Shoe shopping in Sweden

I enjoy shopping; like any woman. And not to brag, I am an awesome sale shopper. It’s my sixth sense; I know when, how, where sales are going to happen. I rarely buy at full price unless in desperate need (the one beautiful Burberry English Military jacket) but otherwise my prices are modest. Yes, you laugh. I refuse to spend more than $150 on a pair of shoes (and that price was awarded to a pair of Prada’s from Jeremy’s store in San Francisco).

I will not buy shoes in Sweden over 1000:- and to date, have bought one pair of shoes in Sweden since 2008. So I wonder then do Swedish women like shoe shopping? Or is it a Swedish trait that shoe selection and shopping is a no go in Sweden.

Gorgeous Wedding Shoes

And that’s the problem. In Sweden, shopping sucks. People can bitch all they want about shopping in the United States, but it rocks. Shopping in America f***ing rocks. From Nordstrom to Macys and from North Face to REI. If you want something, you will find it. There is nothing in America you cannot find. Honest. Some Swedes complain that Americans look like a bunch of fat hicks but have you walked down Madison Avenue or South Beach or Rodeo Drive?

There is couture. Tods. Tiffany. Cartier. House of Dior. Versace. The megalithic Louis Vuitton. Christian Louboutin. Gucci. Burberry.

There is department store couture. F*** Nordiska Kompaniet. In America you can choose between Nordstrom (btw, the founder was Swedish), Neiman Marcus, Bergdoff Goodman, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue.

There is everyday wear for the fashionable. Macys. Banana Republic (Gap itself is terrible). BCBG Girls. Club Monaco. Armani Exchange. Emporio Armani. Guess. Betsy Johnson. bebe.

There is prep. Lacoste. Abercrombic and Fitch. American Eagle.

You cannot be bored. And all these brands have their own fashion houses. Not some 50 sq meters of retail space stuffed inside NK or Åhleans, they have their own 300sq meter store. With sales associates. With customer service.

But customer service when clothes shopping is another story. If I want to spend to spend 10,000:- on a coat then I better get service; what the hell purpose is the salesperson there for me otherwise? Hire a monkey to process my credit card and wrap the coat.

Back to my real story. I am getting married, again, in a religious ceremony in India. Besides the drama and planning nightmares (more to come), I need a new pair of shoes. Part of the bride’s gift from her family is a dress, set of bangles, and new shoes. And hey, new shoes? It’s the man’s wet dream come true for a woman.

It never turned out to be my wet dream. Shoe shopping was my proctologist’s dream. I started searching late summer when summer shoes (skimpy sandals and heels) went on sale. It was pointless. Literally pointless. The shoes were all flats. They were neither pointy at the front nor had a pointy heel. Then, crunch time came again in December when I needed to make a decision.

December in Sweden is a permanent funeral in the fashion department. Whoever believes Swedes are fashionable tripped out too much to distinguish the difference between reality and colorful rainbowed unicorns.

Black. Boots. Black. Grey. Black. That was the selection. In the upsale section of eveningwear at NK, shoes were dull, low heeled, fat at the front. Funerary colors of grey, black, and light black. Obscene puked up sequins covered some shoes. Cheap silk and 20 cents gems covered another 3000:- pair.

I was depressed. I already endured suffering like many jobless housewives in Sweden. I couldn’t endure this. Money was not even an issue (I save a lot because I tend to be cheap). But there was no selection for shoe shopping in Sweden.

And so today, I fly to India without shoes.

33 thoughts on “Shoe shopping in Sweden”

  1. Imelda Marcos would be disappointed.. but I have a feeling you’ll get over it. Happy days are ahead :)

  2. I totally agree, since I’ve moved to Sweden almost 3 years ago I haven’t bought many new clothes or shoes aside from small things like socks. Because theirs no variety and what they do have is plain AND insanely expensive. It’s not worth the price if it’s plain as hell D: I’m going back to the states in a few months and I’m gonna stock up on loads of awesome clothes and shoes <3 retail therapy does NOT exist in Sweden unless you're a rich mofo with absolutely NO taste. Fashion in Sweden? pssssssh maybe if you get it imported.

