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Question Of The Day

Why Do Swedish People Always Wear Black?

We visited Stockholm Fashion Week to find out.

Swedes are generally known for our liberal politics, IKEA, meatballs, and ABBA. But a phenomenon that is less discussed is the infallible love story between Swedish people and black clothing. From layered jackets, to shoes, to bags, the darker the shade the more comfortable we seem to be.

So what's up with our obsession with dressing head to toe in black? Were we not loved enough as children or do we perhaps lack the ability of expressing ourselves with colour? We visited Stockholm Fashion Week to see if anybody could shed some light on the matter.


All photos by the authors

Natan Nygård, model

Why do you think Swedish people love dressing in black?
I think it's because people are shy. It's hard to be yourself and go beyond the limits, you know? So, I guess black clothing is the easiest way to blend in and stay on the safe side, so to speak.

Do you feel unique when you wear black?
Well, yeah. Definitely. I love wearing black. It feels safe. But I don't always want to be "safe" or blend in. Sometimes I just want to explore and be provocative or challenge the norm, and on those days I might not choose black. Or I might just choose black clothing that shows more skin.

Ylva Arwidson

Do you think there is a specific reason behind the Swede's obsession with black clothing?
Yes, black is safe – it's minimalistic. It's easy to dress in black. But it could just as well have been all grey or all white. There's always a large selection of black clothes to buy, and everything matches with black.

Do you think that it has something to do with our culture?
I do. I mean, look at the weather. I don't dress in floral print when it's snowing or raining like hell. Black is always a to go-thing and it always works. Maybe we're a little depressed here. Actually, I think we are. I don't live in Sweden, I live in France. The French dress wear a lot of black too, but not in the same way.

Daniel Björk, Editor in Chief at BON

Do you know why we love dressing in shades of black?
I think that it has to do with not wanting to stand out or draw too much attention to yourself. But then, to some extent, I think it has to do with our puritan, Christian heritage. You know, not exalting oneself, not getting too involved with unimportant things like beauty and appearances. Focusing on your work and so on. Black is a very effective colour in that sense.


Could it somehow reflect our well-being?
Of course there's the idea that black is associated with being successful. That when you're successful, you dress in black. That it looks good, sophisticated. But I think that's more of a cultural thing, a European cultural thing. Because black is a base colour here, and in other places, say Thailand, maybe flower patterns are more of a base.

Liza Forslund, student at Beckmans School of Design

Why do you think Swedes and fashion people love black clothes?
Because black is so practical. It's the best colour. A hundred shades of black.

Some people would say that colour reflects ones personality. Do you think that black reflects that of the Swedish people?
God, that's a hard question. I think it's more that black is such a great canvas, like, you can pair it with anything. You can wear a lot of heavy bling, a cool bag – it's a great base. And when you think about it, black is a mixture of all colours.

What emotion do you associate with black?
You feel cool when you wear black – that's mostly it. It's a comfortable colour to fall back on. Black encompasses every emotion.

Emma Nilsson, student

Why do Swedes love black?
I guess we're not really that colourful. Personality-wise, Swedes are pretty low-key. We don't stick out in a crowd, which is often reflected in how we dress. In particular the Scandinavian minimalism. We keep it simple.

Would you say that black reflects your personality?
Yes and no. It depends. Some days my personality is glitter and gold. But then again we live in Sweden. It's not like you'll be able to find winter jackets that are glitter, gold or rainbow–coloured. So it varies. But most days I feel like black reflects me as a person very well.


How does dressing in black make you feel?
The clothes don't really say much. They don't tell you everything there is to know. It's more of a base. If you want to get to know me you have to talk to me. You're not really yelling about who you are from the rooftops through your clothing.

Aretha Bergdahl, VICE intern

Why do you wear so much black?
I've dressed in black since my teens. I vividly remember being fourteen and my mother threatening to cut off my allowance if she saw me buying another dark clothing item. To be honest I think that black has always made me feel a bit dangerous. I used to say that I felt "French and difficult" whenever I had my black leather jacket and Doc Martens on. Black is clean and emotionless, like my soul.

So what can we gather from this? It seems that the Swedishness is so deeply rooted in our culture that it has defined our taste in clothing. The need to be as politically correct, non-threatening and inconspicuous as possible is manifested through our monotone dark attire. Historically, this country carries a long lineage of fikande low-key individuals so it would be nothing but logical for our clothing to reflect that. And in all honesty, dressing like a discreet black hole looks pretty good on Swedes.

Additional reporting by Johannes Räihä.

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