Have you noticed how our high streets are increasingly populated with Scandinavian brands? H&M and its sister brands COS and &Other Stories are dominating the affordable yet stylish clothing market. While Clas Ohlson and Tiger are filling the Woolworths/Robert Dyas void for good value homeware when Ikea, Sweden’s most famous export, is too far to travel for one screw.
The invasion doesn’t stop at our high streets. In the UK, our televisions have been filled with dark and gripping excellent Scandinavian dramas such as The Killing and Borgen.
But why the sudden love for all things Scandi? Many have noted the recession as the tipping point. Our long love affair with Latin culture and the desire to emulate it is an unrealistic romantic ideal and not a culture that in the UK we really recognise. Nordic countries on the other hand with their long dark winters, cold damp climates and penchant for neat spirits and raw salmon are much more akin to our practical, dour sensibilities and innate need to knuckle down to some hard work.
The Nordic way of life is much quieter than that of their exuberant Latin cousins. Their aesthetic is simple and pared back, with a desire for quality over quantity in everything they do.
In the last few years we have ignited an almost obsessive interest in the Nordic lifestyle. Whether you realise it or not we are increasingly emulating their way of life. They are an incredibly progressive group of countries, so it’s no surprise that premium lifestyle magazine Monocle rates Helsinki No.2, Copenhagen No.3 and Stockholm No.10 in its Top Most Liveable cities list.
What makes them such aspirational, covetable nations? Their proximity to nature means they are incredibly passionate about spending time in it and protecting it from harm. Staycations are huge, cycling is huge, recycling is huge. In fact the Swedes recycle so diligently that last year they ran their landfills dry. Their diet is filled with low fat, low carb locally-sourced ingredients. Some of the world’s best and most innovative chefs are Scandinavian. René Redzepi of Noma in Denmark, Magnus Nilsson in Sweden and Geir Skeie in Norway are noted as some of the world’s most exciting chefs.
They’re also potty about good design, strongly believing in quality over quantity. Some of the world’s most desirable interior design comes from the Nordic nations – think Jacobsen’s iconic series 7 chair or the Poul Henningsen Lamp. Design in furniture and clothing follows this general rule of quality over quantity. Functionality and authenticity is a tablestake, not a new ‘nice to have’. Which is why brands such as Acne, Fjällräven and Nudie are being sported by fashionistas throughout London. Our high streets are testament to Scandinavia already being a big buzz word in the UK, but we believe there is still much to come from our Northern cousins. So what are the hot Scandi brands to watch? Our bets are on health food brand Renee Voltaire, Danish bike brand Velorbis and Stutterheim coats. Perhaps we might even see a revival of Akvavit!
By Eleanor Sellar, Cultural Insight, Added Value UK
Image credits: www.velorbis.comprevnext