Growing up in Sweden in the ‘80s, it seemed that all cool and desirable things came from abroad. It’s not that we didn’t have clothes, toys and books, it’s that everything appeared so very sensible and samey. In other words, so very Swedish.

I was lucky enough to have an aunt in California, who spoiled us with exotic gifts. Every Christmas, my sister and I looked forward to impractical, matching velvet dresses, next-level pop-up books and magical, incomprehensible sweets. When I say incomprehensible, I mean that literally. One Halloween, she sent us a tray of fang-themed items that we assumed were sweets, but that were just too incredible to eat. So, we didn’t.

The pièce de resistance, however, was a pair of hats in the shape of cartoon-style dogs’ heads. We’d put them on and climb onto piles of snow to peer down at our neighbours, hoping that they’d be as impressed as we were – perhaps even confusing us for real dogs. Surprise, no one did.

Then we moved to England and things changed. Although by this point, I’d moved beyond toys and looking like a cartoon dog, I vividly remember my first New Look sale. Now I had access to all the cool and desirable things I’d always dreamed of. No longer was I a samey and sensible Swede. Then I grew up properly and bought my first Swedish wool garment in a UK outdoor shop. That was when I discovered that – ironically – sensible and samey Swedish had become my idea of a cool, foreign thing. And it’s warm, of course… which is greatly appreciated these days.

Maria Smedstad bio Scan Magazine

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