This Is the Difference Between Swedish and American Style, From Elin Kling

Much like our fascination with all things French, many Americans tend to think that Scandinavian girls do everything better when it comes to fashion. (The grass is always greener on the other side, right?) Whenever we say we're envious of that signature Scandi aesthetic, we're definitely including Swedish blogger turned designer Elin Kling in the conversation.

Kling and her husband Karl Lindman launched Totême in New York back in 2014, but they've now taken their brand back to their native Sweden. This week, the duo presented their F/W 18 collection during Stockholm Fashion Week (where we also covered the insanely good street style). I was lucky enough to witness the beautiful show in person, which was held at a chic art auction house called Bukowskis, and it definitely didn't disappoint.

After the show, I caught up with Kling herself to get the full scoop on the new collection and her thoughts on Swedish style. Scroll down to read my full interview with Kling and see my favorite looks from Totême's new F/W 18 collection presented during Stockholm Fashion Week.


(Image credit: Hedvig Jenning)

WHO WHAT WEAR: How would you describe the difference between Swedish and American style?

ELIN KLING: The utilitarian and minimalistic aesthetics that defined Swedish style have evolved into something more individual and unique. The women here are more connected and international than ever before. American style is a bit more casual. You are not afraid of mixing styles and making them your own. This is something I admire a lot.

There is no place on Earth I find more inspiration than New York. It could be anything from a guy picking up a bagel in a robe and flip-flops to an eccentric Upper East Side lady to a chic and confident SoHo girl. There are influences from all over, and that is what makes the New York woman so unique. Totême is a reflection of my taste and all the influences that New York has given me, paired with my Scandinavian heritage.

WWW: What's your favorite piece from your new collection and how would you style it personally?

EK: This season we have a really strong outerwear section. One favorite of mine is the opening look: a long black jacket with shaped sleeves. It's a perfect dinner style that can be combined with a pair of jeans. 


(Image credit: Hedvig Jenning)

WWW: In your opinion, what are the specific pieces every Swedish girl owns? 

EK: Winter boots—we all end up with them because the winters are so long. I just got myself a new chic pair from The Row to make the winter months a bit more exciting. Plus, anything black. Don’t ask me why, but Swedish girls love to wear black—and so do I.

WWW: You were one of the first Scandinavian bloggers to gain a large following. In your opinion, how has the Scandinavian fashion scene evolved in the years since you started your blog?

EK: I wouldn't say that the blog scene has changed much, but rather the medium itself. The mobile experience is now more important than the desktop, and the Instagram feed is challenging the blog format in every way. There is still great content, however; it’s just an evolution of the same thing. Scandinavian style is more individual than ever before, thanks to Instagram and other social media outlets. 


(Image credit: Hedvig Jenning)

WWW: Why do you choose to show in Stockholm as opposed to other big cities?

EK: In Stockholm I have found a certain calmness that allows me to focus on building our team and the business in general. It is a modern city, there is less noise here, and there's a sense of purity that suits me at the moment.


(Image credit: Hedvig Jenning)

WWW: You made your Stockholm Fashion Week debut last season. What was the experience like, and how did you build on the momentum for this season?

EK: For us, it’s important to do something that feels relevant and authentic. Last season we presented the collection in our design studio because we wanted to open the doors to our workplace. Although it was super crowded, it was a really great experience. The models bumped into the guests because there was so little space. It might sound like a disaster, but it was quite the opposite—that kind of authentic feel is exactly what I love.

For this season, we choose a different venue—the auction house Bukowskis in central Stockholm—where we curated an exclusive exhibition combining the work of two Swedish sculptors that have inspired the collection: Eric Grate and Eva Lange. It was an inspiring process. The fall/winter collection is about simple but exaggerated forms that enhance the body to create an interesting silhouette for the woman who wears it.


(Image credit: Hedvig Jenning)

WWW: How do you deal with the pressure to create something brand new every season while sticking to your signature aesthetic?

EK: We always start with a conversation. Most often, I have a pretty clear idea of what I’m into myself. It could be a lady on the street that gets me going, or a reference picture in a book that ignites the process. Whatever the source of inspiration, it all comes down to one simple question: Would I like to wear this myself? My mission with Totême is to offer our woman the perfect wardrobe pieces, curated by me, no matter where she is or what she’s up too. I keep evolving and so does it.

Shop Our Totême Picks

Opening Image: Getty Images

Associate Director, Fashion News

Erin got her start as a Who What Wear intern over 13 years ago—back when the site only published a single story per day. (Who What Wear has since increased that number twentyfold.) She graduated magna cum laude from USC, which is how she ended up moving to Los Angeles from her hometown of San Diego. In college, she also interned at Refinery29, where she was promoted to editorial assistant and then assistant editor. After nearly three years at R29, she came back to WWW in 2016, where she currently holds the title of Associate Director of Fashion News (as well as the unofficial title of resident royal expert—in case you haven't noticed her numerous Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton stories). She spends her days trying to incorporate her idols, Anna Wintour and Roger Federer, into as many stories as possible. Outside of work, she loves tennis, classic rock, traveling, and smothering her dog with affection.