How does anyone discover fashion? I grew up in Borås, the old textile centre of Sweden. Maybe that has something to do with it? But, in reality, I hardly knew anyone who worked in the business. My brother’s girlfriend’s mother worked for Ted Lapidus, but that’s about it and to be fair, Borås was mainly a textile hub in the 1950s.
In my teens I started reading magazines such as The Face and i-D. I remember a discussion I had with my friends about what the people working at these hipster havens would be wearing. Now I know they probably just wore jeans and T-shirts like everyone else.
Still what pushed me in the direction of fashion was actually going abroad and studying for a year in Italy. At the time, the late 1990s, Stockholm and Sweden had only started becoming the trend hub it is today. People were more interested in white labels (12” vinyl) than designer labels.
In Italy I was confronted with a culture saturated with fashion. Style was everywhere and people knew what you were wearing even when they couldn’t see the brand name. It was a completely foreign concept to me.
Coming back to Sweden I realised that things were very different here. But something else was in the air as well. There seemed to be a growing interest in how to dress, in the joy of fashion, and also in the meaning of style. Soon I was writing about the new crop of Swedish designers, people like Ann-Sofie Back, Lovisa Burfitt and Carin Rodebjer, who were all starting out at that time.
I’ve seen many designers come and go, but there was something different with these three. To them, fashion was enough in itself, and they didn’t try to disguise it as something else (design, graphic design, art). They had a pride in fashion which previous Swedish fashion devotees had not been able to muster. Along with them a new generation of photographers and stylists came on to the scene and new edgy magazines started pushing the mainstream women’s titles towards a more fashion-centric approach. It was like a fashion education.
Sometimes I look back in amazement at how quickly Sweden went from a fashion phobic nation to the trend-conscious country it is today. Heritage and tradition goes a long way, but change can also happen very quickly.
I feel quite blessed to have lived through this change, because unlike the younger generation I know what Sweden was like before the ubiquitous fashion bloggers, style sections and fashion personalities of today. In some ways it was gentler and more fun – because it was more amateurish – but on the whole it’s nice to be able to talk about Acne Jeans and Maison Martin Margiela (even though the company isn’t Swedish) without having to explain what they are.