Making Way for Swedish Style

From one of the coldest countries on earth springs some of the hottest fashion.

Stockholm endures one of the iciest climates in the world. Yet, despite its frosty exterior, in the last decade, Sweden has become renowned for producing many of the world’s hottest designers. During Fashion Week, ny’s fashion cognoscenti dashed to Bryant Park’s catwalks to catch the latest exports the country had to offer. A month later, fellow Europeans sat mouths agape, scribbling in notepads about the rise of Swedish style witnessed in Paris. In fact, scroll through any fashion week line-up these days and chances are you’ll find it heavily peppered with names like Carin Wester, Whyred, Minimarket, Rodebjer, J. Lindeburg, Hope, Diana Orving, Monki, Velour, Burfitt, Cheap Monday, Filippa K, Acne, Kostym, Tiger of Sweden and Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair. Whether it’s an extension of the country’s reputation for clean lines and sharp design — most notably in furniture and automotives — or a result of the climate which forces Swedes in the northern part of the country to spend much of their seven-month winter season indoors, there’s no denying the Northern European region is setting a new standard in the world of cutting-edge couture.

Establishing herself as one of Sweden’s most successful designers with proven staying power is Filippa Knutsson, who, together with Patrik Kihlborg and Karin Segerblom, created the internationally recognized label Filippa K in 1993. A welcome relief from the over-the-top and logo-splashed fashion of the 1980s, Filippa K represented a new urban style that was as sophisticated as it was simple. A decade later, the label entered the North American market, where magazine editors hailed it as architectural fashion for people who know anything of quality design, and soon the world over recognized the country’s reputation for crafting quality collections that make an impact via a minimalist signature.

The creators behind Cheap Monday have done their part in firmly securing Sweden’s place on the international fashion map. Stirring a revolution in the denim market, Orjan Andersson focuses on producing cutting-edge fashion that merges quality design with affordability and was the first to place a $70 price tag on designer jeans. Since first appearing in Sweden in 2004, Cheap Monday has gone on to position itself alongside high-end denim labels and is stocked in more than 1,000 boutiques across 28 countries, making it one of the most successful denim brands in the world.

Stocking the wardrobes of style mavens from Notting Hill to New York is the dynamic Swedish design duo Astrid Olsen and Lee Cotter, otherwise known as the creators of Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair (fars). Launching just four short years ago, fars has received international acclaim for impeccable attention to detail and minimalist yet highly structured design. Obsessed with the finest quality fabrics and the ways in which they move against or mold around the body, the duo utilize classic tailoring and modernist shaping techniques to produce experimental shapes certain to endure as timeless creations.

— Fiona Killackey