The Knowledge

Seven Scandi Brands That You Need To Know

MR PORTER’S lowdown on the most innovative Nordic labels

Is anywhere beyond the reach of Scandinavian culture? Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Noma? Is there anyone who is immune to the charms of hygge or who hasn’t watched The Killing? Here at MR PORTER, we love all things Scandi – the cosiness, those dark dramas, the cinnamon buns – but we’ve noticed that a disproportionate number of stylish menswear brands hail from Sweden and Denmark, too. Think Mr Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe meets streetwear, minimalist silhouettes meet tech-y fabrics.

The Nordic countries have always taken a democratic approach to design. In his book Scandinavian Design, Mr Peter Fiell notes that “the marriage of beautiful organic forms with everyday functionality is one of the primary strengths of Scandinavian design and one of the reasons why Scandinavian creations are so cherished”. 

Because we can’t get enough of it, we’ve taken on three new brands for spring: CMMN SWDN, Norse Projects and Spalwart join the likes of Acne Studios, NN07Nudie Jeans and Our Legacy. Here is everything you need to know about all seven.


After leading Mr Kanye West’s Yeezy design team in Paris, Mr Saif Bakir and Ms Emma Hedlund founded CMMN SWDN in 2012 in Malmö, Sweden’s creative hotspot, before decamping to east London a year later. The brand eschews the monochromatic palettes and clean silhouettes favoured by most Scandi brands in favour of shiny viscose and playful colours. Its latest collection was inspired by a trip to Marrakech and is rich in dusky, sensual and vibrant hues. We feel sure no one could ever get the hump with this gold satin blouson with appliquéd camel motif.

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During a visit to a factory in Slovakia in 2010, Messrs Christoffer Brattin and Fredrick Johansson came up with the idea of creating a retro Swedish shoe brand. After discovering machinery and shoe moulds that had been neglected since the 1950s, the Swedish design duo decided to reopen the soviet-era workshop and produce a range of vintage-looking sneakers. From this tinkering, Spalwart was born; the brand’s simple, minimalist designs feature rubber soles and uppers made from cotton, suede and nylon, and each pair is finished by hand. The Court sneakers in versatile grey suede are our favourites, and work with both smart and casualwear.

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Copenhagen-based Norse Projects was co-founded by Mr Tobia Sloth in 2002, and launched its first line in 2004. With roots in skateboarding culture and taking inspiration from the architectural tropes and landscapes of Scandinavia, it aims to create timeless products that can be worn whatever the season. The look is part streetwear, part utility, and nothing is ever over-designed, so its clothes are perfect for men who prefer a subtle approach to dressing. Its cotton-blend raincoat may reference classic British tailoring, but is cut in a minimalist way that reflects the label’s Scandinavian roots. Layer it over knitwear to keep out the cold or slip it on over a simple white tee if you favour a more easy-going, casual look.

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Founded in 2001 in Gothenburg, Nudie Jeans produces no-nonsense, long lasting premium jeans in a variety of fits and finishes, as well as knitwear and jackets. The label is quintessentially Swedish. Its garments are sleekly designed and the company has impressively high ethical standards. It uses 100 per cent organic cotton and works with Amnesty International. Music is also an integral part of its DNA. Nudie Jeans are commonly seen at music festivals, both on and off stage (Jay Z and Mr Alex Turner are fans), and its collaborations with indie bands Das Pop and Magic Kids have lent it a certain cachet.

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Acne stands for “ambition to create novel expressions”, and creative director Mr Jonny Johansson’s designs have certainly lived up to that since he co-founded the Stockholm-based brand in 1996. Acne Studios is now the go-to label for leather jackets and denim (immaculately cut jeans and light-wash jackets) and a byword for boxy, minimalist silhouettes and updated modern classics. Its panelled shell and cotton-twill hooded jacket is a great example of the label’s flair for reimagining outerwear. Oversized and retro in style, it’ll help you stand out on the slopes this ski-season for all the right reasons. Whats more, with four large pockets at the front, it’ll hold a whole host of essentials.

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This Copenhagen-based brand’s name is a contraction of No Nationality, which hints at its nomadic, adventurous mindset, and 2007, the year in which it was founded by Swede Mr Victor Lindh and Dane Mr Ulrik Pedersen. The label provides a range of everyday items you never knew you needed, reinventing archetypes such as the slim denim jean, chambray shirt and merino wool sweater. As well as its affordable price point, the central appeal of NN07 is its ability to mix smart with casual, something demonstrated by this season’s must-have unstructured wool blazer. Dress it up for work with a chambray shirt, or pair it with a crew-neck tee at the weekend.

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Swedish brand Our Legacy produced only T-shirts before founders Messrs Jockum Hallin and Christopher Nying launched its first full collection in 2008. From vintage Armani to punk, by way of art, film and architecture, their influences behind are diverse. The label might evoke classic Scandinavian design tropes – razor-sharp overcoats, perfect white tees and boxy, clean-lined tailoring – but it’s also become known for its psychedelic prints, space-age fabrics and exaggerated proportions. This flame-patterned cotton-voile shirt will certainly command attention. Team it with a black leather biker jacket for added edge or wear on its own to make a bold statement.

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