Critiques

The Scandinavian luxury fashion brands you need to know

Is Copenhagen the new Paris? Or perhaps Stockholm the new Milan? It’s no secret that the fashion industry has long been fascinated by Italian and French design. With global luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci, Prada and Christian Dior setting the pace, how could they not be? But there’s a fresh breeze blowing in from the north with an entirely new luxury aesthetic. Scandi Style is having a Moment.

And why not? French-girl style in particular has been written about for years. Topics like “how to dress like a French starlet” or “learn the skincare routines of French women” have been covered ad nauseum. From these articles we have learned that while the je ne sais quoi of the French female-inspired look is all about looking effortless, it requires a lot of upkeep.  And while we all love the look of French favorites like ballet flats or figure hugging little black dresses, we all can agree they are not the most comfortable items – am I right?

That’s why lately we here at Dandelion Chandelier have become intrigued by the fashion style of Scandinavian women, where the looks don’t just appear to be comfortable and easy – they actually are.

Scandinavia is probably best known for its famous interior design – from icons like Arne Jacobsen’s egg chair to the mainstream low-cost mega-giant Ikea.  And we see its impact throughout the design world.

However, recently Scandinavia has become famous for its cache of “it girls,” influencers and the influx of cool up and coming brands from the region.  From brands like Ganni or influencers like Pernille Teisbaek, we have been introduced to a distinctly new style of dressing known as Scandinavian Street Style, where women dress practically and comfortably, but in a stylish and chic way.

While out and about in their cities, you will almost never see a Norwegian, Danish or Swedish woman in high heels and a tight dress (except perhaps for an event).  Instead, she will likely be wearing sneakers, dressed comfortably in a feminine but slightly androgynous style that manages to balance a high-low aesthetic.

Take, for example, Danish street style It Girl Pernille Teisbaek, who written a book on the topic of how to dress Scandinavian.  Teisbaek is often dressed in jeans and an oversize blazer, or in a pleated skirt and a chunky knit.  She has mastered the art of looking simultaneously elegant and polished, but laid-back.  This is because Scandinavians believe in the philosophy of “less is more,” both in styling and in terms of their purchasing habits. They generally opt to buy quality over quantity.  Teisbaek herself admits to cleaning out her closet at least 2 times a year to ensure that it remains uncluttered and easy to navigate.  This helps keep her style minimalist, comfortable and oh so effortlessly cool.

The timing of this style movement comes at a moment where there has been a broad spotlight on Nordic lifestyle and culture.  The widespread fascination with ideas like Norwegian and Danish “hygge” (a mood of coziness and comfort), Swedish “lagom” (living a balanced, happy life), the spread of Nordic cuisine (take the Great Northern Food Hall in NYC’s Grand Central for example) or the rise of the Viking Diet and of course the region’s always covetable mid-century furniture.

Just as important, the timing coincides nicely with the fashion industry’s transition to more wearable styles (think crisp button-down shirts from Prada or draped dresses from The Row) alongside high/low, social media-friendly looks.  Danish brand Ganni has legions of #gannigirls on Instagram who pair the label’s colorful prints and ruffles with more masculine pieces, like blazers and graphic tees. This minimalist aesthetic, coupled with social media friendly street style, have sparked a fascinating new trend in fashion.

Intrigued? Ready to rock this look, at least on a test run? Then read on.

What are the foundations of a good Scandinavian wardrobe?  A great coat, the perfect pair of jeans, a chic selection of knitwear and lots of crisp, simple basics. Where can you find these key elements, you say?  Here are five of our favorite Scandinavian brands to check out as you assemble your Scandi-chic ensemble.

1. If there’s anything Copenhagen-based brand Ganni aims to create, it’s pieces that make pulling together a memorable outfit a little bit easier. Since hitting the shopping scene in 2000, the label has been doing just that, with collections comprised of fresh takes on timeless silhouettes. From perfect Ganni party dresses, to throw on and go tees, to relaxed printed kimono coats, the styles can easily mix-and-match but are also special enough to stand out on their own.

2. Cool-kid women’s wear label Saks Potts, also based out of Copenhagen, made its New York Fashion Week debut last season to a packed house at Gramercy Park’s National Arts Club. Designed to transcend seasons, their collections are inspired by youth culture, contemporary art and surprising materials.  Their strength is eye-catching outerwear that will see you through winters to come.

3. One of the biggest Danish labels is By Malene Birger, which recently appointed ex-Mulberry womenswear head Matilde Torp Mader as its newest creative director. Inspired by menwear tailoring, the brand creates clothes that are modern, relevant and effortless to wear with beautiful fabrics and intricate, handcrafted details.

4. Founded in 2004 by Norwegian designer Tine Mollatt, By Timo is known for its ’70s style bohemian dresses, blouses and skirts made of bright colors and vibrant prints in feminine silhouettes. The socially responsible brand has earned a reputation as an industry leader in humanitarian causes, donating clothing to women’s crisis shelters in its hometown of Oslo, as well as cities across Eastern Europe. Did we mention this brand is a favorite of Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit?

5. Launched in Stockholm in spring 2005 by three sisters, Karin Söderlind, Kristina Tjäder and Sofia Wallenstam, House of Dagmar has become a cult brand. Here the tailoring is relaxed, but the prints are plentiful.  The look is typically Scandinavian: cool, directional and understated, with a subtle nod to seasonal trends.

There you have it! Five ways to channel the spirit of the Great North all summer long. The temperatures may be rising, but this is the perfect time to look chill.

Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier and a former Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. Jillian lives in NYC and is married with three young children and loves cross country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.

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