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Scandinavian brands: minimalism at its best

By Anne-Sophie Castro


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Inspired by Copenhagen Fashion Week which took place last month, FashionUnited is looking at the Nordic codes that inspire the slow life trends. In the region, sustainable products and organic materials are synonymous with low consumption. From furniture to decorations, Scandinavian design is distinguished by its minimalism and functionality.

Scandinavian style, which has become increasingly eclectic, covers streetwear and more luxurious clothing. It is found with the Swedes, the Norwegians and the Danes with a few exceptions: the Swedes play the minimalist card, the Norwegians are more concerned with adornment and the Danes display a more mischievous type of fashion that is always tasteful and refined.

“Scandinavian style is relaxed but at the same time very sophisticated. It is simple and easy to wear,” explained Christina Exsteen, Artistic Director of By Marlene Birger, in an interview with British Vogue.

Apart from the variety of brands in the H&M Group, including two surprise labels this year that are diametrically opposed, Scandinavian brands are good looking and highly marketable. Here is a selection of a few labels to (re-)discover.

Nyden and Afound (H&M)

Scandinavia has made an indelible impression on our wardrobes, irrespective of our budget. H&M Group (H&M, COS, Cheap Monday, & Other Stories, Arket) which took in 200,004 million Swedish crowns (20,449 million Euros) in 2017, had disappointing results, with a rise in sales of only 4 percent. For Karl-Johan Persson, Chief Executive Officer of the Group, “the transformation of the market requires a new strategy” and this has begun with the opening of H&M in new segments with the aim of adapting to the changing behaviour of consumers.

This year, H&M has added two new brands to its portfolio: Nyden and Afound. Nyden is based on luxury fashion aimed at millenials which offers numerous collaborations with artists such as the tattooer Dr Who and the Swedish actress Noomi Rapace. Nyden therefore runs counter to the rest of the brands in the Group, removed from fashion trends and the fashion calendar and seasons. Regarding the Afound concept, it’s known for “recycling” brands for men and women with prices reduced by around 70 percent. Sixty additional brands have already chosen to collaborate with Afound.

Essentials, no matter what time of year. Tap to shop

Una publicación compartida de /Nyden (@wearenyden) el

Astrid Andersen

This Danish designer, established in Copenhagen and London, studied at the Royal College of Art. She offers luxury streetwear with sporting motifs, mixing raw materials with other more elaborate and finer materials such as the lace of Sophie Hallette. She also collaborates with Nike or Kopenhagen Fur as an artistic consultant.

@miamatangi mega girls squad in Astrid Andersen x Mia tour colab

Una publicación compartida de Astrid Andersen (@astridandersens) el

Cecilie Bahnsen

Cecile Bahnsen is a luxury clothing brand based in Copenhagen. Supported by a rich design culture, its collections combine high fashion know-how and sculptural silhouettes, reinterpreted for a contemporary public. Each item of clothing is hand made using traditional techniques and unique design fabrics, presenting a timeless expression of modern femininity.

By Malene Birger

Malene Birger is a graduate of the Danish Design School. She began her fashion career in 1989 as a designer at by Carli Gry and designed women’s collections at Marc O’Polo in Stockholm. She established Jackpot in 2003, a premium contemporary brand aimed at active women and recognized for its basics and evening wear.

Acne Studios

One of the best known, this premium brand with a multi-discipline approach is based in Stockholm. The interest of Jonny Johansson, the founder and creative director, in photography, art, architecture and contemporary culture allowed Acne Studios to become an international label for ready-to-wear clothing, furniture, books and exhibitions. Its collections, which are shown in Paris, place the emphasis upon the eclectic adaptation and use of custom materials and fabrics. The collections shoes, accessories and denim for men and women.

Henrik Vibskov

At 46 years old, this atypical Danish designer has renounced the classic minimalist aesthetic which had become a staple the region. He imagines models in warm colours, striking lines and provocative motifs. In recent years, his prolific works covering fashion, music, cinema, interior design and the visual arts have won many prizes and a worldwide audience.

Wood Wood

Wood Wood is a contemporary fashion and lifestyle brand created in 2002 and is based in Copenhagen. It has its own stores in Berlin, Aarhus and Copenhagen as well as an online store. Its joint founders, Karl-Oskar Olsen and Brian SS Jensen, grew up in the 1990s with graffiti and street culture. They mix high fashion, sport and streetwear with culture, art and music, creating clear and functional items of style.

This article was originally written for FashionUnited.fr. Edited by Justine Browning.

Photo: Acne Studios - Campagne Automne/Hiver 2018.

Acne Studios
Astrid Andersen
By Malene Birger
By Marlene Birger
Cecilie Bahnsen
Copenhagen Fashion Week
Wood Wood