Swedish Fashion – Pragmatism, Newness and Nostalgia

“Be yourself. The world worships the original.”

-Ingrid Bergman

Bea Szenfeld’s paper design. Photo: Joel Rhodin

At the turn of the century Swedish fashion started writing a new history radiant with such names as Acne Studios, Ann-Sofie Back, Lovisa Burfitt, Rodebjer, Whyred, Carin Wester, Sandra Backlund, Helena Hörstedt, Patrik Söderstam, Martin Bergström, Bea Szenfeld, Ida Sjöstedt, Tiger of Sweden, Nakkna, House of Dagmar, AltewaiSaome and Ida Klamborn. Scandinavian pragmatism, gender equality accompanied by elegance and stupendous creativity mixed with functionality are, in my view, the general leading elements of the Swedish apparel design.

Artist and illustrator Lovisa Burfitt. Photo: via https://www.pinterest.se/pin/575123814896248970/

The global development of fashion has not passed unnoticed for Swedish designers. The Street Style theme with denim fabric and black colour had under a long time distinguished Swedish clothing design in contrast to French elegance and British creativity. All of a sudden, everything started changing and Swedish fashion design stepped out onto the catwalk by setting the pitch.

Ann-Sofie Back. Photo: via https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/designer/ann-sofie-back-atelje

One of the main tunes of the prèt-à-portér (and to some extent even couture) fashion today is a rebellious bricolage intimately mixed with elegance of the 1980s and the 1990s. There is a colourful palette consisting of deconstructed elegance holding hands with casual garments and sneakers, fabulous stilettos with reworked jeans crowned by a stylish fur-felt hat, a glittery headband or a logo embroidered cap and some other, just few years ago completely incompatible by colour or style, articles of clothes. All these lively contrasts are so Swedish fashion for me – when elegance meets functionality and you look fancy casual.

Blå Konst collection by Acne Studios

Blå Konst collection by Acne Studios

Nevertheless, Swedish fashion has been able to take its fair place on the worldwide fashion map, where Acne Studios could be considered the most prominent and influential actor, raising the ante for the other co-players. Their recent Blå Konst collection – the new name for the denim by Acne Studios – features Californian artist, surfer and musician Alex Knost (born 1985). Reflecting the artist personal style, the collection evokes associations with the Pepsi generation creating a newness of nostalgia around the aesthetics of the denim garments and adding a sunny touch of Californian surf culture, spiritually referring back to the ancient Polynesians.

Acne Studios, Flagship store in Stockholm


Thus, I believe that Swedish design has, during the recent fifteen years, in one or another way influenced the fashion tendencies, we are experiencing today around the world. The designers collective Vetements has for instance become a new skilful counterweight on the fashion arena, which also turns cultural references into a virtuous marketing tool, creating a “secret society” of the own consumers. While Vetements conceals its customers from non-members by means of the price range, Acne Studios inspires its consumers by affordable culture knowingly integrated into their apparel. Thereby Acne Studios creates an iconic intellectual image of the brand and adds new ingenious fashion features to the Swedishness as such.

Acne Studios store at Nordiska Kompaniet (NK), Stockholm

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I believe when knowledge meets passion they can do a lot for a person, making the person pass it on to the people around one and this is how, I think, any changes in the world take place.