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Stockholm has stepped forward as a global fashion capital. Here are tips on where to shop, eat and hang out from five exemplars of Swedish style.
This story first appeared in the September 26, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
He originally set out to become a policeman. Then he spent a year working with kids in a mental institution. Finally, Pontus Björkman decided it was time for a break. With that in mind, he walked into the nearest denim shop and applied for a job, and three days later he was on a retail floor, selling the latest jeans from brands such as Acne, Nudie, Levi’s and Wrangler.
This is the checkered career that led Björkman to his current position: head of brand development for Acne. He has now been at the Stockholm-based denim brand for more than a decade, but his view of fashion remains down-to-earth. “For me, it’s important to wear clothes that give you energy,” he says. “And if you’re late for a party, it always comes down to your favorite pair of jeans.”
GO-TO SHOP: Herr Judit, Sibyllegatan 29. A carefully curated vintage store, where Björkman shops for sunglasses. “I own 30 pairs, so it happens quite often.”
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Jin & Peeters Dumpling and Chicken Deli, Kungsholms Strand 157. Serves three dishes: Japanese dumplings, grilled chicken and Belgian crispy waffles. “Don’t miss their fantastic rhubarb lemonade.”
WHERE TO RELAX: Teatergrillen, Nybrogatan 3. Björkman comes here for chanterelle toast, a bottle of red wine and “to have a chat with the somewhat crazy head waiter, Anders.”
PREFERRED HANGOUT: Hotel Skeppsholmen, Gröna Gången 1. “This is the perfect spot for my kids to run around while my wife and I enjoy the fantastic view,” says Björkman. “It’s just by the water, so you can look at the boats and feel the breeze caressing your face.”
WHERE TO BRING A DATE: Cadierbaren at Grand Hotel, Blasieholmshamnen 8. First-rate mojitos. “And the characters in the bar are a good topic for small talk.”
If Mathin Lundgren’s style were a drink, it would be an old-fashioned—which happens to be a specialty of Kåken, the classic yet of-the-moment pub where he serves as bar manager. Like Kåken, whose dark-wood interior evokes the atmosphere of a Forties American movie, Lundgren’s look is decidedly retro.
His taste in clothes predates his current job, however. Before he became a bartender, Lundgren worked with customers in his father’s tailoring shop, starting at the age of 16. That sparked an interest in men’s wear tradition, which evolved into his signature style. He expects to stay on this sartorial track forever, with occasional changes in the silhouette. “Now I’m into a looser fit,” says Lundgren, who previously tended bar at Grodan and Pontus, both notable Stockholm restaurants. “I like a pair of chinos combined with a loose shirt.” Some recipes never go out of fashion.
GO-TO SHOP: Our Legacy, Krukmakargatan 26. A retail outlet for Lundgren’s favorite brand, Our Legacy. He describes the look as “a younger Ralph Lauren.”
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Tranan, Karlbergsvägen 17. “My favorite since I moved up to Stockholm seven years ago,” says Lundgren. “The meatballs are just magic.”
WHERE TO RELAX: Mellqvist Kaffebar, Hornsgatan 78. Great coffee, friendly people. “I always order one single espresso—and right after that a cappuccino.”
PREFERRED HANGOUT: Kåken, Regeringsgatan 66. “Even when I have a day off, I always end up here.”
WHERE TO BRING A DATE: Stockholm’s archipelago. “You can take a boat from Nybrokajen and go to any island. The archipelago in Stockholm is so beautiful—and so close.”
Pontus Djanaieff first developed an interest in fashion at the age of 10, when he inherited his grandfather’s well-tailored wardrobe. Since he was tall for his age and his grandfather was fairly small, the clothes fit the schoolboy perfectly. As Djanaieff recalls, “I was lousy on math tests but always impeccably dressed.”
Today he’s a furniture maker and interior designer, as well as “concept developer” for the Swedish fashion brand Post Fire Dew. Yet Djanaieff’s original goal was to become an actor—until he realized that what really drew him were the costumes. He later worked as a stylist for music videos, and his own style tended to fluctuate: Djanaieff remembers wearing a fez hat, a skirt and Dr. Martens one day; a camouflage jacket with no shirt and a shaved head the next. But since then his look has found a steady groove—“somewhere between Charlie Watts and Keith Richards.”
