Winter is definitely here, and ohhh it’s cold. So cold! A Finnish friend of mine told me last winter that us Brits really don’t wrap up well enough… Sure enough, as soon as there was a chill in the air she would be decked out in a hat, scarf, coat and gloves, and yet she looked simplistically stylish with it. How could this be?! I would always end up looking like the Michelin man when wrapping up warm, and so began my quest into understanding Scandinavian style, and discovering how they are leading the way when it comes to slow fashion and sustainable living…
Where is Scandinavia?
First off, let’s establish where Scandi style comes from. Scandinavia is the the region in North Europe made up of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Iceland and Finland are often also included because of their cultural crossovers. The Scandinavian population is descended from Norse and Germanic tribes, and the languages of Denmark, Norway and Sweden have much in common.
Scandi style = slow fashion
On the surface, Scandi style appears to be a minimalistic combination of functionality and clean lines, style and substance. Blogs such as The Design Chaser and Scandinavia Standard demonstrate it perfectly, showcasing monochrome interiors and simple, high quality attire. But it’s not just the appearance that counts: Nordic brands have a strong focus on transparency and sustainability, so much so that the Nordic Fashion Association (NFA) is promoting the message “all we need is less”.
Hygge is the tip of the iceberg
Combine a focus on sustainability with last year’s hygge craze, and it’s clear that our Scandinavian cousins have a lot more to teach us than just style. There’s an underlying care that comes with their fashion and design. This serious focus on the end-user is clear through iconic classics such as the PH Lamp (its diffused light is better for the eyes and for hygge) or the Fjallraven Kanken backpack (made to improve posture of the children who use them, it’s now wildly popular with adults alike and even has a recycled range).
And it’s a common theme across Scandinavia – hygge being the Danish word for “a quality of cosiness”, koselig being the Norwegian word for “a state of bliss”, and the Finns call it kalsarikannit (source). Lagom seems to be the newest term to be picking up speed; the Swedish phrase roughly translates as “not too little, not too much – just enough”.
How to achieve lagom
Lagom can be applied to almost all aspects of our lives. Akin to conscious living, it’s about being aware of what you already have, be it clothes, food, time, etc. and making the most of it. The book Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living notes the holistic benefits of a lagom lifestyle as:
Physical space. Moderate, conscious consumption makes decluttering easier, and your hme becomes a more peaceful place.
Mental space. When you learn to take a step back and stop your mind spiralling, you can live life in a more authentic and focused way – embracing and coping with good and bad experiences.
Improved finances. As you become increasingly conscious not only of your personal needs bt also those of the planet, you’ll be likely to consume less while also learning to look after and be thrifty with your resources.
A sense of belonging. From improved relaitonships with your neighbours to trust in society’s collective and shared responsibilities, a lagom attitude can help you feel part of something bigger and provide a sense of purpose.
There’s no business like slow business
Interestingly, slow living principles are also being used by brands. IKEA, whose Live Lagom scheme I was a part of earlier this year, taught me to purchase much-needed, high quality products to make life more efficient, such as food storage jars, rechargeable batteries, and high quality knives. It all culminated in creating breakfast banana bread – so good!
There’s plenty of other Scandi brands who embody these principles too: Filippa K takes a mindful approach, Ivalo champions sustainable brands, Swedish Stockings are all eco, and Helsinki Fashion Week exclusively showcases green fashion.