On the success of Scandinavian Brands

Molo

Since I moved from the US to the UK four years ago, I was struck by the strong presence of Scandinavian brands, by their huge success – almost a cult thing one might say. I started asking around for the reasons of such a success; the words “comfortable, functional, fun, honest, fairly priced, well designed with children in mind” came back regularly. I also asked who are the most successful childrenswer Scandinavian brands, and the following names came back on several occasions : Molo, Mini Rodini, Soft Gallery, Katvig, Petit by Sofie Schnoor, Miniature, Name it, Modeerska Huset, Bang bang Copenhagen and Popupshop. Other brands mentioned were Angulus, Polarn O pyret, Noa Noa, AlbaBaby, Bonkeli, Dyno, Liandlo, Lipfish, Plastisock, Röda Hund, Little Remix, by Designers Remix, Mads Nørgaard Kids, How to kiss a frog, Dyno, Shampoodle, New Generals.

Scandinavian brands are a successful as well in the US or on the continent, but they are generally mixed with other  national and international brands. In England however, they seem to be mostly represented alongside other Scandinavian products, clustered with each other. There are stores selling Scandinavian products only, agents exclusively representing Nordic brands, blogs focusing on the Scandinavian trend, etc. With the arrival of “Lille Nord -the new online magazine for parents and children with a love for everything Scandinavian”, it seems that the Scandi-Mania will just get even stronger.

Thanks to Nordic barn, Nordic KidsLittle Figaro, Lucky Boy Sunday, Jaimee Gong (co-owner of Noeuf.com) for their participation.

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Corina Papadopoulou, owner of Children’s store Kidsen

Historically I think the British have always regarded Scandinavian brands to stand for good quality, great designs and even honesty. I am not entirely sure where this originates from. Maybe it is thanks to mammoth Scandi brands like IKEA and H&M, iconic designers like Hans Wegner and even music artists like Abba laying the foundations, giving British consumers positive associations with all things Scandinavian. Fast forward to 2012 and the UK has now fully embraced Nordic culture in every sense; from the food they eat, books they read, and even the TV series they now so religiously follow. But I think the British appreciation with all things Scandinavian goes further than just Sarah Lund’s jumper, meatballs and Stig Larssons Triology.

Scandinavian brands don’t scream logos, expensive advertising campaigns or  celebrity publicity – they simply rely on their investment in quality, design and honesty. I think the British market can really appreciate these very Nordic values, not too far away from their own sentiments. I sometimes wonder if they are aware just how ‘Scandinavian’ they are becoming, as now millions are streaming their music from Spotify (Swedish) and making cheap phonecalls to family via Skype (also Swedish)?

Famous Scandinavian brands include  : IKEA & H&M have to be mentioned in the same breath – they are probably Scandinavia’s (if not two of the world’s) biggest success stories. Giant, global  brands with humble beginnings in Sweden. ACNE - a fashion brand which is fast moving towards mass recognition if not even world domination, uniforming a nation with their designs in both fashion and footwear. BRIO - Here in the UK they are mostly famous for their fantastic toy trains, but they are a Swedish company established in the 50s, offering exceptional designs in both their toy, furniture and buggy manufacturing. LEGO - Hardly needs an introduction.  A Danish classic that is over 80 years old and is probably the most iconic children’s brand in the world. ABSOLUTE VODKA - Don’t we all remember those super cool Absolute adverts. They put fashion into vodka or maybe it was vodka into fashion? Either way they are another example of a great Scandinavian brand.

Kidsen

Bianca Wessel, author of Little Scandinavian

(Bianca is also consultant for Scandinavian brands + British retailers, Collaborator at Trade Show CPH Kids in Copenhagen and Event Coordinator)

Scandinavian design has become known for a clean and functional style, high quality products with a natural look. The Nordic countries are close to nature something that you easily can recognise in the design. Sustainability and environmental concern is as important as timeless and sleek design that will last for generations. Children’s clothes from Scandinavia are known for being comfortable, practical and functional. Many a devoted fan of Scandinavian childrenswear also appreciate the colourful and funky styles often found in several of the brands. It’s the playfulness in design and function that’s eventually is striking, and serves as an inspiration to designers worldwide. Allowing children to be children and not dressed up as Mini Adults are a main goal. Scandinavian children’s design promotes a happy and active childhood with hopes for a green and sustainable future. 

