The Genteel
November 19, 2019

Best Kept Secrets

Shopping off the Beaten Path in Sweden

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A shop window in Göteborg.

My sojourn to Europe this summer would not have been complete had I not visited Sweden, where I used to live in my early 20s. A wardrobe top up was in order, and I had my sights set on Stockholm and Göteborg. While not a fashion heavy weight, Sweden is a bastion of design, which has given way to itself as notable contender when it comes to threads.    

The houseware collection at Myrorna

I lived in small town called Karlstad, four hours away from Stockholm. One store in Karlstad called Monki stood out to me then, as it does now. It was Monki's uniquely printed pieces that initially drew me into the store. The clothes have clean and modern silhouettes, their prints hinting at Japanese design. Each piece of clothing had its own unique personality, whether it was the illustration, fabric or cut. You might feel overwhelmed (in a good way) just by walking into the store - the sights and sounds will delight your senses. From the crazy wall-papered décor to the neon-lit displays, Monki is worth visiting. I have yet to see something quite like it elsewhere.

A display inside Beyond Retro

As I was browsing (and trying on several different outfits), one of Monki's sales ladies came by to compliment the shirt I had picked out. I thought she was going talk to me about its print or cut, but instead she went into detail about the shirt's eco-friendliness. She later explained that all clothing manufactured by Monki has to be made with the upmost respect to the environment, from the way the cotton is grown to how it's dyed. I was surprised because unlike stores that boast about their "green thumb," I wouldn't have known about Monki's policies until I was told about them. As someone who works in the advertising industry, I wondered why they didn't promote this fact. But, I realized that "environmentally-friendly" is not necessarily unique when it is an expected characteristic of Scandinavian design. Now back home in Toronto, I continuously visit the Monki website (I should probably just make it my homepage). Even though Monki doesn't ship clothing across the pond just yet, I still love checking out their merchandise, especially when my wardrobe needs a little bit of inspiration. So, if you ever find yourself walking the streets of Göteborg or Stockholm, you must make it a priority to visit Monki. 

Another hidden gem I found while on my way to the Göteborg harbour was a cool second-hand store called Myrorna. My retail experience in Myrorna was unlike any I had previously experienced. I walked in thinking it was a department store. In fact, it took me several minutes to realize that I was in a vintage shop. 

I developed a deep appreciation for Myrorna for several reasons. First, it was friendly on my wallet; I was not paying an arm and a leg for a piece of clothing, unlike at many "trendy" vintage stores. Secondly, it didn't look or smell like a thrift store. You know what I'm talking about, that musty old closet smell. It was obvious that Myrorna was proud of the merchandise and nothing was considered "junk" or unworthy of care. The merchandise was organized into such detailed categories that it made shopping experience so much easier. Finally, the merchandise. Having pieces from all eras, even the pickiest shopper would leave happy. In addition, even though I normally overlook the displays while second-hand shopping, it was their displays that brought me in to browse. Myrorna had an dazzling dishware display that looked like something you would see at a department store, but at half the cost. Even a shopper that usually shies away from the vintage shop experience would consider Myrorna to be on its own level. I brought along a friend who absolutely loathes shopping, only to find him sifting through the men's section with a big smile on his face.

This article wouldn't be complete without mentioning my favorite store in Stockholm, Beyond Retro. Although its roots are in London, Beyond Retro really took off when it opened in Sweden. Originally, Beyond Retro was attached to the famous Top Shop, but when it gained popularity in its own right, it opened its own space. Out of all of the vintage stores I have shopped at, Beyond Retro has the best selection of clothing. The minute I walked in to the store, I was tickled pink by what I saw. A whole room was dedicated just to jumpsuits! I became nostalgic when shopping, feeling like I was playing dress-up in a trunk of treasures. After a good four hours shopping and browsing through the racks of merchandise, I ended up walking out with an amazing 50's party dress.


Compared to many other vintage stores that I visited, Beyond Retro was particularly unique. Era-specific clothing can be difficult to sell to the en masse, as a small niche market appreciates it. But what makes Beyond Retro so successful is its ability to find and showcase pieces that are showing up in modern collections. I found several skirts from the 70's that I could wear today based on how they were displayed in the store. The staff is friendly and especially helpful in guiding you on how you can add a vintage piece to a modern wardrobe. The shop inspired me to be creative with my wardrobe by taking a piece and recycling it to make a completely new look.

While walking down the streets of Stockholm, I saw a very interesting slogan in a store window that aptly described my shopping experience: "Fight the Grey."  Sweden continues to push the design envelope and new and exciting ways. Even as eco-friendly has become a staple of design, there was something different and unique about how the Swedes went about it. Fashion and design is continuously trying to fight the grey, making the expected, unexpected. 



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