Stockholm is having its second “moment.” The last time this Nordic hub was deemed a center of style, Vikings were strutting the sinuous streets swathed in tunics and capes. A millennium later, the descendants of those intrepid explorers are pioneering the Internet world—building fortunes by developing video games such as Minecraft. Swedish style-makers are quietly inventive, so visitors may be surprised to find a playful street fashion scene unfolding in Stockholm. Even more intriguing is that au courant Swedes are utterly enamored of rootsy 1950s American Rockabilly, with fashions that echo the Appalachian-tinged blues of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Elvis. Lads dress in bad boy James Dean T-shirts tucked into high waist, cuffed jeans, and women in their shiny Mary Janes and cat’s eye glasses with a high ponytail bobbing behind—long knit scarves are wrapped extravagantly around everyone.
The best place to soak up this reborn retro trend is Stockholm’s Södermalm district—guidebooks call it “SoFo;” locals say “Söder.” It’s the same area haunted by fictional punk hacker Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and even cooler, the place where Greta Garbo was raised. For instant immersion in the scene, head to the underground shop Sivletto
—literally underground, as this emporium filled with hot rod magazines and poodle skirts is at the bottom of a nearly vertical spiral staircase. Beyond having just the right Woodrow Fedora, red plaid Brixton logger shirt, or Esther Williams halter top, you’ll find Rockabilly hair and makeup guides, retro decor publications like Tiki Magazine, and foolproof grooming aids such as Murray’s Carrot Oil and Stern Hungarian Moustache Wax. If you dare, surrender to the in-house hairdresser who will create an extravagant pompadour for men, or the Audrey Hepburn pixie cut that marked a mid-century woman of style. But beware: the retro atmosphere is so thick that the hours can slip away, with DJs spinning Bill Haley and Jerry Lee Lewis live on Saturdays, and not a computer in sight—all purchases are written longhand to preserve the mid-century vibe.
The danger of lingering too long at Sivletto would be missing other Söder charms like Pet Sounds Bar (petsoundsbar.se). Many say the Swedish Rockabilly vogue began in this cellar cavern named for the iconic Beach Boys LP, where cocktails with names like Barbara Ann pay homage to their hits, and the menu is heavy on burgers and fries. Pet Sounds Records
across the street is the place to ask music geeks in inky denim and Buddy Holly specs about the latest under-the-radar music trends.
Look for the pink bicycle outside Coctail
; A shop jammed with accessible kitsch like Japanese robot toys, TV dinner trays, and all things Elvis. Nearby, Cajsa Warg
is a meticulously curated food store named for the 18th-century woman believed to be the first female cookbook author, where products from hand-picked producers, such as thick country yogurt, duck eggs, and meaty Monks’ Bread, are displayed farm stand style.
Two of Södermalm’s standout fashion emporiums are Grandpa
, whose name is an oxymoron for its youthful take on early sixties styles such as cruise wear and Perry Como sweaters, and Beyond Retro
, a vast warehouse of finely curated vintage clothes and Indie designs that marry mid-century with modern. Most useful is the beyondretro.com website, with its section on emerging vintage trends like Cute Weird Cool and Urban 60s. Created in Britain, Beyond Retro has grown into a lifestyle brand for clothing, design, and accessories, with shops in the hippest quarters of the U.K. and Sweden. This means that when you see a store, you’ll know you’ve arrived at the coolest neighborhood in town.