Make a splash this summer in the best bikinis and one-pieces the region has to offer, from buzzy new brands to certified swimwear staples
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When considering Nordic fashion, swimwear is not the category that first comes to mind. With long-lasting winters domineered by cold weather and frozen waters, Scandinavia seems to be a strange place for bubbling swimwear brands to take hold in comparison to the strong beach culture in Australia or the blazing summers in the Mediterranean. That is until you consider the uniquely Nordic notion of ice-bathing, swimsuit-optional saunas and sun-worshipping – all to some extent calling for stylish swimwear.
With this in mind, Vogue Scandinavia has set out to list the sartorially savvy swimwear labels from Scandinavia. So whether jetting off on a beach holiday or soaking up the sun in the archipelago, these are the 10 must-know brands to keep an eye on when sourcing your summer wardrobe.
Founded in 1983 in Sweden, Scampi took part in revolutionising swimwear over 30 years ago by introducing the Mix n’ Match concept. Freely being able to choose between different styles of matching tops and bottoms, allowed for a more personalised approach to swimwear. Today, the brand is a certified powerhouse in Scandinavian swimwear, usually featuring iconic stripes and prints reminiscent of classic swim resorts. “Designed and inspired by vagabonds, made for exploring distant shores and plunging into new oceans,” as the brand puts it.
Making sustainable swimwear and beachwear for adventurous hearts, all of the brand’s designs are created in its Stockholm studio with unique seasonal prints and manufactured in Europe under fair conditions using premium recycled Italian fabrics. “We want to help save the places we love to visit,” the brand points out. “Better for you, better for our planet.”
Scampi swimwear is available in select stores worldwide as well as in its webshop, where the whole collection is available year-round with international shipping.
While not making swimwear exclusively, Copenhagen-based brand Organic Basics’s carbon-neutral styles made from recycled plastic are worth consideration. The brand’s clothing is ethically made in Europe with organic, recycled, and eco-friendly materials. Its ReSwim line focuses on cleaning up the oceans by turning industrial plastic, fabric scraps, plastic ocean waste, and ghost nets into timeless swimwear.
“The fashion industry is a dirty bastard,” the brand points out. So it puts sustainable thinking at the centre of everything, meaning that it only choose fabrics that care for our environment and partner with factories that care about their impact. “When we say sustainability is our core mission, we don’t mean that sustainability is nice to have - we mean that it’s the only way we act.”
Organic Basics ReSwim collection is available in the brand's web shop.
Lilja the Label
Lilja the Label's founder Laura Saarinen was never worried about launching a swimwear brand in the Nordics. "Almost the opposite," she says, despite most swimwear brands, especially back when the Finnish brand was launched in 2016, being located on warmer latitudes. The styles, lately featuring colourful psychedelic prints, are simple while the cuts are classic and flattering.
The brand doesn't believe in seasonality in swimwear. "We don’t believe in having to travel to faraway places to get to wear your swimsuit," Saarinen says. Instead, the brand focuses on the Nordic nature - the thousands of lakes, the clean forests, the light summer nights. "However," she is quick to point out, "we also love the dark autumn evenings, cold water swimming, warm saunas, and all that the four seasons here in the North have to offer."
Photo: Lilja the Label
This spring the brand is launching a new recycling campaign with the goal to build community and to together take care of the Baltic Sea. "Many don’t know that our beloved Baltic Sea is one of the unhealthiest seas in the whole planet," Saarinen says. "In the North, the Baltic Sea is right on our doorstep, and taking care of it would mean taking care of the lovely backyard we all share."
Lilja the Label is available through the brand's web shop.
Launched in 2016 by two Scandinavians living far from home, specifically in Dubai, where the desert meets the sea, Anna Nielsen and Henna Kaarlela created Ohoy Swim for "everyday girls like ourselves". With a focus on Scandinavian simplicity and a responsibility to look after the environment, all Ohoy products are made sustainably and ethically in a small family-owned factory in Sri Lanka and Portugal, with one per cent of the brand's sales going to support the recovery of nets by volunteer divers.
With the perk of such a sunny location, Ohoy's products are tested in real-life conditions. "Our swimwear is twice as resistant to chlorine, sun creams, and oils than most other fabrics," the duo explains. Sharing common beliefs with other brands on this list, Ohoy doesn't believe in seasonality. "We don't believe in swimwear seasons. We believe in adventures around the year."
Ohoy's swimwear is available on ohoyswim.com.
The Danish brand Saga Swim was founded by sisters Frederikke and Emilie Kiirdal, with a focus on expressive fashion. Wanting to celebrate strong personalities, the sisters set out to create eye-catching designs with colourful fabrics and characteristic prints. "With Saga, we aim to empower people and infuse them with confidence," the sisters say. "We want to celebrate brave people and inspire others to be fearless, to go against the grain, and be unapologetically themselves. To swim against the current.”
