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The Swedish designers prodding at the edges of the Scandi chic archetype

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A honeypot of sustainable sensuality is forming in Stockholm, as homegrown talents take a swipe at Copenhagen’s cool girl crown

The Scandi aesthetic has been nipping at the clicky heels of French girl chic for some time, at two opposing ends of the style spectrum. The Danes bring the maximalism to Copenhagen Fashion Week, where neons are neutral, and proportions are puffed and playful. Brands like Ganni, Stine Goya, Malene Birger, and Baum und Pferdgarten are pushing dreamy Rococo-era textures, fruit stall colour schemes, and maximalist silhouettes down the Danish runways this year. In Sweden, fashion opts for clean and feminine lines, clever and subversive layers, faux fur, and elevated knits established by longterm players like FIlippa K and rising brands like Teurn Studios. We’ve all eyed the Scandi style archetype – so what’s her plan post-pandemic?

A quick jaunt for influencers and editors from Copenhagen to Stockholm – both fashion weeks run back to back, barely a chance for a suitcase refresh and the necessary aesthetic about-face – and the case for Scandi domination speaks loudly. Though the Swedes are admired across the continent for their ubiquitous style identity, Stockholm Fashion Week is still in its infancy, compared to the Big Four (London, Milan, Paris, New York), with its first event in 2005. But from Istanbul to Copenhagen and Tokyo, a burgeoning wave of global fashion weeks are making their own statements to an international audience.

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For AW22, the Swedes took that opportunity to champion both its all-star brands and emerging talent, and take the mic on breaking industry and style stereotypes. What that means is evolving and challenging what you think you know about Scandinavian style, and exploring the fashion industry frameworks from sustainability to ethical practices and never-ending trend cycles.

Still tentatively parsing its place on the fashion schedule after a more low-key SS21, and amid changing COVID restrictions (the last wave of rules lifted on the final night, in time for a riotous, technicolour dinner presentation for local label Stand Studio), this year was a mix of catwalk shows, digital presentations, and intimate studio visits to get up close with creative collections. Established labels, baby designers, and upstart grads came from across Sweden for a bumper showing of talent. From the Beckmans College of Design showcase to innovative model Singular Society, the iconic Filippa K, younger brands and newcomers like Stockholm Surfboard Club and CDLP, denim mavens Jeanerica and Iggy Jeans, and Bite Studio, the schedule was jam packed. 

According to Stockholm Fashion Week’s secretary general Catarina Midby, the overarching theme was “exploring the new normal” – and as always, “sustainability as a core part of Stockholm Fashion Week”. Fashion essentials that translate to our changing needs and wants from clothing post-pandemic, that transcend trends without compromising self-expression or creative innovation. From the collections on show, that was articulated with a more sensual take on sustainable fashion – a smorgasbord of shapes that complement the architecture of the body, innovative textiles and repurposed materials, and exhilarating pops of colour against the more familiar Scandi neutrals.

At the top of the week, an IRL presentation at Bite set the tone for sensual sustainability. Bite – which stands for By Independent Thinkers for Environmental Progress – was founded in 2016 by William Lundgren and Veronika Kant. Since its inception, Lundgren and Kant have only worked with low-impact, recycled, and sustainable materials with environmental and social certifications, and each piece of clothing in the numbered collections is handcrafted and intimately tailored. 

The label’s ready-to-wear range has a lifetime buy-back guarantee – an uncompromising and revolutionary ethos. For AW22, the Bite colour palette has playfully evolved from its off-whites and neutrals to include a striking “horse brown”, light blues and navys, and a show-stopping fuchsia. It spoke to the emerging dynamism of colour and texture across the week. Last season’s leftovers become next season’s fabrics – a dense organic silk satin, viscose, organic merino wools. Highlights came by way of silk shirts and sweeping dresses made of rose petal silk, derived from an Indian rose bush, and cruelty free silk that doesn’t kill the silkworms in the usual processes. 

