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Swedish fashion – a story of substance and style
Swedish fashion is celebrated for its timeless sense of cool. But it’s more diverse than you might think – Swedish designers master everything from catwalk fashion to laid back denim-looks, often with sustainability at its core.
Just like Swedish design in general, the fashion coming out of this Scandinavian country is known for its high quality and clean, considered lines. The Swedish style spectrum is varied, but many designers share certain characteristics – such as a love for versatile design that stands the test of time, generally coupled with sustainable thinking. This is one of the reasons why Swedish fashion is more relevant and in-demand than ever.
Stockholm Fashion Week at hotel Berns in August 2018. Photo: Grand Hôtel
Sweden’s established crop of fashion brands.
- Stockholm-based Acne Studios is one of Sweden’s most recognized brands on the global stage. Having started out as a denim-led label at the end of the 1990s, it has expanded into a fully-fledged fashion player with an international fan-base.
- Filippa K, meanwhile, has a longstanding following across Scandinavia. Founded in Stockholm in 1994, the brand offers covetable collections for men and women. The aesthetic is timeless and clean in that unmistakably Swedish way.
- Rodebjer will appeal to those with a more eclectic taste. One of founder Carin Rodebjer’s creative strengths is kaftan-like dresses, often featuring unique prints and striking colours.
- At the opposite end of the style spectrum, the more unisex-style brand Hope draws on classic menswear tailoring and utility.
- Speaking of tailoring, you’ll find plenty of suits at Tiger of Sweden, along with a wide range of more relaxed, fashion-led pieces for all genders.
Fashion with sustainable values
It’s often said that Swedish fashion is at the forefront of sustainable thinking – and there is truth to it.
- Fjällräven– founded in 1960 in Örnsköldsvik, on Sweden’s northeast coast – is hailed as one of the industry’s greenest brands. It constantly strives to make its products greener by use of recycled materials. The Lappland Hike 15 backpack, for instance, features an innovative back-plate made of hard-pressed, recycled wool as opposed to more commonly used plastics.
- Tretorn– known for its excellent rubber boots, cool trainers and outdoor gear – is also working hard to bring out new sustainable innovations. One of its latest products is the 100% degradable Bio Plant Jacket.
New brands representing the antidote to fast fashion
A wave of new “slow fashion” brands is emerging, offering a greener alternative to mass-produced, disposable clothing.
- Anna Bergstrand, the designer behind the freshly launched label A New Sweden – worked for the likes of Celine, Saint Laurent and Givenchy before establishing her own sustainable fashion venture. All garments are made in Sweden with local materials only. Silhouettes are timeless and unisex, rejecting fleeting trends.
- John Sterner – another new sustainable brand to keep an eye on – mostly uses wool from its own sheep farm on the island of Öland, just off the southeast coast of Sweden. The knitwear-focused business employs refugees to hand-knit its sumptuous jumpers, crafted to last a lifetime. John Sterner is the brainchild of Alexander Stutterheim, creator of Sweden’s ultimate rainwear brand Stutterheim.
- Wear-forever fashion is the order of the day at By Enzell as well. This newcomer is based in the beautiful province of Jämtland in the very centre of Sweden. Designer and founder Agneta Enzell serves up a carefully developed “wardrobe of basics” – designed to be combined endlessly.
To continue the count of sustainable Swedish fashion brands, Stockholm-based Deadwood uses vintage leather jackets to create new ones. Its cool, biker-style jackets are sought after by men and women alike, and there are irresistible kids versions, too. Also consider hot new labels Self Cinema and Stand Studio when setting out to build an environmentally-responsible, yet fashion-forward, wardrobe.
Fashion-tech start-up Atacac makes clothing digitally, using high-tech CLO software to eliminate unnecessary production sampling. Most garments are unisex and made to order – therefore safeguarding from overstock – in Atacac’s Gothenburg-based micro factory.
Swedish brands with a love for denim
Denim has a strong presence in Sweden. Many of the world’s most recognisable denim brands hail from these shores. Nudie Jeans and Dr. Denim, both founded in Gothenburg on the west coast of the country, have built very successful businesses with global reach, based on their jeans.
Örjan Andersson is another key player within this particular fashion segment. The founder of Cheap Monday and cool multi-brand retailer Weekday (owned by the H&M Group since 2008), now runs a namesake fashion-led denim brand. Together, these Swedish brands and designers have helped to revive an industry that saw its heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, when a vast number of denim brands existed in Sweden.
As for compelling newcomers working with denim, Per Götesson is a name to watch. Götesson, who graduated from London’s prestigious fashion college Royal College of Art in 2016, is hailed as one of the most promising young designers today – much owing to his experimental take on denim.
Nudie designer store in central Stockholm. A lot is happening in Swedish fashion. While the tradition of functionality has not been completely abandoned, several designers have moved toward a more individual expression. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se
Accessorise the Swedish way
For those looking for accessories and footwear specifically, Swedish brands and designers certainly deliver. Walk the streets of any global city, and you’re likely to spot at least a handful of Fjällräven’s backpacks – the curled-up fox logo is hard to miss. The stylishly functional backpacks by Stockholm-based Sandqvist are also travelling the world increasingly.
Fjällräven is a Swedish brand designing clothes and accessories that makes it easier for people to enjoy nature. The classic backpack Kånken has become an icon for Swedish design. Photo: Alexander Hall/imagebank.sweden.se
As for footwear – what could be more Swedish than a pair of clogs? Something of a national symbol, these classic shoes are both practical and cool. Clog specialist Swedish Hasbeens has an extensive range to choose from, including classic slip-on styles and sandals in a variety of colours.
Pick up a piece of Swedish fashion from a carefully chosen brand or designer and you have a souvenir that will remain in your wardrobe for years to come.