  3. I’m gonna agree with you. Shopping in Stockholm sucks.

    There is limited shopping for guys, and unless you fit the cookie cutter Swedish stereotype (tall and thin) you’re SOL. I’m a big guy, but not huge, I wear XL. It came to me as a huge surprise when I went shopping and tried on some clothes and XL in Sweden fit closer to a L back in Canada. I asked if they anything bigger…. Nope!

    When jeans here cost up to 1000 SEK for Levis 501s, its insanity. I can buy the same jeans, same cut, back home for 400 SEK, less if on sale!

    While I was back home, I had myself a $375 (2500 SEK) shopping spree. That bought me 4 CK button shirts (one with french cuffs), 3 pairs of jeans, cuff links, a Donald Trump tie, new dress shoes and boxers! I could never have done that back in Sweden!

  4. I agree with you!! is almost a miracle when you find some nice shoes in Sweden!!! I’m mexican, and usually wait until I can go home, or the US, to get new shoes.

  5. Imelda Marcos would be very disappointed. I wonder if Sweden and the Philippines had good diplomatic relations while her husband was in president.

    LOL Emery! At least I learned last month that Banana Republic has an EU website and the sale prices are really good!

    Andrew, that is a sweet deal for all those goodies for 2500:- . The irony is that the clothes are pretty good quality too and will last awhile.

    Jessica. The one pair of shoes I found in Sweden was my miracle. One day you find one too! ;)

  6. Well first of all, comparing shopping in Stockholm with it’s 2 million inhabitants with the US that has more than 300 million people and are like twice the size of Europe is the most ridiculous ever. I mean Manhattan got more inhabitants than Sweden does since we don’t breed like bunnies. Of course the stores are gonna be bigger there. I think it’s more fair to compare the EU with the US. And then the EU will win, hands down. Paris, Milan and London, that’s all I have to say. And you pay like 300kr to fly there.

    Secondly, please don’t mention Abercrombe and fashion in the same sentence, I don’t put HM Divided in the same (it’s not the same price class, but it’s kinda the same on the fashion scale, I mean, jeans with prints on. Really?)

    “Some Swedes complain that Americans look like a bunch of fat hicks but have you walked down Madison Avenue or South Beach or Rodeo Drive?” Yes, and do you know what I found? EVERYTHING being “relaxed” or “slack”. I mean, I could live in those pants that were XS over there. So no, at least for guys, shopping is a big nono in the US. The suits the guys were over there look like they are made out of sails or something, they are super wide and probably pretty good at catching the wind.

    And you CANNOT come home with a CK shirt and say “hey, I bought fashion”. No, that’s not fashion, that’s something you cover your body in. Just like when you buy a t-shirt at HM, except it got the fancy CK print on it. And you pay 10 times the price. And I feel it’s so sad that people need a “friendly” clerk (as a Swede, I felt besieged by the clerks) at an expensive store to tell you that “this is fashion”. Fashion is not what you wear, it’s how you wear it. And if you wear it wrong, it’s not fashion.

    And going in to HM and saying “this is Swedish fashion” is like going in to GAP and saying it’s American. Have you tried Acne, Whyred, Fifth Avenue, Filippa K, Minimarket and so on? Maybe a bit more expensive but that’s Swedish fashion. And my sister got tons of stilettos in her wardrobe that she bought on HM, Zara and Topshop among other things.

    “retail therapy does NOT exist in Sweden unless you’re a rich mofo with absolutely NO taste. Fashion in Sweden? pssssssh maybe if you get it imported.” I think this speaks tons of you.

    Fashion in the US works if you’re fat, colorblind and think that an expensive brand is all that matters.

    HOWEVER with all this being said, yes, fashion in Sweden all looks kinda the same. It’s a small country and trends catch on fast. When I rode the subway the other day someone had written “döda fiskar simmar alltid medströms” on a wall outside. And I think that represent how a lot of people dress. Fashion in Sweden is good, it’s just that a lot of people looks the same.

    Peace out!

  7. Hi! Sorry to hear about your shopping misadventures in Sweden.. But since you’ll be flying to Mumbai I’m pretty sure you can fulfill your wet dreams there.. There are a host of international brands like LV, Nine West, Aldo, Charles and Keith apart from the Tod’s and Gucci. And if you like you can check out the local brands like Inc.5 and Metro, Jimmy Choo they ain’t.. But they do have a decent collection.. Happy shoe shopping and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!!