GO-TO SHOP: Jus, Brunnsgatan 7. This boutique carries Djanaieff’s favorite labels: Dries Van Noten, Maison Martin Margiela and Rick Owens. “I love that Jus has its own style and doesn’t follow trends,” he says.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: PA & Co, Riddargatan 8. “The best local restaurant in Stockholm,” says Djanaieff. “Don’t miss the Gino for dessert. It’s world famous.”
WHERE TO RELAX: Lärkstaden, Danderydsgatan. An area known for its splendid town houses. “I love the atmosphere.”
PREFERRED HANGOUT: Zink Grill, Biblioteksgatan 5. Fine menu, excellent French wines. Djanaieff suggests trying the saffron gin: “good but different.”
WHERE TO BRING A DATE: Matbaren at Grand Hotel, Södra Blasieholmshamnen 6. “Damn expensive—almost like a Margiela jacket. But for a special occasion, it’s worth it.”
After he created Byredo—Sweden’s leading fragrance brand—in 2006, Ben Gorham found himself doing business with prominent luxury stores such as Barneys New York, as well as Colette and Le Bon Marché in Paris. This meant bouncing from one fashion capital to the next.
“When I started traveling around the world—especially during my trips to Milan and Paris, where all men dress impeccably—I got inspired and began to wear suits,” Gorham recalls. “I felt it was important to be well dressed during negotiations.” After all, he says, “I’m selling a lifestyle, and I partly have to live it.”
Today, six bespoke suits hang in his closet, and in at least one respect they remind him of his own métier. “Tailoring is like creating a fragrance,” Gorham explains, citing the fabrics, cuts and details to choose from. “There are endless possibilities.”
GO-TO SHOP: A.W. Bauer & Co, Brunnsgatan 4. Where Gorham buys his bespoke suits. “It is ranked as one of the world’s top tailors.”
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Mäster Anders, Pipersgatan 1. Serves classic Swedish dishes such as Biff Rydberg—diced beef with diced potatoes and chopped onions. “The best meat in town,” says Gorham.
WHERE TO RELAX: Stadsbiblioteket, Sveavägen 73. The city library. “I love Gunnar Asplund’s beautiful architecture,” he says. “It is so silent here.”
PREFERRED HANGOUT: Byredo store, Mäster Samuelsgatan 6. His own shop. “It’s fun to meet the customers and see what they are buying.”
WHERE TO BRING A DATE: Sturehof, Stureplan 2. Delicious seafood. “My favorite places are the booths on the right-hand side. Ask for one of those.”
Jason Diakité started writing his own rap lyrics when he was 14. Now, 22 years later, he’s better known as Timbuktu, Sweden’s most celebrated hip-hop artist, whose eighth album, Sagolandet, was released in June. He borrowed his stage name from the town in Mali where his father—an American-born human rights lawyer, author and filmmaker—has roots.
Back in the Nineties, when he was starting out, Timbuktu favored the familiar hip-hop uniform: Carhartt jacket, Timberland boots and Guess jeans. But since then, his taste has matured—in both music and fashion. ”I hardly ever wear jeans or sneakers anymore,” he says. “My style icon is James Brown. He had a lot of three-piece suits, and I like the combination of him being so chill and yet dressing so slick.”
GO-TO SHOP: Nitty Gritty, Krukmakargatan 26. A mecca for anyone who likes “grown-up and dressy streetwear,” says Timbuktu. “I always get inspired when I’m here.”
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Pelikan, Blekingegatan 40. Home-style food like herring or fried pork with onion sauce. “This is how the Swedish restaurants were back in the day.”
WHERE TO RELAX: Gamla Stan. Also known as Stockholm’s Old Town. “It’s almost like getting into a time machine.”
PREFERRED HANGOUT: Marie Laveau, Hornsgatan 66. American cocktails, good music, lively bar scene. “It can be too loud, so some days I prefer to be at home with friends.”
WHERE TO BRING A DATE: Shanti, Katarina Bangata 58. “My girlfriend and I often come to this Indian restaurant. It’s secluded and cozy.”