Sweden: Fashion for All

Attainable "designer" fashion in Sweden: J.Lindeberg A/W 2012 (photo by Kristian Löveborg, courtesy of the ASFB)

Later this year, in May, I will have lived in Sweden for five whole years. In fashion terms, that’s ten seasons and so, nearly an eternity. Many a thing said in jest, as the saying goes, and though on one hand, I’m being flippant, on the other it does makes me wonder how this has affected my view of fashion and, to a lesser degree, my wardrobe. Read more »

What’s next for Swedish fashion?

Seebright, a jacket made of synthetic fibres, polyamide, Gore-Tex and then coated with a thermo-chromic and fluorescent material. At over 27 degrees it changes colour. Photo: Håkan Lindgren

 

What’s in store for Swedish fashion in the future? After all, we might have a successful high street and mid price sector, but what more?

It is sometimes claimed that innovation in fashion really comes from new research in textile production. One reason that Italy is still so successful as a fashion country is because of the expertise in creating incredibly sophisticated textiles that can be found in the country.

In Sweden, as with many countries, the manufacturing part of the fashion business came to a halt in the 1970s. There are still remnants of the industry, and logistical knowledge is still strong, but the bigger factories are gone.

This leads me to believe that the future of manufacturing is probably somewhere else, both geographically and technically.

Smart Textiles is a project based at The Swedish School of Textiles in Borås. It aims to connect companies and researchers in order to create the textiles of tomorrow.

Sweden has always been a country of innovators and risk-takers. From dynamite to the zipper, we just love to come up with new stuff (some of it more useful and peaceful than other things).

So let me introduce you to what Sweden seems to think is the next frontier in textiles (and now I am not talking about the knitted blood vessel). Glowing textiles, patterns that appear when you sit on them, materials that cool you down, a carpet that lights up when you step on it. All these textiles may not make it into clothes and are perhaps better suited for furniture design (and sometimes things like these can seem a bit gimmicky). But here is a real possibility for a happy marriage between Swedish fashion’s love of functionality and practicality and the Swedish innovative spirit.

At the moment it seems the companies working with Smart Textiles are not the major fashion companies in the country, but rather specialist, niche interests. If Acne, Tiger of Sweden, Cheap Monday and Hope sat down with the researchers, perhaps new and wonderful materials would be invented. It might be a high-heeled, sexy shoe that could be worn in slush. Another idea would be a knitted jumper that gets more warm as the temperature drops. All these are on my wish list (OK, perhaps not the high heeled shoes but I’m looking out for the ladeez). So, get working guys!

With this blog post I bid you good-bye, at least for this time. Thanks for reading!

A royal baby will boost Swedish kids’ clothing

 

Will Swedish fashion for kids have an upswing now that we've got a royal baby? Photo: Charlie Lee

 

I have a somewhat cool relationship with the Swedish – and Norwegian – royals (google me and see that I’ve been “slating” the style credentials of both princess Madelaine and princess Mette-Marit). But I have once met Crown Princess Victoria and must say I have a lot of respect for her; she’s extremely professional.

It can’t have escaped anyone that a royal baby has been delivered in Sweden and that her name is Estelle. She will soon be Sweden’s most fashionable baby.

This also seem to be what fashion companies are banking on. I might be harking on about Björn Borg, but this time it’s unavoidable since the company is launching a royal baby collection, in essence baby blue and pink babygros with crowns on them.

The market for upmarket baby and childrens clothes is increasingly seen as the next luxury segment to take off. Add royal babies to the mix (apart form Sweden there’s a new baby in Denmark and of course everyone is waiting for the British royals to confirm the rumours that the Duchess of Cambridge is indeed pregnant).

Sweden has at least one major kids brand and that is Polarn O. Pyret, known mainly for their stripes, and their graphic, clean, design-y look – but brands such as Acne also make clothes for children.

The most interesting scenario though is the growth of high quality clothes in the mid price sector, with a minimalist aesthetic or otherwise high design factor – mirroring the success of adult Swedish fashion brands. It might not be Marni for kids, but then again there will be a huge market for aspirational kids’ clothing (even larger than today). Among the Swedish brands that might be on everyone’s kids are Charlie Lee, by fashion veteran Lena Wallensteen, Modéerska Huset, a collection of colourful sustainable children’s wear, the ballerina flats by MinaMini Rodini, by Cassandra Rhodin who is a well-known fashion illustrator, and the slow clothing brand LUDD.

No matter what happens, that baby is going to be made into an aspirational fashion baby. That’s just how media work. I’m predicting a “get the royal baby look” article after her first appearance.

 

Odd One Out?

Odd Molly A/W 2012 (photo by Kristian Löveborg, courtesy of the ASFB)

For all the talk about “Scandinavian cool” in the fashion circles (and of course, on this blog, too) – minimalist, utilitarian, limited colour palette, not-trying-too-hard – and the international success of labels that champion said looks, such as Acne, Cheap Monday and COS, there is a flipside. Read more »

The Swedish sensibility

The invitation to the Björn Borg show. Photo: Björn Borg

 

A lot of my time, I’m not in Sweden, but in London. And when you get to the international scene, Sweden could sometimes seem a bit… hm… peripheral. At least it used to be that way. Because these days Swedish fashion is absolutely everywhere. London Fashion Week kicks off tonight with the opening of the new Cheap Monday store on Carnaby Street, while Björn Borg, the underwear brand, is putting on a fashion show at Battersea Power Station complete with performances by Robyn and Coco Sumner. This fashion show extravaganza will be livestreamed on MTV.co.uk.

Acne is showing their women’s wear line in London since a couple of season and it is one of the hottest tickets in town – the spring collection had the critics fawning and is sure to be another hit for the brand.

A few days ago, the Guardian ran an article about how “Scandinavian brands made ‘anti-cool’ fashionable”. Because behind Acne there are a lot of Swedish brands quietly moving onto the shelves of international stores. I noticed it myself where I lived until just a week ago, Windsor. In the more fashion-forward men’s stores in the town, Swedish brands were ubiquitous. From Acne to Our Legacy and Cheap Monday. These days even and old school geeky brand such as Fjällräven has some serious fashion cred. In fact, my intern here at Bon’s London office has one and she’s studying at Central Saint Martins.

To me, the success of Swedish fashion has a lot to do with the way style has moved into our everyday life in the last decade or so. Fashion is not just for parties or for the aristocracy; it is for everyone and every time, so what used to be Sweden’s Achilles heal is now its foremost strength. Having gotten used to making the most out of dressing for the Swedish weather and paired this knowledge with the practicality of Sweden’s fashion consumers (everything needs to be able to be washed in the washing machine, it shouldn’t cost too much, it should last a few seasons), Swedish fashion designers are well equipped for this new brave fashion world where we want to look fashionable all the time – yet still be presentable, professional and practical.

True, Swedish fashion is not only about this, but I believe this to be the core. And these days, when everyone talks about brand DNA, I think we can safely say that Swedish fashion has got it nailed.