Stockholm’s ‘Library Town’: What’s in a name?

Stockholm's 'Library Town': What's in a name?
London has New Bond Street, Milan has the "The Golden Quad", now fashion-conscious Stockholmers have "Library Town". The Local finds out what's in the name and why a walk around the city's fashion district may involve a delve into the history books.

Fancy taking a stroll through Library town?

Start in Östermalm in the centre of Stockholm and pinpoint Biblioteksgatan on your map. Turn left to chic Swedish perfumery Byredo to take in the delicate aromas or turn right to Marc by Marc Jacobs to sample the designer’s popular diffusion line.

You may not realize it but you are now in Library Town (or Bibliotekstan to use its proper Swedish name), the focus of a recent rebranding project by leading Swedish property company Hufvudstaden and advertising agency Lowe Brindfors.

The partnership between the two companies took ownership of the name “Bibliotekstan” in 2010 with the purpose of turning the fiction of a high-profile, up-market fashion district in the Swedish capital into fact.

The quirky name, taken from the central street which runs through the area, is an ongoing initiative to “enhance the identity of the area surrounding Biblioteksgatan,” Bo Wikare, Head of Business Development told The Local.

Biblioteksgatan, the street which is the basis of the area’s new identity, was assigned its bookish name in 1885 after the National Library of Sweden, just a four minute walk away in nearby park Humlegården.

The location, which was previously a town in the 17th century called Norre Förstaden, boasts Stella McCartney, Burberry and Louis Vuitton as residents. Whilst homegrown talent, hip H&M sister company & Other Stories, J. Lindberg, Tiger of Sweden and Filippa K also line the surrounding streets.

Hufvudstaden hopes to “further reinforce Bibliotekstan as one of the most attractive shopping areas in Scandinavia, where premium international brands and the best in Swedish fashion blend successfully with restaurants and cafes in a highly inspirational setting.”

“It is essential for the area to constantly evolve and for Hufvudstaden to create a balanced retail mix,” the head of business development at the property company told The Local.

Hufvudstaden admits development of the area has been slow and as yet many Stockholm residents are still unaware of the name.

“Establishing a name takes time,” said Wikare. “More and more people are starting to recognize Bibliotekstan and associate it with the area but the journey has only just begun. We still have work ahead of us.”

The area is well known as the setting for the 1973 hostage drama that took place in a bank on Norrmalmstorg and lead to coining of the term Stockholm Syndrome due to the protective sympathies the hostages bestowed upon their captors.

The streets around Biblioteksgatan are also home to Röda Kvarn, a cinema famous for hosting many of legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s movie premieres. A little to the east of Library Town is Ingmar Bergmans gata, the street named after the director Woody Allen once described as “probably the greatest film artist … since the invention of the motion picture camera”.

Bibliotekstan’s historical value is impressive and with a renewed interest in adding high-fashion, expensive jewellery and delectable brasseries to the mix, Bibliotekstan has the goods, now it just needs to be noticed.

“In recent years, Bibliotekstan has reinforced its position as the fashion centre of Stockholm with the establishment of several prominent names in the international fashion world,” Wikare added.

Fashion heavyweight Prada is due to set up shop in the district this autumn, with Michael Kors and Armani expected to follow within the year.

Victoria Hussey

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