Street style, as with everything else in fashion, moves in waves. Before street style was uppercase "Street Style," it was a collection of the well-dressed industry folk bustling in and out of runway obligations, photographed by the late Bill Cunningham. Then, of course, there was "peacocking" — and what now? Well, we're sort of in this nebulous stage. Personal style is slowly coming back to us, but not without the prevalence of certain codes or aesthetics, many of which can be categorized like cafeteria tables in "Mean Girls."
There's the streetwear-and-skatewear look, for which participants are inclined to spend $700 on a hooded sweatshirt. There's the Phoebe-Philo-for-Céline woman, characterized by her feminine, minimalist frocks, white shirts, classic bags and bold jewelry. There's the "relentless Gucciness," in which key statement pieces — glitter sunglasses, belts, pearled loafers — have become major points of investment all across the aboard. Then there's logomania. So, so many logos.
While no one is particularly concerned about tiring of Gucci anytime soon, we are actually beginning to transition out of wherever we are right now. "When a trend reaches the mass and saturates the market, and the Vetements-esque look frankly has, the tastemakers move on to something new," says Sara Maggioni, Director of Retail & Buying at trend forecasting firm WGSN. In more recent seasons, Maggioni notes that this newness has taken the form of a more "formal" aesthetic, and with it, an overland of tailoring, heels and otherwise feminine elements, like ruffles, florals and lace.
Ganni, not even Gucci, epitomizes this particular moment in fashion better than almost anything else. The Copenhagen-based label comes courtesy of Creative Director Ditte Reffstrup, and has received top billing on such luxury e-commerce sites as Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi of late. (Global fashion search platform Lyst reported earlier this month that searches for the brand were up 18 percent, seeing one of the biggest spikes of the last year.) In her designs, Reffstrup has been open that each piece is created to be worn and styled differently per the wearer's individual style, a sentiment that's actually quite representative of Scandinavian style as a whole.
"Danes and Swedes are just naturally cool," says Maggioni. "They're famous for their so-called 'effortlessly cool' aesthetic, and their style has that pared-back overall quality that never looks too 'try-hard.'" Maggioni notes the "Ganni Girls," as Reffstrup has labeled the brand's Instagram-adept muses, have embraced that. ("Ganni Girls" is also the brand's dedicated hashtag that influencers use when posting wearing its clothing.) "Her look is feminine, but edgy; simple, but interesting and fresh. That all-important high-low aesthetic is very much at the heart of it."
Stephanie Broek, Fashion Features Editor at Glamour Netherlands, references Danish street style stalwart Pernille Teisbaek, who transforms her fussy, super-feminine pieces — many of which are, uncoincidentally, Ganni — into wearable basics when combined with sneakers or worn with a T-shirt underneath.
It's not just Ganni that has us smitten. Cool-kid womenswear label Saks Potts, also based out of Copenhagen, made its New York Fashion Week debut this season to a literal packed house at Gramercy Park's National Arts Club. There's Stine Goya, a colorful, print-heavy delight carried on Moda Operandi and courtesy of a former model and fashion editor of the same name. There's Baum und Pferdgarten, the playful irreverence of which is filled with equal parts street style bait and cheeky staples. There's Totême, a casual, luxurious label of "elevated wardrobe staples" founded by a Swedish couple: former mega-blogger Elin Kling and her husband, Karl Lindman. Finally, Broek notes the excitement surrounding one of the biggest Danish labels, By Malene Birger, which recently appointed ex-Mulberry womenswear head Matilde Torp Mader as creative director.
What's led the street style momentum to veer into the Scandinavian mode of dressing, and why now? It's no secret that the fashion and beauty industries have long been fascinated by the French, almost ad nauseum; in April of 2016, our friends at The Cut even culled the internet to outline 97 things you can do "like a French girl," according to the internet, from age to, literally, get your shit together.
When I speak to Broek about this, she says that while the French-girl look is, indeed, all about looking effortless, it still requires a lot of upkeep to get that je ne sais quoi. "Scandinavian style is much more comfortable and easy," she says. "The flat-shoe option for Parisiennes is a loafer — which, to be honest, is often not very comfortable — while Danish and Swedish girls prefer sneakers. French girls often wear figure-hugging jeans, miniskirts and dresses. Scandinavian women prefer pieces that are a little bit more oversized and easier to wear." The secret is slowly catching on: One search of "Danish girl" on Vogue.com provides no shortage of Scandinavian "It" girl fodder, from their secret beauty weapon to a guide to their festival style.
Plus, the Scandinavian aesthetic has timing on its side. The natural ease with which style stars in countries like Denmark, Norway and Sweden dress ties in nicely with the industry's transition to more wearable styles. Maggioni describes the changing sensibilities as being fresh, but without visible effort. "That's very appealing to many people as it's fashion-led, but commercial, and easy to wear and adopt," she says. This is where that high-low accessibility comes into play. Broek explains that with a quintessential Scandinavian brand like Ganni, its shoppers will pair the label's myriad of prints and ruffles with more masculine pieces, like blazers and band tees. "The move toward a more minimalist aesthetic which we have seen in the past few years has put Scandinavian brands in the spotlight."
There's also a broader fascination with Scandinavian interiors, lifestyle and general culture, as fueled by Instagram and before that, Tumblr. There's Denmark's "hygge" (a mood of coziness and comfort), Sweden's "lagom" (the Swedish art of living a balanced, happy life) and the broader region's covetable mid-century furniture. For Maggioni, it's the whole "package" that's really appealing.
But, it's true — street style, fashion, whatever, moves in waves, and this particular aesthetic may be reaching a saturation point. Maggioni admits that at WGSN, they're beginning to notice a shift toward more occasionwear-driven pieces, like suiting. And if only judging from the sheer amount of suits seen on the streets of New York Fashion Week, we'd have to agree. "While sneakers and jeans are still going to be around — we've grown used to being comfortable! — we're seeing a rise in tailoring, and also heels, making a bit of a comeback," she says. Blazers and tailored trousers are key contenders to take over from bomber jackets and tracksuit pants, and they're already going strong across editorials and, according to WGSN, even increasing at retail.
"I think some trends are very similar worldwide; they're just interpreted in different ways according to each region. Body shapes and skin tones are different everywhere, and cultural and religious influences also come into play, so local interpretation is paramount," says Maggioni, who notes that Scandinavia will also tap into the formal aesthetic looking ahead, as well. "We'll see more tailoring than before but done in a more 'Scandi' way: cleaner, leaner, boxier and combined with feminine undertones."
If there's one thing to take away from the Scandinavian street style aesthetic, it's that "effortless" is a myth, but eclectic, truly personal style is forever — and if the Nordic region has turned our attention to such accessible patterns of dressing, we're all the better for it.
Homepage photo: Showgoers at Copenhagen Fashion Week's Fall 2018 season. Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images