Meet the Scandi set
The New European
ALEXANDRA HADDOW on the Nordic trendsetters who have style sussed
A couple of weeks ago when I needed a new pair of jeans and asked around as to who is doing the best denim, the answer was unanimous – Weekday.
The Swedish brand has just opened a shop in central London, I bought a pair. Jeans of every cut, fit and shade were all priced at a very reasonable £40, and although it's been two weeks, they feel much better quality than a lot of other high street labels.
Weekday is just one brand in the current Nordic takeover hitting the UK high street. Take a walk down Regent Street today and you'll encounter Swedish clothing giant H&M's pricier and incredibly stylish off-shoot & Other Stories, a few doors away from their new venture Arket, which offers simple and stylish micro-collections and opened its first UK shop last month, with Weekday next door. Danish brands such as Ganni also have sprung onto the UK fashion scene what feels like overnight, with a whole host of stylish names clamouring to wear the brand.
The UK has been in the grip of an obsession with our northern neighbours for some time now, having got hooked on hygge and Scandi noir. But our fascination with their fashion comes not from The Killing's Sarah Lund's briefly voguish knitwear or the leather trousers seen on Saga Norén in The Bridge.
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No, we (thankfully) have another group of women – a Scandi set of stylists, models and designers – who are influencing fashion across Europe. And if the Swedes are leading on brands, it is the Danes are providing us with most of the women wearing them.
Foremost among this Nordic new wave is Pernille Teisbaek, a Danish stylist, blogger and street style star. Amassing 496k followers on Instagram (the preferred platform for most of these women) and boasting an enviable personal (life)style, Teisbaek released her book Dress Scandinavian last month – striking whilst the sauna is hot – in which she offers her tips on how to ascertain that effortless Nordic cool.
Of course if you're buying a book on it, you might not have it as naturally as you might hope to, but it's a beautiful style tome nonetheless, and will also lead you to become obsessed with her apartment.
This summer Teisbaek wed Philip Lotko, the cofounder of Rains, a Danish clothing company, on the island of Bornholm in a Pinterest-user's dream-ceremony chronicled on their Instagram accounts, no doubt spurning hundreds of new followers in the process. Even their courtship sounds simple, they met at a music festival, and five months later he proposed in Tulum, Mexico, on holiday. Together they make a stylish union, Pernille with her personal style, and Philip, the man who made rain macs cool again. Trailing some way behind Teisbaek in the Instagram stakes (50.4k followers) but still making an impact is Frederikke Sofie, a lion-haired, white-blonde 20-year-old model who is having, as they say, 'a moment' – which translates as 'being booked for every show and ad campaign'. With editorials in international Vogues, countless catwalk appearances and campaigns for Celine, Chloe, and H&M. Sofie is symptomatic of the look we all appear to be after as a consequence of the Scandi set.
Ulrikke Hoyer, another Danish model at the top of her game, recently made the headlines by coming out and claiming that Louis Vuitton told her to 'only drink water for 24 hours' before a recent show in Japan, despite being a UK size 4-6.
At just 20 years old, models like Hoyer are speaking out in what has long been an industry where these issues remain secreted and silent amongst young women who are being encouraged to become unhealthy in order to model. Hoyer making this public is another sign that things are changing, and that these young women are at the forefront of the shift.
The women are not just wearing the clothes, but creating them too. Copenhagen designers Barbara Potts and Cathrine Saks set up their eponymous brand Saks Potts in 2013 only four years later and the extremely young duo (neither has reached their 25th birthday) have created a global brand that appeals to modern women. It's fun, it's cool and it's a bit weird, with bright silk blouses under candy-coloured furs (their signature piece), leopard print, white knee-high boots and big pants.
You can't really pin it down, and yet you want it all. It's this, in effect, that I think makes these women so successful and so important at this moment on the global fashion stage. They don't pander to trends, they do what they want to, with good grace, and with a youthful confidence that it might actually work. It might sound cheesy, but they're a symbol of hope with an air of freedom, in an seemingly increasing pessimistic environment of business and commerce. They're a fresh breeze blowing into town, and everyone wants to embody their mood. Just as we're told the high street is dying, it's the Scandis that are bringing it back to life.
Copenhagen is the centre for this Scandi set and its fashion week is fast becoming the fifth wheel to the traditional biannual four fashion city circuit. British journalist, podcaster, and street-style favourite Pandora Sykes is a regular visitor and says the influence can be felt on the street.
'I feel very comfortable [in Copenhagen]: I don't feel messy, like I can do, in other cities. They like wearing trainers and minimal make up and they aren't obsessed with wearing things that make them look thin. That sounds like an odd thing to say – but in Milan, or Paris, for example, to use statistically fashion orientated cities, it's about looking as svelte as possible. In Copenhagen, it's about looking cool, unique and fun. Look at Pernille or the other young Danish girls like Alex Carl, Ulrikke Hoyer, Frederikke Sofie, Emili Sindlev, Caroline Brash-Nielsen, and the Saks Potts girls.'
For years British women have been told how to look more French, but perhaps want we want is simpler and less calculated. Something Scandi.
Alexandra Haddow is a freelance journalist, comedian, and one third of the School for Dumb Women, a weekly podcast that explains things you're too proud to admit you know nothing about
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