Swedish fashion has gone from everyday gray minimalism to glittering creations for the elite. Swedish fashion of today also offers haute couture. Here’s your ultimate guide to Swedish fashion
With a history of quality and clean design, Swedes have always had an inherent sense of style, either it’s about having an eye for timeless vintage, appreciation of delicious denim or in recent years, being part of the haute couture family of designers.
The Swedisg Fashion Miracle
The Swedes speak of the Swedish “modeundret” or “modemiraklet” which means the Swedish fashion miracle, which is said to have begun with the jeans companies Acne and Nudie. Fashion is a big part of daily life in Sweden and Swedes spend an awful lot of time to worry about what to wear.
Step off the plane in Sweden and it’ll hit you like a sack of potatoes: Swedes have style. Fashion is a big part of daily life here and for a nation that’s famously open about nudity, locals spend an awful lot of time worrying about what to wear.
Utility without function
“Utility without function”, said Hernández Corner about his collection in the spring of 2013. It is a good description of the uniformed everyday style Swedish fashion is known for. Functionalism that is not functional, and sober minimalism that is sometimes affected by artistic delirium. In addition, there’s often imitations of what is happening in the big fashion metropolises.
Swedish design has traveled across the globe, with household names like H&M and Acne dominating most high streets and fashion weeks, although they have always kept their “Nordic coolness”. The Swedes were certainly not born looking stylish. However, H&M gave the Swedes – and the world – plenty of affordable fashion stores and in big cities like Stockholm there’s a thriving market for vintage and second-hand clothing.
Your Ultimate Guide to Swedish Fashion
However, something has happened. The Swedish “clothes for everybody” philosophy, with roots in the building of social democracy, had to give way to something else: unique garments for the elite. Possibly it began when the fashion duo Altewai Saome debuted in 2011 and refined craftmanship was woven into the garments. It was an exclusivity that seemed so foreign that the designers themselves called it “un-Swedish”. As if it was impossible to imagine such a sophisticated style in folksy Sweden. Did this woman really exist in reality?
In this guide, we’re diving into all things Swedish fashion, from denim brands and retro clogs to designer splurges with links to their websites. We checked and updated this list in August 2020. We have not included brands that seemed inactive.
Acne Studios is a Stockholm-based fashion house with a multidisciplinary approach. Through founder and Creative Director Jonny Johansson’s interest in photography, art, architecture and contemporary culture, an alternative path has been found, turning Acne Studios into a well-respected creator of ready-to-wear, magazines, furniture, books and exhibitions.
As a member of the H&M family, ARKET offers contemporary and quality basics and essential products, plus trend-driven pieces that can fit in a capsule wardrobe. There is an emphasis on recycling (in production but also through an in-store incentive to return old clothes) and transparency, as ARKET lists its suppliers openly onsite.
Aiming to slow down consumption with their “meaningful essentials”, ASKET creates beautiful basics designed to last. They’re fully transparent and offer a traceability percentage for each garment, working towards full traceability.
Super chic leather goods, all handcrafted in Italy. Ethically sourced, sophisticated women’s shoes (and bags) are all in line with the brand’s Smart Luxury ethos: inspiring women to make smart choices – both for themselves and for the sake of the world they live in.
Hitting the sweet spot between athleisurewear and Royal Tenenbaum fancy dress, the eponymous brand from the 70s tennis star and heartthrob is full of athletic performance wear, athleisure, and undergarments.
Boob’s patented nursing collection has become a favourite among mothers all over the world. Today Boob makes clothes for all stages of motherhood, with smart double function for pregnancy and nursing.
Boomerang, from Stockholm, produces colourful and natural basics for the whole family, including children. It was founded in 1976.
Carin Wester designs classic and casual fashion. She uses playful substances in very subtle colors, as well as black, white and grey. Is sold through the Zalando online store.
The story started in 2012 when Sandra Näsström designed and made a super-light and very sensual slip for the models to wear under their couture gowns at a fashion show. The girls insisted on wearing them as dresses when they went out dancing that evening. Sandra was inspired by the idea of creating something adaptable that could be worn 24/7. She decided to name her new slip-dress Natalie, after the first model who wore it.
