was important to show your credibility.


After ten years at JC I got a call from a headhunter who asked if I wanted to work for Lee. When I was a kid, there had only been one brand that was so strong that you didn't even say 'jeans jacket'. It was simply called 'Lee jacket'.

I was appointed as design manager for the European market and moved to Brussels.

My mission was to reposition the brand and keep all the different fits and styles together into one expression. Establish core values at product level by developing the collections, create new fits and upgrade the qualities. To me, the Lee jacket was a central piece. But the company also carried a bunch of products that was created mainly to generate a lot of money, but didn’t strengthen the brand. To me, white sporty shorts were unthinkable, but some markets had a huge demand for easily sold, short-term products and short-term solutions. I was not interested in that, I wanted to develop the brand’s expression with long term business in mind.

After handing in my notice three times they gave me a consultant contract that enabled me to start my own brand on the side.


Together with Joakim Levin, I rented a one-room office in Göteborg, registered the name Nudie Jeans Jeans, formulated our core values and began working on samples.

I wanted to work with the world's best denim fabrics and the most talented laundries.

I wanted to develop new techniques together with creative engineers.

I wanted to create the jeans I hadn't been able to make at Lee.

Together with Joakim Levin, I rented a one-room office in Göteborg, registered the name Nudie, formulated our core values and began working on samples.”

I developed a concept with some knitted sweaters, a jeans jacket and four jeans fits. I wanted to stay within the rigid framework of the five-pocket jean. But the fit and details, such as the orange thread, the shape and placement of the pocket and the hand drawn label gave Nudie Jeans Jeans a unique expression. In the back pocket booklet we also wanted to encourage people to wear in their jeans themselves, making them a second skin, unique for every individual. 'The naked truth about denim.'

After the prototypes were done, we spent every penny we had and ordered 2000 pair of jeans.

A while later, the jeans arrived and I enthusiastically ripped the boxes open. When I realized that they all were sewn incorrectly I was so cracked that I spent the night in a fetus position, while Joakim tried to comfort me with bedside stories.

Despite the errors we stuffed all the clothes into Joakim's dad's old Volvo and drove to the Copenhagen Fashion Fair 2001. When our little stand immediately was filled with people, we knew that I had to resign from Lee and that Joakim would have to quit his economy studies.

When the phones started to ring we contacted Palle Stenberg, who worked for Levi's, and asked him to work for us.

Together we formed a strong trinity. I developed the design and the brand philosophy. Joakim built the company and made sure to keep us independent. Palle met with agents and buyers all over the world. We were keen never to adapt to the demands from different markets. I knew that if you made the money your main objective, you would soon find yourself in a bad place.

Nudie Jeans was a dream about not having to compromise.

It was a dream about bringing a consideration for the environment and human rights into every aspect of the production.

Nudie Jeans was a dream about not having to compromise.
   It was a dream about bringing a consideration for the environment and human rights into every aspect of the production.”

Today, our roles have changed and we've moved from the single office to larger properties.

Ironically, my old school has named one of their classrooms after me. When they told me about it, I specifically asked for the room where the chemistry teacher hit me with the ruler. After all, it's the fact that we've never done what people have told us that has led to our success.

My role has changed too. Previously I designed every little detail, and no one was allowed to do anything without me being involved. But now, Nudie Jeans is such a big company and we're doing so many things. I'm the creative director. My role is to develop the brand and make sure that we in every detail should be able to breath, smell and taste Nudie Jeans core values. I'm trying to make sure that, while we're growing, we keep our feeling and resist involvement from external investors who could make Nudie Jeans one of the big corporate organizations that we once rebelled against.

We're still cherishing the same core values. Independence is priceless.

Our clothes are made of organic cotton. We believe that you should wear in and repair your jeans in order to create your own individual jeans stories.

It's easier to stay true to your philosophy if it's rooted in something real.

My upbringing was marked by the postwar years when you recycled, recreated and reused. A time when you extended the jeans with edgings, when you repaired and took care of your belongings. A time before over consumption and throwaways.

To me, there's a relationship between Nudie Jeans Repair Shops and my father's retreading workshop. He retreaded old tires instead of selling new ones. We encourage people to wear in their jeans and repair them instead of throwing them out and buy new ones.

To me, there's a relationship between Nudie Jeans Repair Shops and my father's retreading workshop. He retreaded old tires instead of selling new ones. We encourage people to wear in their jeans and repair them instead of throwing them out and buy new ones.

Everyone carries their past within them, and eventually some parts of your history become part of your legacy."

Maria Erixon

Maria Erixon, Founder & Creative Director at Nudie Jeans.

>Sweden in the 70’s

Sweden in the 70’s. People lining up around the block to get their hands on a pair of Gul & Blå denim; the hip brand at the time.

King of Sweden

Today the king of Sweden. Back in the day; the prince of patchwork denim.

Maria at the first Nudie Jeans office

Maria at the first Nudie Jeans’ one-room office, before it all took off.

The real people

The real people. Back in the day friends and family were the models for every Nudie Jeans photo shoot.

Eko-cycle

This is Nudie Jeans. It’s deeply rooted in the brand to take care of the things you love and find new use for it when it’s time for it to move along.

Vetlanda Vulk

Back where it all started. Marias’s father’s old workshop, where the idea about recycling was born.

Repairing is caring

Repairing is caring. At every Nudie Jeans Repair Shop worn out denim gets new life.

Fit Guide

From tight to loose. Here are the Nudie Jeans fits. Spin them around and compare look and measurements. Visit Fit Guide

Nudie Fit Guide
Nudie Production Guide

Production Guide

We take a great interest in where and how the Nudie Jeans collection is produced. See for yourself in the Production Guide

Latest news

  • Aug 29: These limited edition jeans taught Mathias pretty much everything he knows about denim. Read his User Story: nj.io/Lw7N
  • Jun 23: It’s Summer Sale Time! All Spring 2014 garments need to go, and are sold at 30% off at the Nudie Jeans Online Shop nj.io/Ftmj
  • Jun 11: The aged, patinated leather gives this bag a beautiful, well-worn look. Get Geronimosson Aged Trunk from the Nudie Jeans Online Shop nj.io/UZXG
  • Jun 06: Melting Butter paid us a visit at the Nudie Jeans Repair Shop in Soho. nj.io/Dhps
  • May 14: Yeah! Our Repair Shop concept won Sustainable Store of the Year award. nj.io/rio7
  • Apr 04: Black Coated denim is back - Thin Finn Back 2 Black. nj.io/PzGp
  • Mar 20: Guardian Sustainable Business wrote a nice piece on wear, tear & repair. nj.io/2pvM
  • Mar 04: Did you get our latest newsletter about denim jackets, khakis & tees? nj.io/S0R0
  • More...

Your jeans go
where you go.
They live your lifestyle.
They get abrasions
and scars.
And they bleed.
Just like you.


Repair Shops