If you were to ask people on the street here and abroad to describe Swedish fashion, you’d probably get words like minimalist, cool and skinny jeans. But how about quirky? No? Well, I’m beginning to think so. Scratch beyond the slick surface and I promise that you’ll discover a land of Swedish fashion teeming with colour, prints and above all, humour. And it’s spreading worldwide.
Take, for instance, Swedish Hasbeens. The successful shoe company was founded in 2006 with the mission of providing “more incoherent and fun shoes.” They started with clogs, but now have boots, loafers and even bags that come in bright, cheerful colours. People who love Swedish Hasbeens really love Swedish Hasbeens. Lest you think this is all very frivolous, the label also has a strong sustainability message, which is in bang in line with Sweden’s reputation for environmentalism. But what I love most about the label is their wicked sense of humour:
Another Swedish accessories brand making their mark globally is Happy Socks. Doesn’t the name say it all? Again we have bright colours, but also a myriad of prints from stripes, dots, batik and squares. These socks literally bring smiles to people’s faces. It’s infectious. The duo behind this simple yet effective concept come from an advertising background, so they have both the creative and strategy sides of the business down pat. They know how to keep things fresh with new designs, but also with international collaborations. My favourite so far? Giles Deacon. Even the box the collection came in was irresistible.
With news that Monki has opened up a shop this week in the famed Selfridges department store in London, it’s only a matter of time until the dreamy, individualistic (and attractively priced) Swedish label storms into the rest of the English-speaking world. With shops already across all of Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands and Hong Kong, girls and women alike go mad for the slightly off-kilter separates and fun prints and colours. It’s Swedish design with a delightfully creative twist. Illustrations, music and monkifriends also merrily meet in the Monki world.
Perhaps what these three Swedish labels share is that they could all be considered a “cult label” – a dedicated following, somewhat niche and for those who happen to be “in the know.” But as their reach and ability to inspire people around the world extends further and further, they may just be the labels to finally make people think “Quirky Sweden.”