A contemporary, minimalist brand heavily inspired by art and design. COS’s approach to design is one that includes “buy less wear more,” as beautifully designed basics are meant to fill wardrobe gaps for years.
Craft is a Swedish brand specializing in functional clothing for endurance sports where performance and comfort are crucial for a good result. Craft works closely with elite athletes.
Stockholm-based DIANA ORVING Collections has presented women’s wear collections at fashion shows and exhibitions in Sweden and internationally since spring 2007.
Julius and Hanna Didrikson started making workwear for the fishermen in Grundsund, on the rim of Sweden’s western coastline, back in 1913. Today Didrikson is the leading brand of functional, rain- and weatherproof garments in Scandinavia.
Read also: Functional Fashion from Sweden
Don’t let the “family-owned” element of Dr Denim fool you – this brand is anything but quaint. Founded by brothers Alexander and Johannes, who inherited their obsession from their denim-tastemaker father, the brand has been on “a personal quest to be the global cure for half-baked denim” since 2004.
DRKN is a street fashion brand out of Stockholm that launched in May 2015. Their mission is to promote digital culture by way of clothing and style inspired by games, hacking, electronic music, digital art, and science fiction.
DUGHULT OF SWEDEN
Creates “superior quality clothing with the finest feel and a timeless, contemporary classic style. And only dresses, skirts, jackets and coats.”
No-nonsense Gothenburg brand making cool clothes for men and women.
Uber cool Stockholm-based Eytys blend 90s nostalgia with cyber punk for sneakers, loafers, and boots with attitude. Likely to chime with those who follow the Balenciaga “ugly shoe” school of thought, these bold designs are anything but minimal, but a comfortable cork footbed and considered manufacturing techniques make for a high quality shoe with confident proportions that’s easy to wear.
Timeless, minimalist design that’s true to Swedish style and sustainable, Filippa K is a classic Swedish brand. Launched in 1993, Filippa K is the epitome of Swedish style, as the versatility and comfort of the collections make them ideal for office–bike–evening transitional looks.
Fjällräven originates from Örnsjöldsvik, a place where the mountains meet the forest and the sea. They make clothes and equipment for outdoor use, and are dedicated to making nature more accessible. Their bags are durable and long-lasting, but they’re also very sweet.
Finely-crafted women’s shoes that reflect contemporary trends, Flattered is the place to go for slick everyday basics and high-fashion inspired designs.
A playful brand for men and women, Gram makes shoes that look like something you would’ve wanted as a child but grown up.
From Stockholm. Successful in many countries, especially Germany, Switzerland and Austria. All the textiles are made from natural materials.
Northern Europe’s largest manufacturer of outdoor products. Their range includes backpacks, sleeping bags, functional clothing and shoes.
HEDE FASHION OUTLET
Save money on Swedish fashion brands in this outlet near Gothenburg (also known as Freeport).
If you need heavy duty gloves, Swedish brand Hestra is where you go. These ones are made from Elk leather and have a thick fleece lining, as well as touchscreen pads on the thumb and index fingers so you can still use your smartphone while you’re out in the cold. These are the kind of gloves you have for decades – they’re really that good.
A brand loved in Sweden that hasn’t had the recognition it deserves from outside yet, HOPE is for the unisex, minimalist, and androgynous design fans. Plenty of oversized yet sleek tailoring lifts wardrobe staples from standard to Scandi.
Read also: Swedish Fashion Hope
HOUSE OF DAGMAR
Founded in 2005 by three sisters, Karin Söderlind, Kristina Tjäder and Sofia Wallenstam, the brand continues the sartorial legacy of their late grandmother, Dagmar. Inspired by their grandmother’s confidence and timeless style, the sisters create considered womenswear collections full of extraordinary craftsmanship. The pieces themselves are imbued with quiet elegance, architectural shapes, and feminine form.
From Stockholm. For “beautiful, sexy clothes for women who do not take dressing up too seriously”.