Little Scandinavian

Inger Breitenstein, Founder of Breitenstein Agencies 

When you think of brands from Scandinavia from Ikea, Lego, Volvo, H & M, Ecco, Fjallraven, Marimekko, Rice to smaller niche brands, which Scandinavia is full of,  I think they on a very broad scale represent a sense of style, look and quality where there is a good correlation between what you pay and what you get. As the countries in Scandinavia are fairly small there are many niche children’s brands who know really well how to create a brand for a certain look and then build on this theme. Overall Scandinavia have strong feel for aesthetics in their design and a lot of these brands are actually quite timeless.

Quality- is another main factor as good quality is well appreciated and a critical factor in defining what Scandinavians are attracted to. There are long traditions of investing slightly more when you buy eg. furniture because you plan to buy something that will last and only look better after years of use.  In many Scandinavian homes the interior is often something you collect over a lifetime with a mix of contemporary design and eclectic pieces inherited from families and it all somehow sit really well together and create a personal statement. Being in the northern and colder part of Europe the Scandinavians spent a lot of time indoors and their home is important to them and they often want to reflect their personalities through their home.  I believe this is the same with fashion. In Scandinavia children are not wearing a school uniform and this allows the children to develop a strong sense of style and look from quite an early age. You do not want to look too much like everyone else, but are often proud of having your “own” style. Being able to wear your clothes every day for school also encourages parents to buy quality- whereas in the UK many parents reason that the children hardly will get to wear their clothes apart from weekends and therefore don’t want to spent too much on clothes they will soon grow out of. From a very practical point of view The Scandinavians are quite laid back and not very formal. This is mirrored in children’s fashion where comfort while wearing the clothes is very important. Soft materials and not too many stiff collars, too pretty dresses that are hard to play in etc. Use of natural fibres like cotton, wool and silk are also often priorities as they work well with our climate and are most comfortable to wear. In essence the simple look (not too many embroidered fairies), the clean lines and the good quality at reasonable prices have in my opinion created the success of Scandinavian success in the UK. In Scandinavia they design clothes for children. They try to preserve the childhood and don’t want the children to look grown up by the age of 6 looking like a young version of a trendy mum. They want the children to have their own fashion. I do think that it is hard to point out brands as I think that there is a long list of many small brands all being successful. It all depends on their segment.

(Breitenstein Agencies represent the brands FUB, Christina Rohde, Milibe , Ver de Terre, Limonade tights and socks, Angulus, BOBUX, MAA).

Mogens Bundgaard Jepsen ceo & proprietor of Molo Kids

I think Scandinavian design has become quite popular in the UK due to its innovative style, especially in the home market. Customers seem to become more aware of Scandinavian design/brands and they are pulling it through the market. We see this, for instance, from particular stores doing only Scandinavian brands. Furthermore, Scandinavian kids brands seem to offer something the UK high street can’t in design, colour and functionality. The weather in the UK is slowly changing and we are experiencing harsher winters and parents are needing to invest in better coats/protection for their children and this is something Scandinavian brands are experts in. Scandinavian brands are durable and this is something that helps with molo’s brand loyalty, as customers trust us to deliver a product that will last not just for one child, but for the next too. At the same time the tradition of scandinavian kids fashion  lets kids be kids, instead of dressing them as mini adults. 

Molo Kids

Stine, owner of Sparkle and spins

(Stine is also stylist and photographer,freelance creative – TV/wardrobe department, Photography)

I think that scandinavian brands are successful because of their timeless design, amazing quality and their ability  somehow to always be ahead of the trends. When Katvig & Molo two long standing children’s wear brand first came to the UK about 7 years ago there really wasn’t much else like them on the UK market. They paved they way for a new wave of children’s brands. A look that was very colourful, yet simple and stood out from the rest of the crowed because they made clothes that wasn’t just pink and blue. We have seen the same trend in home interior when Skandium opened their first store on Wigmore Street back in the early 90′ties there was nothing else like it on the UK market. They introduced the UK to simple classic designs such as Arne Jacobsen, PH’ Lamps again Brands with a timeless design from Scandinavia.

Sparkle and spins

Lara Soetekouw, founder of Big Blue Cuddle

I definitely have a soft spot for scandinavian brands! We love them because they are imaginative, playful and colourful, almost a little crazy sometimes. Scandinavian children clothes seem to celebrate childhood, let children be children and dresses them as they’d be in THEIR world, not from a grown-up perspective. We are lucky enough to have the support of 8 brands. Not only they make gorgeous clothes but they are also often ethically/sustainably produced – which of course makes us feel even more proud to be selling them.

Big Blue Cuddle

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