Mona Jensen started Tom Wood in 2013 as a collection of of chunky silver rings that were an instant hit. Over the last four years, she has slowly added ready-to-wear into the mix, with an emphasis on denim and statement outerwear, and as of this season, eyewear, as well. Tom Wood has quickly become a staple of Oslo’s fashion community, as well as a leader in developing Norway’s presence on the global stage. The brand can be found at some of the world’s leading specialty retailers including Dover Street Market, Barneys New York, The Line, Harrod’s and Isetan, and is favored by the likes of Helena Christensen, Caroline de Maigret and Jared Leto. “Norwegian designers have a slightly practical approach to design,” says Jensen. “Hand-picked materials and great craftsmanship support the idea of giving each single piece a long life. The design is focused on functional, timeless and relaxed silhouettes.”
After only two years at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Cathrine Hammel left school, grabbed her sketches, and hopped on plane to Hong Kong to find factories in order to start her own brand. “My idea was to create high-quality basis in knitwear and jersey for luxury and high-end stores,” she says. With nothing more than a small savings account and a steadfast goal, Hammel made her vision a reality. Today, her pared-back basics are among Oslo’s best offerings. “It was a long and bumpy road, but we are a solid company now, and I’m still the only owner. Fearlessness, determination and hard, hard work is crucial," she says. "And some luck, of course.”
Tine Mollatt began her three decade long career working for fast-fashion retailers.“I was sick of the greediness,” she says of her decision to go off and start something of her own. “I wanted to create with truthfulness and consciousness in every part of the pipeline. byTiMo creates garments honestly and with integrity, bringing modern romance to timeless craftsmanship.” Every aspect of production--from fabric to factory--is vetted for its quality and corporate responsibility. The brand also recently started a social entrepreneurship program that employs women who have previously been victims of abuse or trafficking. As for the clothes themselves, there is a vintage mood to Mollatt’s collections that feels nostalgic without looking dated. Romantic styles are updated with precise tailoring and modern manufacture, and all colors and prints are developed exclusively in-house. The concept has certainly taken off--byTiMo is currently stocked in over 500 stores worldwide.
“Right now there are a lot of interesting things happening in Norway when it comes to design,” says Maria Skappel Holzweiler, founder of Holzweiler. “There is such a great tradition of handicraft here, and I believe that right now there is a change happening in how people think of our design… Classic doesn’t have to be boring.” Holzweiler started as a line of luxury cashmere, silk and wool scarves in 2012, before expanding into ready-to-wear in 2014. Each collection references different Norwegian artists and influencers, with Fall 2017 drawing inspiration from painter Edvard Munch's work, including The Scream, and, coincidentally, Josefine Petterson’s character from SKAM. “Noora is one of my muses for this collection,” says Holzweiler. “She is strong, independent, has a great taste for fashion, and dares to be different.” The result of mixing a fictional teenager with Munch? Colorful coats and covetable knits that together are nothing short of scream-wothy.
Sometimes being away from the major fashion capitals can lead to creative freedom. Such was the case for Christina Ledang, founder of the brand C.L.E.A.N. (a name drawn from her own initials). “I think the international fashion world is still very unfamiliar with Norwegian fashion,” she explains. “Therefore there aren’t so many expectations as to what Norwegian designers are supposed to make.” Case in point? C.L.E.A.N.’s debut collection in 2011 was made entirely out of latex, and became an overnight sensation with Norway’s magazines and bloggers. Since then, Ledang has expanded her brand into more wearable signatures, like branded tees and belts that recall the days of logo-mania. “There is a very broad spectrum of designers here,” she says. “And we are all in the process of shaping what Norwegian fashion looks like. It’s a very exciting time. We are not bound by the minimalistic aesthetic that is the connotation of Scandinavian fashion, therefore we are free to do what we want.”