City Guide: Sustainable Fashion in Scandinavia

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I’m on a break. Last month, I told myself that I needed to hit pause on my writing for a hot minute to clear my head and make brain space to launch my styling business. Right now it lives in the la la land of Google docs and I’m finally ready to bring it to life. Why?

Well, I’ve enjoyed writing here for the past four years. I’ve learned a ton. Not only about ethics and sustainability in fashion, but about what moves you and what peeves you off when it comes to your clothes. I understand the systemic issues as well as your purchasing habits, which has led me to the pragmatic approach I take today. No guilt tripping like I did in my early blogger years. Oy, so sorry about that! But, hey, it was cool of you to stick around while I navigated nuances and learned how to temper any fundamentalism.

So, ’nuff said. While I continue to learn and evolve, I do consider myself an expert when it comes to ethical fashion. However, I’m incredibly burnt out on the whole ‘being an influencer’ thing. Don’t worry though! That doesn’t mean I’m abandoning The Peahen or giving up on ethical fashion.

Rather, I’m going to focus more on styling. I want to get out from behind my computer and provide a real service to people, see their visceral reactions instead of reading comments. I might do personal shopping, style editorials, or teach folks the ins-and-outs of secondhand and vintage — or a little of it all. Either way, it’s a direction I’m excited about (all over again). Because I believe following your passion is about the pursuit, embracing change, and taking a rest instead of giving up. Right?

So stay tuned and get at me if you want to hire me for styling!

Business + Break

With all this talk of brainstorming, you’re probably wondering where my ‘break’ came in. Well, I did go on a proper vacation. I ventured to Scandinavia, a region renowned for progressive fashion and midcentury cool design. Oh, and a tiny conference called the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. So I abandoned my “no blogging” plan as fast as I Googled hygge.

Now, I’m back to share the brands and shops I discovered in case you find yourself venturing across the Atlantic. This will cover the three capitals I visited:  Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo, plus a little Latvian addition, Riga.

Influencers Unite // A meet-up to celebrate Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Follow these fab ladies!

Traveling in Scandinavia

Before I get into my fashion list, I want to share a few ‘general’ travel tips (not all sustainable) that will help you relax and enjoy Scandinavia more.

Getting around

For starters, if you’re visiting this region, I recommend planning for more than a week and embracing a slower way of travel. The capital cities are spread really far apart (it’s about a 7-hour train ride from Oslo to Copenhagen) and, IMO, it’s easier to sit back relax on an overnight cruise between them (I took this one) and enjoy the sights of the mountains and fjords en route. Bonus: You’ll also save yourself a night in a hotel, hostel or Airbnb when you do this.

It’s really a matter of preference here. If you dig the outdoors and want to explore some of the smaller towns (something I wish I had time for) you could rent a car. If you’re a cosmopolitan travel, another option would be flying over and taking a proper cruise that docs at all the main cities. Whatever you do, just avoid booking multiple flights between them if you’re in each city for only a few days. You’ll waste so much time commuting!

Budgeting

If you’re money conscious: 1) Think of avoiding this region in general. It’s hella expensive. Like even scrounging for bread and cheese could bankrupt you. Central and Eastern Europe are both cheaper. But if you must (it is gorgeous) 2) Plan to visit grocery stores and cook in Oslo and Copenhagen. These are the cities where you’ll take a real financial hit if you’re not careful.

Pro tip: If you’re on the run and hungry, I was surprised to discover that the 7-Eleven stores across Scandinavia were stocked with cheap and relatively healthy snacks and salads. Not like those sad airport egg salad sandwiches. They had a paleo bread and chickpea salads and items with regional flair. I bought so many raw food bars there to bring home!

Because it’s off the Scandinavian route, Riga was the least expensive city. Lunches ran about 8-10 euros and dinners about 30 euro for food and drinks. And the restaurants and bars had more of a local feel to them.

Finally, don’t be worried about getting cash out all the time. In every city I visited, the restaurants, bars, cabs, and stores all accepted credit cards. 

