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Images and text by Gabrielle.

Day one in Stockholm! Such a great day. We spent the morning with Karina Lundell, Head Designer at Polarn O. Pyret. I first met Karina a few years ago and she is fantastic — so talented and delightful to hang out with.

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We started at the PO.P offices where Karina took us through the fall line, the holiday line and the outerwear line. We talked about the new fabrics and features and discussed Sweden’s famous outdoor preschools. (Completely outdoors! Even in the middle of winter!)

Polarn O. Pyret is a classic Swedish brand — any Swede could identify the signature stripes. And Victoria, the Princess, who recently had a baby, carries a PO.P diaper bag and has dedicated personal shopping hours at PO.P stores. She’s expected to dress the baby in this classic Swedish brand (and has even been criticized if she doesn’t).

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Each season, PO.P chooses a new theme for their line, and this fall it’s “cooking with kids”. Based on the theme, they created two new prints, plus kitchen accessories in the signature Polarn O. Pyret navy and red — a chefs hat, dishtowels, over mits, and aprons. I’m nuts about the polka dotted chef’s hat!

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After the HQ visit, we went to Polarn O. Pyret flagship store in the Gallerian shopping center so we could see the complete wares. All those stripes!

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Next up, lunch at Restaurang Prinsen with classic Swedish food on the menu. Can you guess what I ordered? Swedish meatballs — with mash potatoes and lingonberry sauce, of course! Really, really yummy. The restaurant has a perfect location for access to the best shopping in town. We ate outside and watches the fashionable people walk by while we chatted.

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One cute little detail: I liked how the dinner rolls were stacked on a stick!

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In addition to lunch, Karina also walked with us through the posh shopping area and pointed out the best of the Swedish brands. We stopped at famous Swedish department store, NK, and checked out super cool, modern Swedish brands like Hope, Dagmar, Tiger, Filippa K, Whyred and Rodebjer. Swedish design is so good! I truly loved everything, but especially gravitated to Filippa K and Rodebjer and Dagmar.

As we walked, Karina mentioned that many of the designers behind these brands got their start at beloved Swedish clothing brand H&M. In fact, Karina herself, started her career at H&M as well. And we ended up discussing more about H&M and the influence it has had on the Swedish fashion scene — it’s almost like a school for Swedish designers!

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H&M has not only launched a generation of independent designers, they’ve also added two new store concepts under their company umbrella. One is called COS. I’ve written about it before when my sister introduced me the shops in Paris. The other one is called & Other Stories. Both stores are like high-end big-sisters to H&M. Really fabulous stuff, but still totally accessible.

One thing I noticed in both COS and & Other Stories, is that the women shopping were all ages — hip teens to chic, grey-haired grandmas. Of course, I think it’s wonderful that the lines appeal to so many women!

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Outside of NK, we toured more of the fashion district, particularly focusing on Swedish brands — some I didn’t even know were Swedish, like Hestra Gloves and  Happy Socks!

Seeing all these Swedish brands got me asking questions about Swedish pride. I asked Karina what companies Swedes are most proud of. The first 5 mentioned were Ikea, H&M, Volvo, Skype, and Spotify. 

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I know when people think of fashion centers, New York and Paris are the cities we talk about. So it was really fun for me to realize how much influence Sweden has on the world of fashion as well. The city is really cutting edge as far as style goes, but it’s paired with a smart Swedish sensibility.

Karina talked about how the women wear practical shoes — rarely or never heels. They expect to be outside for at least a portion of every day, and heels simply don’t make sense for the harsh winters. She also mentioned that Swedish women don’t like to iron their clothes, and that every piece of clothing they purchase needs to be washable at home. If it’s dry clean only, they won’t buy it.

I love that thinking! I’m not above wearing an uncomfortable shoe for the sake of fashion, so I enjoyed hearing about the Swedish style mindset. Swedes are looking for beautiful pieces that are totally practical, and that can be worn for a long time. How does that align with how you dress?  And when you think of Sweden do any particular brands come to mind?