Malmö City recently celebrated the birth of its 300,000 inhabitant, which means the ratio of chic boutiques to customers is firmly in the favour of the shopaholic. Malmö is situated in the Skåne region of southern Sweden, a mere 35 minute train ride from Copenhagen airport, Malmö is in fact closer to Copenhagen airport in Denmark than Copenhagen city centre itself. On a damp morning last Thursday I took the speedy Easyjet flight from London Gatwick to Copenhagen airport (1hr 45 flight time) and in a few hours found I had the cool stores of Malmö virtually to myself.
Shopping in Malmö is a personal experience. Sure it helps to have a personal shopper (more on Mia later!) but what really makes shopping in Malmö a unique experience is that many of the stores are staffed and managed by the owner themselves. Away from the chains on the high street are these elegant shops, each one a product of passion. This is evidenced by the design of the store, the quality of the products and the enthusiasm of the people that work there.
The first of this type of store I was introduced to was Uma Bazaar. Just behind Lilla torg (the small square) this store stocks only ecological and fair-trade products, something which the Swedish seem to feel strongly about as a whole. The owner showed me her favourite products, such as eco friendly shoes by Swedish designers that have now made it into mainstream fashion. She spoke animatedly and passionately about all her products and her future plans to introduce a recycle scheme for jeans in the shop. Near the front of the store was a neatly folded cream chunky knit mens jumper – I couldn’t help but reach down and touch it. The owner laughed and informed me that 7 out of 10 women stop to do the very same thing – men take note and buy one now!
Next we visited altewai.saome, owned by 2 young designers who had trained in Milan. The minimal interior of the store was as cool as the clothes it stocked – the walls a stark white setting for dramatic big shouldered garments. Being the end of August most of the goods were reduced by up to 70% off – I couldn’t resist purchasing the blinging little number pictured below! Fellow bargain hunters might want to time their visit to coincide with the end of season sales too, for 70% off = 70% more purchases to be made. Doesn’t it?
Well known Swedish designers like Karin Wester got their break by having their designs stocked at Tjallamalla (pronounced Shamalamalama if you are me – much to the mirth of the locals!) Tjallamalla stocks a mixture of vintage clothes and new designers. Designers may submit their new wares to be stocked here and receive a cut upon any sales. It’s a great way of supporting the local talent and Karin Wester is proof that it works. I was distracted by the jewellery – mini plastic chocolate brownies on rings, donuts on necklaces and a frying pan complete with full fry up to be worn in your ear! I’m a huge fan of vintage clothes and whilst Malmö is like most other cities in regard to the price being significantly higher in shops than if you had rummaged in a flea market or car boot sale yourself, coming across boots that Abba would be proud to wear is great fun!
Stepping into Malmö’s boutiques is like stepping into someone’s really chic home. We explored stores that looked like the living room of my future dream house. In one place I accidently stepped into the back office as it looked no different to the shop floor! I was incredibly impressed to see so many of the shops had a notebook on the counter asking customers to enter their email address. These books were filled with swirly handwriting of customers eager to know more about their favourite shop – very refreshing in the day and age of spam newsletters.
I wouldn’t have discovered half of these wonderful places without the help of Mia. Mia is a personal shopper and style consultant. Malmö born and bred this is a Swedish woman who knows her fashion and her Malmö boutiques. I was immediately drawn to her warm personality and admirable fashion experience, not to mention her mesmerising chunky jewellery! Although a great sense of satisfaction is usually achieved when one stumbles across these types of places by accident, the insight and introduction into the ownership of these stores provided by Mia completely enhanced this shopping experience for me. She took me to places like Milonga, a store born out of the owners love of tango dancing and Svensson, previously a magazine and now the coolest place on the high street to buy mens jeans. With Mia I felt I wasn’t just shopping but discovering the heart of Malmö too.
Whether you decide to contact Mia whilst in Malmö (her email is mia at stilverket dot se – you really should!) or go it alone, the shopping experience in Malmö cannot fail but be personal. The passion of the shop owners, the fostering of local talent, great products from the ecological to the bizarre and often having the whole shop all to yourself. Can’t ask for more than that!
(I travelled to Malmö as part of a press trip with Visit Sweden. For more information on the Skåne region visit their website.)