Scandinavian style is fairly straightforward, but attempting to pinpoint Oslo style – and Norwegian fashion in general – is a trickier affair. CENTURION investigates.
According to Pål Vasbotten of Oslo Fashion Week, “We don’t have a very clear picture of what Norwegian design is, but there are several defining marks,” pointing to Oslo’s spectacular surrounding nature as his country’s departure point from the general breed of Scandinavian style. “We have surroundings with great nature, and a lot of Oslo people are walking around with very casual clothes – clothes that can be combined with a walk in the woods,” says Vasbotten, adding that the urban and streetwise look certainly has its place on the capital city’s streets, too.
The first thing to focus on, then, is footwear. Norwegian stores like Viking and Helly Hansen sell shoes and boots that make the transition from city to fjord and forest, then back again. “You don’t find high heels in the woods, but you do find training shoes in the centre of the city,” says Vasbotten. “So you can combine a pair of nice training shoes with streetwear jeans.” To complement your new kicks with sporty gear, head to Norrøna for a splash of colour on innovative coats and jackets, or to Norwegian Rain for more traditionally tailored outerwear that includes a selection of rain jackets inspired by perpetually wet Bergen, Europe’s rainiest city.
If an iconic Norwegian wool sweater is on your shopping list, you’ll certainly find it in Oslo – but selectivity is key. Avoid the tourist shops in favour of Dale of Norway, with their modern and classic versions woven from the finest wool. “Traditional sweaters are the ones that we wear,” says Vasbotten. “Not the new collection that comes out once a year.”
Oslo’s most iconic fashion brand is Moods of Norway, with a quirky and kitsch appeal that’s the creation of three Norwegian men. But among the out-there aesthetics of some of the men’s and women’s clothing (think pink floral suits and bold plaid prints for gents), you’ll find classic cuts including '40s- and '50s-inspired dresses and coats and traditional men’s cardigans and sweaters with nautical striping. The country’s love of the great outdoors gets a nod in more than just the fjord murals decorating Oslo’s flagship store, too – look for billowing down jackets and cozy ski hats lined with faux fur.
And finally, for street fashion, head to the trendy Grünerløkka neighborhood, where independent boutiques line the main drag and side streets of a funky district with hardly a chain shop in sight. Swedish and Danish fashions by designers such as ØE & SAMSØE and Odd Molly dominate at Med og Uten, and their edgier looks can be paired with very feminine dresses and wool-mix cashmere sweaters by Chill Norway.
However you piece together your own take on Oslo fashion, it’s the fine line between casual and refined that’s the essence of the city’s evolving look.