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A quickie with...Lotta Ahlvar

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11:32 CEST+02:00
Lotta Ahlvar, CEO of the Swedish Fashion Council, gives Charlotte West a round-up of the Swedish fashion scene after Stockholm Fashion Week, where designer Swedish labels strut their stuff…

What are the up-and-coming trends next season in Swedish fashion?

It really depends on if you are talking about mass market or avant garde, but I think one really big thing is ecology. Recycling trends, fair made, fair trade – these are all things people are concerned about. From a consumer point of view, this is something they have been asking for. But now you see the avant garde designers as well as the major chains doing lines with something to do with the environment.

The other thing is nostalgia. For the Swedish market, the nostalgic thing has been going on for a while, even though I don't think the designer labels shown during the Fashion Week would see it themselves. But I think you can see lots of retro from the 80s. Of course, new materials, new styling, new cuts, but I think somehow it's the 80s coming back.

There is also a lot of black. I've never seen so much!

What are the must-haves for menswear and womenswear?

On the women's side, I would say something oversized. It could be a sweater, a dress, a t-shirt. I think what is nice is that it's not only jerseys. We're seeing lots of deconstructed things. People need instructions about how to wear them and what you can do with them. It's interesting to see that size small is more like XXXL for something oversized.

On the men's side, it's something really constructed. Something with zippers. Maybe like a biker jacket.

Where does Swedish fashion fit in an international perspective?

At the moment, we are seeing a major interest in Swedish fashion. You can see this in the reviews from this week on style.com. I think we have had really interesting designers, but we don't have any production left in this country. We don't have any sewing factories, so we have to export production.

If you compare to the Danish fashion scene, we are really at a disadvantage. But we have really good designer names, some really talented individuals.

Who are the most popular Swedish designers abroad?

I would say Hennes & Mauritz. Which is also kind of interesting because this is mass market fashion. H&M is the biggest and it's been introduced to the stock markets and the newspapers are reporting on it. At the moment, H&M is really the main share on the Swedish stock market. It's really been a big change, and these big brands are really big business. But it's not only H&M. We also have others such as KappAhl, Lindex…

What are the hottest smaller labels right now?

I would say Ann-Sofie Back. If you can actually call her a Swedish designer…she's practically a British label at the moment. But I think [she's successful] both because of her artistic individuality and her commercial line. I think she will be someone to look at.

And also Filippa K. She was one of the first wave of designers. She started in the mid-90s. She was one of the earliest labels with a big name. There are a few others like Anna Hotblad. Really nice knitted things.

And then you have all of the denim brands like Cheap Monday and Denim Birds.

How do you explain the boom in Swedish jeans labels?

We love denim and [Swedes] are very casual. I think the designers at many of these companies were not designers from the beginning. They come from the media or advertising agencies. They are very talented at building brands. They've been clever. The denim scene is good if you have a strong brand.

What are three adjectives to describe Swedish fashion right now?

Very commercial, very trendy, and very reliable.

Charlotte West

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