ISBJÖRN OF SWEDEN
The brand was founded in 2005 by Maria Frykman Forsberg and Camilla Schmidt. The business idea was born when they had their first babies, not finding proper outdoor gear for their little ones. The ISBJÖRN of Sweden collection covers the age from 0-14 years, offering all necessary layers kids will need for being active outdoors, at day care center or in the spare time with the family.
The Swedes are an active bunch, so it’s only fitting that one of their major 3 fashion houses is also a designer of golf and ski clothing. Alongside activewear, J Lindberg also designs contemporary men’s and womenswear, focusing on simple tailoring and quality basics.
Considered as classic, exclusive, wearable and feminine. The collections are designed in the countryside near Uppsala.
Gender-fluid raver kid of the early aughts grows up but stays the same; that’s the vibe from this cooler-than-cool Swedish brand. Lazoschmidl knows how to rock a pattern, a mesh, and a ruffle – all in the “menswear” category.
Men’s fashion from Stockholm, favoured by dandies and successful young people. Clever, practical and multifunctional.
Began as a pure clothing label, but today also makes shoes. The designers and founders are three sisters from Stockholm. I am unsure if they are still active because they have a web shop without https.
MISTRA FUTURE FASHION
Mistra future fashion was a research program focusing on circular economy aiming at a future positive fashion industry. The program held a unique system perspective operating cross disciplinary in a consortium with over 60 partners 2011-2019.
Dressing Gen Z and Millennial Swedes in Instagram pinks and teddy bear coats.
Launched from a Kickstarter campaign, Myrqvist produces Goodyear Welted shoes for men. This is a complex and labor-intensive form of shoe construction: it stops water from leaking through but most importantly, it enables the possibility to replace the outsole when needed. Consequently, Myrqvist shoes can be worn for decades.
One of Sweden’s hottest brands right now (2020).
Avant-garde, but wearable – that is what people say about Nakkna. The label comes from Stockholm.
High-end fashion from Stockholm for the rich and famous, particularly people in fashionable Stureplan square who like to wear her designs.
Technically based in Australia but started by three friends from Melbourne and Stockholm, NEUW is a testament to the far-reaching appeal of Swedish denim culture. The brand is inspired by vintage denim so all styles feature details like “repair stitches” or “revision darts,” soaking the collections in the rich variety denim can take.
High-end men´s fashion.
Lagom is a Swedish word for ‘just the right amount’. It’s their version of Yin and Yang.
Odd Molly really is a little “odd”: it is wayward, beautiful, humane, warm and playful. The designers at Odd Molly like to go their own way in fashion.
A 110-year-old menswear brand, which includes golf apparel.
Swedish menswear brand Our Legacy is all about pared-down, high-quality, and timeless design. They specialize in button down shirts; they’re the epitome of contemporary Swedish style. Their other wardrobe pieces, however, are just as well-made.
Born out of a need for practical skiwear in the 80s that didn’t succumb to the flashy trends of the time, Peak Performance is still ubiquitous with skiing in Sweden. Selling a wide range for men, women, and children, their outerwear is second to none when it comes to staying warm in the northern parts of the country.
Functional clothing for sailing and skiing.
Entirely recycled collections that speak truth to climate crisis denying powers. Sustainability is at the core of everything head designers …. do.
Produces not only underwear, but also chic, casual fashion. Founded in 1935 as “Resteröds Trikåfabrik”.
A brand beloved by fashion-forward women who want a comfortable silhouette while still looking put-together, Rodebjer is The Swedish Look at its peak. Incredibly modern and compelling, Rodebjer’s pieces are always the right combination of timeless and on-trend.
Swedish brand Sandqvist makes timeless bags that will last for ages and look good the whole time. Their bags are often made of recyclable materials, and you can bring them back to their stores for repairs.
Sätila of Sweden was founded in 1896 in the village of the same name deep in the Västergötland countryside. Since that day Sätila has designed, knitted and delivered hats, scarves and mittens worldwide.
