Society for the Anthropology of Europe
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Mainstream fashion in Scandinavia is often associated with the clean lines and neutral colors of minimalist aesthetics. Many have argued that the uniformity of Scandinavian fashion is a product of the Law of Jante; a cultural code of conduct in Nordic countries, which discouraged individual success in order to create a society of fair and equal conditions. Although the facilitation of these codes is not as strictly enforced today as it was in the early 20th century, they still have implications in the contemporary moment. The dominant fashion reflects the ideals of Jante Law, often overlooking alternative aesthetics that are popular with hip hop culture and ethnic minorities. These underrepresented fashionistas and designers have sought to create alternatives using fashion as an instrument of activism. Inspired by trends in streetwear and clothing associated with their ethnicities, they aim to challenge the dominant ideals of fashion in a context of rising support for right-wing nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment. Using a semiotic approach, this paper will examine the significance of fashion in the assertion of power and the shaping of self among underrepresented minorities in Scandinavia. By analyzing visual representations of mainstream and alternative fashion in various platforms, it will highlight the emphasis on hybridization and diversity in alternative styles. In doing so, questions of multiculturalism and assimilation become challenged and reinterpreted in new global economic and political circumstances.