The adventure into colour continued – CDLP brought joyous, vibrant co-ord sets in sustainable fabrics, with prints made in collaboration with French floral design studio Baude. Born in a city not known for its waves, surf was well and truly up at Stockholm Surfboard Club’s sparky collection presentation. The buzzy unisex streetwear label was founded in 2019 by Acne Studios alumni Manne Haglund Glad and Anton Edburg, and channels the carefree cut of Cali surf culture through Swedish sensibilities – think jewel-toned cargo trousers, fresh takes on Hawaiian and bowling shirts, washed-out bootcut jeans, and sumptuous ombre mohair pullovers.

At denim innovators Jeanerica, manufacturing processes were also an integral part of the design vision. Over mini Swedish Semla buns, its founders Jonas Clason, the former head of denim at Acne Studios, and Lena Patriksson Keller, founder and chairman of the Pattrikson Group and board member of H&M, told gathered press that they were on a mission to change the “dirty denim” industry. 

The four-year-old brand crafts denim from recycled, re-used and organic cotton, working with Portuguese manufacturer ISKO, at the forefront of the world’s sustainable denim. AW22 elevates its wardrobe staples and effortlessly cool jean shapes (the high waisted Eiffels and sailor pant St Monicas are fashion crowd faves), with fun experiments in colour featuring some tie dye, peeks of pink satin in khaki parkas, and Gen-Z low rise takes on signature shapes. This collection compounds Jeanerica’s new sustainability program too – Conservation Denim, which will lead to a 70 per cent reduction in water consumption used compared to normal washing across its denim styles.

Essentials with a twist was another overarching sentiment – at Teurn Studios, where poetic silhouettes meet fresh colours and textures, like a pillowy smocked gold dress, and a sleek raincoat in duck egg blue. It’s only founder Anna Teurnell’s second collection and debut IRL show; the lunch presentation at the intimate Ett Hem Arts and Crafts townhouse hotel gave us timeless classics with playful modern touches, with dazzling sparkled heels peeked out from sharp neutral suit sets. 

Fillippa K, a pioneer of Swedish chic minimalism on the cusp of its 30th birthday next year, found inspiration in the Nordic winters and Northern Lights to debut a new vision for the brand before new creative director Liisa Kessler takes over officially. A sensual sleeveless dress and trouser set in sparkling sequins was inspired by the moonlight on a frozen lake, while pops of black leather, pink neoprene, and earthy cashmeres speak to the raw Scandi elements. Quintessential characteristics – versatile outerwear and functional knits – level up in this new era: the gorgeous cashmere opera-glove like mittens say it with a flourish.

Overproduction, and overconsumption were concerns that influenced the week. Popswap, a Depop-meets-Tinder style digital marketplace, held an IRL clothes-swapping event at the Nobis Hotel. Singular Society shared its fashion and lifestyle subscription-based strategy brand – a “Netflix of fashion” – at its new central Stockholm store. Diemonde, streetwear meets sleek tailoring from Togolese-Swedish designer Angelo da Silveira, showcased its locally made on-demand collection, which reduces fabric waste and responds to customer sizing. 

The final event was Stand Studio’s riotous dinner to celebrate its latest collection. Started by Nellie Kamras in 2014, the brand has expanded into vegan leather and sustainable faux fur, its status straosphering thanks to that chocolate brown checkerboard faux fur coat that will have been all over your IG feed in the last year. This new collection, presented over a dinner that included towers of salted butter and bulbs of Swedish bread, builds on the brand’s rainbow shades and tactile, oversized outerwear, with high-octane feminine dresses, chunky neon bombers, and matching puffy bags. Think an Aperol Spritz-ed up abominable snowwoman does apres ski.

The slopes of change in Stockholm see brands – whatever age, palette, or identity – slalom towards shared goals, ones that push the week’s theme of exploring a new normal. To respond to the challenges and opportunities facing fashion post-pandemic, interrogate and evolve the archetype of Scandi chic, and lead the way globally as a sustainable microcosm that can hold its own on the global stage.