Copenhagen and Stockholm are cities that have paved the way for Scandinavian fashion for some time now, but, historically, less attention has been paid to Oslo. That's a big mistake, and it's all about to change.
Brands like Acne, Han Kjøbenhavn, Henrik Vibskov, Our Legacy, Wood Wood and Norse Projects are all crucial components of the Scandinavian fashion landscape, but they all have in common the fact that they're not Norwegian.
Norway has been the shy, neglected sibling to fellow Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Denmark, for some time, and while Copenhagen and Stockholm have been part of the international fashion week calendar for a while now, Oslo has tended to be the incoherent and inconsistent outcast troubled by the lack of international press, sponsors and a general low attendance. After ten years in the industry under the name Oslo Fashion Week, the initiative got permanently cancelled and the future of Norwegian fashion looked gloomy.
Finally, though, the tides are turning for Norwegian fashion. For the third season now, Oslo Runway is stronger than ever, focusing on promoting new talent and new brands. In addition, the global interest in Norway as a part of the Scandinavian fashion industry is bigger than it's ever been. Oslo is seeing more international press attendance and is now an open arena for new talent. These changes have provided Oslo with the outlet it needs to be a part of the official fashion week calendar, putting it on the map as a new contender in the Scandinavian fashion sphere.
In the spirit of celebrating Norway's fashion scene, here are some of our favourite up and coming designers from Oslo Runway this year:
Arct reinterpreted some classic pyjama styles for SS17, with leather pants and bowling shirts. Piquet shirts mixed with heavy-duty leather jackets and light-weight, wide-legged trousers were at the forefront of the collection. The brand also used Piet Mondrian as an inspiration, as well as fabrics from their childhood.
The brand continued to mix gender-restricted garments and reworked classic stripes to fit their oversized and box-structured silhouette. The Spring/Summer season in Norway is nothing like Paris, New York or Milan. The collection is perfectly executed for Norwegian weather conditions, while still fitting the contemporary standards of fashion.
Silk floral prints, embroidered sweatshirts, denim jackets and an unorthodox approach to layering were the key elements at GRAA for SS17. The brand has continuously perfected their wardrobe essentials, making them lighter and more wearable this season.
The brand also used elements like silk neck scarfs and chains as a contrast to the soft and gentle palette and prints, while still being masculine and on-trend. GRAA, which is a part of the F5 collective, separated themselves from the other brands by not only focusing on spring summer functionality, but also aesthetically challenging the idea of modern outerwear.
While Norwegian ready-to-wear is always very functional, Auma decided to take things in the other direction by dressing men in caged bustiers and dresses. Elongated sleeves on traditional classics like the zip-hoodie and tight-fitted jersey sets played an important role in the collection.
Auma also included oversized, cracked leather bags and accessories mixed with gold appliqué sunglasses to emphasize the gender-fluid aspect of the collection. Auma always pushes the limit when it comes to ready-to-wear, but the brand always makes it somewhat wearable for both genders without crossing too many gender boundaries.
Holzweiler works across Scandinavia mostly in the accessory aspect of fashion. This season, the brand included men’s and women’s in one collection, while introducing sweats alongside their regular silk ensembles and knit-focused athleisure wear.
Fine printed silks mixed with streetwear staples like the bomber jacket, ball shorts and hoodies infused the normally preppy brand with some modern day wearability and gender-neutral key pieces for SS17. The collection was printed with steel-wire clothing hanger motifs and abstract silk prints, but somehow the genders were easily defined even with the mutual graphic design.
The design duo behind HAiKW/ took a trip to Africa with bold wax prints created by Norwegian artist Toril Johannesen. HAiKW/ ("haik" means hitchhike) usually invites brands to go on a journey with them, and this season decided it was their turn to go on a journey.
The brand has a simplistic approach to clothing: a T-shirt is a T-shirt and a pair of trousers are still shaped like a regular pair of trousers, while the prints and technical aspect of fabric usage remains a key motivator in the collection.
With more than 10 years in the Norwegian fashion scene, JohnnyLove has become a fashion week regular and never disappoints when it comes to his interpretation of Norwegian minimalism and outerwear.
The collection was earthy and tactile, consisting of summer knits, raw denim and camo print. Elements that you would usually expect in an Autumn/Winter collection were visible, because JohnnyLove knows his clientele and it’s the Norwegian costumer who needs clothes in all weather conditions. JohnnyLove’s continued to focus on tailored streetwear and a timeless universal wardrobe. The brand mixed women’s and men's on the runway, but managed to keep the genders separated with different visual expressions.
Why Hasn't Norway Had Its Big Break Yet?
Norwegian fashion hasn’t made an impact on the world for being innovative and ahead of time, like Antwerp or Japan, simply because Norwegian fashion is made to be worn by everyone and not just a specific targeted subculture or audience. It’s simple, minimalistic and honest. It’s not showpiece after showpiece, but, rather, targeted towards the wardrobe you swear by on a daily basis — clothes you can see yourself wearing time after time.
Functionality and weather conditions play a huge role in the Norwegian fashion industry: the Norwegian client will always look for longevity and quality over extremism and shock factor. Norwegian fashion is not a creative circus asking to be seen, but it does showcase nordic essentials at their best, and for this reason it's worth paying attention to.