  8. @Erik: First of all I weigh 49kg, to me that is not fat. Second I loath brand name clothing, I’ve never owned brand and never will. I like cheap clothes that looks amazing and lasts almost forever. If you know how to ‘dress’ and coordinate properly you can create wonderful ‘fashion’ for like 50$ an outfit and look 10x better than some brandwhore who throws herself into a Prada rack and thinks the more brand she has plastered on the more ‘trendy’ she is.

    I also do not suffer from colorblindness. But walking around Stockholm watching girls in neon green leggings and mustard yellow t-shirts I’d think it’s safe to assume that the majority of Sweden’s youth are.

    If you buy me a roundtrip ticket to France and pay for everything I get there then fabulous, I’ll agree that Stockholm is BFFs with a country that actually knows about fashion. But even if I were to go to France, all expenses paid, it’d be for brand clothes. That’s why people go there, and honestly brand does not interest me. Even if I became a rich celebrity I’d still shop at the mall.

    I’ve bought one pair of pants here once because I ripped mine rough housing and firstly it was insanely expensive. In the states I can get a pair of skinny jeans for 12$ at Wal-Mart (don’t knock it!) that will last me at least 5 years or more and I ended up spending 800;- (121$) on jeans that were ‘on sale’! wtf D: in the states I would NEVER pay that much for jeans but I was desperate. And it wasn’t even brand D: to top it off that pair of jeans only lasted me 8 months before the seams started to come apart. And before you accuse me of being too fat for them I intentionally got them a size too big so I wouldn’t look like a toothpick.

    Not many people have the luxury to take a 3hr plane trip over the weekend to Paris or Milan to swipe up some cheap brand clothes and fly back.

    When comparing the states to Sweden don’t namedrop France or Italy, sure they’re more accessible to you than to us but it doesn’t count. I’m from St. Augustine, FL. I never once even fathomed flying to New York on a regular basis to go ‘clothes shopping’ and I’ve never known anyone else to actually do that either. So let’s compare Stockholm with St. Augustine. Instantly, you lose! So many more options to choose from and so cheap! It’s insanity! Pisses me off when Americans back stateside complain about the prices when I’m stuck in Sweden obligated to fork over 100s of dollars on a cheaply made pair of jeans that if I’m lucky will barely last me a year.

    This isn’t a contest of which country is better. There’s plenty of pros and cons to both countries and people. But we’re just speaking from personal experience. When you come from a country of variety and affordable prices and then move to a country that lacks choice and the concept of ‘cheap’ or even ‘affordable’ for that matter it’s really frustrating for us.

    I mean if another pair of my jeans gets mangled, dude I’m screwed. Unless you want to give me a 5000;- gift card to your favorite clothing store in Stockholm I’m not gonna have much faith in Swedish shopping. Sorreh D:

    (My intentions are not to insult you. If anything I am now desperately curious to see exactly how ‘fashionable’ you claim to be XD)

  9. Awww, here I was, looking forward to hearing some tips of where I can get shoes thinking Stockholm was the key, only to confirm my suspicions!! It is sooo true – why are all the shoes black???

  10. Perhaps you could see this as a business opportunity instead of an inconvenience? :)

    There’s a fair number of people who has moved here from other countries, and most of them (you) seems to think that shopping sucks here. Start a shop catering to the needs of those with more sophisticated tastes.

    I don’t disagree, I hate shopping. Unless it’s electronics I can’t ever find anything I like. Doubt it would be better if I was shopping in another country though.

  11. If you’re so rich that you can spend that kind of money on shopping – take a holiday in the US and shop there. The shopping in Sweden is perfect for all of us who don’t live the perfect life.
    As a student I can afford to buy clothes and shoes for 200:- every month, if I save money on something else.
    And in Stockholm you can find whatever you want… So if your still not satisfied, move to some small town for a year. Then you’ll learn to be thankful for what you have.

  12. Just want to say that I think Filipa K is overpriced crap. Those 3000:- dresses are quite flimsy and are made from poor silks and cashmeres. At that point I rather spend 3000:- more and go couture or 2000:- less and buy something from America.

