Denim is a staple in wardrobes the world over and leading the way in the must-have jeans department? With Nudie Jeans, Cheap Monday and Acne, Swedish designer jeans are the only denim to be seen in.
There’s no denying that denim is as popular as ever and no more so than in the capital of laid-back chic, Stockholm.
Take a turn through the city’s streets and jeans, in black or blue but nearly always skinny, adorn the legs of countless men, women and children. The picture, of course, is much the same the world over. So what’s the appeal?
“Ever since the big denim boom in the 70s , denim has always been strong,” Nudie Jeans Project Manager, Peter Sjöström told YLC.
“In Sweden most people in offices and other workplaces don’t wear suits, they wear denim.”
Ever since their inception during the 19th century, jeans have fought the age, gender and occasion barriers and won with aplomb. Not to mention the versatility of the fabric that has allowed countless designers to create a mountain of covetable casually-cut garments such as dresses, skirts, shirts and of course, jeans. It’s easy then to see how the sales of jeans are set to hit a worldwide figure of US $56 billion by the year 2018.
For Stockholmers, with their innate functionality and propensity to catch onto trends, the re-introduction of the seventies skinny-fit or ‘drain-pipe’ jean in the nineties was the start of a tsunami of denim that would attract not only the casual-loving Swedes, but fashion-types and shoppers from around the globe.
Enter Sweden’s much-loved jean geniuses, Acne’s Jonny Johannson and Cheap Monday’s Örjan Andersson.
While the success story of the jean can only be accredited to the one and only Levi Strauss back in the American gold rush of the 1800s, jeans as a high-fashion item reached new levels of cult, cool status in the nineties and early 00s because of the design skill and business acumen of these, and a few other (including Gothenburg-born Nudie Jeans), Swedish brands.
Sweden’s number one in the high-end fashion stakes, Acne Studios (Ambition to Create Novel Expression) has its roots in humble denim beginnings in the mid-nineties when it caught onto fashion’s increasing love for minimalist, edgy aesthetic. Since then, Acne has transformed itself from a popular jean brand to a multi-national, catwalk stomping, super fashion label.
And what with fashion’s renewed interest in Scandinavian culture during the 00s – adored for its alternative, understated style – Örjan Andersson’s drainpipe cotton trousers fitted the bill like a dream.
Skinny jeans continue to eschew all others – especially when they come with a Swedish label sewn into the back hem.
Hipster favourite Urban Outfitters serves Stockholm’s skinny-jean lovers with the newest cuts, colours and twill mixes, while other European and American customers take to online, taking advantage of these über denim brands courtesy of UK online fashion hub, ASOS.
While Acne continues to rock the catwalk and Cheap Monday has branched out to offer a wide range of clothing and accessories, Sweden remains the denim capital of Europe offering unisex-driven Whyred, JC and Gothenburg-export and celebrity favourite, Nudie Jeans, a brand with “enough denim to rival the wardrobe of a cowboy in Mid-West of America.”
“We’ve stayed true to our product,” Sjöström said. “We never wanted to have a fashion company… we love jeans.”
For spring/summer 2014, denim was once again seen on the catwalks of DKNY in baggy, tapered denim overalls and denim mini-dresses at Balmain, proof enough that denim, in any shape, is as evergreen as it gets.
“Denim is like a second skin. It’s a living fabric and it ages and changes in your everyday life. The more you wear them the more beautiful they [the jeans] get. Just the way the indigo bleeds when crinkles are made. There’s more to denim than meets the eye. Indigo fades just like all of us.”
After spending seven months living in Sweden, self-confessed country-girl, Victoria returned to life in the English countryside with a very Stockholm-looking (i.e. black) wardrobe and a quest to discover how Swedish fashion is faring outside the land of the midnight sun. Victoria enjoys travelling to far-off lands, alternative music and wishes someone would invent some kind of socially-acceptable breakfast ice-cream.
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