Named Sveriges modemirakel, or Sweden’s “fashion miracle”, Fessahaye is a Swedish-Eritrean designer pushing for greater diversity in Scandinavian fashion through her poetic and bold collections, worn by “one of the most diversely casted runways in Copenhagen Fashion Week history”. Her work is exaggerated and personal, as she plays with proportion and takes inspiration from her Eritrean heritage. Although this is not classic Swedish design, it is definitely the future of it.
STOCKHOLM QUALITY OUTLET
Out-of-town retail parks sell clothes and accessories by Swedish fashion brands at deeply discounted prices – depending on the item, you can expect to get 30–70% off the recommended retail price. You should try this one.
Scandinavia is lovely, but it doesn’t half rain a lot… Stutterheim is a popular choice with men, women, children, and dogs when it comes to keeping dry. The handmade raincoats are crafted using rubberized cotton and feature double-welded seams, snap closures, and cotton drawstrings. They also make boots that look great and keep toes dry.
Read also: Swedish melancholy á la Bergman
Stylein launched in 2001 by founder and chief designer Elin Alemdar. They always stay true to their core aesthetic – sophisticated, sleek, and elegant – while finding a way to hit trends so that the collection feels timely.
The brand was born in Gothenburg with the idea of offering premium organic underwear. Swedish Eco products are made from certified organic cotton which is durable, soft and good for your body.
SWEDISH FASHION COUNCIL
Press release, March 25th 2020: The Swedish fashion industry is facing a serious crisis. The ongoing paradigm shift driven by the climate crisis, digitalization and a rapid change in consumer behavior has already created enormous challenges for the fashion industry. Now the main focus is on how we best can help the Swedish fashion industry to survive this crisis and to still be operating in the future. The future for many Swedish fashion companies can be determined within such a short period of time as a few weeks.
Inspired by the enigmatic “Anita”, a mother in 1970s southern Sweden who rocked a clog and whose impressive collection found in a factory basement was the basis of their first collection. The environmentally conscious shoes are made using chrome-free tanning and EU regulated wood.
TIGER OF SWEDEN
Tiger of Sweden is a Stockholm-based fashion house established in 1903 with a heritage in tailoring. For more than a century Tiger of Sweden has stood for style with purpose, dressing men and women for whom true style is about the confidence to be themselves. The brand founders Marcus Schwarzman and Hjalmar Nordström built the company on the Scandinavian principles of equality and fairness.
Founded in Helsingborg in 1891, Tretorn started as a rubber factory, producing galoshes for farmers to protect their feet. Over time, it has since become a producer of high-quality boots and sneakers, artfully marrying style with practicality.
TWIST & TANGO
Produces fashionable everyday clothes, which are meant to be fun. The successful brand comes from Haga, the Old Town district of Gothenburg.
UNIFORMS FOR THE DEDICATED
“Refined menswear for the conscious man.”
What started as a men’s shoe company has grown to be a global shoemaker for everyone, with fashion-forward and classic designs available for reasonable prices and uncompromising quality.
Clothes that are feminine and classic with a touch of color, both for business professionals and the everyday woman. Timeless elegance with a luxurious feeling and with an endless possibility of combinations.
Home of the infamous Zeitgeist t-shirt, a weekly print project that creates a design reflecting pop culture and sold with limited availability.
WeSC creates street fashion and street wear. The label comes from skateboard culture.
Whyred, from Stockholm, combines clean lines, neat shapes and idiosyncratic details. The major orientation is modernist.
& OTHER STORIES
With ateliers in Paris, Stockholm, and LA, & Other Stories offers designs that range from romantic to ranch hand. They also have a hugely popular beauty range, favored for its fragrances and hand creams.
The future of Swedish fashion
Given that it is home to multiple, enormous fast-fashion brands, it’s undeniable that Swedish fashion is an important country in terms of the globalization of fashion and rethinking damaging structures, but Sweden could have more influence if it joined forces with other Scandinavian fashion powers – rather than trying to carve out a new identity in an already saturated market.
Your Ultimate Guide to Swedish Fashion, compiled by Tor Kjolberg