Stockholm

  • Nudie Jeans: repair shop and flagship. I recommend the Skånegatan location where you can buy a re-worn pair for a discount.
  • Grandpa: Stocking the coolest sustainable and local brands. Great place to get a feel for the city vibe.
  • H&M flagship: cool to see the mothership of corporate sustainable fashion.
  • Stockholms Stadsmission Second Hand: These are scatted throughout the city along with a bunch of other reasonably-priced secondhand shops. And, boy, are they organized! It’s nothing like digging through the troves at Goodwill in the States. I had an upstanding experience and so will you.
  • Swedish Hasbeens Story: signature platform shoes
  • Filippa K: Go have a look at one of the most pioneering sustainable brands in Scandinavia.

Don’t Miss! The Nordic Museum has a great exhibit that examines fashion through history.

Nomz @ Pelikan Restaurant (a taste of heritage Nordic)

There’s way more food, fashion, and places to stay on Alden’s list.  

Fine Scandi Design // Nudie Jeans; Stadsmission Thrift (so organized!); I bought the most colorful dress in the store

Copenhagen

Went, Loved
  • Vanishing Point: Pottery plus with hand-made local design.
  • Prag: Dual-location secondhand shop. I had luck at the Nørrebro location. The shop was more packed than stores in Stockholm but, nevertheless, still well color coded and organized. They stock everything from denim shorts to ball length gowns.
  • Wood Wood: Showcase of local designers.
  • Shamballa Jewels: Eastern symbolism, meets Nordic design. You won’t see designs like this elsewhere. Super high price points, but the looks are free.
  • Craft Sisters: Bold textiles for home and closet with a mission that support women and local designers.
Heard Great Things (I was only there two days)
  • Res Res: Stocking revered eco brands.
  • River and Raven
  • BeAwear
  • Gant:The Danish Brooks Brothers
  • Filippa K: Also has a presence here, although it’s not the flagship. They sell in the mall (Illum) and also have a freestanding nearby.

Nomz @ Grød (amazing chia pudding you can’t make at home, multiple locations), BOB Biomio (for a local dinner and biodynamic wine), Manfred’s (for a cozy lunch that pushes new nordic to new places, paired with orange wine), Torvehallerne marketplace (for sweets, take homes, and cooking adventures).

More eco-escapades in CPH from Holly.
Cruising CPH // Outside Craft Sisters in hip Nørrebro; Filippa K; Dinner at BOB Biomio

Oslo

  • Tom Wood: Scandi functional design brand based in Oslo and sold across the world. Most of it is unisex and curated with new releases two times per year.
  • Fair & Square: This is the Amour Very (super soft basics) of Oslo. Located in a pop-up near Tom Wood.
  • F5: Part concept store, part vintage in the back that’s stocked with all kinds of jackets and 90s Adidas.
  • Norwegian Rain / T-Michael / ModernTribute: Not sustainable, per se, but a cool space to check out if you’re into furniture and learning about fine men’s clothing and tailoring.

A beautiful thing: the first three stores are right next to each other!

Nomz @ Skippergata a great spot to hit up while shopping (vegan/health food), Vippa food market

Out in Oslo // View from the ferry; Tom Wood, Fair & Square, Skippergata, Vippa & The Norwegian Folk Museum

Riga

  • 2 Euro Thrift Shops: You must visit one of these! There are no particular names for them but you’re bound to stumble on one walking anywhere near the main city center.
  • Modernist: A boutique showroom where you can linger a while and drink champs.
  • Paviljons: Missed this but heard great things about the local design.
  • IH Concept Store: I promise this exists! I can’t find the link to it anywhere but it’s a store that merges fashion and furniture. It displays hip international brands alongside rising stars.

Nomz @ The Beginnings (went here 3 times!), Vieta Wine bar (just wine).

Roaming Riga // Sporting my 2€ vest in Old Town, local design, lunch @ The Beginnings

Have you been to Scandinavia? What did you think? Tell me if I missed any cool places here.

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