    For what it’s worth, the poor quality of Swedish clothes means I’ll never have to shop in Sweden and spend my disposable income.

    @Formica – I do not understand that graph at all. What does the # of Earths mean? How is “Earth” being measured? How is the global footprint being calculated? Just curious :)

    And I had no idea you could buy shoes in Sweden for 200:- … Bet they are made from rubber.

  13. Ellen, sure, you can find almost everything in Stockholm, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Compare the prices to the US, compare the selection, compare the open hours of the stores, compare the sales, compare the service – it is only possible to draw one conclusion.

    Shopping in sweden sucks. Period.

  14. @Emery: to cite Sapphire: “There is couture. Tods. Tiffany. Cartier. House of Dior. Versace. The megalithic Louis Vuitton. Christian Louboutin. Gucci. Burberry.
    There is department store couture. F*** Nordiska Kompaniet. In America you can choose between Nordstrom (btw, the founder was Swedish), Neiman Marcus, Bergdoff Goodman, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue.
    There is everyday wear for the fashionable. Macys. Banana Republic (Gap itself is terrible). BCBG Girls. Club Monaco. Armani Exchange. Emporio Armani. Guess. Betsy Johnson. bebe.”

    I’m pretty sure you don’t got that in St. Augustine. That’s why I mentioned Paris, London and Milan. Comparing NY with Stockholm is just silly.

    I do agree that the prices are horrible here though. But the US is a big country and a big market and have the ability to negotiate lower prices with other countries. Sweden does not manufacture any clothes, we import them all, and it’s expensive. Plus Sweden is a welfare state, we pay our healthcare and school with taxes, and VAT is one of those taxes.

    I usually buy all my basic clothes at HM or maybe MQ, and then if want to buy something special I’ll go to like Whyred, Filippa K, Acne and so on. Or second hand. Love second hand!

    @ Sapphire: “Just want to say that I think Filipa K is overpriced crap. Those 3000:- dresses are quite flimsy and are made from poor silks and cashmeres. At that point I rather spend 3000:- more and go couture or 2000:- less and buy something from America.”

    First of all, most clothes are made in the same region by the same factories and same people. So the quality doesn’t really differ that much in my experience. It seems to have fooled you though so I guess their brand strategy is working.

    And last time I was in NY I bough a cardigan at Banana Republic for like 100$. I washed it one time and it broke, I got a big hole in one of the sleeves. So quality doesn’t seem to be perfect in the US either.

  15. @Erik – “I’m pretty sure you don’t got that in St. Augustine. That’s why I mentioned Paris, London and Milan. Comparing NY with Stockholm is just silly.”

    I have never lived in NYC and all the cities I have lived in America were from 100,000-500,000 in population. Within a 30 minute drive, I had access almost all the major stores (except maybe a standalone LV/Dior – but they could be found in the department stores).

    I don’t see how the “brand strategy is working” if I think a 3000:- dress at Filipa K sucks. I would never buy it. I am much happier with the quality at Guess or bebe or Banana. And if I went to Gucci to buy a dress, then those guys stand by their quality or you go back and bitch.

    Been shopping at Banana Republic for more than decade. The couple times I had problems, I took the shirt back and returned it. Never otherwise have had issues with them. Bummer that you had problems. I would email them and take photos the next time you have an issue.

  16. @Erik: what Sapphire said dude. St. Augustine actually does have some of those stores but not all, drive 20min. to Jacksonville and there you go. Tons of brand you can drown in! A quick 20min. drive beats spending 200-300$ for a ticket to fly to Paris, stuff your suitcase with brand, pay the luggage fee, and fly back probably consuming 12+ hours of your day if not forcing you to stay there overnight. Dunno about you, but my life doesn’t center around having the latest Prada bag, I find such a taxing trip to get your hands on overpriced merch that will ‘go out of style’ in less than 2 months totally and utterly pointless.

  17. I actually wrote a compliment in my previous post, but then I accidentally closed the window before I was able to send it so I had to re-type the entire post. I was like “screw it, I’ll just be that aggressive random Swedish guy instead this post”, haha!