Photo: Saga Swimwear
Finding its footing in inclusive fashion, Saga sets out to challenge the conventional ways to make swimwear. "The swimwear seasons have always been a struggle, both in terms of finding some cool swimwear that we felt confident in and that is made by a brand that are conscious about their supply chain, production, and environmental impact," the duo explains. "We want to make people feel empowered in their own body when wearing a bikini or one piece. Everybody is different [which is] why it’s essential to enhance various body types."
Saga Swim is available through the brand's website.
Swedish brand Kaiserin, founded by Fanny Kaiser in 2018, was determined to create a brand where there is no compromise on inclusivity. Growing up with a sister on the spectrum, Kaiser’s main goal was to create a safe space in swimwear where everyone is celebrated. “My main focus became to conceive a line that flatters your natural curves and hugs your body in all the right places. One that leaves you feeling not only comfortable but confident,” she says. And while the sizing is limited to XS-XL at the time of writing, its expansion is the brand’s main priority.
For Kaiser, her designs are all about comfort. “I am someone who finds carrying all my gear unbearable, and as such, it was important for me to create swimwear that my friends and I could wear all day, offering the support you need, without any seams digging into your skin,” she explains. And with Scandinavian aesthetics at the core, the minimalistic design makes Kaiserin’s swimwear easy to style year-round. “So that no matter what season it is, you’ll always be reminded of those warm summer evenings in the sun.”
Kaiserin is available on kaiserin.com.
Designed in Iceland and made in Italy, Swimslow focus on nowness in life. With an emphasis on sustainable swimwear, the philosophy behind Swimslow springs from the local culture and history of bathing in the Icelandic swimming pools. The brand, like many others on this list, does not believe in seasons. Instead, swimming is a part of daily life in Iceland, and the founder Erna Bergmann took inspiration from her trips to the local pool and the wooden sauna to create her carefully crafted swimmers.
It is important that the whole production process is transparent for the brand, from the first design to the final product. The weave in the swimsuits is from used rugs and fishnets. The material is then made in Northern Italy, with the swimsuits cut and sewn in the same region, just a few kilometres from the factory that makes the fabric.
The swimsuits have classic silhouettes, clean lines, and sharp tailoring, with Bergmann finding a challenge in the simplicity of things. The outcome is modern, subtle, timeless, and elegant with an underlying rawness and sensitivity.
The pieces are available through the brand's web shop.
Founded in Borås, Sweden, by Oliver Lundgren back in 2010, Oas has become quite the Hollywood phenomenon, spotted on the big screen, from the latest Quentin Tarantino movie to the HBO mega-series The White Lotus. However, few people know the brand is based at Nytorget in Stockholm, where the whole design process takes place before being released to their increasingly popular Instagram feed.
Born as a resort brand during Lundgren's numerous trips to the family's summer house in Barcelona, today, the brand's unfussy aesthetic and low-key cool has become a mainstay among the Scandi style set when searching for swimwear. As for its sustainability practices, the brand works exclusively with vegan materials and actively supports the installation of water pumps in villages in need of clean water.
Oas is available on oascompany.com.
Founded by Katrine Lee Larsen, the idea behind Copenhagen Cartel was born in Bali. After having paddled out from the beach on her surfboard, Larsen was struck by the vast amounts of plastic waste in the water, something you don't expect in paradise. As such, Copenhagen Cartel is striving to "save the Ocean one bikini at a time".
The brand, whose swimwear and activewear are made of recycled ocean plastic is all about sustainability and changing the status quo in the fashion industry. Using primarily the nylon from dangerous ghost nets – which float around the oceans, carried by the currents and killing thousands of marine animals in their path –the brand's production process demands far less energy and resources than producing virgin nylon.
Photo: Copenhagen Cartel
Even the brand's activewear sets out to find more sustainable sources, with the brand developing a new fabric called OCN WEED®. The material contains innovative seaweed fibres that safeguard the future by saving water - unlike conventional cotton, which requires extreme amounts of water when produced.
Copenhagen Cartel is available on copenhagencartel.com.
Coco & Nuts
Seen on top models such as Izabel Goulart, Kelly Gale and Daniela Braga, Coco & Nuts’s designs are popular amongst the upper echelons of fashion. Based in Sweden and carefully crafted in Bali, the brand is committed to reducing the impact on the environment, we believe in supporting a slow fashion lifestyle by designing high-quality essentials before any trends, and choosing quality above quantity.
Meant to be the perfect timeless ensemble, the brand relies on neutral sandy hues, minimalistic mauve, classic black with the bold dash of a colour pop.
The brand's bodacious bikinis are available on cocoandnuts.com .