Sweden has to be one of my favourite countries, not only because of its beautiful cities but also because of the populations impeccable style and furthermore the incredible talent that has come out of the country. “Less is more” accurately describes Swedish fashion with minimalism, practicality, and discreet colours all key characteristics. Yet to imply its practicality is not to dismiss its creativity. Swedish fashion is celebrated for its emphasis on clean lines, streamlined silhouettes, and soft textures. Here I look at Sweden’s Top 10 most acclaimed, distinguished, and up-and-coming designers.
1) First up is my favourite brand of all, Acne. The brand was founded in 1996 with an idea of creating 100 pair of unisex jeans, and placed Sweden on the international jeans map. Furthering this, Jonny Johansson, creative director of Acne, branched out into other design genres with its first full collection launching in 1998. Daniella Cagol, managing editor of fashion website ImagineFashion.com, wrote “Acne’s clothing transcends a different feeling with every piece” and in so doing strongly resonates with a distinct creative edge that pulses out of Swedish fashion houses on a seasonal basis.
2) The Local Firm has a distinctive design which combines high fashion attire with innovative denim design. The line carries both men's and women's garments and is full-ranged. The brand’s core concept was inspired by the European industrial age and German Bauhaus movement in the beginning of the twentieth-century. The movement is associated with radically simplified forms and lack of ornamentation characteristic of Swedish fashion in general. The Local Firm is undoubtedly a poster child of minimal, clean and powerful Swedish fashion design. This brand is top of my list of 'Ones to watch' - I believe it may take over my love of Acne in a few years.
3) Filippa K is based on the concepts of style, simplicity and quality. It aims to design, manufacture, and sell wearable fashion garments and accessories with a timeless style. Sold in some 700 stores in 17 countries the brand has carved a name for itself beyond Scandinavian shores.
4) Cos (Collection of Style) was described by the Independent as ‘thoroughly modern minimalism’; simple, anonymous, stylish yet basic clothing. Womenswear design manager Karin Gustaffson explains that "At Cos, we want to propose a style inspired by architecture, graphics, design and arts", subjects that reiterate the streamlined silhouettes that I wrote of at the outset of this article.
5) Cheap Monday, known for its slim leg jeans and skull logo launched in 2004, now holds over 1500 stores in 30 countries. Although originating as a limited line of denim, today it is an independent brand aimed at both men and women.
6) Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) is synonymous with Swedish fashion. H&M is closely associated with providing fast and affordable fashion for women, men, children and teens. Today there are more than 2600 stores in 40 countries, with its first store opening way back in 1947.
7) Dr.Denim was launched in 2004 and is a family-run label. The brand was created with the ambition to create contemporary interpretations of denim; ‘denim is the ultimate science’. Dr Denim’s fall 2013 collection is based entirely on the colours blue, black and grey- a fitting nod towards the characteristic themes of practicality and minimalism that have come to define Swedish fashion.
8) Swedish Hasbeens is a shoe company, founded in 2006 which combines sustainable and traditional methods to produce a unique hand-made collection. Swedish Hasbeens were chosen as the trend of the year in Sweden at the annual Trend Award Gala 2008 in Stockholm, and has established itself as a leading celebrity-endorsed sustainable brand with Sarah-Jessica Parker one of its prime advocates.
9) Whyred was born out of an intention to ‘create intelligent luxury’. Its first collection was launched in 1999 made solely for men. A year later, their first collection for women was released. Whyred describe themselves as ‘authentic and visionary’ and like so many visionaries from this corner of the Earth, the brand incorporates simplicity and clean lines into their designs.
10) WeSC (short for “We are the Superlative Conspiracy") is a brand influenced primarily by skateboarding and snowboarding. The brand relied on famous actors and artists to wear their clothes and promote and did not engage in any other marketing strategies. WeSC has, however, begun to emerge on the global scale and looks set to make a splash over the coming seasons.
The huge success of Swedish fashion attracts international media and foreign buyers to the twice-yearly Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week held in Stockholm, where leading Swedish labels launch a bevy of new designs and collections. With an overwhelmingly creative edge and chic design aesthetic radiating from its studios, it is no wonder that Stockholm is fast affirming its place as one of Europe’s emerging fashion capitals.