    What I meant with “brand strategy is working” is that most of the clothes nowadays got the same quality since they are made by the same machines in the same country. There aren’t that much “handmade in Italy/France” anymore, if it’s not couture. These brands live on saying “we are better since we are of a certain brand”. And even if you buy a Gucci dress for 10k you can still brake 3 dresses that costs around 3k and get 1k over to spend on whatever :)

    And I don’t really want to go threw that amount of hustle for a cardigan, but I just wanted to say that no brand is perfect.

    Maybe it is like you say, if you want all the luxury brands you should go to the US. If you don’t want all the luxury brands, you don’t in my experience. But then, we obviously got different ideas of what fashion is (and I don’t mean that in a rude way).

  18. Perfect timing in reading this as I sit and stare at an American closet (full of shoes) and decide which shoes to move to Sweden and which to leave behind. I’m taking them with me!

  19. Im not really the guy to comment when it comes to shoe shopping. But I gotta say this, what we got works for us. Might not be everyones cup of tea or pint of beer or whatever. But it works over here and we like what we got. If you dont like it then thats fine. But seriously, who the hell will give a fuck if YOU dont like the specifics of our trends in a country where pretty much everyone who gives a shit about this kind of stuff approves of it except you?.

    I do understand that this blog is for americans rather than swedish people. But serisouly…when in rome.

    PS: not to be rude, but seriously…

  20. @sapphire – I agree. The shoe shopping is bad over there but I think that’s a European problem. I live in London and we’ve got some fantastic shoes. Most of the clothing and shoe brands I used to schlep over to the Usa for have now got stockists here, e.g. Steve Madden, Kurt geiger, banana republic and mexx. We have also got some high end desi designers like Ronit Zilkha in addition to desi imports which can be bought in places like Tooting, Wembley, Green st and southall. I recommend getting a copy of Asian bride or Asiana and visiting London when working your way through the stockists to find your dream wedding shoes :)

  21. Forget shoes, forget variety and/or lack thereof…. Hair stylists….WTF???
    what is the problem??? Are the hair stylist schools not up to date?? Do they not learn that double processing creates straw for hair??? I’m completely baffled since I have lived in other EU countries and this is not a problem. ..and someone should let some of the hair care product companies know that not everyone in Sweden has baby fine, straight hair…I’m surprised that given a significant immigrant population there is still a lack of diversity in hair care products. If one goes on the Garnier website in Italy for example, you’ll be amazed to see product that never hits the shelves in Sweden…

  22. True, at times shopping in Stockholm isn’t that great… especially if a cheap pricetag is what you’re looking for, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any nice Swedish brands- what about Acne, Cheap Monday, Whyred, Minimarket, Tiger etc.?
    Most of the time, I just shop online, saves the hassle of going out, you can just sit on your sofa at home ;)

  23. It’s more about variety here. There’s so little in choice that you end with the same cookie cutter style. Then if you want variety and along with price, it is impossible.

    Acne, Cheap Monday, Whyred, etc serve a very particular group of people – mainly hipsters and funky. Tiger is the fake couture of Sweden. H&M is average to below average stuff; the Walmart of clothing. Business clothes, casual conservative, pretty silk/chiffon dresses, jeans with “hip” and good cuts are extremely limited or not even found.

    Flying to France and other countries only works if you have a lot of stuff to buy.

    In all, my experience with Sweden has been horrible. I’ve learned the maze of what is possible to buy here (socks, undies, bras, after summer sale dresses, gloves) and what is impossible (toe socks, quality jeans, sweaters, scarves, tops, dresses, silk/cashmere items, dress pants, suits, button downs, ball-gowns).

  24. So, so true!

    I’m a shopacholic. And i have a special thing for shoes: I adore them!!

    But haven’t spend a penny in Sweden on them. Also, who would ever wear the hideous boots they use?? In winter they all wear man trashy boots and in summer… Flips flops are not elegant!

    I have the theory that Sweds know right away that I’m a foreigner (despite the fact of being brunette and short) because I use wonderful shoes.

    God bless Zara.

  25. Sad, sad, sad. Hey mine is bigger than yours! Mine costs less than yours! No it doesn’t! Seriously, and you’re all grown ups.

    If you don’t like Swedish shopping – order online – Travel to the EU – fly to the states. Do what you must, leave the country. Unsatisfied people seem to never be satisfied.

