As consumers continue to gravitate toward simpler living, Nordic culture has maintained momentum in the U.S., inspiring designers to try their hand at Scandinavian-influenced design. Take Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, for example, who did a collaboration with Ikea last year, lending his streetwear eye to the brand for products like a special-edition bag and also rug collection.
“The Nordic countries have a long history as an egalitarian, environmentally conscious, healthy and balanced part of the world,” said Frederik Thrane, creative director of design and concept at Skagen, a minimalist Danish watch company that sells at Bloomingdale’s. “They also have a reputation as some of the happiest nations in the world. To me, part of this happiness is anchored in well-designed societies. The way Nordic societies are designed is not dissimilar to how Nordic products are designed. Work-life balance is closely related to balanced product design.”
Following the explosion of hygge in the American market, fashion has increasingly become allured by the movement, prompting a fresh take on comfort and basics. For brands, it has served as an easy cultural movement to capitalize on, since achieving peak hygge seems to require an ample assortment of scented candles, cozy socks, fuzzy blankets and instant hot chocolate. Kevin Harter, vp of fashion direction for Bloomingdale’s home department, said hygge influenced in-store displaysduring the 2016 holiday season, telling Time he curated assortments of Hudson Park blankets, Volupsa candles and Ugg pillows.
For other retailers, this has led buyers to seek out Nordic brands to feature on their shelves. As a result, American shoppers can hardly walk down a street or college campus without seeing a sea of Fjallraven backpacks or browse luxury e-commerce sites like Farfetch without stumbling upon styles by a Scandinavian designer such as Astrid Andersen or Henrik Vibskov. The movement is even trickling down to mall stores and teenage consumers — last month, counterculture retailer Hot Topic announced it will begin selling items by Tulipop, an Icelandic lifestyle brand.
Making room in the fashion market
In September, Paris Fashion Week launched Swedish Fashion Now, as a means of giving visibility to emerging brands by inviting them to debut their collections at a showroom visited by buyers and fashion press. Emma Ohlson, secretary general of the Association of Swedish Fashion Brands, told Glossy in a previous article that part of the effort was to challenge the perspective that Swedish design is only minimalistic.
“As with many countries, we have an abundance of cultures and inspirations,” she said.
While there isn’t yet a segment of New York Fashion Week dedicated to Swedish style, the global focus on the country continues to influence the American market. Take H&M’s offshoots for example: the upscale, minimalist concept stores Cos and & Other Stories, which have been expanding in the U.S. And Acne Studios, the Swedish luxury fashion house founded in 1996, continues to introduce related concepts to American consumers. Known for its denim offerings, in March, the company announced plans to pare down its denim styles to just three per gender — baggy, straight and skinny — to simplify the business model and reduce waste.
“By minimizing the assortment, you’re making those few items that much more important,” Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group, said in a previous article. “When you try to be something for everyone, you end up being nothing for anyone.”