8 Swedish designers with timeless appeal
Swedish design has a set of characteristics – functionality and timelessness among them – that apply across the spectrum, from furniture to fashion. Here’s an introduction to a cluster of Swedish designers offering covetable bags, accessories and shoes.
Scandinavian design is more in-demand than ever. There’s an inherent functionality to pieces created by Swedish designers in particular, even those offering rather progressive wares, such as Acne Studios. The desire and ability to produce user-friendly products is deeply rooted. It stems from the wider Swedish design philosophy, which in turn derives from the functionalism movement that emerged in Berlin in the early 20th century.
In the case of fashion specifically, Scandinavian design is rated highly, partly on account of its well-crafted, clean lines. Creating pieces intended to be worn well beyond the season is in itself an eco-friendly move, and there’s a renewed commitment among certain Swedish creatives to produce locally, using sustainable materials. When it comes to accessories and footwear – items you expect to last for a long time and go with everything in your wardrobe – Swedish designers excel.
Here is a crop of names – established and new – offering a diverse assortment of items with timeless appeal.
Established in 1993 by Filippa Knutsson, Patrik Kihlborg and Karin Segerblom, Filippa K has remained true to its minimalist roots. The brand’s carefully designed pieces are created with a wear-forever appeal, with an increasing focus on sustainability. The footwear range for women encompasses everything from butter-soft leather flats to knee-high boots with fashionably sturdy soles. Some styles form part of the Core range that will never be discounted in sales in a bid to challenge the fashion system’s constant chasing of the new.
Founded in 2004 by brothers Anton and Daniel Sandqvist and their friend Sebastian Westin, Sandqvist is one of the key names in Scandinavian design. The brand’s signature leather-strapped canvas backpack has inspired an army of copycats. Among its more recent products, you’ll find the “Franka” weave bag, featuring leather from Scandinavian cattle bred for food production, thus utilising waste.
Iconic outdoor brand Fjällräven, established in 1960 by Åke Nordin, has made a global name for itself, thanks in no small part to “Kånken” – its much-loved backpack. Designed in 1978, this well-travelled classic, adorned with the arctic fox brand emblem, is slung across the shoulder of customers in cities across the globe. Fjällräven is celebrated in the industry for its efforts around sustainability. In a bid to make Kånken more eco-friendly, it's also been released in Re-Wool – a fabric made from wool waste and off-cuts.
Founded by Jonas Lundhag in 1932 on the island of Frösön, Lundhags has been crafting leather work boots made to last a lifetime ever since. Over the years, the range has been extended with clothing, accessories such as backpacks, and other types of practical outdoor gear that encourage you to spend more time in nature – one of the brand’s ultimate motivations.
A New Sweden
In terms of sustainability, A New Sweden is in a league of its own. Founders Lisa Bergstrand (former Celine and Saint Laurent designer) and her partner Anthony Lui insist on making fabrics from scratch using Swedish wool exclusively, including waste such as the black variety. All pieces are fully biodegradable and made by Swedish manufacturers, such as Ljungskile Trikå. Shunning the seasonal fashion system, A New Sweden releases its wares at a slow pace, selling items mostly on a made-to-order basis. On the accessories front, you’ll find the stylishly practical neck warmer, crafted from a blend of white and black wool.
Determined to restore the simplicity of menswear, Asket was established in 2015 by friends Jakob Dworsky and August Bard Bringéus. Nowadays they also provide womenswear. Each collection is built around wardrobe staples, including accessories such as beanies and scarves made from a blend of merino wool and cashmere. “Buy less, buy better” is the mantra here.
Acne Studios has continued to evolve since Jonny Johansson founded the brand in 1996. Having started out as a purveyor of jeans, the enduringly cool brand’s repertoire now extends to a full collection, in which leather jackets and wool coats sit alongside must-have bags, sneakers and heels. The Pistol boot, first introduced over a decade ago, is an enduring classic proving that style transcends season.
Docksta Sko, located in the High Coast village of Docksta, has been making Swedish beak boots by hand in its own factory since 1923. This most distinctive boot draws on the beak shoe that was traditionally worn by Sámi people. Alongside these classics, which became a nationwide hit in the 1970s, Docksta offers stylish brogues and slippers, most of which are made from top quality leather by Swedish tannery Tärnsjö Garveri.