    The truth is — Swedish clothing is for the following: Thin men — 160-200lbs, 6ft tall. If your fat…shop in Germany or the USA. That’s just how it is. The thin man rules in Sweden. Womens clothing: For thin women, around 110-120lbs. Clothing isn’t made for people who won’t buy them, Swedish clothing fits this demographic because it has this demographic. People just aren’t big here. They’re thin, and look excellent.

    Sweden loves black. They love grey. They love minimalistic style. If you don’t like that, your out of luck homey. If you do…you’ve got a plethora of options. Swedish shoes cost roughly between $100-$200. It gets annoying. But you also are not required to have a car, and you don’t have to pay for insurance, and you don’t have to pay a premium for living in an apartment in the city. Most kids in the USA move out in their mid 20’s US, young Swedes are usually out by 19 at the latest…why? It’s POSSIBLE to get cheap, small apartments. The money Swedes don’t spend on all the things Americans do, they spend on those “oh so terrifyingly terrible clothes”. Whoopdi fricken doo.

    Anyone who can’t see the good and the bad in everything is missing a necessary portion of intelligence. I pity you. The ones who can, you probably live a much happier life.

    PS: I’m American — MEN’S AMERICAN CLOTHING IS HORRENDOUS. Quadruple your food intake, lower your standards of fit, and accept that you will never look good again. Now you’ve adopted the All American Man look ;)

  26. “you don’t have to pay a premium for living in an apartment in the city” — If this is about Stockholm then you’re seriously smoking something to think you can find a cheap apartment inomtull that isn’t 25-30sqm and 2.5million SEK (pricing at 43000-50000SEK per sq m).

  27. Wow, the fashion police might look good but that’s not going to make up for the ugly things coming out of their mouths…

    I love sales too, it’s difficult to justify buying something full-price. Quality matters, brands–not so much. For me, options are important because of lifestyle choices.

    I hope you found shoes that work! :)

  28. I stumbled upon this blog because I googled shoes in kungsgåtan.

    I’ve found extremely high quality Italian and Spanish made shoes here. Plus, Acne, Minimarket, and Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair make lovely shoes.

    With transportation being so cheap here, why not just fly somewhere like London, Copenhagen, or Paris?

    I’m also American (and I’ve lived in London and Los Angeles). Rodeo is not the place to shop in LA — it’s Melrose, Silverlake and Sunset Plaza. New York? It’s SoHo.

    Making a blanket statement about Swedish fashion is just as upsetting as someone making a blanket statement saying that all Americans are fat, ugly, and have no taste.

    This country only has 9 million people… less than the cities of New York, London, or Los Angeles. OF COURSE they wouldn’t have the selection that the US would have, they have about 3% of the people that the US has.

    Moreover; department store and couture are oxymorons. Ready to wear is what you buy off the rack; couture is custom-sized and made FOR you at the label’s atelier. This is why a lot of people call Americans ignorant. You don’t buy couture off the rack. Anything you buy in your size and take home that day is called ready to wear, pret-a-porter… it is NOT COUTURE.

    I’d say raise your price point and buy higher quality and less quantity. Then again, it’s an American trait to want everything fast and cheap. You want selection, but you don’t want to pay too much for shoes, and you want service. You want mass-produced designer knockoff shoes made with unethical labor practices in somewhere like China with cheap materials that will give you orthopedic problems (as in, shoes found in most stores in America).

    Sorry, but as an American fashion designer living in Stockholm this post just rubbed me in all of the wrong ways.

    I’d like a venti iced soy caramel macchiato from Starbucks and pizza that tastes exactly like the kind you’d get from a mom and pop joint in the Northeast owned by Italian-Americans… but they don’t have it here. I will never say though that all of Sweden’s food and coffee sucks though just because I can’t get what I am used to back in the States because that would be wrong and ignorant.

  29. Hey,
    Hoping to get some advice, I have a wedding to go to and thinking of
    Going to gotnenberg just before. I need to buy a suit and shoes, and ideas please? And what price zone am I looking at?
    Many thanks

  30. @Kris – Check out the two department stores NK & Åhlèns for shoes. For clothing companies, Tiger of Sweden and Hugo Boss are great for men. The styles are much more fitted and sleek (whereas most American suits sag and come in pukey varieties of beige and green).

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