Matilda Djerf on community, New York, and the future of Djerf Avenue

Matilda Djerf on community, New York, and the future of Djerf Avenue

Matilda (right) and her mother Ulrika (left)

Anne Chen

Few are worthy of the title influencer like Matilda Djerf. An icon for many young women around the globe, fans of the 26-year-old have gone crazy for her style, which explains why her brand, Djerf Avenue, has made millions of dollars.

Djerf founded her clothing brand in 2019 with her partner and CEO Rasmus Johansson. Since 2019 Djerf Avenue has gone beyond clothes, releasing accessories and homeware which have been adored by fans.

She is calling me from her office, I compliment her on her outfit - from Djerf Avenue, of course - and she thanks me, explaining that it's "forever blazer" day at the office, an initiative from the social media team for all to wear the company's forever blazers, a customer favourite.

She looks put together and cheery, the image we see on social media does not seem a fake one, her golden hair intact as always.

Our conversation starts with us talking about her life before Djerf Avenue and internet fame.

"I come from a small town, if you dress up or if you dress a little bit differently than the rest of people, it's a little bit frowned upon."

But it is Djerf's style that has got her where she is today, her daring to be different generated $34 million in revenue last year for her brand. And the hype around Djerf and her clothes doesn't look as though it's dying down anytime soon.

It's not easy to be so fashionable that the majority of young women want to replicate your style. I wanted to find out what influenced the fashion influencer.

Apart from Hannah Montanna, which I think all women who grew up watching the Disney show can relate to, Djerf speaks fondly of her mother, Ulrika, who features prominently on both Djerf's social media and Djerf Avenue's marketing.

"My mum has always been my fashion icon, not caring what other people think," she tells me. "She does her own thing. Which has inspired to do my own thing!"

Family is clearly central to how Djerf lives her life, they constantly feature on her social media, with her parents and sister often modelling Djerf Avenue's clothes.

"I'm a true homebody, I've always enjoyed just being surrounded by my family," she says with a grin on her face, telling me about her childhood and family vacations.

"Since the start [of Djerf Avenue] they've always been my biggest cheerleaders." The early days of Djerf Avenue was just Matilda and her partner Rasmus. They had no team and did everything themselves, but Matilda's family were there to help. "When we did our first shoot they [Djerf's parents] came with us, they've seen everything, they even helped us pack orders for the first few months."

With over 3 million followers on Instagram, it can be hard to stay grounded within yourself as you're bombarded by the opinions of millions of strangers online. "The support of my friends and family is all I really need," she tells me. "I'm so grateful to have a safe space."

Djerf's family and friends' support was prominent just a few months back when Djerf Avenue hosted a pop-up store in New York, accompanied by their first-ever fashion show for their Remake Collection, which was hosted at the Guggenheim Museum.

"The possibilities in New York just felt endless," she says as she explains her choice of New York for the brand's third pop-up (their first was held in LA last year and their second in Stockholm earlier this year). "But whenever we do something in person it feels daunting. I'm always really nervous that nobody's going to show up or nobody's going to like it."

Despite Djerf's nerves, it seemed she had nothing to worry about. Across the three days the pop-up was open (Aug 31 - Sept 2), social media was flooded with pictures of those queuing up to purchase both fan-favourite items and pop-up exclusives.

"The team work so hard to make it happen, we pour so much love, energy and time into every single project that we do," and I can tell through the screen. Djerf is evidently animated and passionate about her business and the team that helps make everything run smoothly.

But despite the nervous energy that inevitably comes with such enormous projects, Djerf trusts the community she's built up over the years. "Our community is the most loving community and I know they will show up. It's what makes me always want to make sure we're doing everything we can to give our community the best possible experience."

Matilda with customers in New YorkDjerf Avenue

"I think about how much time these people are taking from their lives to stand in line at our pop-ups, and they spend their money on our items, so I never want to fall short. The pressure is really daunting, but it gets me going."

The pop-up was followed by a fashion show at the Guggenheim Museum on September 3, where the brand debuted its Remake Collection. The models were fans of Djerf Avenue (including Matilda's mum) and showcased diversity at its centre.

"I wanted to show the fashion world, you don't need to look one kind of way to be able to walk a runway," she explains. "We wanted to capture the beauty of our individual community members."

Djerf Avenue fashion show at the Guggenheim MuseumAnne Chen

"I want to meet our UK customers!" She exclaimed. "If it gets to September next year with no news you need to message me 'Matilda where's the pop up!'" I assure her, and on behalf of all UK Djerf Avenue customers, to message her if this is the case.

"But there's so many places in the world we want to go, it's hard to narrow it down."

Naturally, I had to use my opportunity to ask about any upcoming collections or releases, and Matilda managed to tell me so much and so little at the same time.

"We're just getting started, we're actually going into a completely new category which I'm really excited about, and that will be launching around Spring 2024. It's been years in the making."

"On top of that we're doing our first-ever collaboration with a person this year. That's coming up very, very soon!"

Finally, as our conversation draws to a close I ask her if there are any goals she has for herself or Djerf Avenue in the next five years.

And in typical Matilda Djerf fashion, she tells me: "I've never had like, a three-year plan or a five-year plan. Where was I even five years ago?"

"So much happens even in a month, so it's so hard to dream up where I will be in five years. But really, I'm always thinking about what I can do to give back. I want people, especially young women entrepreneurs, to look up to me. I want to inspire."

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